Two new ranges have hit the shelves under the Brancott Estate brand, which in 2010 replaced Montana (except for a selection of lower-priced wines, sold only in New Zealand). Brancott Estate Flight wines offer lightness and a low-alcohol content, whereas the Special Reserve range heads in the opposite direction, celebrating “power” and “concentration”.
The Flight selection features a sauvignon blanc and a pinot gris, at $27 priced the same as the established large-volume range, labelled simply as “Brancott Estate”. The Special Reserve quartet is priced marginally higher, at $29, but both ranges sell on promotion for under $20. Brancott Estate Flight Sauvignon Blanc, which has just 9% alcohol but also 15g a litre of residual sugar (making it a medium style), won a gold medal at this year’s New Zealand International Wine Show, competing against wines of normal strength and dryness. Other major producers have recently launched selections of low-alcohol wines, stressing their reduced-calorie content.
The catch is that these wines, made from grapes harvested early in the season, are typically less rich, less ripe and less flavoursome. Try tasting, side-by-side, Flight Pinot Gris and the Special Reserve Pinot Gris. One is pleasant, but nothing more; the other is flavour-packed and satisfying.
Brancott Estate Special Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Weighty, with strong, vibrant passionfruit-like flavours, deliciously rich, ripe and rounded. $29 (4.5/5)
Brancott Estate Flight Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012
A tangy, refreshing wine, its splash of sweetness balanced by appetising acidity. Light and lively, it makes a stimulating aperitif. $27 (3/5)
Brancott Estate Special Reserve Marlborough/Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011
Fleshy, full-bodied red with good depth of ripe-cherry, plum and spice flavours, savoury notes adding complexity and a smooth finish. $29 (3.5/5)
Brancott Estate Flight Marlborough Pinot Gris 2012
Pleasant but plain, in a slightly sweet style with lemony, appley flavours, smooth and fresh. $27 (2.5/5)
WINE OF THE WEEK
Brancott Estate Special Reserve Marlborough Pinot Gris 2012
Instantly appealing, with mouth-filling body (14% alcohol), concentrated stone-fruit flavours, hints of ginger and honey and a seductively smooth finish. Ready to roll. $29 (4.5/5)