Isabel Estate Marlborough
The finest privately owned estate in Marlborough produces five outstanding varietals from its own well-established vineyards. For many years the grapes had been sold to others before production under the Isabel label commenced in 1994; almost immediately it became the source of, arguably, New Zealand’s finest (certainly in the top three or four) Sauvignon Blancs. If less established than CLOUDY BAY it has been more consistent over recent vintages. Early vintages showed unprecendented structure and concentration but more recently there has been greater expression and refinement including a hint of mineral and smokiness. It can be drunk young or with a little age. The wines come only from estate vineyards planted at around twice the average density, accounting at least in part for the extra intensity and concentration. Pinot Noir usually impresses with vivid plum, cherry and raspberry flavours and a savoury complexity, with a promising texture and breadth. Chardonnay has been exciting but not consistently so: at its best it is intense without becoming syrupy and has good dimension and depth. A bright, crunchy Riesling shows typical Isabel fruit intensity including limey, citrus and stone fruit flavours. The Pinot Gris, with an attractive pear and quince fruit, is one of the better New Zealand examples. Noble Sauvage, a botrytised Sauvignon Blanc, is made when conditions are particularly beneficial.
To find out more about Isabel Estate and their wines, and to see how we reviewed and rated their wines you can check out the Wine Guide New Zealand..
Or indeed you can check out the new extensively updated 9th edition Wine Behind the Label Wine Guide that is 2250 pages, it reviews around 4000 vineyards and over 30,000 wines.