PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 December, 2011, 12:00am


There are not many folks who would shout about being the descendant of a bastard. Unless, perhaps, that ancestor was King Henry I of England. The de Marisco family are descended from William de Marisco (born circa 1100), purportedly one of Henry's 35 illegitimate children. Marisco Vineyards in New Zealand has embraced this scandalous history by launching a wine, The King's Bastard.

This year the family who owns the vineyard signed a distribution agreement, fittingly, with a company also bearing a name with royal links: Dynasty Fine Wines. Upon signing, Marisco's owner and chief winemaker, Brent Marris, exclaimed: 'In time, the deal will be worth millions for both companies.'

Marris might prove himself right, given his previous role was with the highly successful Wither Hills winery. Marisco recently scored the coveted 'New Zealand Winery of the Year - IWSC London 2011' award, and the vineyard's chardonnay scooped multiple medals in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Competition.

The winery, located in the Waihopai Valley in Marlborough, reportedly exports 75 per cent of its production under two brand names: The Ned and The Kings Series. While the winery focuses on Marlborough's royal players - sauvignon blanc, pinot gris and pinot noir - it was the chardonnay that captured the pan-Asian judges' attention, garnering four medals. The wine won a bronze medal among those matched with Peking duck, a silver for matching with a dim sum selection and another silver for its match with braised abalone. The King's Bastard clearly resonates with a range of Chinese flavours, seasonings and textures.

Marisco Vineyards' other whimsically named wines include The King's Thorn (pinot gris), The King's Wrath (pinot noir), The King's Favour (sauvignon blanc) and the facetious A Sticky End (sweet wine), which refers to Marris' ancestor, de Marisco's execution. After being found guilty of piracy and treason, he was hanged, drawn and quartered. Surely, somewhere, de Marisco is smiling to see his descendants' wines earning badges of honour.

The King's Bastard, Chardonnay 2009

Inviting nose with ripe yellow apples, pears, peaches and spicy oak nuances. Creamy texture with firm acidity and a lightly textured palate. Lengthy apple-pie finish with lemony highlights.

Available for HK$86 at Dynasty Fine Wines Group (tel: 2918 8000)

Debra Meiburg is a master of wine (www.debramasterofwine.com)