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Waiheke Montepulciano scoops prestige award at Romeo Bragato Wine Awards

Obsidian Vineyard from Waiheke Island has won an award at the Romeo Bragato National Wine Competition in Auckland for its 2006 Montepulciano. The wine, which is Obsidian’s first release of the variety, scored a trophy and gold medal in the ‘Other Red’ class of the competition.

Made by Obsidian winemaker Mike Wood, the awards are confirmation for proprietor Lindsay Spilman that ‘Monte’ has a great future on the island. “We’re the first Waiheke producer to make wine with the variety,” says Lindsay. “And even though the ’06 crop was very small, we always reckoned we had a winner on our hands.”

“Mike’s contribution has been enormous,” declares Lindsay. “It’s his talent and dedication that has helped us make this such a superb wine.”

Mike, who also looks after Obsidian’s vineyard, describes the wine as ‘quite Italian’ in character. “It has a deep purple colour with garnet hues, the nose shows plums, vanilla and spice and the palate has ripe black fruits and mocha, with excellent tannins, weight and structure,” he says.

Montepulciano is Italy’s second most widely planted native red grape variety. It originated in Tuscany but today is dispersed all around Italy’s grape growing regions. London-based authority on varietals Jancis Robinson MW describes it as ‘promising’.

The grape’s history at Obsidian goes back to 1997 when a single row of vines was planted at the vineyard and carefully nurtured. The vines flourished and showed great potential right from the start with generous bunches and good resistance to the autumn weather.

With just a few hectares of Montepulciano planted around NZ, it’s still an unfamiliar wine to most Kiwi wine lovers. But Obsidian’s success may well change all that. In fact, Lindsay wonders whether Waiheke could become the Tuscany of the Hauraki Gulf. “We may not have the terracotta roofs and old buildings,” he says. “But we’ve got the hills, the olives, the cypresses and the family-owned vineyards. And now we’ve got a wine to match!”

Time will tell, but Obsidian Vineyard is certainly setting the pace with this exciting Italian newcomer. Obsidian also received a silver medal for its syrah and three bronze medals – a tally of five medals in total.



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