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Brancott Estate Wines – A Connoisseur’s Guide

Written by Aksel Ritenis

Brancott Estate Heritage Centre – Marlborough Region NZ


Marlborough can lay claim to starting the modern New Zealand wine industry. Here in the late 1970s, Marlborough produced Sauvignon Blanc, among other varieties, which led to confidence that New Zealand could produce interesting wine.

Today, the Marlborough wine region represents approximately 60% of total vineyard area in the country. The top varietal here is Sauvignon Blanc, closely followed by Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The strong contrast between hot sunny days and cool nights help vintners extend the ripening period of their vines like nowhere else, resulting in unique expressions of their grapes.

For example, Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough offers unique aromas and flavors, which earns them much praise from wine lovers around the world. Even a legendary producer from the French appellation of Sancerre, which traditionally produces the best French Sauvignon Blanc, Henri Bourgeois has recognized the suitability of the Marlborough terroir and microclimate by establishing a winery in Marlborough for producing Sauvignon Blanc.

The majority of Marlborough’s extensive vineyard plantings are around Renwick, Blenheim, and Cloudy Bay in the Wairau valley. Further south in the Awatere valley are plantings near Seddon. These are for the most part on old terraces of the Wairau and Awatere rivers.

The area is widely considered by many critics to produce the world’s best Sauvignon Blanc. One wine critic said that “no other region in the world can match Marlborough, the northeastern corner of New Zealand’s South Island, which seems to be the best place in the world to grow Sauvignon blanc grapes! Also important is the production of Methode Traditionelle sparkling wines, particularly near Renwick, from Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

“The distinctive pungency and zesty fruit flavours of the first Marlborough wines, in particular Sauvignon Blanc, captured the imagination of the country’s winemakers as well as international wine commentators and consumers and sparked an unparalleled boom in vineyard development.”

In August 1973, Frank Yukich of Montana Wines (as we were then known), proclaimed; “Wines from here will become world famous”. How right he was.


Today, Brancott Estate continues to welcome curious wine lovers and tourists to our home to sample the acclaimed Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc on the very land in which it was grown.

It is amazing to think that the Sauvignon Blanc Vineyards of Brancott Estate (owned by Global Player Pernod Ricard) were only planted in the mid to late 70’s! Today, Brancott Vineyard continues to be a source of inspiration for the winemakers, not only proving that anything is possible with a curious nature, but their belief in the terroir and their knowledge of how to obtain the best from it.

Apart from the signature Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough also excels in the production of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Riesling in particular.

Today, the worldwide interest in Marlborough wines, particularly Sauvignon Blanc, has continued to fuel that regional wine boom. The continued worldwide interest and demand for Marlborough wines fuels an ongoing growth of plantings.

The region currently has 23,600 hectares of land planted with grapes. These plantings are primarily located within the Wairau Valley. Located at the Northern tip of the South Island of New Zealand in the Marlborough region.

I was lucky enough to visit the new Heritage Wine centre at Brancott Estate in February of 2012, as part of my Wine Book and Diary Tour, and needless to say was “highly impressed ” by the recently built Brancott Estate Restaurant, housed in a modern concrete Bunker with “panoramic views over the Wairau Valley”.

The stunning new Brancott Estate Heritage Centre is located on an elevated position overlooking the original Brancott Vineyard.

The Brancott Estate Heritage Restaurant

Features include a restaurant specialising in regional, seasonal produce plus a cellar door, and the facility offers wine tastings and tours and rare opportunity to see the endangered New Zealand Falcon and Premium private hosting and tasting facilities and it is environmentally sympathetic design and construction.


The lunch and tasting hosted by Stoneleigh Senior Winemaker, Jamie Marfell was impressive, as were the wines.

The restaurant, offers a selection of dishes to showcase Marlborough’s wonderful fresh local produce. These are matched with the best of Brancott Estate wines to give you the ultimate Marlborough food and wine experience.


Wines are perfectly matched to the fresh local, seasonal produce from Marlborough.

My favourites? I particularly enjoyed a Brancott Estate “B” Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc that displayed pure lifted fruit flavours fresh grapefruit and peach notes, and excellent length with I thought a hint of minerality, it was a great match for the NZ Clams (see photos) and the Pinot Noirs, a delicious Brancott Estate Terraces Pinot Noir with an intense concentration of flavors and balance between the fruit and the silky tannins and the Stoneleigh Pinot Noir reserve, my personal favourite, and made by Jamie was a real cracker! The accompanying Duck was an ideal the Pinots.



The 2010 Marlborough TERRACES Pinot Noir exhibited a silky texture and rich concentrated Blackberry flavours, and the complex spices and gaminess that are the hallmarks of a great Pinot Noir.

“I reckon” it’s good for cellaring as well and costs a fraction of the price of French Burgundy!

Written by Wine Correspondent
Axel Ritenis

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Aksel Ritenis

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