Canada’s top wine writers and sommeliers gathered in our nation’s capital last Friday to taste world-class New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Pint Noir.
We were privileged to be guided in a personal tasting with Nobilo Wines Chief Winemaker, Dave Edmonds, who was in the country for a couple of days.
In the video above, Dave introduces us to his wines as well as the spectacular food pairings for each course of our meal. Click on the arrow to watch the segment.
Dave telling us about the regions in the next pairing of Pinot Noir with the lamb dish.
Dave’s passion for wine is evident not only in the wines he tasted with us but also his enthusiasm for his craft. He shared many stories around the history of Nobilo, winemaking processes, and how this contributes to their signature wines, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.
I especially enjoyed hearing of his personal connection with the wine, walking through the vineyards and taking in the smell of the grapes. As well, it’s always interesting to hear about the innovation and technology that the vineyards incorporate, in this case it was the tipping tanks and hydraulics systems used to increase contact between grape skins and juice in order to enhance their flavour.
Consistency and attention to detail are also evident, as Dave shared how different vineyards contribute to the different characteristics in the wine. Wines are created from different vineyards across Marlborough, and blended together to create their signature flavour profile.
Finally, the thought invested in the food and wine pairings added to the experience as each course was matched perfectly, including dessert. I would never have paired Sauvignon Blanc with strawberries and cream, however, the tropical notes and bright acidity in the wine worked well with the fresh fruit. It was a great ending to an entertaining and interesting tasting.
Dave Edmonds relating the history of the Nobilo family and their involvement with wine.
Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Marlborough, New Zealand
Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (sneak peak tank sample)
Marlborough, New Zealand
A group of Ottawa-based wine writers gathered at Social in the Byward Market to enjoy a structured tasting of Nobilo wines led by Dave Edmonds, the Senior Winemaker at Nobilo.
Dave, a native of New Zealand, provided the group with a brief history of how New Zealand has evolved from the long Temperance-era, where for the better part of a half-century the six-o’clock swill rule governed the country’s enjoyment of alcohol, and frankly as a result enjoying wine with a meal at a restaurant was just not part of the culture.
Needless to say, New Zealand has evolved into one of the finest cold-climate wine producing countries in the world where nowadays you can enjoy world-class wines with world-class cuisine without the need to beat the clock come 6PM.
With such diverse wine growing regions, and with such a long growing season, New Zealand is able to produce flavour rich wines that retain fresh acidity and balance which is the perfect equation for wine production.
Dave spoke about the characteristics of the different Marlborough sub-regions and what each brings to the wines they produce. Characteristics such as tomato leaf from Awatere, Gooseberry from Waihopai, passionfruit and grapefruit from Central Wairau. When tasting the wines that were blended with grapes from these regions you could see those characteristics clearly in the wines.
Understanding the characteristics of each sub-region and incorporating those into the individual wines, year to year, is where Dave excels, and the proof is in the finished products that he shared with us.
Dave poured a flight of their Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, from recent vintages, and both their Regional Collection and Icon series wines proved true to those characteristics of complex flavour, refreshing, and very well balanced, essentially, ideal wines to be enjoyed with delicious food.
I was especially impressed with the Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir from 2010, which as I put it was ‘Absolutely delicious…and clearly in a league of its own’! My tasting note: A stunning Marlborough Pinot Noir. The Icon Pinot from storied Nobilo winery, shows just how interesting NZ Pinot can be.
Medium ruby red, immediately I was impressed with the deep colour for a cool climate Pinot. The nose shows toasty smoke, little field berries, pepper, gamey notes, leather, beetroot, and a touch of dried herbs. Palate shows more smoke, berries, and spice. Absolutely delicious! A very unique Pinot that’s clearly in a league of its own. Tasted August 2015. 92 points. Matt Steeves – www.quercusvino.ca
If you haven’t tried Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot then I’d suggest picking some up and enjoying it with some good friends. Hint, their Pinot would be ideal with Thanksgiving dishes.
