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New Zealand Wine Centre
Terry Sullivan

New Zealand Wine CenterWhen traveling to wineries, it is nice to take a break and visit a wine-related site. There are museums devoted to wine as well as wine centers. The New Zealand Wine Centre is located in Napier and is the country’s premiere wine experience. Visitors can experience wine in a different presentation than that offered at a winery or vineyard Cellar Door (tasting room).

Janine Bevege led us through the experience beginning in the museum room and on to the aroma awareness room and tasting theater. The New Zealand Wine Centre offers a unique introduction to the wines of the Hawke’s Bay region. The center can accommodate 80 people at a time and is a popular destination for wine enthusiasts on cruise ships and coaches. The center opened in the spring of 2008 and in addition to the wine experience holds a wine and cheese tasting on Wednesday evenings. The center partners with different wineries in the region. Some of these wineries do not have a cellar door so the New Zealand Wine Centre offers a venue to taste their wines. About 90 percent of the wines at the center are from the Hawke’s Bay wine region with the remaining ten percent from New Zealand’s other wine regions.

The wine center has several activities to offer wine enthusiasts. Explore the museum, learn about white and red wine aromas in the aroma awareness room and participate in a red wine or white wine interactive tasting in a theater setting. There are four films showed on a rotating basis.

New Zealand Wine CenterMuseum Room

Artifacts and posters help present the grape growing and the winemaking processes. The grape growing process is divided into the tasks performed in the vineyards during the four seasons. The poster for the winemaking process uses a flow chart to show the steps from the crusher/destemmer to bottling. One artifact of note is a wood hand-operated labeling machine.

Aroma Awareness Room

Visitors can spend several minutes to an hour in the Aroma Awareness Room. One can individually smell 54 different white and red wine aromas as well as 12 aromas considered faults. Each aroma and fault has a card with a drawing and another card with a description of the aroma and wines associated with the aroma. On the opposite side of the fault aromas display, cards are turned over. Take the challenge and see if you can name the faults. One can turn the card over to see if they are correct. The room challenges one’s sense of smell, preparing them for the wine flight in the next room.

New Zealand Wine Center     New Zealand Wine Center

New Zealand Wine CenterWine Tasting Adventure

Visitors will have a flight of six red or six white wines. The wines reflect the terroir of different Hawke’s Bay growing regions. These flights are done in a theater setting with theater seating. Six glasses of wine are already poured along with a spittoon cup and a glass of water. A tasting notes sheet is included with a pencil. You are encouraged to add notes and rate the wines on a scale from 1 to 5. During the flight a video plays adding to the theater effect. The video starts out with a play on words. A pilot starts a bi-winged plane for a flight over the different Hawke’s Bay wine regions. During this flight, sit back and enjoy the arial views of the region. The wine tasting flight begins with the first winemaker commenting about the first wine in the wine flight. One needs to keep on their toes because this part of the video goes by quickly, however after the video you can retaste the wines and write notes. In the video winemakers give insight to the aromas and flavors associated with the wine one is tasting.

New Zealand Wine CenterWines

We participated in the red wine flight. We chose this flight since the Hawke’s Bay area is known for their red wine production. The flight began with the 2007 Scarlet by Stone Paddock. This Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec blend had a black fruit and floral aroma and black fruit taste. Soft tannins accompanied the fruity finish. The second wine in the flight was a 2005 The Navigator by Alpha Domus. This Bordeaux-styled blend included Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. The wine offered blackberries on the aroma and taste and silky tannins on the finish. The third wine in the flight was a 2006 Cabernet Merlot Malbec by C J Pask. This Bordeaux-styled blend had black fruit on the aroma and taste and soft tannins on the fruity finish that yielded to leather. The fourth wine in the flight was the 2007 Classic Blend by Unison. This wine was a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Black fruit was predominant on the aroma and taste and silky tannins were on the finish.

The last two wines in the flight were both Syrahs. The 2006 Serine Syrah by Stonecroft had black pepper on the aroma and black cherries on the taste. The wine finished with mild tannins and cherry taste yielding to spices and then to black pepper. The last wine in the flight was the 2006 Silistria Syrah by Gunn Estate. The plum and floral aroma had a plum taste. Mild tannins on the finish were accompanied by fruit yielding to spices.

The New Zealand Wine Centre is a perfect venue to begin exploring the wines of the Hawke’s Bay region. Wines offered in the flights are changed every six months so repeat visits are desirable.

New Zealand Wine Centre
1 Shakespeare Road,
Napier, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand






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