23 December 2014

Ake Ake Plant Pinotage

Ake Ake Vineyard Winery are in the midst of planting 400 Pinotage vines. “We had difficulty  sourcing them,” owner John Clarke told me, “and we received these pot-planted but that means we can plant them now even though it’s late in the season.”
John Clarke shows the first of his 400 new Pinotage vines
John showed me the first of the infant vines. After just two weeks in the ground they are already showing healthy new growth. “The nursery say that we can get our first harvest in the second year, but I am dubious about that,” said John. “But come back in two years.”

Ake Ake— the name means ‘forever and ever’ in the Maori language— is near Keri Keri in The Bay of Islands Northland region of New Zealand’s North Island.

Ake Ake have been producing wine for a decade and already have a reputation for their Pinotage, which they made from grapes sourced from Waitapu Vineyard, the most westerly vineyard in the north of New Zealand’s North Island. 

Ake Ake currently grows Chambourcin, Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Albarino. After an initially promising start, Tempranillo failed.

“Our soil is a bit of everything,” says John. “We are on higher ground and exposed to the wind so some varieties that do well at neighbouring vineyards fail here.”

Ake Ake grow organically and are in transition to full certification.  “From September 2015 our wine will be Certified Organic by Organic Farm NZ,” says John. “Growing grapes using organic principals will be better for our customers who visit the vineyard and restaurant, us who live here and ultimately we should have healthier vines and better wines.”

“We do have a bit of powdery mildew, but not enough to cause problems. Pinotage, with its thick skins and early ripening, should do well here. I really like the wine it makes, and it’s more reliable than Pinot Noir which can be hit and miss here in the North Island.”

I tasted 

Syrah-Pinotage 2012, 13%ABV ($20 NZD). This is a blend of 2/3 Syrah to 1/3 Pinotage. “2012 was a cool year,” said John. “This has been aged half in oak and half in stainless steel.”
I found this a lighter style of wine with bright cherry notes and crisp acids on the finish.

Pinotage 2013 14.5% abv ($30 NZD). 

“This is 100% Pinotage aged 10 months in seasoned oak barrels. Whole berry fermentation— the berries ware so hard most went through the destemmer-crusher barely marked, and unfined.”

This wine is delicious but probably would be even better with more time as it has the dark purple colour of youth in the glass. There’s cedarwood on the nose followed by an assault of layers of fruit including raspberry, cherry and red plum. Delicious ripe and fruity and before one can find more descriptors the glass and bottle are empty.

We hope to return in a few years to taste John’s own estate grown Pinotage.

Before we left we dined like royalty in the winery restaurant.

Ake Ake Pinotage 2013
14.5% abv


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