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Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Wine tour operator, wine writer and lapsed physiotherapist. "Nature abhors a vacuum. I personally hate dusting."


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Karikari Estate Wines

By Phil Parker wine writer and operator of Auckland Fine Wine & Food Tours

A few months back I was invited to a relaxed sit-down tasting with Karikari Estate’s winemaker, the affable Ben Dugdale.

Available for tasting were no less than six wines.  Northland’s wines constitute less than 1% of our national wine production nationally, yet these are an impressive range of wines and well worth seeking out. Ben’s winemaking history dates back over 20 years to iconic companies such as Collards, Coopers Creek and Dry River.   
Karikari Estate is located on the Karikari Peninsula, overlooking the blue Pacific towards North Cape.  Ben, and his assistant winemaker Rachel Hogan, oversee the production of a number of red and white varieties – many of them trophy winners.  The first vines were planted in 1998 and production commenced with the first vintage in 2003. They boast some 41 hectares of Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Franc, Malbec, Pinotage, Chardonnay and Viognier.  The use of naturally occurring ‘wild’ vineyard yeasts adds a special character to these wines from New Zealand’s northernmost winery.  As a special Northland twist, they are investigating the use of Kauri casks as an adjunct to traditional French and American oak barrels.
Associated with Karikari is the Heritage hotel chain’s Carrington Resort, comprising luxury accommodation, championship 18-hole golf course designed by American designer Matt Dye, Olympic skeet shooting range, vineyard and winery, and a grass-fed Black Angus beef farm.
The onsite restaurant features fresh and often organic produce from local farms and pristine coastal waters.
Okay – the wines.  The Calypso range is made from fruit sourced from other regions. The remainder are estate grown.

Calypso Sauvignon Blanc 2011  $NZ22.00
Fruit sourced from Marlborough.  This is very approachable even for a young Sauvignon Blanc, lacking the rampant acidity of most young Marlborough Savvies.  Soft and inviting, with Gooseberry, bell pepper and crisp fruit flavours.

Wild Chardonnay 2010  $NZ40.00
Fab Chardonnay – estate grown, ripe, unctuous and buttery, with integrated flavours of Golden Queen peach, spice, vanilla and tropical fruits.  Only 75 cases made – mail order, cellar door, or at the restaurant onsite.

Calypso Martinborough Pinot Noir 2009  $NZ24.00
Matured in French oak barrels for 12 months, then bottled and cellared for another year before release. Soft, perfumed and graceful Pinot with classic black cherry and savoury characters.

Pinotage 2010  $NZ29.50
Grown on the property.  Very drinkable right now, yet shows potential for cellaring for 3 or more years.  Silky tannins with ripe sweet black cherry and black berry fruit flavours, and a hint of mocha. 

Syrah 2010  $NZ27.50
This is a  big wine with firm tannins.  Definitely a food wine.  Aromas of pot pourri and spicy vanillin oak, with ripe black berry sweet fruit palate.

Toa Iti Malbec/Cabernet Franc/Malbec 2008 $NZ25.50
Toa Iti translates as ‘Little Warrior.’   Its bigger brother the Toa was a 2007 release. This is another big wine.  Earthy, tannic and complex with black berry fruit and poached Black Doris plum flavours.

Karikari Estate
Maitai Bay Road
Karikari Peninsula
Ph: 09 408 7222   Web:

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