Heart of stone
Stoneleigh is a brand of New Zealand wine owned by French company Pernod Ricard. Brand is the focal word here. It could be butter or beans but it happens to be wine, and is owned by a company that is a noted brand owner.
The company and its servants try and layer a patina of history, heritage and authenticity on the brand, but at the end of the day it’s a brand, and, like many brands, lacks soul.
Not that this affects the quality of the wine. Overall, it’s of a high standard and a credit to the winemaking team. From then on it falls into the hands of sales teams, which are backed by marketing and PR people, who are responsible for advertising and promotion.
The salespeople do deals with retailers and try (bless them) to inject heart and soul into the brand. So far (in my opinion), they have failed miserably with Stoneleigh.
Stoneleigh came into the Pernod Ricard portfolio when Pernod acquired Allied Domecq back in 2005 for US$14.2 billion ($19 billion today). Though Pernod did the deal, it was in agreement with Fortune Brands, which took a share of the brands for US$5.3 billion.
The New Zealand wine deal included Montana, Lindauer and Deutz. Lindauer and Deutz have since been disposed of and Montana renamed Brancott.
Enough of the soulless conglomerate; to the wines:
Stoneleigh ‘Classic’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016: Classic NZ sauvignon nose, an odour loved by millions from Juneau to Darwin. Buggered if I can understand it, but it’s a fact. Across the palate, it’s all it should be and of very good standard. 94 points and value at $11 (Dan’s), though not so much at the top price of $18.
Stoneleigh ‘Wild Valley’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016: A nose perhaps not loved by millions but enjoyed by me. A smell of crisp, clean, greengages and open grasslands on a warm day. Soft on entry but unfurls as it travels, laying down a covering of flavours that please all points. A good wine in all departments. 94 points and worth $20.
Stoneleigh ‘Classic’ Marlborough Pinot Noir Rosé 2016: Light, bright, pink colour. Fresh on the nose and easy across the palate but no great character. 90 points and there are heaps of rosé wines around at $18 that push this into the backwater.
Stoneleigh ‘Classic’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016: Fantastic red fruit pinot nose. Very lively and full of joy across the palate. If you’re a PN fanatic it’s too simple, but PN fanatics can be a pain in the arse. If you’re setting out on the PN journey, this is a great place to start. Or if you’re just looking for a light style of red wine that will accompany a wide range of foods and can be drunk chilled or not, it’s a beauty: a really well-made, top-quality wine. 93 points and good value at $18.
Stoneleigh ‘Wild Valley’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015: $20, just $20. This is a bargain not to be missed. The nose is a mixed straw punnet of red/black fruit oozing its juice, combined with those slightly naughty feral characters. The fruit is well supported by tannin and acid, and the balance is spot-on. The medium depth and shortness on the return are minor drawbacks. 95 points.
Stoneleigh ‘Latitude’ Marlborough Pinot Noir 2015: Black fruits on the nose with damp earth and leaf mould creeping in. Good weight in the mouth and journeys with aplomb across the palate. The return is short but long enough to make its presence known. 95 points and very good value at $23.