Older New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc: can it age? Should we cellar it?

While I was in New Zealand I got to try quite a few older New Zealand Sauvignons. Of course, most punters want the latest vintage of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, and this is really the main point of the style: bright with lovely aromatic interest and a fresh, zippy palate. That’s what made it successful. Young [...]

Do biodynamic wines have 'energy'? Millton Riverpoint Viognier 2014

Do biodynamic wines have an energy to them? This idea will probably really, really annoy some readers – especially the scientific ones – because in order to answer this question, you should really define energy in this context, and then demonstrate its presence in some wines and its absence in others. And I can’t do [...]

In New Zealand: Oz Clarke's remarkable paean to Sauvignon Blanc

So, the Sauvignon Blanc conference. Two and a half days focusing on this grape, which New Zealand has made its own. Talks and tastings; dinners and parties. And welcoming Blenheim (above), shy at first, but then opening up to receive a few hundred guests and locals. Two establishments in particular deserve mention: Ritual, for its [...]

In NZ, day 5, Marlborough - Huia, Astrolabe and Matua

Chickens at Huia

The drive from the Waipara to Blenheim is an attractive one. Alas we faced grey skies and a bit of drizzle, but it was still very interesting. There’s something special about the New Zealand landscape. Sadly, there were no baby seals at the Ohau falls near Kaikora, but this is the wrong time of [...]

In NZ, day 4 - Waikari, North Canterbury, with Pyramid Valley and Bell Hill

Mike Weersing

The fourth day. By this stage, jet lag has dissipated and I’m fully into the itinerary. So I started the day with a quick run, had some poached eggs, and hit the road. The destination? The Waikari region of North Canterbury, which is home to two of New Zealand’s top producers: Pyramid Valley [...]

In NZ, Day 3 Waipara Valley with Alan McCorkindale and Black Estate

After a morning drive up from Waitaki, we headed into Christchurch to meet up with Alan McCorkindale and his partner Mary in the city. Alan was one of the pioneers of the Waipara Valley. He was a winemaker for Corbans, and moved down to Waipara for Corban’s first harvest here in 1988. (You can read [...]

In NZ day 2, Ostler, Waitaki Valley

After leaving Central Otago, we drove to a wine region that I’d never visited before. It’s New Zealand’s newest and probably smallest wine region, the Waitaki Valley. A few years ago, people were getting very excited about Waitaki, largely because of the promise of limestone soils and a cool climate. Some of that excitement has [...]

In NZ, day 2: Prophets Rock, Central Otago

Day 2 of this short visit to Central Otago began with Paul Pujol at Prophets Rock. This was an amazing visit. I’ve met Paul and tasted his wines a number of times, and this – my first time in the vineyard – confirmed to me that this is one of Central Otago’s top 2 or [...]

New Zealand, day 1: Burn Cottage and Two Paddocks, Central Otago

Two more visits on the first day in Central Otago. Burn Cottage is an interesting project. It was started by American Marquis (pronounced Marcus) Sauvage, and he hired a stellar team of Ted Lemon (consultant) and Claire Mulholland (winemaker) to oversee it. It’s a 27 hectare property with 10.2 hectares of vines, on the border [...]

In New Zealand, day 1: Wanaka, Central Otago - Maude and Rippon

I’m back in Central Otago, for my fourth visit. I’m slowly beginning to understand a little about this remarkable wine region, and yesterday saw a lovely set of visits to four different producers, all of whom are doing something quite special. I’ll write the day up in two batches, beginning with a morning in Wanaka.