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Thwines of Isabel Estate, Marlborough, New Zealand

72 Hawkesbury Road, PO Box 29, Renwick, Marlborough, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 572 8300 Fax: +64 3 572 8383
E-mail: isabel.estate@xtra.co.nz
Website: www.isabelestate.com
UK agent: Morris & Verdin (Phone: 020 7921 5300)

Isabel Estate was established in 1982, but owner Michael Tiller, a pilot, and his wife Robyn, initially operated as growers supplying the grapes for some of Marlborough’s leading wineries – notably Cloudy Bay. In 1994 they decided to start bottling their own wines, and they now operate entirely on an estate basis, making wines produced only from their own vineyards under their full control.

The estate is located on the Omaka terrace, just south of Renwick in Marlborough’s Wairau Valley.  Vines are planted at a relatively high density (4400 vines per hectare), and the deep free draining gravels are underlain with a narrow layer of calcium-rich clay, retaining moisture and reducing the need for irrigation. Hmmm, sounds good. But what are the wines actually like? While both the Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are up there with the best from New Zealand, it’s the Pinot Noir that is the stand out for me: a truly brilliant wine.

Isabel Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2001
2001 was a drought year, producing small, ripe berries. Quite pale colour. Classic full nose: grassy, sharp and intense. The palate shows good texture with ripe fruit and some rounded tropical fruiy character. Good concentration and balance here. Very good/excellent (£9.90)

Isabel Estate Marlborough Pinot Gris 2001
This is the second release of Pinot Gris from Isabel Estate, a quarter of which is barrel fermented. Shy nose is a little spicy and honeyed. The palate is rich and spicy with a good acidity and some residual sugar (7.3 g/l). The attractive texture is this wine’s selling point. The relatively high alcohol (14.3%) doesn’t stick out too much.  Very good

Isabel Estate Marlborough Dry Riesling 2001
From a single vineyard made from the Hawkesbury vineyard, this is the third vintage. This full-flavoured Riesling has a rich citrussy nose with a slight boiled sweets edge. Lovely, rich, rounded spicy palate with a touch of residual sugar. Youthful at the moment. Very good+

Isabel Estate Marlborough Chardonnay 2000
This shows an interesting, herby, slightly vegetal (although not unpleasant) nose with hints of honey, toast and caramel. The palate has a lovely rounded mouthfeel and a rich, nutty character. Interesting stuff, with fruit to the fore and well integrated oak. Very good/excellent (£11.50)

Isabel Estate Marlborough Pinot Noir 2000
I’m always pleased to see a new world Pinot Noir that isn’t too darkly coloured, so the cherry red colour of this example is promising. It has a lovely intense nose showing an attractive medicinal edge to the bright berry fruit. The palate displays a good concentration of savoury, herb-tinged fruit, and although this is a young wine it’s already showing a good degree of complexity. A deeply impressive Pinot Noir that gets it just right. Excellent (£14.50)

Stockist information (supplied by UK importer Morris & Verdin)

Selfridges, London
Harrods, London
Wines in Cornwall                           01326 340 332
Noel Young in Cambridge            01223 844 744
Halifax Wine Company                        01422 256 353
Hoults Wine Merchants, Huddersfield       01484 510 700    
Trout Wines in Hampshire                   01264 781 472
Irma Fingal Rock, Gwent                     01600 712 372
The Oxford Wine Company            01865 301 144
Wine Raks, Scotland                         01224 311 460
Bennetts Wines, Gloucestershire   01386 840 392
Wattisfield Wines, Suffolk                 01359 259 159

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wines tasted November 2001