Ask Misha Wilkinson the significance of number 8 and be prepared to listen. There are many reasons and even more coincidences that has made number 8 more than a good luck charm.
When Misha and Andy Wilkinson decided to plant a vineyard in Central Otago, they settled on a site on State Highway 8 at Bendigo, just 8 kilometres from Cromwell. It was where gold was once mined by the Cantonese and to honour the ‘old gold’ history, a Chinese gold coin was placed under each of the first eight rows. These eight gold coins are carried through to the distinctive and attractive bottle label and represent 8 bunches of grapes on the single vine.
To date they have planted 88 kilometres of vines and they are oriented in two directions – 288° on the lower slopes and 341° (adding up to 8 ) on the higher terraces. Not only that, they picked the grapes this year on the 22nd April, which a friend pointed out is 2+2+4=8. “Do you have No. 8 wire in your vineyard?” I had to ask. Now Misha is going to check that out.
Misha and Andy are great marketeers, one of the key aspects that a winegrower needs to tackle. But they leave the viticulture and winemaking to experts in those fields – Robin Dicey and Oliver Masters respectively. In the picture above, Oliver is on the left and Andy is standing behind Misha. It seems they make a great team as Misha’s Vineyard has already produced new gold from the old gold mining land with a gold medal award for the Gewurztraminer at the 2008 Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
And so to the label names that you will see in the reviews below – Misha explains that she grew up in theatres spending many hours in dressing room with her opera singer mother. Thus the names of each wine represent some aspect of her childhood life.
I tasted the following wines over lunch today at upmarket Auckland restaurant, The Grove, where I was one of Misha and Andy’s 8 guests.
Misha’s Vineyard ‘Dress Circle’ Pinot Gris 2008 has a delicately fragrant perfume with a hint of zest and a slightly oily textured palate with pear and mandarin and a bright citrus flourish to the zesty finish. There is heady alcoholic warmth yet a refreshing coolness. Beautifully matched to Tortellini of goats curd & chives on a bed of sauteed peas and beetroot.
Misha’s Vineyard ‘Limelight’ Riesling 2008 has lime and apples on the nose and later some floral notes too. Weighty and off dry with richness and concentration, the notes say it has some oak and wild yeast – they don’t add flavour but they do add complexity. Lime is the dominant flavour with racy acidity taming the sweetness, which you would never guess was as high as 29 grams per litre. An interesting name, ‘limelight’, like the others theatrical in origin but it coudl also imply the lime driven flavour. Perfection on its own with the wine’s limelights shining even brighter when matched to kingfish carpaccio with crayfish jelly and lime zest.
Misha’s Vineyard ‘The Gallery’ Gewurztraminer 2008 is a richly flavoured wine, delicate yet full. It’s one of those wines that expands beautifully in the mouth and stays. Aromatic spices, Asian fruit, a touch of damask and delicate zest, then later exotic tropical fruit and a hint of anise. To me this was a star match to confit of duck leg and spicy, crispy skin duck breast with poached pear, verjuice and a red wine purée.
Misha’s Vineyard ‘The Audition’ Pinot Noir 2007 is a bright yet deep ruby colour and is smoky and aromatically scented and richly flavoured with exotic spices, black cherry and plum fruit and reasonably forward varnishy oak with gamey flavours evolving on the finish and again, that little hint of anise. Made from the first fruit picked off the vineyard, from the first vines planted in 2004, it has passed the audition. It will get to play a part in the chorus but the scene has been set for a leading role with more vine age and less new oak in subsequent years. Best match was ostrich fillet topped with foie gras and sprinkled with ‘chocolate soil’.
These are beautiful wines, the Riesling and the Gewurztraminer in particular, both rating 8 out of 10 and my favourites on the day. Check out www.mishasvineyard.com and be sure to peruse the photos in the Gallery – some are as striking as the wines. You can also find Misha’s Vineyard on Google Earth – tap in the co-ordinates 44° 57′ 50.00 S / 169° 17′ 01.17 E and you will be able to zoom right into the tractor shed.