NZ's oldest wine uncorked and sampled

NZ's oldest wine uncorked and sampled

A special wine was uncorked in the Wairarapa today, thought to be New Zealand's oldest.

Descendants of the winemakers gathered with connoisseurs to taste the 113-year-old Claret.

Deep in a cellar at Brancepeth Estate in Masterton sit dozens of bottles of 1903 Claret.

The custodian of the house, Ed Beetham, is the great great nephew of the couple who made it.

Today a bottle was dusted off and taken above ground to the dining room for a special tasting.

It's serious business, tasting wine.

After the first pour all that could be heard was the sniffing, the sipping, the scribbling of notes and the odd murmur of content.

It's the first Wairarapa wine, made by William Beetham and his French wife Hermance.

The grapes planted when this wine was made were Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Syrah. The Claret is likely a blend of all three.

Their wine venture ended after about 20 years, perhaps due to prohibition, but their legacy lives on.

For wine judge Geoff Kelly, it's his second time sampling this vintage. He was part of the last official tasting in 1985.

"It's a wine you can still drink after 100 years," he says. "Totally remarkable."

Ed Beetham sat at the head of the table for that tasting 30 years ago, but today was his son William's turn.

"The experience of being able to taste it in the homestead with the family around, that really gives us a strong sense of community and a link to our past," he says.

And with no plans to sell the rest of the vintage in the immediate future, there's a bit more drinking to do.

The family's not too sure it will last another century.