Timothy Giles

Publication: WEEKEND HERALD, SUNDAY LIFE (New Zealand)
Date: 7 Nov 2005
Written by: Timothy Giles
Article: Skoda of Wine
Wine: Vinoptima Gewurztraminer 2003


The wine is intense, perfumed, flavoursome and though
it’s not cheap, its quality and appeal made a quick seller.…



 “If Skoda is successfully selling cars on the back of its ad campaign that claims the tight product will quickly get you over any drawbacks in a bad name, then I want that ad team to get to work on a terribly named, and consequently appallingly ignored grape, gewürztraminer. Actually there’s nothing wrong with the name but we don’t all seem to take too well to Germanic vocabulary so it’s a tough sell in New Zealand. I hardly ever hear anyone using its full name, most abbreviate it to gewurtz, so in the interests of ease, just pronounce it g-vurtz (with a hard G). It may seem culturally inappropriate to reduce a noble Germanic name to such a degree of informality, but once you’ve had a sip and realise what a friendly and likeable little drink it is you’ll relax in its company too.


Originally (and still) hailing from Germany and French Alsace, gewurtz has made itself very at home here and has some seriously devoted fans in the big names of the business, Allied Domecq NZ among them. Their premium Montana Patutahi Estate Gewürztraminer is an outstanding wine and you can spot it easily enough. The label bears a big letter P for the local Patutahi Estate vineyard where the grapes are grown.


Senior winemaker at the old Montana winery in Gisborne, Steve Voysey, says “Gisborne gewurtz has a lot going for it. It’s generally known for having a lychee-like character but it offers so much more variety. Drunk young and kept for a few years, it’s very rewarding and it’s style we are keen on developing.” I don’t know how much better a wine Steve and his team can develop, the P is a stunner that seems almost immune to vintage variation and always make the best of what the season offers.


What Gisborne’s seasons offer gewurtz has long been tracked by the work of Denis Irwin who founded Matawhero Wines in the 1970s and has been making what he describes as “wines for the international palate” since. Sadly Matawhero wines are hard to find these days, but if you find one, buy it. Matawhero wines are unique in not just their history, but the style and flavours too.


If you need more convincing to sample the seductive charms if gewurtz, consider Nick Nobilo who’s new winery and whimsical first wine, I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. The whimsy is over and the real deal, Vinoptima Gewürztraminer, has arrived. With almost as long a legacy of wine production from Gisborne fruit as Matawhero, Nobilo has invested time and his reputation in producing a gewurtz from Gisborne to rival the world’s finest. Nobilo has been focused on his goal for some years now and his tailor-made, single wine winery, has produced its first vintage. Excruciating attention to detail is the hallmark of Vinoptima, a wine handmade almost to the point of obsession. I tried it for the first time this week when it arrived in the city at The Wine Loft in Shortland St. The wine is intense, perfumed, flavoursome and though it’s not cheap, its quality and appeal made a quick seller.


Actually I was astonished at how many people ordered not just the first “give it a go” glass, but a second and a third glass and how quickly they did so.


SAULT! Vinoptima Gewürztraminer

PRICE: $13.50 a glass; $69 a bottle

GET IT: Wine Loft, Shortland St, City”