Napier may be renowned for its historic 1930’s Art Deco architecture that lines the streets of this small town in the Hawke’s Bay region of New Zealand, but it has also recently staked a claim for more modern innovation.
The town has become home to New Zealand’s first urban winery, welcoming visitors to the preferred base of the country’s second largest wine growing region to sample exquisite wines as part of a Napier wine tasting experience. The winery was established by winemaker Tony Bish, who is releasing a line-up of four Chardonnays – including a vintage that has brought another cutting-edge idea to the region, the so-called ‘Taransaud Ovum’. Resting in the cellar of this magnificent Art Deco building in Ahuriri within the precinct of Napier, is the most unique and stunning wine barrel in the world. As the name suggests, the Taransaud Ovum is an egg-shaped barrel forged from French Oak – the only one of its kind in New Zealand and one of only a few worldwide.
‘When you walk into the barrel room, there’ll be a huge glass window, and the first thing you will do is you see into this gorgeous black room with these dramatic eggs – the wooden one at the back and the concrete ones to one side…’The Taransaud Ovum, which arrived in March, is spacious enough to hold 2,400 bottles of wine – in this case Chardonnay as Bish is New Zealand’s only exclusive Chardonnay producer.
It joins three large concrete eggs that merge into the cellar’s décor and are being used to push the boundaries of winemaking – convection currents within the structure process wine in the same way as a traditional barrel, except for stirring itself so that human intervention is not needed. One of the first wineries in the world to use the oak Taransaud Ovum was the renowned Champagne house Drappier, although it was in South Africa that Bish’s attention was first turned to using egg shaped barrels.‘We pushed the boat out and purchased the most unique and stunning barrel in the world,’ Bish told Hawke’s Bay Today – admitting that his vision had cost him upwards of NZ$55,000 for the oak barrel ovum.
Since the concrete versions weigh 2.2 tonnes each, the cost of exporting them to New Zealand would have been astronomical – leading Bish to work with a local concrete firm to create three ovular barrels, which he has labelled his ‘Golden Eggs’, that will no doubt be conversation starters during Napier wine tastings for years to come.The oak egg barrel will form the centrepiece of the winery’s cellar, which is scheduled to open in September, as Bish regards it as a ‘work of art’. ‘When you walk into the barrel room, there’ll be a huge glass window, and the first thing you will do is you see into this gorgeous black room with these dramatic eggs – the wooden one at the back and the concrete ones to one side…’The Taransaud Ovum, which arrived in March, is spacious enough to hold 2,400 bottles of wine – in this case Chardonnay as Bish is New Zealand’s only exclusive Chardonnay producer. The wine will remain fermenting in the egg barrel for one year before it is taken out to finish off, with the first vintage available for Napier wine tastings in November 2018. As for the concrete eggs, Bish is beginning to sell them to them to other New Zealand wineries as well as exporting them to Australia.
‘This is all innovation. We are selling concrete eggs now because it costs so much to develop the moulds and the technology that we are now selling to other winemakers… and that’s going to be an ongoing sideline business,’ he said.
If you are interested in enjoying the finest wine tasting Napier has to offer, contact Wine Paths’ local expert for more information and inspirational ideas before planning an exclusive bespoke visit.
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