Sue Courtney’s Wine Ramblings

Sue Courtney’s blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
May 21st 2011

Something old, something new

Someone left an old book and a bottle of wine for me. Who left it? What was the wine’s provenance? And why the book, Rabbits Galore? The wine, Lansdowne Estate Pinot Gris 2009had a website on the back label – www.lansdownewine.co.nz – but the webpage stated only the name and ‘under construction’. It was a mystery I had to unravel and searching the Internet didn’t help either*. All the clues were in my hands and most came from the label.

It told me Lansdowne Estate is in Masterton in the Wairarapa and was producing world class pinot and syrah in 1895. Romeo Bragato visited Lansdowne during his wine region travels and praised the Wairarapa for being eminently suited for the culture of vitis vinifera vines. But Lansdowne Estate’s original vines were pulled out in 1908, during prohibition.

Lansdowne Estate as it was back then, was a huge land holding. Now it’s all subdivided up, it lends it name to a suburb of Masterton and a golf course. And in 2004, on one of the rural blocks, grapevines were once again been planted. 

The book had its flap inserted to bookmark a photo – a photo of the Brancepeth Homestead, owned by a Mr H Beetham, presumably a descendant of the region’s original winegrower, William Beetham. Click here for a photo of William Beetham’s vineyard at harvest time. William Beetham is 4th from the left. Ah, now it’s starting to make sense.

Lansdowne Estate Pinot Gris 2009 is a pinot gris with a difference – and that’s not a bad thing at all. A crisp, fresh gris with apple and pear aromas that carry through to the dry, clean palate, it has a touch of spritzy sherbet, but all the while the sweet juicy apple flavours take centre stage with strudel spices, creaming soda and a nuance of vanilla adding complexity. More of a ‘grigio’ style, I’d say – high acidity seems to be the driver. It’s the first crop off the vineyard and Karl Johner (Johner Estate) made the wine. It has 14% alcohol and a screwcap closure. 

It developed beautifully in the bottle and we tried it with a couple of food bites that worked very well.  Firstly crispy duck skin as a pre-dinner nibble, and later pork marinated in apple juice and maple syrup.

The next mystery to unravel is ‘how much does is cost?” and ‘where to buy?’ If anyone knows, share the secret.

*Searching the Internet, I did find reference to other Lansdowne estates and vineyards, both here and overseas. It’s evidently a popular name.

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