‘The Man O’ War’ vines on Waiheke Island were planted in 1993, however this iconic New Zealand winery has a history that dates back to the country’s discovery. Located in the eastern part of Waiheke Island (a 40 minute ferry ride from Auckland) Man O’ War is a pristine, breathtaking spread of coastal hillsides with high cliffs and stunning beaches. This rugged coastline was ‘discovered’ by Captain James Cook in 1769. He arrived into the bay and upon sighting the native Kauri trees in the foothills, noted they would make ideal masts for the Man O’ War Warships of the Royal Navy – and from there the name was born.
With the unwavering belief that world class wines would be produced there, 150 vines have been planted over the last two decades across 76 individual pockets of hillside, each chosen specifically for the unique and exceptional qualities they bring to the grapes. This entire area covers about 4,500 acres.
Each site has been meticulously chosen to maximise the grape production and terroir so that each wine has its own specific style and personality. Their white wine varietals have been placed high up on the volcanic site to best maximise the cool seabreeze and climate which in turn extends their growing time and maximises the fruit flavour, intensity and minerality. The reds are strategically placed down clay hillsides which enjoys heat retention and drainage from rain easy. This creates intensity and depth in the flavours.
We couldn’t pick a favourite out of the ‘Man O’ War’ Range as they are all standouts. Their ‘Gravestone Sauvignon Semillon’, is one to marvel, ‘The Dreadnought Syrah’ and ‘Bellerophon Syrah Viognier’ have to be tried to be believed. However if you need to try anything before your last days on this sweet earth make sure it is the ‘Valhalla Chardonnay’ – toasty, character drive and mineral but with a well rounded body. A hallmark of quality is the ‘Ironclad Cabernet Franc’ – it is complex and driven by blue and black fruits and feels like a hug at the end of a long day.