Mike Hosking

Publication: SUNDAY STAR TIMES MAGAZINE (New Zealand)
Date: 23 Jan 2005
Written by: Mike Hosking
Article: Tipple
Wine: Vinoptima Gewurztraminer 2003


Mike Hosking drinks what he considers the country’s best gewurtz with
one of the country’s wine heroes



“There are several reasons I like Nick Nobilo. One, he is following a dream. Two, he has a wicked vision for the industry in which he’s played such a pivotal role. Three, he puts corks in his bottles.


The Nobilos got out of their family label some years ago, but instead of buying a super yacht and sailing in the Caribbean Nick took his money and bought 8ha of land outside Gisborne and set out to make the best gewürztraminer in the new world.


I spent the very early part of my life in Gisborne. The Wahine storm almost killed my sister there when a tree missed her room by metres. My earliest memories are running down the road to the local hospital to meet my dad.


I don’t get back enough. It’s remote and different, which has something to do with the fact that geographically it’s an outpost. You have to aim to go there; you don’t simply drive through on the way to some place else.


So here we are having lunch at the Bushman Arms. The food is cooked by a man who looks like he might be the plumber. He runs the place. He had a chef but got rid of him once he worked that cooking wasn’t that hard. His food would sit in any Auckland restaurant and turn heads. He put strawberries on the table, with coffee, that were more perfect in colour and shape than any I have ever laid eyes on. They were organic and he had grown them out back.


The wine industry is filled with brilliant people who hide behind their cover of ordinariness. He [Nick Nobilo] could be your neighbour, and the fact that he’s a rock star in this country’s wine development only comes out once you start firing the questions.


What he is doing is a first: one bit of land, one wine. This is a way of the future.


We specialise. We can never really be a mass producer. But we can be brilliant.


There is precedent. Max Schubert did it with Grange in Australia. But that was an extension to an already established operation, and everyone thought he was mad anyway.


As far as I know, no one thinks Nick is mad. His 8ha is so beautiful. He is trying different clones; the vines are four years old. The plant is housed in a stunning purpose-built facility. The tanks are Nick’s own design; in fact, everything is Nick’s own design. Not just happy with being a great winemaker, he has a V8 brain in entrepreneurial activity as well.


He’s spent more than he needed and it looks like it. It’s visually an oasis of steel and barrels and technology [Vinoptima Estate winery], and God is it clean. Its first vintage is in the bottle but the place looks like its never seen a grape. It’s the perfect place on the perfect site and on it’s way to making a wine that will make a noise around the world.


Vinoptima costs a bomb. Its 50 bucks a bottle, but then dreams don’t come cheap. It is the best gewürztraminer I have ever tasted.


It was an honour to share a bottle and a dream over an unreal lunch in a sunny day in one of this country’s largest untouched geographic gems.


Nick Nobilo rocks.”