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Visiting New Zealand's wine regions 
Part 15: Bilancia

Website: www.bilancia.co.nz

While I was at Trinity Hill, winemaker Warren Gibson (right) showed me his own wines, Bilancia. He also very hospitably invited me round to his home for tea, where I met the other partner in Bilancia, Warren’s wife Lorraine Leheny, who is also a winemaker.

When you are travelling wine country on your own, it can be a slightly lonely existence, even if you are meeting people all the time. The chance to have a meal in someone’s home is a welcome treat, even if some people are a little taken back when their partner brings an unexpected guest back for dinner!

Warren and Lorraine began this boutique operation in 1997, releasing the first wine in 1998.  There’s Italian influence: Bilancia is the Italian name for the Libra zodiac sign, which is shared by Warren and Lorraine – and it also means ‘balance’ or ‘harmony’, something they strive for in their wines.

Most of the grapes for the wine come from a terraced hillside vineyard ‘La Collina’; other grapes come from the gravels and a couple of other vineyard sources. The wines are really impressive: this is an astonishingly high quality range that’s up there with the best from Hawkes Bay.

Bilancia Pinot Grigio 2006 Hawkes Bay
Ripe and aromatic with a herby nose. The palate is nicely complex with notes of pear and spice, a smooth texture and good complexity. There’s lots of interest here. 91/100

Bilancia Reserve Pinot Grigio 2006 Hawkes Bay
Really aromatic and rich on the nose: sweet, grapey, warm and complex. The palate is rich, smooth and grapey with fat texture and notes of honey and spice. Dry-ish, this is a lovely bold complex wine. 92/100

Bilancia Viognier 2006 Hawkes Bay
Quite deep yellow with green hints. The nose is grapey, melony, intense and peachy. Broad and full. The palate is powerful and boldly flavoured with complex herb and melon notes. Fat, broad fruit here with lovely grapeskin character. Bold and delicious. 93/100

Bilancia Syrah Viognier 2006 Hawkes Bay
Pure, fresh, dark nose is focused and tight wound. Dark, meaty, spicy and peppery. The palate has focus and depth with nicely judged oak supporting the peppery, spicy fruit. Fantastic. 93/100

Bilancia ‘La Collina’ Syrah 2005 Hawkes Bay
Beautifully dark, focused nose with spice, black pepper and floral notes. Aromatic and vivid. The palate is very fresh and full with good concentration and purity of fruit. Savoury and vivid, this is dense, focused and dark. 94/100

Wines tasted 11/07  
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