Adventures in New Zealand's South Island

The stunning Milford Sound, which is actually a fjord

I’m just back from a rather magical few days in the South Island of New Zealand, a trip which took in two wine events (the Hanmer Southern Pinot workshop and Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration), and some sightseeing. We drove down to Hanmer on the newly […]

Two Hermit Rams: distinctive, natural Pinot Noirs from North Canterbury

Theo Coles makes the wines of Kalex, in Central Otago. But he also has his own brand, Hermit Ram, which is based in North Canterbury. These two Pinot Noirs are both quite different, but are equally compelling.

The first comes from a tiny (1200 vine) close-planted (7000 vines/ha) vineyard in the Waipara Valley. It’s on a […]

Interesting Marlborough: exploring Gewurztraminer with Spy Valley

Paul Bourgeois, Spy Valley

Spy Valley is a medium-sized winery in Marlborough terms, with 250 hectares of vineyards spread over four sites. The home site is in the Waihopai Valley, and when Bryan and Jan Johnson first began their winery, they were pioneers here, planting most of the vineyard in 1993 and then doing some […]

Exploring Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Elaine, Adam and Sam

This year, the theme for the formal tasting at the Central Otago Pinot Celebration was Pinot from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. The session was ably led by Elaine Brown, who has spent a lot of time in Oregon, with two Oregon winemakers: Adam Campbell of Elk Cove and Sam Tannahill […]

Air New Zealand's Fine Wines of New Zealand tasting

This tasting highlighted some of the Air New Zealand Fine Wines of New Zealand Fine Wines of New Zealand. This selection is intended to recognize New Zealand’s benchmark fine wines, and is sponsored by Air New Zealand. The wines are chosen by a group of six: Alastair Maling, Michael Brajkovich, Sam Harrop, Simon Nash and […]

Sebastien Brunet Les Pentes de la Folie Vouvray

Another find at Scotch wine bar in Blenheim. So much Vouvray is disappointing, but this domaine, which Sébastien took over from his father in 2006, is making the most of these exceptional terroirs. This is his top dry Chenin, and it’s lovely.

Domaine Sébastien Brunet Vouvray Les Pentes de la Folie 2015 Loire, France
This Chenin Blanc […]

Some nice wines at the Southern Pinot workshop

At each of the dinners at the Southern Pinot workshop in Hanmer, participants are encouraged to bring wines to dinner. This is a fun exercise, because there is no coordination, and winemakers tend to be curious, generous folk who accumulate interesting bottles and then enjoy drinking them with other winemakers. I didn’t take any notes, […]

Oregon Pinot Noir: tasting 11 top examples blind

For the last few days I’ve been at the Southern Pinot Noir workshop at Hamner Springs. It’s an event that brings together winemakers from across New Zealand to taste and discuss each others’ wines. Everyone brings their wines, and then in groups of eight the wines are tasted blind. The discussion that follows is then […]

Adding appellations: developing new GIs and why conjunctive labelling is important

I’ve been involved in quite a few discussions of late about developing new appellations (technically, geographic indications [GIs]) in new world countries, particularly New Zealand.

Currently, New Zealand only has regional GIs: Marlborough, Central Otago, Hawke’s Bay and so on. Within each of these regions there are unofficial sub-regions, but these are not officially defined. So […]

Ata Rangi McCrone Pinot Noir 2006

Ata Rangi is rightly considered to be one of New Zealand’s top Pinot Noir producers. This is a special cuvée that they make from a small portion of the vineyard behind the winery, and the special feature of this plot is that there’s 800 mm of clay above the gravels. This is the debut vintage […]