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Delegat's Wine Estate
by
Kathy Sullivan

Delegat's Wine EstateSummary: Delegat’s is a large New Zealand winery with three locations. Besides Marlborough the other locations are in Auckland and Hawke’s Bay. With large exports to the US, it is quite easy to discover Delegat’s Oyster Bay wines. Delegat’s concentrates on producing quality wines and does not have a cellar door available for tasting wine.

Delegate’s has three winery locations. We visited the one in Marlborough. The brother and sister team, Jim and Rose Delegat, began the winery in 1947. In 2006 the winery became publicly listed however the winery remains owned by 70 percent of the family. While Delegat‘s is the name of the company most people will be more familiar with the brand Oyster Bay.

Grapes are sourced from their own vineyards and contract growers. With vineyards producing 25,000 to 30,000 tons of grapes, the production at Delegat’s is ten percent of New Zealand’s wine volume. Delegat's ships 250,000 cases of wine to the United States. In 2009 Delegat’s produced two million cases and the goal is to increase production to 3.5 – 4 million cases.

Delegat’s Wine Estate is totally focused on producing wine. The winery is not open to visitors and they do not have a cellar door.

Delegat's Wine EstateMarlborough Winery Facility

We met Michael Ivicivich, winemaker and designer, who designed the building and gave the Washington State University winery tour group a detailed walk-through of the winery. Michael is the fourth generation winemaker in his family. The facility was designed with the “form follows function” concept. The winery was designed under the New Zealand seismic code and tanks are bolted to the floor. According to Michael, the winery is the “most technologically advanced winery in New Zealand.” He continued, “Technology is used to assist the winemakers, not replace them.”

Michael started the design for the winery in 2002. He studied wineries in other world wine regions. The winery was built in stages and completed in time for the 2010 harvest. The facility can handle 2,000 tons of grapes per day.

There are five sections of this large winery. These include a tank cellar, receiver area, process room, plant room-refrigerator room and barrel cellars. The automation of presses is high tech and run by four people for up to 2,000 tons a day. There are checks in the program on the touch screen to guard against accidental pushing of buttons. Floors are relatively clear of hoses as the winery is able to use a minimum number of them. The Marlborough winery has 1,000 tanks of different sizes including 5, 10, 20, 40, and 160 thousand litre tanks. Winemakers use an automated punch down system.

Delegat's Wine Estate     Delegat's Wine Estate

This winery facility in Marlborough does not handle bottling. The wine is shipped in tanks by rail to Auckland for bottling.

Delegat's Wine EstateVineyards

Oyster Bay Vineyard surrounds this winery facility. The vineyards are between the Richmond Range to the north and Whither Hills to the south. Vineyard 535H has Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. A short distance away is a 500-acre Pinot Noir vineyard. For better vineyard management vineyards are blocked-up. Wines can be made from specific vineyard blocks. Winery workers working on the walkways above the tanks can look out of windows at the surrounding vineyards, a gentle reminder that wine is made in the vineyards.

Occasionally the vineyards are subject to frost. At these times helicopters are brought in to protect the tender grapevines. The soil in the vineyards is alluvial. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are planted in the better soils. Sauvignon Blanc can be found growing well in the poorer soils.

Delegat's Wine EstateWines

At the winery we tasted some of the Oyster Bay brand wines. Sauvignon Blanc Oyster Bay 2010 was a light straw color. The aroma offered tropical and flint notes. The taste also had tropical notes. The finish was crisp with citrus yielding to tropical. The aftertaste had minerality. A suggested pairing for this wine was Marlborough mussels. Chardonnay Oyster Bay 2010 was a straw color. The aroma, taste and finish offered apple and mineral notes. The finish was crisp. Pinot Noir Oyster Bay 2009 was a translucent red. The aroma and taste had red cherry and red berry fruit. The finish was crisp with soft silky tannins.

We had lunch at a restaurant in Blenheim. In New Zealand one can find wine with the Delegat’s label. For lunch we had a bottle of the Delegat Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 that was a straw color. This wine offered tropical fruit with mineral hints. The 13 percent alcohol paired well with fish and chips.

When visiting a restaurant or wine shop look for Oyster Bay wines.

 

 


 

 

                                      

 


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