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Matahiwi Estate: The family-owned winery in prime position for producing excellent wines

Matahiwi Estate: The family-owned winery in prime position for producing excellent wines

Matahiwi Estate's prime position in the Wairarapa allows for the creation of spectacular wine.

Matahiwi Estate: The family-owned winery in prime position for producing excellent wines

Alastair Scott identified that the region was an ideal environment for grape growing when he returned from London to his homeland in 1998 to fulfil his long-held dream of owning his own winery. “Tasting and consuming good wines at good restaurants in London increased my interest in wine,” says Scott. “The mystery of creating strawberry or black currant flavours from a grape intrigued me. The changing nature of a glass of wine and the social interaction that is involved with wine and friends was the difference between investing in a dairy farm or a winery.” Scott says the story of the unique flavours of New Zealand wine gave him the confidence to invest in the New Zealand wine sector. “A wine tasting course I took in London was full of praise for the New Zealand wine sector. Although a commodity, there are unique differences in flavours and image in New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir that should create a global demand.”

Scott wanted to grow Pinot Noir, so he was determined to find a location with the perfect conditions to achieve this. “The neighbouring area around the vineyard had grown award-winning Pinot Noir, supplying into wineries in Martinborough,” he says. “The soils are free draining, the heat was there in the climate data, it was less windy than Martinborough and I felt the frost risks were better than parts of the Martinborough region. The vineyard offered scale which was important to get efficiencies in the production of the grapes. The flat and long north/south running rows were an advantage.”

The Matahiwi Estate team.

Winemaker Miles Dinneen says the winery’s location sets Matahiwi Estate apart. “Matahiwi is one of a handful of vineyards at the northern end of the valley and sits in the rain shadow on a raised ridge of deep free-draining gravel,” says Dinneen. “The wines have lovely purity of fruit, elegant and balanced structures and great drinkability.” While the Wairarapa is one of the smallest wine regions in New Zealand, Dinneen says it’s a great place to produce wine. “The Wairarapa is a classic cool climate winegrowing region that genuinely has a long cool, dry growing season giving small crops of ripe intensely flavoured grapes,” he explains. “The climate and soils are ideal for quality Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, varieties that lead the New Zealand wine story here and abroad. The region is home to a small but experienced winegrowing community that has built a global reputation for fine wine.” 

Matahiwi’s ability to determine the optimum picking times means its wines boast balanced flavours, mouth-filling texture and a lingering finish. With the region being well-known for Pinot Noir, Matahiwi makes several wines in this variety. Experimentation with barrels, whole bunch and natural yeasts creates the very limited and special Wild Holly Pinot Noir. Matahiwi’s Sauvignon Blanc is the winery’s biggest export seller and award winner, and features the hallmark sauvignon blanc characteristics but with a little less acidity and a little more tropical fruit.

Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19 and lockdown, this year Matahiwi Estate has produced some excellent wines. The growing season started with a mild spring with reasonable rainfall and great weather over flowering, which set up the vines and crop nicely. From late-December onwards, the weather turned fine and very dry which resulted in an average-sized crop of ripe, intensely-flavoured fruit. Harvesting began in March just as the coronavirus was starting to impact New Zealand, but the team stayed focussed and acted under strict hygiene and social distancing protocols, and the continued good weather meant they were able to pick off each block as it reached optimum ripeness. There was one rain event later in the harvest, but the fruit was in such great condition it did not cause problems for harvesting the last blocks. The result has been white wines that are full of vibrant fruit and ripe acidity, and Pinot Noirs with deep colours, rich and true varietal flavours and lovely balance.

MiNDFOOD readers can enjoy these Matahiwi Estate’s award-winning wines at a discount, with the winery offering 15 percent off its already reduced Club ME pricing. Simple use the code ‘MINDFOOD’ at checkout when purchasing Matahiwi Estate’s award-winning products from its website.


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