Nobilo Icon Sauv Blanc 2014
Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand
Dave Edmonds explaining the wine being paired with the first course, a fish & veggie dish.
Dave about to taste the Sauvignon Blanc.
I had the pleasure of a tutored tasting with one of New Zealand’s leading wineries, Nobilo, at Social restaurant in Ottawa.
Founded in 1943 by Croatian immigrant stonemason Nikola Nobilo, it is fair to say that Nikola pioneered the Marlborough region into world class status cool climate Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. He also pushed to revolutionize New Zealand’s antiquated liquor laws – wine wasn’t served in restaurants.
Emphasis is placed on high quality wines with fresh, bright, fruit driven aromas and flavours that pair seamlessly with food and just as easily on their own. Winemaker Dave Edmonds is a splendid orator and his passion for Marlborough is evident in his stories and his wines- harmonious and balanced. If only “funny” was a wine descriptor.
We tasted Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir during our two hour lunch over a three courses plus dessert. We tasted wines from both the Regional and ICON Collections paired with delicious dishes selected to showcase the friendship between Nobilo wines and food. Both the Sauvignon Blancs and the Pinot Noirs have classic, cool climate, bright acidity that awakens the taste buds in preparation for food and though I enjoyed all of the wines a few pairings stood out.
Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc 2014 with Asparagus Salad, Hens Egg, Truffle Custard, Shaved Fois Torchon. This Sauvignon Blanc has the richness to stand up to the Truffle Custard coupled with earthiness and flinty minerality to pair with the asparagus which can be a tricky pairing. Not overly grassy and beautiful balanced acidity.
Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir 2013 with Lamb Crepinette, Harissa, Labneh, Sage. This pairing was actually a tale of three Icon Pinot Noirs. The 2010, 2013, 2014 all equally great in their own right but the 2013 stood out for it’s luscious red berries, dried herbs and smoke. Velvety smooth and medium acidity cut through the richness of the lamb beautifully. This mid-weight Pinot Noir would have paired nicely with our first course Albacore Tuna as well.
Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2014 and 2015 with Strawberries and Cream, Japanese Cheesecake with Matcha Streusal. This pairing stands out at first glance just for being “unusual”. Loved both of these above wines with dessert. Refreshing acidity balanced the creaminess while the savoury notes pair nicely with the Matcha Stresual crumble on top. Winner!
Thanks to Dave Edmonds for a lovely and informative lunch and Social for their hospitality and professionalism.
Dave discusses the aromas found in the Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc.
Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir 2013 (recent release at LCBO Vintages)
Marlborough, New Zealand
Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir 2014 (n/a at the LCBO…yet)
Marlborough, New Zealand
Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir 2010 (compare older vintage to the others to see how it ages)
Marlborough, New Zealand
Friday’s lunch on August 21st was a special treat, as several writers from Natalie MacLean’s tasting team gathered at the newly-renovated Social Restaurant on Sussex. New Zealand’s Nobilo winery, pioneers in the country’s wine history, hosted a delicious wine tasting luncheon, featuring 4 delectable courses paired with Nobilo wines.
Nobilo’s Senior Winemaker, Dave Edmonds, taught us a great deal about the history of the winery and winemaking in the Marlborough region of New Zealand as he introduced us to several excellent Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs.
I have to admit, I have a bias; my favourite Sauv Blancs and Pinot Noirs have always been those produced in New Zealand. I keep comparing with those from other regions, but for me, the crisp mouth-watering qualities in the Sauvignon Blamncs and the fruity, food-friendly Pinot Noirs keep me returning to the Kiwi section of the LCBO.
Dave’s informative presentation was well-paced and hit just the right balance between education and witty anecdotes. Learning about the terroir and the winery history deepens the appreciation of the wines of the regions.
Hats off to Nobilo and to Dave for an excellent wine tasting. My love affair with New Zealand wines continues… I’ll be heading back to the Kiwi section soon!
Dave explaining the factors involved for pairing with the vegetable dish.
