Nick Nobilo’s Vinoptima Estate goes into receivership

Winemaker Nick Nobilo’s Vinoptima Estate, famed for its focus on the aromatic grape variety Gewürztraminer, has gone into receivership and will be sold at auction on 4 December.

According to the Gisborne Herald, one shareholder in the boutique vineyard in Gisborne, founded by Nick Nobilo in 2000, was responsible for tipping the business into receivership, the winemaker revealed.

While that shareholder has not been identified, the estate is now in receivership because that party had “called up their advance”, which was more than NZ$1 million.

Shareholders were already looking to sell the estate, and had come close to selling to a business, however that deal is reported to have collapsed around a year ago. The board had been looking at other options since.

Company Office records show shareholders that own the estate include Gisborne landowner Wi Pere Investments, Taupo’s Tuaropaki Kaitiaki, Nobilo Trustee, DMG Trustees and Nick Nobilo.

As well as the vineyards and estate, more than 100,000 litres of unsold wine is said to be stored in bulk at the estate, which will also be sold.

According to the New Zealand Herald, the unsold wine equates to around 133,000 bottles, which at $75 a bottle could be worth more than $9m.

An advocate of the aromatic variety, Nobilo has often stated his belief that Gewürztraminer is “the best” of New Zealand’s white varieties with its ability to age comparable to Riesling, but its potential is largely overlooked.

The Nobilo family has a winemaking history stretching back some 300 years, however Nobilo founded his Ormond vineyard in Gisborne in 2000 under the Vinoptima name, specialising in Gewürztraminer. Despite his confidence in the variety, it is yet to make a significant mark on the market outside of New Zealand.

“For me it’s the best of the white varieties,” said Nobilo speaking at a masterclass in Nelson in 2017. “I still live in wedded bliss after 50 years with Gewürztraminer and it’s just a shame that it doesn’t have the following in the market place and interest.

“I don’t know whether it’s the name but people have not adopted Gewürztraminer, but its time will come – believe me. Maybe I’m not going to be here but like everything its time will come. So we are waiting.”

2 Responses to “Nick Nobilo’s Vinoptima Estate goes into receivership”

  1. I once wrote “Anyone crazy enough to invest millions in a specialist Gewurztraminer vineyard and winery gets my vote” but obviously there just are not enough Gewurztraminer freaks to support such a project and I am truly sorry that such a brave venture has collapsed. I would have preferred Nick to produce an authentically dry version and to have led with this, but the lowest residuals in Vinoptima wines have usually been in the teens and that is the situation in Alsace, so it is not as if he has gone off-piste. The notion is that Gewurztraminer needs some residual sweetness otherwise it’s undrinkable and to a large extent that is true, but it can be done and I think it could be more easily achieved in New Zealand than Alsace. The problem is to get enough terpenes and to get enough of the right terpenes to move the aromatics and potential bottle-matured aromatics from a floral simplicity of rose-petals and lychees to more layered, spice-complexed aromas requires the grapes to attain a certain maturity and build a more diverse terpene content (in other words not just cis-rose oxide, linalool and geraniol). If you harvest too early, the result is indeed horrid, but if you leave it too long, you end up with a ridiculously high and unbalanced alcoholic strength or residual sugar. It is very difficult to get it right. If I organise a centralised tasting of authentically dry Gewutrztraminer in Alsace, the number of wines under 5g RS is pitifully small and, of those, the success rate is just 5-10%. Nick is fond of saying that Gewurztraminer relies on phenolics for its back-bone, not acidity and he is absolutely right. I think that with his love and understanding of Gewurztraminer, Nick Nobilo stood a good chance of perfecting a truly dry and artistically elegant Gewurztraminer for his brand-leader, if only he had tried, but even if he had, I doubt there would ever been enough Gewurztraminer lovers in the world to sustain Vinoptima. That would have required the support of a philanthropic, Gewurztraminer-loving billionaire with an unlimited vision. Where are such people when you need them?

  2. Samuel Hua says:

    It ‘s absolutely said to read such a note. Once worked with Nick Nobilo, it was my best moment into the ultra fine wine world. He led me to an era of surpassing obstacles, taking challenges and staying positive in difficult times. I adore my experience and truly wish anyway taking over the project will making the course of a varietal prominent in the emerging world. For Gewürztraminer, it is hard to understand and to like. A varietal once got me firstly interested in wine, a person who led me into the real wine world and an experience which still guides me in the business, I am tearing off but I love what we did and will continue to support anyone sharing the vision of such a tough and less profitable business.

    By Samuel Hua
    Written in Shanghai

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