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Brian Elliott: New Zealand's tale of wine and royalty

Scion of royalty's collection retells story of his forebears, writes Scotland on Sunday wine columnist Brian Elliott

Published: May 19, 2016
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New Zealand’s Brent Marris is a wine aristocrat – first with Wither Hills and then his own Marisco (The Ned) Vineyards – but he could also be a real one. An ancestor was the illegitimate son of England’s Henry I.

The King’s series of wines tells the story. William de Marisco was the “love child” after whom the diplomatically titled King’s Legacy Chardonnay is named. He was born around 1100 and lived on Lundy Island (pictured) in the Bristol Channel.

One of his family held a prestigious post presiding over part of the royal fleet – hence The King’s Favour Sauvignon Blanc. Disputes over land ownership, however, turned things sour and the family became the monarch’s serial irritants, as The King’s Thorn Pinot Gris indicates.

Finally, royal patience was exhausted leading to The King’s Wrath – a pinot noir unavailable in Scotland – and, predictably, to A Sticky End, when a later William de Marisco was hanged, drawn and quartered.

The wines themselves also have a story to tell so here are my thoughts on three – all of which are stocked by Majestic.

Acidity fans will appreciate the perfumed gooseberry aromas of 2015 The King’s Favour Sauvignon Blanc (£9.99) with its zingy and assertive lime freshness and the grassy savoury elements that support it.

My absolute favourite though is the complex and blossom-influenced 2015 The King’s Thorn Pinot Gris (£9.99) – although, as with the sauvignon, some Majestic stores are still on the 2014 vintage. Despite its muted nose, this has clean, apple and quince fruit with lemon zestiness, spice and a long, textured, mineral finish.

Since “stickies” is the name for sweet wines in the Southern Hemisphere, there is double meaning to 2014 A Sticky End Noble Sauvignon Blanc (£14.99 for a half bottle) which draws on the grape’s versatility to create dark, textured dessert wine.
Its flavours range from ripe apricot to thick marmalade with hints of honeycomb winding through.

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2015 Stellar Organics Cabernet Sauvignon Western Cape, South Africa, 13.5 per cent

Ellies Cellar Stellar Cab Sauv Red Best Buy May 15
Importers Vintage Roots bring excellent organic wines to the UK like this soft and medium-bodied red, with no added sulphur. It has only limited tannin to obscure the cherry, raspberry and redcurrant fruit which is neatly supplemented by hints of mocha, red pepper, cedar, vanilla and cloves.
£10.99 at Ellie’s Cellar, Helensburgh

2014 Côtes du Rhône Pierre Chavin Blanc France, 12.5 per cent

Lidl Côtes du Rhône Blanc White Best Buy May 15
An excellent blend of Rhône grapes (roussanne, marsanne et al) with the expected smooth, creamy, ripe melon fruit, apple-centred acidity and hint of caramel. I suspect that there is viognier in the mix given the wine’s textured, perfumed dimension and its floral and nectarine flavours.
£6.99 at Lidl while stocks last

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