Wine made in eggs? What? Yup it's a thing, big concrete eggs....Wine in ceramics isn't really anything new as the greeks and the romans made and stored their wine in ceramic amphora.
However legendary French winemaker Michel Chatpoutier, who was a massively into organics and biodynamics long before anyone else in France was believes the egg holds special mystical characteristics so commissioned the first modern concrete egg in 2001 in the Rhone.
The beauty of wines made in eggs is that it retains the fruitless that a ferment in stainless steel does so well, but in addition gives the characteristics of oak (Complexity, Minerality) without oak flavours. New Zealand egg wine enthusiast Tony Bish claims that "minerality is the holy grail of wine at the moment.”
The deal is the shape of the egg results in a different temperature between the outside of the egg & the inside of the egg which creates natural convection currents. Basically the yeast never stops moving and needs no manual involvement.
So why not have a lots of eggs & make more wine...well it's not quite that simple as this baby weighs 2 tonnes, so expensive to import. But that's what Tony Bish did, owning the very first concrete egg in Australasia and then being the innovator that he is, he commissioned his concrete tank maker in Hawkes Bay make some more and now he sells them to other winemakers in NZ & Australia
So which wines are there to try? Well it didn't surprise me at all to learn that the first NZ winemaker to purchase an egg of Tony Bish was Dave Clouston of Two Rivers, Marlborough, Dave is a remarkable innovator and this Altitude Sauvignon Blanc 2016, is NZ's first egg made Sauvignon Blanc, it cost $29 and has amazing flavours of pineapple, white peach with juicy citrus and crisp salinity. Complex, elegant, next level Sauvignon Blanc.
This one is literally hot of the presses (it was bottled last Friday) & Villa Maria is the first of the big wineries to release an egg wine. They have chosen the Spanish grape Albarino from the Hawkes Bay to be given the egg treatment & wow this 2017 is a stunna! Bone dry but with fruit sweetness of peach & lime, subtle minerality and a satisfying long finish. This may be the easiest of the bunch to seek out, and at $32, seek it you must.
You just cannot talk NZ Wine in eggs without mentioning Tony Bish, the man who brought the egg to NZ. Tony has been making "Golden Egg" since 2015 and it sells out every year. This is Chardonnay but taken to the next level. White peaches, preserved lemons and what a struck match characteristic that you could mistake for an oak characteristic but it can't be because it hasn't seen oak. The 2017 “Golden Egg” Hawkes Bay Chardonnay has to be tasted to be believed and at $40 for this rich opulent, acidic, salty nectar? We're not in Kansas anymore Toto.
I was lucky enough to catch up with the remarkable Mr Bish at his awesome micro-winery cum entertainment venue The Urban Winery (highly recommend a trip there in you're ever in The Bay) on my last trip to Hawkes Bay, and he told me all about why he decided to not just import an egg but actually start producing them!
Click the link below to hear my chat with Wendyl Nissen on the RadioLIVE Long Lunch