With an impressive line of credits to his name, Ant MacKenzie is consultant winemaker at a number of first class wineries including one of New Zealand's very most premium and cellar-focused producers, Dry River. Yet he and his wife Fiona still find time on the side to run three labels of their own: Craft Farm wines reflect their own home block in Havelock North; the Tono label explores their love of Spanish varieties such as Albarino and Tempranillo, which are done with genuine love and knowledge; while Theory and Practice is conceived as a platform for Ant to push the boundaries of traditional vinification. This latter point is somewhat hard to grasp however, as the current Theory and Practice releases seem far from experimental but are, on the contrary, among the most concentrated and stylishly classical expressions to have been seen from Hawkes Bay for the price. "Ant and Fiona Mackenzie have gradually introduced their new and own wine venture with the Spanish-inspired ‘Tono’ brand and the adventurous ‘Theory and Practice’ releases. I’ve been very impressed with the diversity and quality of the wines to date, this really not unexpected, considering Ant’s two decades plus of winemaking experience with some very prestigious producers. The ‘Craft Farm’ wine brand is no doubt the closest to their hearts. The wines, designed to be "single site expressions that showcase the essence of place” are primarily based on their home vineyard in Havelock North, Hawke’s Bay, supplemented by fruit from trusted and high performing sources, such as the Loughlin’s ‘Askerne’ and ‘Lyons’ vineyards also in The Bay. The ‘Home’ vineyard measures only 2 ha, planted in 2010 to 0.5 ha Gewurztraminer, Albarino, clones 15 and 809 (the Muscat clone) Chardonnay, each 0.5 ha, and 0.5 ha of Muscat Petits Grains." Raymond Chan
What The Critics Say
18.5/20 Raymond Chan
"Fruit from the ‘Craft Farm’ vineyard, from vines from a ‘Dry River’ field selection on own roots, 95% Gewurztraminer with 5% Muscat Petits Grains and Pinot Gris, WBP and fermented in barrel and tank to 14.5% alc. and 17 g/L RS, the wine aged on lees without sulphur for 9 months. Bright, even straw-yellow colour with light green-gold hues. The nose is very soft and gentle with good volume of ethereal and exotic rose-petal florals in a seamless amalgam of herb, pepper, musk and honeysuckle. The aromatics unfold seamlessly, revealing a deep heart. Medium in sweetness and medium-full bodied, gently flowing, smooth and subtle flavours of exotic florals, Turkish Delight, musk and honeysuckle fill the mouth. The wine is soft and seamless in flow with mellow acidity and an unctuousness to the texture. A rounded, concentrated core carries the palate to a well-packed, long and sustained finish of rose-petal florals and musk. This is a seamless medium Gewurztraminer with ethereally voluminous aromas and flavours of rose-petals, musk and honeysuckle. Match with fine Asian cuisine over the next 4 years. 1,200 bottles made. 18.5+/20."
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