Dinner at Arbour with lovely wines: Felton Road, Vieux Telegraphe, Kumeu River and Quartz Reef

Arbour is widely regarded to be the best fine dining option in the Marlborough region. I visited with friends yesterday evening and we had a really good time. The kitchen here is currently on a roll. We chose the ‘feed me’ option on the menu: you choose 3, 4 or 7 courses and the kitchen […]

Crystallum: some of South Africa's most compelling Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

Crystallum is the wine label of Peter-Allan Finlayson (above), who set up in partnership with his brother (Andrew, a Hermanus-based architect) and his Dad (Peter, who was the first winemaker in Hemel-en-Arde with Hamilton Russel, and who for a long time now has been cellar master at Bouchard Finlayson).

Peter-Allan, though, is the main dude here, […]

Winemaking at Gabrielskloof: pressing Chenin Blanc and sorting Pinot Noir

My first day in the cellar at Gabrielskloof was a busy one. This cellar is shared by Peter-Allan Finlayson (who makes Crystallum wines, and also Gabrielskloof, his wife Nicolene’s family winery), John Seccombe (Thorne and Daughters), and Marelise Niemann (Momento), and this means there’s plenty going on.

The day started with some pressing of Chenin Blanc. […]

Can outsiders help Central Otago Pinot Noir discover itself? A seminar with Ted Lemon, PJ Charteris and François Millet

Paul Pujol, Chair of Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration 2018

One of the highlights of the Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration was a seminar focusing on how outside experience with Pinot has had an influence on the region. ‘This room is full of winemakers, most of who are from somewhere else!’ began celebration chair, Paul […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Interesting Marlborough: the Pioneer Block wines from Saint Clair

Back in 1978, in the early days of Marlborough, Neal and Judy Ibbotson planted grapes, and began supplying Montana. Fast forward 16 years and they decided to launch their own winery, Saint Clair, which they began in 1994. The enlisted Matt Thomson to help with winemaking, and he remained consultant winemaker until last year.

Saint Clair […]