Misha’s Vineyard Has Magic – Raymond Chan, Regional Wines, 23 Nov 2009

Misha’s Vineyard Has Magic
Some wines have an indefinable quality of magic that transcends all empiricism. Those from Misha’s Vineyard in the Bendigo sub-region of Central Otago have it. The inaugural release last year yielded a range of four varietals that tantalized wine enthusiasts. The 2008 Gewurztraminer from this release took gold at the Air N.Z. Wine Awards that year, and the 2008 vintages of Riesling, Pinot Gris and 2007 ‘Audition’ Pinot Noir stood right behind this winner. Of course, the quantities were minuscule, but there are still bottles of the Gewurztraminer and Riesling around if you look hard enough. The 2009 whites and 2008 reds were recently previewed it can be reported that they have the magic as well.

Misha’s Viineyard is the passion of Misha and Andy Wilkinson, whose desire to make a range of exceptional quality cool-climate wines is to enrich their lives and those around them. Residing in both Singapore and New Zealand, the style and potential of the Central Otago wines, and their suitability in matching Western and Asian cuisines was the inspiration for Andy and Misha to establish a 57 hectare vineyard at the southern end of Bendigo, overlooking Lake Dunstan in 2005. The Wilkinson’s have a professional motto “no compromise” and this has earned them great respect in the business world, and it is apparent in the development of their wines. To that end, the advice and services of Dr Richard Smart, world-renowned viticulturist and Robin Dicey, the most experienced viticulturist in Central Otago were engaged. Winemaking is the domaine of Olly Masters, whose continuing work at Ata Rangi, and consultancy for other Martinborough wineries as well as Seresin Estate in Marlborough, has earned him the reputation as one of the finest winemakers in the country. Not withstanding the input of these experts, the ideals of the owners, as well as the special ‘terroir’ of the Bendigo region where Misha’s Vineyard is sited, the wines possess a certain style of elegance, purity of minerality expression and feel of quality that is over and above what could be expected. Following are Raymond’s notes and scores on the new release wines, which will come available in the near future:

Misha’s Vineyard Dress Circle Pinot Gris 2009
Straw yellow in colour, this has a youthful, fresh bouquet of spicy pears along with a minerally note. At present, some fermentation esters are showing and actually add lift to the nose. Quite rich and more luscious than its 5.0 g/l residual sugar would suggest, this has very good weight and textural qualities. There is a little heat showing, the alcohol at 14.8% indicative of the full ripeness of the fruit. Quite unctuous, yet with a lovely crispness and freshness. 31% of the wine was indigenous yeast fermented in old oak barrels and considerable interest and complexity will emerge over the next 2-4 years. 936 cases made. 18.0-/20

Misha’s Vineyard Limelight Riesling 2009
A very limited wine with only 152 cases made. 11.9% alcohol and 26 g/l residual sugar. 83% stainless steel fermented with the remainder naturally fermented in old oak to enhance the minerality of the wine. Pale straw yellow with youthful green hues, this has beautiful aromas of limes, honey, steel and minerals and comes across as off-dry on the palate, the clean, racy acidity preventing any cloying. Lovely raciness with the sweetness offering counterpoise and a luscious note. Tightly bound, and a cross between the wines of the Eden Valley in Australia and the Mosel in Germany, style-wise. This should develop well over the next five years. 19.0-/20

Misha’s Vineyard The Gallery Gewurztraminer 2009
A youthful straw yellow colour leads into a cooler, beautifully exotic expression of Gewurztraminer with its nose of rose water, florals and subtle spices. Elements of herbs and minerals keep any sign of broadness away. Off dry at 10 g/l residual sugar, there is a little heat noticeable from the 14.3% alcohol. However, this also contributes to the refined power, depth and richness inherent in the wine, no doubt contributed by the 30% portion warm fermented with native yeasts in old oak. Lovely acidity, which can be rare in Gewurztraminer, and a characteristic nuance of bitterness that the variety has, also shows. 456 cases made. 18.0/20

Misha’s Vineyard The High Note Pinot Noir 2008
The ‘High Note’ is naturally a step up from the very smart, inaugural 2007 ‘Audition’ Pinot Noir released last year. Olly Master’s experience with Pinot Noir has ensured the quality of this wine. Conventionally made with a cold soak, natural yeast fermentation with a peak temperature of 32°C, two weeks on skins and a year’s maturation in 34% new 300 litre French oak. 14.2% alcohol. Deep, youthful, ruby red in colour, this has a tight and concentrated nose of red and dark fruits, with the familial mineral and steel notes. On palate the wine has textural beauty with very fine-grained tannins and a tight construction binding the wine together. Lovely balance and poise, with dark, but sweetly ripe cherries melding into toasty oak and mocha nuances. A classy number indeed. 19.0/20

Misha’s Vineyard Verismo Pinot Noir 2008
A 63 case barrel selection of the 2008 Pinot Noir which was thus 67% new oak matured and a resultant 14.3% alcohol. The clonal mix here was 53% clone 5, 34% 115 and 13% 667. Dark, deep purple hued ruby red. Black fruits on the nose complexed by savoury and game nuances to the bouquet, oak in balance. A powerful and well-structured wine with considerable extract. Rich and lush dark cherry flavours, dense and a little raw, needing time to allow integration. The backward nature of the wine is typical of many other Bendigo Pinot Noirs, and this is an exceptional example. To be released in May 2010. 19.5/20

Two 2008 Aromatic Whites
A tasting of previously released Misha’s Vineyard wines that are currently available reinforced the quality of the inaugural wines. The Misha’s Vineyard ‘Limelight’ Riesling 2008 (18.0-.0/20) at 11.4% alc., and 29 g/l rs was still a youthful pale straw yellow colour and tight and minerally on the nose. Subtle complex toasty notes were just developing here. Medium-dry on palate, this was beginning to show secondary toast flavours to the honey and limey-mineral elements. Good concentration and length, the acidity becoming integral. Only 136 cases were made.
The Misha’s Vineyard The Gallery Gewurztraminer 2008 (18.5+/20) at 14.4% alc and 14 g/l rs was pale straw with green hues.. The youth of the wine was evident on the nose; still tight and concentrated with real depth of rose petal, herbs and lychee aromas. Off dry, the weight and texture was a feature. Obviously cooler climate with its sleekness, this was still fresh and vibrant and carried a very long finish with a trace of varietal bitterness, perfectly countered by the level of sweetness. This was the gold medal winner at the 2008 Air N.Z. Wine Awards, and still looks truly worthy of it. Only 184 cases were made. Both of these wines are dwindling in supply and it is advised to obtain them soon, before they are gone!
(Raymond Chan, Regional Wines, 23 Nov 2009)