What the Wellington Ukulele Orchestra tells us about terroir

On Friday night I went to a strange but enjoyable concert.

Neudorf Vineyards in Nelson were hosting a gig by the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra.

There were quite a few members of this odd ensemble. I counted 9, of which 8 were armed with ukuleles and one with a double bass. Pretty much all of them all [...]

In Martinborough, with Palliser, Ata Rangi and Craggy Range

Three visits in Martinborough, on a Sunday where I could have been playing cricket. An English touring side with connections to the wine trade were playing a Kiwi side, and I’d been asked. But I’m conscientious, so I denied the English my slow-medium in-duckers in favour of my schedule, only to find that two of [...]

Making sense of Matt Kramer, Pinot Noir 2013 keynote

Pinot Noir kicked off with two contrasting keynote speeches, the first of which was delivered by Matt Kramer of the US publication The Wine Spectator, and author of a string of books whose titles frequently begin with ‘making sense of…’.

Kramer’s delivery is polished and engaging. He begins by talking about Burgundy, the ‘mother house’. ‘It [...]

In Gisborne with Millton

Annie and James Millton

Annie Millton was honest enough to admit that she’d read the diary wrong and that her and James weren’t expecting me, when she picked me up from Gisborne airport. Despite this, I spent a lovely afternoon and evening with them, when we finally tracked down James in one of his vineyards.

We [...]

In Marlborough, and four good visits

I’m beginning to get to know my way around Marlborough now. It’s a region with an incredible story, springing up from nowhere in the 1970s to its current position as New Zealand’s number one wine region.

For many, the Marlborough story is still all about Sauvignon Blanc, but as I was to find on my short [...]

New Zealand, day 3, in Nelson with Neudorf

Judy and Tim Finn, Nelson pioneers, who established Neudorf in 1978

I worked out that since November 2008, my first visit to New Zealand, I have visited five times in five years. That’s a significant accrual of air miles. But over the course of these visits, I’d never visited Nelson, so as I picked up [...]

New Zealand, day 2, Pegasus Bay in the Waipara

Ivan Donaldson

There’s a great story behind Waipara winery Pegasus Bay, which was the second visit of my New Zealand tour.

Back in 1976, Christchurch neurologist Ivan Donaldson had caught the wine bug, and with some of his medical friends planted a 1 acre vineyard in a cold spot on the outskirts of the city. He [...]

Some thoughts on Central Otago and the sense of place in wine

As I write I am flying from Queenstown to Christchurch after less than a full day spent in Central Otago, one of the most visually striking wine regions on the globe. While the impressions are still fresh in my mind I wanted to try to capture some of them.

It is remarkable country. The quality of [...]

In New Zealand, day 1, Central Otago

It was hard to get my head round the contrast. One day I’m shivering in a snowy, dark-skied London. The next, I’m sitting on an internal flight crossing the dividing range in New Zealand’s South Island, looking down at dramatic snow-capped peaks in laser-sharp light on my way to Queenstown, Central Otago.

I very nearly missed [...]

Two cracking Marlborough Sauvignons

These are two lovely Kiwi Sauvignons from the 2012 vintage. Both are from the Wine Society, and while they are priced above the entry level, the fact that the entry level for domaine bottled Marlborough Sauvignon is creeping up to £10 makes them both excellent value. The Dog Point is pretty much my perfect Sauvignon [...]