As an enthusiast of all things wine, I’m delighted with I can share that experience with an architect of wine. Dave Edmonds has had a fascinating journey as a winemaker crafting wines from across some of the world’s most prestigious terroirs such as Sonoma, California, and Mosel, Germany.
When Nobilo became a commercial winery, Dave was just a small boy growing up across the Cook Strait in Wellington, New Zealand. He was raised by a family with a deep passion for wine. Naturally, Dave’s education path steered him through all the fundamentals that would gear him with the key qualities of a world class winemaker. He left such a footprint at his alma mater in Christchurch that they used his studies to inspired the university to establish an oenology course.
There is always something to learn when it comes to wine. The Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir series are some of the most incredible New Zealand style Pinots I have ever had a chance to taste. Vintages do vary but the wines still have a signature quality. If you can get your hands on a Nobilo Icon 2010 Pinot Noir, grab it! It is truly, one of the most delicious New Zealand Pinots I ever tasted.
From its sexy deep garnet red appearance to the delicious dried cherries, cranberries and baking spice notes – it is such a treat. It drinks with a well integrated acidity and little to no tannins. It is full-bodied, and has a lovely long dried berry finish. This is the wine that blew me away at the tasting.
I have no doubts that the future fine vintages will be just as enjoyable.
Dave responding to questions about pairing wine with oysters.
It was a great pleasure to attend New Zealand’s Nobilo Winery Tasting and meet their passionate winemaker, Dave Edmonds.
The winery was established by Nicola and Zuva Nobilo, immigrants from the island of Korcula on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast in the early 1940s. Armed with the knowledge of over 300 years of winemaking tradition, in the 1970s they planted New Zealand’s first vines just west of Auckland.
They pioneered a movement to switch to premium varietals, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Nobilo became one of the country’s leading wineries and gain a worldwide recognition for crafting New Zealand’s premier quality Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
Dave joined Nobilo in early 2000s, after gaining degrees in both horticulture and winemaking and taking the time to perfect his craft at home in New Zealand, California and Germany. In addition to Dave’s passion for winemaking, he is an avid sailor and a master scone baker, keeping his winemaking team happy and well fed during the long hours of harvesting season.
The required minerality involved for pairing a wine with asparagus.
The talents of Nobilo’s winemaker, Dave Edmonds, were displayed exquisitely at Ottawa’s newly renovated Social restaurant.
Noted wine expert, Natalie MacLean, brought together some of the best palates in Canada’s capital to discover how well Nobilo’s Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wines pair with the delicacies presented by Social’s talented chef.
The tasting team was treated to Dave Edmond’s descriptions and the regional influences that produce well-structured wines typical of Marlborough on the north-eastern tip of New Zealand’s south island. Edmonds himself grew up in Wellington, not far from the area where he now plies his trade and artistry.
After years working in the Hawkes Bay region he now dedicates himself to the wines in the Nobilo portfolio. Through his years in the trade he has developed a great nose for Sauvignon Blanc in particular. He is known for sniffing out some distinct aromas amongst the vines that comprise elements of his preferred style of wine.
His colleagues even jokingly liken him to a truffle pig as he can pick up subtleties that evade others and he uses this skill to achieve the perfect blend of grapes sourced from their major growing areas.
The Sauvignon Blanc grapes are cultivated in the Rapaura area of Marlborough: the Awatere Valley and the Upper Wairau Valley. Each of these properties have distinct terroir characteristics that allow Dave to make complex wines that develop with time but can be enjoyed straight from their time of release. The flinty minerality and herbal notes are derived from the Awatere vineyards. The Wairau Valley berries are rich in passion fruit, citrus zest, and tropical aromas.
Interestingly, the tropical fruit aromas are derived from sulfur compounds (thiols) that are not evident in the grapes themselves. These pineapple and passion fruit characters develop in the winemaking process. And in the case of Nobilo wines, the wine-making technique is meticulous.
For the Icon label, the grapes from each region are fermented in cooled tanks for a prolonged period using specially selected yeasts before blending. The result is a Sauvignon Blanc with nice acidity but a more luscious texture than the everyday version found in Marlborough.
