South Island, New Zealand
The Alma Mater is the signature wine of this small, high quality producer in New Zealand’s South Island.
In 1997 Antonio Pasquale and Stefania Muraro arrived in New Zealand from Italy and were attracted to the town of Kurow in the South Canterbury / North Otago heartland, planting some 30 hectares of vineyards and building a state-of-the-art winery. The Alma Mater is a field blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer.
Field Blends are an older European way of making wine, where the grapes are picked from the field or vineyard and taken directly to the winery where they are fermented together. The more modern or traditional method is to ferment the grape varieties separately and then blend them together on the tasting bench, after the wines have been made. You have much greater control over the final blend with this method, but in Pasquale’s way of thinking you lose some of the character and uniqueness that the vineyard has to offer. This is the “Terroir” that a lot of Europeans talk about when they create their wines. They believe wine is a lot more than just the variety that makes the wine; it is about the place, the soil, the climate and everything else that goes into making a special wine from a particular place.
The wine is a blend of the following grape varieties Pinot Gris 40% Riesling 36% Gewürztraminer 24%. The Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer were handpicked from the same vineyard and fermented together in tank with a portion then matured on their yeast lees in old French barrels for 2 months. This is critical in giving the wine it’s prominent mid palate. The Riesling was then carefully blended back to obtain a wine of finesse and structure. Silky, seamless with an appealing citrus finish, the wine displays a rare elegance and structure. It is light yellow in colour and has a delicate, perfumed Gewurz-like scent of rose petal infused by a brighter aromatic component, no doubt due to the Riesling.