Misha’s Vineyard: An icon in waiting – Sam Kim, NZ Lifestyle, March 2012

Sam Kim explores why you should be a convert to this wine label…

It’s a thrilling experience tasting new vintage wines from Misha’s Vineyard. And it’s hard to believe this new bright star is already celebrating its sixth vintage in 2012. It is also unbelievable how quickly they have become a serious producer in such a short time. But then there is something strong and magnetic about the people behind these exquisite labels.

Misha and Andy Wilkinson, accomplished business marketing folks with intimidating credentials, are wholly unintimidating in person. They have approached the project of setting up a vineyard with meticulous attention and enthusiasm. And yes, passion. Passion is an overused word these days, but the Wilkinsons do show undeniable genuineness.

They established the vineyard on the north-west-facing slopes above Central Otago’s Lake Dunstan in 2004 after searching for suitable land for two years. It’s a stunning place. Actually it’s a severe place of extreme climate and rugged landscape where fortune seekers used to sluice and pan for gold under dire conditions, and later Merinos roamed and grazed to produce the most delicate fibre.

Their winemaker, Olly Masters, was already a superstar before joining the Misha’s team. He manages to turn seemingly ordinary looking grapes into extraordinary wines. Can he weave his magic once again at this newfound land? The answer is an astounding yes. Yes, he can. And yes, he has.

So what do their wines taste like? They are richly interesting with immediate accessibility. They show a subtle yet vivid flavour sense with impeccable balance and harmony. They are wines of individuality while belonging to the region and the varieties. And they will mature with grace.

Already they have given us compelling wines of irresistible flavours. And I am certain that their best wines are yet to come, ultimately making Misha’s Vineyard an iconic name in the world of wine.

Misha’s Vineyard “Dress Circle” Pinot Gris 2011 $28.00

There is a quality of elegance. It’s ripe and gently fragrant, showing pear, peach and floral aromas followed by a succulent palate, finishing long and refined. A slender beauty showing pristine fruit flavours. Yes indeed, Pinot Gris can be invigorating and most pleasing.

Misha’s Vineyard “The Gallery” Gewurztraminer 2011 $32.00

It’s perfumed as a good Gewurz should be, but not over the top, showing gentle floral and tropical fruit characters with a touch of citrus. The palate is ripe, rounded and beautifully silky with an innocent sweetness which is perfectly balanced by the bright acidity.

Misha’s Vineyard “Limelight” Riesling 2011 $28.50

This is outrageously good, even though it will need a few years to show its best. The bouquet is restrained, showing lemon pith and green apple notes. It’s concentrated and finely textured on the palate with a superb sweetness/acid balance, making the wine flow beautifully to a delectable crisp finish.

Impromptu by Misha’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 $30.00

This is meant to be an unheroic early-drinking Pinot, yet the wine is stylish and engaging with red/black cherry, floral and mixed spice notes on the nose followed by a delicious smooth palate, well supported by excellent fruit weight and fine tannins. A really lovely drink.

Misha’s Vineyard “The High Note” Pinot Noir 2009 $48.00

Warm, ripe, generous and fragrant, the bouquet is intoxicatingly gorgeous with red/black cherry, savoury mushroom, game and floral notes. The palate is equally seductive, showing succulent mouthfeel and silky texture, finishing impressively long. The wine is elegant and beautiful, and discreetly powerful at the same time.

Misha’s Vineyard “Verismo” Pinot Noir 2009 $63.00

This is more substantial while remaining poised and harmonious, displaying dark cherry, game, cedar and floral characters on the nose. It’s concentrated, full and densely textured with plenty of polished tannins providing an exceptionally long velvety finish. One for the cellar, and for a special occasion, this is utterly delicious already.

Sam Kim is a senior wine judge and author of Wine Orbit magazine (wineorbit.co.nz). You can follow him via Twitter @wineorbit.

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