The richness of the Icon Sauvignon Blanc reduces the perception of acidity and this, in turn, brings out those tropical notes while the classical citrus character plays a more supportive role.
Pinot Noir was poured along with some perfectly prepared lamb crepinette. For this pairing, a vertical tasting showcased the adaptability of these great reds (2010, 2013 and 2014).
The 2010 benefited from a year where yields were in the 75% range and this made for some very perfumed and well-structured Pinots. The group universally loved this particular wine on its own while the younger versions were very well suited to the texture and flavours in the lamb dish.
Nobilo’s Pinot plantings are in the Southern Wairau Valleys, predominantly in the Waihopai Valley. As most wine aficionados know, Pinot is often difficult to grow and loves warm days and cool evenings.
The best of the varietal are found in regions where this difference in temperature exerts its influence on the proper balance of acidity (a cool climate characteristic) and rich berry flavours (driven by sunny days and just the right touch of heat). The Waihopai micro-climate is just perfect for growing Pinot and the Nobilo Icon version stands out as a great example of what can be done in New Zealand.
One very notable aspect of the event was the paring of the Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc (2014) with a strawberries and whipped cream dessert topped with matcha streusel.
The lightness and subtle sweetness of the dessert would be eclipsed by any of the typical sweet wines reserved for more unctuous delicacies. The crisp citrus notes in the dry Sauvignon Blanc perfectly combined with the fragrant strawberries and silky texture of the cream. The streusel added a little crunch to compliment the overall texture of the wine. Perfect for summer!
Pinot Noir pairing with lamb dish.
Up until this past Friday, I would not have considered myself a true fan of Sauvignon Blanc as my past experiences gave me the impression that this varietal was too “vegetal”.
Well, my recent experience with Nobilo’s Sauvignon Blanc collection, with its vibrant tropical fruit notes, along with it’s mouth-watering, natural acidity, converted me into becoming a big fan!
It was certainly a privilege to have Dave Edmonds, the Senior Winemaker at Nobilo, join us all the way from New Zealand, for a sumptuous luncheon to showcase his beloved collection and pair them with our excellent four-course meal at Social in Ottawa’s Byward Market.
Friday brought with it a typical, humid summer’s day in Ontario. It was the perfect day for sipping a crisp, juicy Sauvingnon Blanc. The water dripping down the sides of the bottle only made the wine look more thirst-quenching!
We enjoyed the Regional Collection and the Icon Collection from different vintages with three of the four courses of our lunch. They paired spectacularly with each course, and the most pleasant surprise was its perfect pairing with dessert – a Japanese cheesecake dessert in a strawberries and cream style. The fruity crispness of the wine cut through the buttery, thickness of the cream.
Pinot Noir, another successful varietal in the Marlborough region was also tasted. Needless to say, this was another pleasant experience and having the opportunity to taste the Nobilo Icon Pino Noir 2010, which is no longer available to purchase, was indeed a special treat.
Dave noted that the long growing season for Pinot Noir allows the grapes to develop a special character not found elsewhere. This contributes to the concentration of bright fruit found in this varietal. I’m looking forward to purchasing a bottle or two of the 2014, which is touted to have been a stellar year. I’d love to try the first one upon release and the second in 2019 to enjoy the bottle-age-worthiness of this wine.
I especially enjoyed learning about the Marlborough wine growing regions themselves and how each region brings it’s own unique character to the grapes grown. It is the marriage of these grapes that make the perfect blend.
I look forward to enjoying many more bottles of wine from the Nobilo family.
Responding to questions about the ageability of wines..
Nobilo’s well-crafted Sauvignon Blanc converted me! I have not been a fan of the varietal due to its common aromas of canned asparagus or peas and cat urine. But senior Nobilo winemaker, Dave Edmonds, explained the careful viticulture processes, such as canopy management that prevent those aromas.
The result, in the Regional Collection blend made from various vineyards, is a crisp wine with some of the classic herbaceous or green notes on the nose and palate, but with predominant tropical aromas and flavours.
