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His choice rested heavily on his experience of the quality of the grapes he had bought from Dave Thomas and of the wine he was able to make from them. He set modestly ambitious targets. His publicity brochure states that he is ‘dedicated to producing the world’s best Gewurztraminer’, and he means it. Reviews of the wine suggest that he is already on the way to achieving this objective. Wine reviewer Neal Martin gave Vinoptima Gewurztraminers the highest average score, over the 2004 to 2008 vintages, of all wines he tasted during his 2008 visit to New Zealand. At over NZ$50 for a 375-ml bottle, the wine is probably underpriced for its quality, and certainly much less expensive than other wines of similar style and quality such as those of Sauternes.

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The immaculate, ultra-modern winery he built in Gisborne is designed to vinify Gewurztraminer in small batches, with Nick doing most of the work.

Nick Nobilo’s long association with Gisborne and knowledge of the qualities of the grapes from different sites there allowed him to make sophisticated judgements on the

Gisborne agro-terroir. While his site is nestled towards the hills on two of the favoured soils for viticulture on the Poverty Bay flats, other similar ones abound. In 2010 the 109 hectares of Gewurztraminer in Gisborne made up barely 5 per cent of the region’s vines, of which Vinoptima had 10 hectares. The world market for hand-crafted wines similar to Vinoptima, from a clean, green Gisborne, is certain to become much larger.

‘There might be something we’re doing right here.. ’

Gisborne makes much of being part of the first region of New Zealand to see the sun. That it was also the first region to see the growing of grapes on a large scale has indelibly marked its economy, landscape and the organisation of winegrowing in New Zealand. In Gisborne’s abundant environment landowners were quick to respond to offers of contracts to grow grapes for Auckland firms. By 1980, 126 grape growers were supplying 84 per cent of the grapes harvested from almost 1600 hectares of vines. Gisborne was the largest regional vineyard in the country. The Gisborne experience established the fundamental form of the wine filiere in New Zealand. It consists of landowners growing grapes, usually under contract to firms of various sizes, who buy the grapes and use them, and some they grow themselves, to produce wine.

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