This year’s global pandemic may have had many people running for the hills but our team took to the hills in a more positive way last month when we visited one of the country’s smallest wineries in one of the prettiest spots possible. Clevedon Hills, south Auckland. It's home to Puriri Hills Wines, rated top wine producer in this country by wine writer and Master of Wine Bob Campbell. Good timing for a visit, then.
Many Aucklanders have heard of Clevedon, due to its gorgeous weekly market and marvellous local mozzarella styled cheeses.
We were there for a more liquid affair at Puriri Hills. The winery is the brainchild of Judy Fowler, who started out in 1996 and was later joined by her partner in life and in wine, Phil Nunweek.
Puriri Hills in Clevedon, South Auckland
- Is owned by Judy Fowler and Phil Nunweek
- Vines cover 2.5 hectares of their 40 hectare property
- The focus is on reds made from Bordeaux grape varieties
- Judy and Phil are chemists by training.
- Phil and their vineyard worker Mandy are mainly focussed on viticulture
- Judy's goal has always been to go back to Bordeaux styles and make the best version from this climate and land.
- She moved here in 1996 from the States with her ex-husband
- She describes their grape growing as between organic, biodynamic and regenerative agriculture.
- The two most challenging grapes to grow here are Malbec and Carmenere, both late ripening, thick skinned varieties, which can be negatively impacted by humidity and moisture, of which this region can have plenty.
- To work with this challenge in the vineyard, the couple and their workers aim to keep the vine canopy open with good air movement.
The goal in establishing Puriri Hills was to establish a world class winery that was a reflection of its place and could stand as world class in making Bordeaux styled wines, says Judy Fowler.
“Our job as winemakers is really to be the servants of the vines.”
2017 Puriri Hills Clevedon Mokoroa $29.99
Mid ruby colour with great depth of aroma, pronounced flavours of dark berries reveal the Cabernet Franc and Malbec in this interesting blend, which is 84 Merlot and has a smidgeon of the very late ripening red grape, Carmenere. Dry and medium bodied with savoury complexity.
2014 Puriri Hills Clevedon Estate $45.99
A gamey dry red blend of mostly Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc and Carmenere. This medium bodied dry red spends two years in barrel and typically four years in bottle, prior to release. It's a big red with great balance of acidity and dark smooth tannins.
2012 Puriri Hills Clevedon Harmonie du Sour $93.99
This is typically is the top wine each vintage and is dry, medium bodied and youthful, even at eight years old. It has big grainy dark tannins, a long finish and, in good cellaring conditions, a long life ahead.