The Darling | Organic wine producer based in the Marlborough region of New Zealand. The Darling was conceived in 2007 by Chris Darling who is Australian. In 2008 he teamed up with local organic and Biodynamic specialist Bart Arnst.
Owner | Chris Darling. Originally from Australia Chris has worked with both large and small wine companies throughout the world. After graduating from Roseworthy in Adelaide, Chris worked throughout Australia while also making wine in Europe, including France, Greece and the Czech Republic. Chris then headed to Western Australia to work with Hardys at their Houghton Winery. From here the journey then headed to Marlborough New Zealand to continue the hunt for great cool climate wines. Chris is currently Senior Winemaker for the jointly owned winery of Matua Valley and Babich Wines. Chris is married to Samantha Scarratt (Wither Hills).
Grapes | The grapes are sourced from organic (BioGro) vineyards which Bart Arnst works and consults to via his own company, Marlborough Organics (also certified by BioGro) company.
Winemaking | The grapes are processed at Rapaura Vintners. All wild yeast/bacterial ferments. Basket press (200 kg) which Chris Darling’s father sent from Australia.
Wine Production | 2008 500 cases of Sauvignon Blanc and 70 cases of GZ. | 2009 500 cases of Sauvignon Blanc, 70 cases of GZ, 100 cases PG, 30 cases PN, 30 cases cases of BF Sauvignon Blanc. | 2010 600 cases of Sauvignon Blanc, 150 GZ, 300 cases of PG, 60 cases of PN, 60 cases of BF Sauvignon Blanc, 30 cases of Moscato-inspired Sauvignon Blanc (ie a semi-sweet fizz sold via one restaurant in Marlborough)
The Darling, Marlborough Gewüztraminer, Wairau Valley, Rapaura | 2008 From Springwood Holdings (see organic). Early picked. 100% BF (6 year old). No malolactic fermentation. 13% alcohol. 7g/l residual sugar. Nice and subdued, nice width on the mid-palate, rich, subtle flavours, well put together, invisible oak. Nice creamy acidity at the finish with gentle rose petal flavours. Tasted at Bart Arnst’s house 4th April 2011.
The Darling, Marlborough Gewüztraminer, Wairau Valley, Rapaura | 2010 From Springwood Holdings. BioGro in conversion. Hand picked. Pressed, settled, fluffy lees into barrel (60%) and tank (40%). In previous years this was 100% BF. 14% alcohol + 4g/l RS. “The berries were starting to dehydrate but with no botrytis,” says Chris. Quite spicy, not too in your face or Turkish delight-like. Tasted at Bart Arnst’s house 4th April 2011. NZ$25 retail in April 2011.
The Darling Marlborough Pinot Gris, Wairau Valley, Rapaura | 2010 From Springwood Holdings. Machine picked. 20% barrel fermented with pressings in the barrel. 6g/l RS. Don’t feel the sugar as picked early for acid. “The berries were starting to pucker up a wee bit,” says Bart, “so we picked it.” NZ$23 retail in April 2011. Tasted at Bart Arnst’s house 4th April 2011.
The Darling, Marlborough Pinot Noir | 2009 Grapes were Fromm’s 221 Vineyard [don’t mention] plus its winery vineyard [winery vineyard]. None from Antipode. BioGro in conversion with retrospective conversion but not in time for the label. Hand picked. More tannin in the vineyard in 2009 than 2010. Similar hand picking/plunging. Sterile filtered (unusually). Bit of toffee, nice sweet fruit, delicate, ready I think. Tasted at Bart Arnst’s house 4th April 2011.
The Darling, Marlborough Pinot Noir, Southern Valleys & Fareham Lane | 2010 Grapes were sourced from what was Fromm’s 221 Vineyard [don’t mention] plus the winery vineyard [winery vineyard] plus Antipode. BioGro in conversion. Hand picked. Destemmed but not crushed. Some whole bunches with no rollers. Open top fermenter in 400 kg lots. Hand plunged (with hands rather than plungers). Basket pressed. All one year old French oak. 13% alcohol. NZ$32 retail in April 2011. Subtle, not trying to overdo things with the oak or the fruit. Can’t feel the alcohol at all. “You can’t squeeze the crap out of fruit if it going through a basket press,” says Bart. “Not a big, grunty, new oak monster.” Drinkable now but will age 2-5 years. Tasted at Bart Arnst’s house 4th April 2011.
The Darling Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Barrel Fermented | 2009 100% sourced from Antipode, Wairau Valley, Fareham Lane. Full BioGro. BF in older oak. No malolactic fermentation. A little bit riper and more obviously tropical than the 2010. Same Brix, but lower acid. 3.5g/l residual sugar. 14% alcohol. NZ$28 retail in April 2011. Tasted at Bart Arnst’s house 4th April 2011.
The Darling Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, Wairau Valley. | 2010 Grapes sourced from Springwood Holdings (C3. Dry farmed) and Antipode (AB. Irrigated). Labelled as BioGro in conversion. Machine picked. Mix of stainless steel and barrel fermentation (15% of total). No malolactic fermentation. 13.5% alcohol. 4g/l. Fined with organic milk to soften phenolics from machine picking. Bentonite fined. Cold stabilised. Up front fruit-driven style, oak adds a subtle dimension, toning down some of that gooseberry character, also allows the wine to age a bit better in bottle, stopping it turning from high passionfruit which can go quickly to green pea and asparagus. NZ$23 retail in April 2011. Tasted at Bart Arnst’s house 4th April 2011.
The Darling Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Barrel Fermented | 2010 100% sourced from Antipode, Wairau Valley, Fareham Lane. Full BioGro. No malolactic fermentation. 2g/l residual sugar. Had 8 barrels and selected enough for 50 cases. Every barrel pretty much a different ferment. Soft, peachy, green tropical fruit. Tasted at Bart Arnst’s house 4th April 2011. NZ$28 retail in April 2011.