If you've set foot in store in the last week, you may have noticed a striking black and white wine display from our Winery of the Month, The Boneline, which has a long history, despite being a relatively new brand, launched in 2014.
When the Boneline wines came to market in 2014, they looked completely brand spanking new, but in fact they had been around for 25 years, albeit under a different name - the new brand replaced Waipara West as a local brand in New Zealand.
"Not many people in New Zealand knew about Waipara West at that point because it was mainly an export brand," says Vic Tutton, who is part of the family partnership who founded the property and began planting vines in 1989 on Ram Paddock Road in the Waipara Valley, North Canterbury.
The first vines for this brand were planted back in 1989, many of them on their own roots (the dreaded ungrafted vines, leaving them open to the risk of the root destroying aphid, phylloxera) but also making them a great library resource of original vines.
Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. All seven initial varieties still form the foundation of the...
"We nurse these old vines along because what they bring to the wines is magnificent, due to concentration and richness of flavour as well as balance in taste, thanks to the quality of grapes on these great old vines."
Many of these old vines were built up from cuttings purchased from other local wine producers, such as St Helena Wines, which was one of North Canterbury's first wineries in the modern New Zealand wine scene - and was the first to win medals for Pinot Noir at wine competition level.
"We've got a real clonal library, particularly for the Pinot clones, which we work with and keep separate. It's very small batch production."
The black and white Boneline wines - what's the diff?
Vic Tutton says the black and white labels are sister wines with different characters rather than better or lesser in quality and style.
"The dry Riesling is like a shooting star while the Hellblock Riesling is more of softer moonbeam. Both are good wines. They have different characters and the same goes for the two Pinots. Initially I think we expected they might be at different quality levels but that's just not the way it's panned out. We can't control what the vineyard provides - we want to enhance it by highlighting these different characters.
"The Wai-iti Pinot Noir (white label) is about more energy in the top palate while the Waimanu is more seductively soft and savoury."
The imagery on the wine labels
The Boneline Wine brand is named after an actual line in the Waipara River, which reveals fossilised bones when the water level drops. It is also one of North Canterbury’s great wine producers across a wide range of classic great grape varieties... Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Cabernet Franc, not to mention its complex Sauvignon Blanc.
The bone line in the river is a reference to the nearby K-T Boundary line that shows evidence of an asteroid impact on the earth at the end of the Mesozoic Era and the extinction of the dinosaurs. Each of the wines’ labels features fossils discovered in the Waipara River dating back as far as 65 million years. These labels show a tangible connection with the land on which the fruit is grown, the old (often ungrafted) vines and the family partnership of Tutton Sienko & Hill’s growing experience in the Waipara Valley in the heart of the great North Canterbury wine region. One of our favourite regions for wine style and quality in New Zealand.
North Canterbury may not have the dramatic mountain backdrop of its southern counterpart wine region, Central Otago, but its wines scale high peaks of quality, style and downright deliciousness.
PS: Waipara West has been retained as an export brand for this company.