01 Oct Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Lunch with Winemaker Natalie Christensen of Yealands Estate Wines from New Zealand at Crustacean Restaurant in Beverly Hills
The Marlborough region in New Zealand is world-famous for its Sauvignon Blanc. The style is often thought of a one-dimensional, offering notes of green grass, citrus, and acidity. While acidity prevails, there are nuances in New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc as discovered at lunch this week with Winemaker Natalie Christensen of Yealands Estate Wines. Four expressions of Sauvignon Blanc, plus Pinot Noir, paired with a delicious menu at Crustacean Beverly Hills was a perfect way to end the week and the Please The Palate pick of the week.
Yealands Estate Wines is the first winery in the world to be Toitū carbon zero certified from its inception. Established in 2008, Yealands has been a leading name in the sustainable winemaking industry and is the only winery in New Zealand to currently hold a carbon zero certification. The estate has 1000 hectares of vineyards planted which are surrounded by 25 hectares of wetlands filled with native wildlife.
Yealands is located in New Zealand’s Awatere Valley, the southernmost, coolest, and driest of Marlborough’s growing regions. Close to the coastline, strong offshore winds impart a distinctive character of herbaceousness and minerality to the wines.
Natalie Christensen is the winemaker of Yealands Estate Wines. Born in Christchurch, Natalie is a classically trained double bass player who wanted to be a composer for the NZ film industry. From music she got a degree in psychology which oddly led to a Masters of Science. Working in human resources, Natalie decided she wanted to create something and not be a cog in the wheel. In 2006, her brother, who was living in Marlborough, encouraged her to travel and clear her head. He invited her to come visit him and she ended up working harvest and loved it. So, with all the degrees already in her pocket, she began studying wine. And in 2018, she was named by The Drinks Business as one of the World’s Most Influential Women in Wine.
For Natalie, Sauvignon Blanc is a grape that expresses site. As we enjoyed lunch, we tasted through four different Sauvignon Blancs that each express the beauty of Yealands Estate.
The Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2022 comes from three blocks on the coastal side of the estate vineyard. The wine has herbal, mineral, and crushed oyster shells notes. There is a softness on the palate with zippy, herbal acidity on the sides of the palate and a long long finish. I loved the minerality of this wine with the delicate hearts of palm “crab cake”.
While Natalie loves Sauvignon Blanc for its expressiveness, she loves the hands-on nature of making Pinot Noir. Our final wine was the Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2020 which is aged in different sizes of French barrique for 9 months. Plush and soft, with bright red cherry aromas, as well as spice and savory notes, this fresh and vibrant Pinot Noir is a beautiful expression of the coastal vineyard. And the Pinot Noir was a lovely pairing with Wok Watercress Filet Mignon Beef with watercress, mushroom, baby heirloom tomato, Vietnamese celery, sweet choy, and red onion.
The wines of Yealands Estate are elegant, fresh, textured, and vibrant and were well-matched with the Asian seafood and meat at Crustacean. And lunch with winemaker Natalie Christensen was a lovely way to spend an afternoon.