Spotlight on… The Hunting Lodge Wines in Waimauku, West Auckland
By Joelle Thomson
North west Auckland’s wine history is New Zealand’s wine history. It was here the Dalmatian early immigrants first planted grapes from the far north southwards until they reached Waimauku and Kumeu. Enter The Hunting Lodge.
The lodge began life as the restaurant for Matua Valley Wines which was founded by brothers Ross and Bill Spence, whose Dalmatian father was involved in wine, leading his sons to carry that torch forward.
The Spences were the first in the country to plant Sauvignon Blanc at this unassuming location in the lush green valley of Waimauku. When they later sold their Matua Valley wine brand to Treasury Wine Estates, the lodge went with it, until the 32 hectare estate was bought by the Spence’s long time friends Brent and Denise Sutton in 2016 back from Treasury Wine Estates. It has since been refurbished into a cellar door, café, restaurant, winery and bottling plant for the new wine brand, The Hunting Lodge.
The new Hunting Lodge wines are a fitting tribute to the Spence’s incredibly important role in New Zealand’s modern wine history. They are made by winemaker Pete Turner who has also made wine in South Africa, France and on Waiheke Island.
The Hunting Lodge wine philosophy
Winemaker Pete Turner plays to the strengths of his country’s wine regions in his wines.
“The upper North Island can be too hot and humid for many aromatics and for Pinot Noir. Similarly, you can struggle to ripen Syrah in the South Island, so our Pinot Gris and Albarino grapes come from the Awatere Valley in Marlborough where the hot days, cold nights, low rainfall and gravelly soils produce unrivalled aromatic intensity.”
This philosophy extends to all of The Hunting Lodge wines.
The Chardonnay is made from the cooler, elevated terraces of Crownthorpe in Hawke’s Bay where the silty loam soils and the climate provide grapes with refreshing acidity.
The Central Otago Pinot Noir is made from the region’s two warmest sub regions, Bendigo and Bannockburn, which provide ripe, fruit forward grapes to make a masculine style of Pinot Noir, which Turner describes as having dark fruity flavours.
Marlborough is also one of the country’s most promising and under rated Pinot Noir regions and happens to be home to our wine of the week, featured below - this is a star buy at this price. It drinks deliciously now and will hold for another two to three years.
Bin ends don’t get much more exciting than this refreshing Pinot Noir from Marlborough, which combines three years of age with a refreshing style, thanks to the great balance of acidity from Marlborough’s cool nights. The 2017 vintage was a tricky one but the best wines have emerged as earthy, delicious and fresh.
Joelle Thomson is a wine writer, journalist and author. She’s an avid lover of wine and currently writes for Capital magazine, Good magazine, NZ Winegrower, Drinksbiz, and her own site,www.joellethomson.com.
She also teaches, works in radio, and more, so we've enlisted her help to sniff out our amazing value wines!