Millton "Te Arai Vineyard" 2007 (Gisborne, New Zealand)
This is the 2007 Te Arai vineyard chenin blanc; dark yellow (almost gold!) in color, a rich aroma and dense palate, extremely well made with lots of soul. The first time I smelled this I knew I'd love these wines! This is right up there with some of the best chenin blancs I have tried from the Loire Valley. He gets complexity by hand-picking at three different ripening stages, so the wine has acidity, fruit, and often a hint of botrytis.
The Millton's make wines from four primary vineyards. Annie's parents planted the Opou vineyard in the 1960s, and in the early 1980s James and Annie set up their winery and planted their other three vineyards. They live and work at Te Arai vineyard (where this chenin blanc comes from). Since the beginning they have been pioneers, and they have stuck true to their beliefs. They were the first in New Zealand to be certified organic (through BioGro) and soon after the first in New Zealand to be certified biodynamic (through Demeter), and have become figureheads for this type of farming in their neck of the globe.
The Te Arai vineyard is green and thriving with life, from their biodynamic livestock herd to the healthy cover crops that grow between the vine rows.
Gisborne wasn't always suitable for wine growing-- the Waipaoa River would unexpectedly flood, making agriculture a risky venture-- until a flood control program in 1953 helped control the river's instability. Despite the floods, there have been vines in the region since about 1850, when missionaries set up the first Gisborne vineyard.
Cooper, Michael. (2002) Wine Atlas of New Zealand. Auckland: Hodder Moa Beckett. pp 122-127.