Millar Road comprises both guest accommodation and a wine producing estate in the hills above Haumoana overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. It provides stylish accommodation as well as crafting certified organic, naturally vinified wines from its own vineyards. Produced under the banner of their subsidiary, Supernatural Wine Company, these wines are low sulphur with some being skin-fermented white wines, all sourced from their north-facing hillside estate in Hawke’s Bay on New Zealand’s North Island.
Their philosophy centres on great terroir and traditional ways of working, the aim being to make all wines as naturally as possible. The use of indigenous yeast from their own vineyard for fermentation as well as ensuring that they add nothing to the wines other than a little sulphur prior to bottling results in wines of pure, vibrant character. The focus is on producing dry aromatic and skin-fermented white wines in a very clean and direct style.
Their vineyard at Millar Road has proven pedigree being in proximity to and on similar soils, slope and aspect as Te Mata’s Coleraine vineyard, one of New Zealand’s most accoladed sites. Bearing in mind that more than 90% of New Zealand’s vineyards are on flat land with alluvial gravel soils, this soil and site produces very distinctive wines in a New Zealand context.
The site is a standout location for viticulture being situated on a north-facing hillside with slopes up to 30 degrees. Soils are lime-rich clay with volcanic influence. In total the estate encompasses just under 20 hectares, with just 9 hectares planted to vines – 8 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc and almost 1 hectare of Pinot Gris (approximately 1,800 vines only!). All were planted in 2004 and 2005.
The company gained full organic certification with BioGro New Zealand in March 2015 and commenced biodynamic farming practices in 2015.
The Supernatural is a very atypical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The oft-commented on smoky and spicy, herbal notes are characteristic of the site, along with a richness and texture due to the extended skin and lees contact. Fermented with indigenous yeast at cool temperatures. Prepared for bottling with a minimal sulphur addition. Unfined, lightly filtered. The bouquet is crammed with fresh, verdant citrus fruit allied to subtle nuances of herbs and tropical fruit. The fine acidity brings edge and vigour to balance the silken texture. A wine of true character and some welcome restraint – in that it is not too obvious. Subtlety and complexity go hand in hand here.
Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is one of the most popular white wines in the UK, but this takes things to another level. Coming from Hawke’s Bay on the North Island, the Sauvignon vines are planted on one of the country’s few hillside vineyards. The wine is made in a natural style with minimal intervention – low sulphur, no fining and the skins are left in contact with the fermentating juice briefly to maximise flavour, body and texture.
This lack of winemaking intervention allows the ‘terroir’ to shine through, giving a unique take on kiwi Sauvignon. There are ripe grapefuit and peach aromas, but also smoky and spicy notes which follows onto the palate which is fullf-flavoured with refreshing natural acidity. This is less overtly fruity than most NZ Sauvignon, but offers much more complexity and has a lovely oily texture.
It is sealed with a crown cap, more commonly seen on beer bottles, but which serves as a perfect closure for wine bottles – expect to see more wines being sealed with this practical closure in the future.
***** 5 Stars – NZ Wine Buyer’s Guide 2018, ‘Closed with a crown seal, the 2016 vintage is a striking wine, well worth discovering. Certified organic, it was grown on a hill site in the Tuki Tuki Valley, held on its skins for six hours before pressing, fermented with indigenous yeasts, and matured on its yeast lees, with stirring, for a year before bottling. Bright, light yellow/green, it has a fragrant, ripely scented bouquet, leading into a weighty, fully dry wine. Fleshy and finely textured, with tropical fruit flavours, showing excellent vigour and depth, it’s a distinctive, well-structured wine, with loads of interest.’ Michael Cooper, March 2018 (2016 vintage)
Recommended by Stephen Wong MW, ‘More golden in colour than some previous vintages – though The Supernatural has been trending this way for a while now – this is complex and rich on both the nose and palate. The aromatic spectrum alternates between herbaceous and oxidative; baked green apples toasted fennel seed, crisp, crunchy fresh celery and even a hint of walnut. Pressing and persistent on the palate without being heavy or round, this 2016 borrows some of the structural notes from Green Glow; a subtle but present grip to accompany the limey, stony acidity. Flavours veer more towards savoury and smoky than fruity. I suspect that the winemaker, Hayden Penny, chose to trade in some of the variety’s punchy exuberance for a subtler, more complex and layered expression through judicious oxidation and minimising winery intervention.
While there were certainly a few identifiably varietal past vintages; here, the Sauvignon Blanc provides a reference point rather than a template. For some, it may come across unfamiliar, being only tangentially Sauvignon-like. Others will relish the austerity and strong minerality which grips the palate from start to finish. At a time when varietal Sauvignon Blanc is prolific, this carefully measured expression brings a contemplative voice to New Zealand’s evolving Sauvignon Blanc story.’ WineSentience.com, January 2018 (2016 vintage)
90 Points – JamesSuckling.com, ‘Mealy, lightly grassy, savory aromas lead to a mellow, smoothly textured palate that offers lemon-barley flavor in restrained, elegant mode.‘ October 2018 (2017 vintage)
Recommended in GQ Magazine, ‘Supernatural, miraculous, magical – whatever you want to call it, this wine deserves a spot in your cellar. Forget what you think you know about New Zealand Sauvignon, this wine is smoky, spicy and aromatic (in all the right measures). Made using low-intervention techniques, this bottle boasts a rich body and oily texture.’ Millicia West, April 2019
The Supernatural Wine Co. - Sauvignon Blanc
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