Dave explained that the wine has a strong customer loyalty and I can now understand why it’s one of the top selling Sauvignon Blancs in the United States.
The three vintages of Pinot Noir were each unique and while they shared the classic cherry and forest floor aromas, I was impressed with the absence of the not so pleasant earthy or barnyard aroma that is common in New World Pinot Noirs.
What is clear from tasting Nobilo wines and listening to Dave Edmonds is the deep connection he has to the terroir and the vines that grow in Nobilo’s various vineyards in the Awatere and Wairau valleys.
For example, to make Sauvignon Blanc, Dave and his colleagues carefully taste and blend the passion fruit forward wine from Central Wairau, with the bell pepper profile of the southern side wines, and the melon and white peach aromatic wines from the Lower Wairau.
Dave’s enthusiasm for the Marlborough region and the superior wine that he helps craft have made me anxious to visit New Zealand! That way I can also try the Chardonnay and Pinot Gris that Nobilo sells only in its domestic market. For now I will savour the two varietals available in Ontario.
Sommelier & Wine Blogger
New Zealand had cornered a part of my heart when I was just a teen, with its promise of glorious typography, clarity of natural light, friendly people and history.
Later in life, I discovered its amazing wines. Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are favourites and this was certainly confirmed at the recent Nobilo tasting led at by Dave Emonds, senior winemaker at Nobilo Wines. “Pure New Zealand” is their tag line and it was truly thus throughout the luncheon experience.
Be it the natural terroir of the Marlborough wine region: integration of soil, climate, winds and moisture, or the mastery of the viniculture and viticulture, Nobilo wines burst with aromas and flavours that take you instantly back to the green valleys, glacial mountains, hot sun and cold waters of the northern South Island.
Blended with herbal notes of the Awatere Valley vines and the tropical fruit flavours of the Wairu, the 2014 Nobilo Regional Collection is simply glorious for the Sauvignon Blanc lover.
Pineapple, melon, passion fruit and grassiness are layered over clean minerality, and the mouth watering juiciness pleasantly lingers in the mouth as you visualize its source. Amazing on its own but a marriage made in paradise with albacore tuna and avocado. Of if you have a sweet tooth, strawberries, cream and Japanese cheesecake are tempered by its melon and grapefruit flavours. Certainly a wine for everyone and all seasons.
Not to be outdone, the Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir 2010 offers to even the fussiest of tasters, the classic and cheerful cherry colour, nose and mouth. Even at this age, this Pinot is still developing with additional aromas of ripe strawberries and cinnamon and the finish goes on and on with a fullness of ripe cherries.
Although this writer found it a little overwhelming for the Lamb Crepinette, served with harissa, labneh and sage, it was a treasure all on its own. (A better match for this main course was the 2013)
The New Zealand Nobilo wines will certainly find its way into my cellar!
Dave on why he’s a “wine pervert.”
Having the opportunity to attend a winemaker event is always great. Enjoying lunch with senior winemaker, Dave Edmonds, of Nobilo Wines of New Zealand, was no exception.
In addition to the privilege of tasting these beautiful wines paired with four inspired courses at Social in the Byward Market, was the knowledge and insight that Dave was able to convey throughout the tasting.
Having interaction with the winemaker to discuss vintage challenges, vinification and blending choices, while tasting the wines, is truly a dynamic and fun learning experience.
Senior winemaker with Nobilo since 2002, Dave provided an overview and history of the winery, family, production, geography and clone selection. The wines in the portfolio consist of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir – all from Marlborough, with Chardonnay being considered as an addition.
Of note was how the six distinct sub-regions, which comprise Marlborough, influences certain characteristic aromas and flavours of the Sauvignon Blanc grape. This provides the winemaker with a good palate to craft wines of a distinct style such as the full throttle Nobilo Regional Collection Sauv Blanc with its tropical fruit, gooseberry and citrus grapefruit notes or the more restrained, elegant and highly focused, citrus, mineral and herb of the Nobilo Icon Sauv Blanc.
Beautiful wines representing superb quality and value – I’m happy to be able to recommend them.
