Wine tasting review: Getting to know Nautilus Estate

A long time ago I won a wine tasting with Nautilus Estate. We were hosted by Clive and taken through their range at Auckland’s best bar for wine lovers/winos, Golden Dawn. I believe Stephen Wong (one of a handful of New Zealanders with the Master of Wine qualification) does the wine list and it is full of interesting natural wines from New Zealand and around the world.

First, a little background on Nautilus Estate. They are based in Marlborough and established in 1985 (well that was the first vintage) by the Hill-Smith family, who started up Yalumba in Australia – they’re pretty legendary and remain family owned. The Nautilus shell is nature’s perfect spiral, and reflects their approach to winemaking’ “nature in it’s perfect form”.

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We tasted four wines:

2012 Grüner Veltliner – an Austrian varietal with a fresh citrus nose. White pepper and light aromatics. Clive indicated over time you could expect more intensity of flavour and texture. I thought this was interesting, but not something that I would actively seek out. It had a slight savoury/oiliness that might work better with food – it did have a fresh acidity which is typical to the region. RRP $26

2012 Chardonnay – I love Chardonnay, and this is a great example why. This wine is a little bit spicy, with fresh tropical fruit character, mouthwatering minerality, and a wonderful balance of softness and acidity. Made from fruit exclusively from the Wairau Valley this Chardonnay was my favourite wine of the tasting, it’s much sought after and good luck to you if you can find it as it’s pretty much sold out everywhere. Clive suggested trying independent specialist wine shops, it’s worth hunting for. RRP $32

2011 Pinot Noir – Pinot Noir is typically a “precious, fickle and feminine variety” according to Clive, this makes it difficult not to get right. This Nautilus Pinot is violets and cherry on the nose, and goes down like velvet. The berries follow through on the palate and it has good acidity, a soft finish and retains minerality. Not sure on the RRP sorry…

Nautilus NV Cuvée Brut – fresh and light on the nose, slightly yeasty on the palate (some people love yeast, personally I prefer more citrus fruit flavours), and was actually pleasingly balanced and seductively soft. This non-vintage fizz is back blended with some back vintage for consistency, and consists of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay grapes. With an RRP of $38-42 this is an excellent bottle to mark any occasion (or non-occasion for that matter).

Cheers to the lovely folk at Golden Dawn for hosting us, Clive from Nautilus and the supergroup of family owned, premium independent New Zealand wineries – Family of Twelve.

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