Yet the production is one that has rarely been seen in this part of the wine making world.
Eureka owners Stephen Rae and Hugh Girling are not the first New Zealanders to utilise the traditional straw wine method, but they could well be the only ones currently using it.
The wine’s name relates to the way the fruit is treated. Bunches of Sauvignon Blanc were carefully hand picked at 21 brix, and placed into bins in single layers. Each bunch had to be as pristine as possible, to ensure no berries harboured botrytis potential.
After hand picking the bunches were then laid out on beds of straw, inside a glass house to provide a stable environment and left to dry for five weeks. The straw, which is anti microbial, provides a moisture absorbing surface, while also allowing air circulation around the bunches.
“Basically in that five weeks the grapes begin to resemble sultanas, although they retain their original colour,” winemaker Girling said. “We picked at between 21 and 23 brix, but after drying the grapes had reached between 36 and 39 brix.”
While the brix levels rose, the acid, pH and TA remained the same as when first picked. After five weeks, the fruit was then de stemmed and soaked in its own juice for 24 hours. Then it was fermented, half in American oak, the other half in French oak. It was finally bottled five months later.
The very limited wine has already received rave reviews, as wine that is; “Sweet and concentrated, yet not cloying because the natural acidity of the grapes ensures a fresh, lively citrusy finish.” (From wine reviewer Sue Courtney.)
Eureka is a new wine company, with just two wines in its current portfolio.
The Straw Wine Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and the Marlborough Gewurztraminer, both 2011. Both Rae and Girling are adamant they want to create wines that stand out and fit the company’s name.
The success of their initial Straw Wine Sauvignon Blanc has now got them thinking about what other varieties could be processed in this age old tradition.
“We would like to trial as many different varieties as we can, Girling said. “We are also looking at making a straw Pinot Gris, as well as a standard Pinot Gris, then we might try a partial combination. Not everything we do will work, we realise that. But we want to experiment, be innovative, and see where it takes us.”
“But at the same time we don’t want people to think we are being radical for the sake of it, said Rae. “What we want is to push the boundaries.”