Dave on his working environment.
His stories about walking the catwalks over the fermentation tanks at the end of the day to relax and search for specific smells that he likes really shows you how much he cares about his work. It was also interesting that he even hunts the tanks for specific aromas that he likes.
As with many other places, it seems that New Zealand winemakers are a very friendly bunch, sharing knowledge so that all of their products are better for it.
The actual pairings themselves were quite interesting this time as well. The chef did a very nice job with the food and matched it quite well to the wines in all cases. It’s always interesting to find something a bit different that works so well, like the cheesecake paired with a very dry Sauvignon Blanc.
Dave on the lift and excitement from the aromas of the wine.
Winemaker Dave Edmonds’ description of the climate, geography and vineyards of Marlborough, and the winemaking and history of Nobilo, gave a real sense of the place. Clearly passionate about his work, he is very informative and interesting – I think a number of us were ready to pack our bags and go!
One of the things that surprised me is that the New Zealand climate is not as forgiving as I had presumed. It seems it can be quite challenging for the vines – windy, dry, producing smaller berries, but the result being more concentrated juice and flavour – yum.
The variation between the wines, both red and white, highlighted the differences in vintages and vineyards and also winemaking decisions. The choice and blend of grapes from different parcels in the region produce wines of distinctive styles.
The tropical fruitiness of the Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc is quite a contrast to the more restrained and dusty-minerally Icon Sauvignon Blanc from the same vintage (2014).
The 2010 Icon Pinot Noir, with its rich blackberry overtones, is a real treat and so different from the 2013 and 2014 vintages, which reflect the more typical (yet lovely and juicy) red berry/cherry aromas and flavours.
The chef at Social did a marvellous job on the menu – the food was scrumptious and the pairings were excellent!
The tasting with Dave Edmunds offered a vast amount of information about the Marlborough region and the Nobilo family wine operation.
I learned about the diversity within the South Island of New Zealand and about the topography and geography, and its influence on the diurnal temperature. Dave Edmonds offered information about how the Marlborough region is protected from precipitation due to the mountain range and its influence on water scarcity and stressing the vines to go deeper for nutrients and hydration.
We were reminded about the sub-regional characteristics in Marlborough and their unique influences on ester development in the fruit. These esters transfer to the wine offering “passion fruit” esters in Sauvignon Blanc from the Wairau valley, “pineapple” esters from fruit in Seddon, herbal notes from the fruit from the Awaterey valley ( 2nd largest valley in Marlborough).
The discussion about Thiol and wine making was a unique and informative reminder about the complexities in vilification. Mr Edmonds comments about oxygen and vilification: “Oxygen is the enemy of Sauvignon Blanc”. Interestingly, he expanded on the use of Argon and Nitrogen gases in the winemaking process, to exclude the oxygen.
Mr. Edmonds shared his opinion about the importance of the terroir and viticulture. Namely, “Sauvignon Blanc is made in the vineyard”. Mr Edmonds obviously knows his wine making and the importance of sourcing his fruit from where the grapes grow best. I enjoyed Mr. Edmonds comments about high skin to juice ratio from the small berries in the Nobilo vineyards.
Mr. Edmonds used unique expressions about minerality “like lightening on the breeze”, this wine is “all about the flinty minerality”, the wine reminds me of (approx) “the smell of the first rain drop on the road in a summer storm”. In his kiwi accent, these words flowed as authentically as his wine flowed into my glass.
Mr. Edmonds has an expert command of the diversity of Marlborough region and sub-regional characteristics. He has packaged this expertise leveraging the vast diversity of soils and meso-climates and sub-regions into the fruit and into the bottle. As a winemaker, Mr. Edmonds shared his opinion on the relationship between vineyard canopy management and the tight flinty and citrus notes in the Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc.
I also learned about the story behind the “Wairau Valley” aboriginal origin meaning ‘the place with the hole in the cloud’ and that Marlborough has a unique combination of a cool climate, high sunshine climate, low rainfall quantity and free-draining, moderately fertile soil.