Celebrating 200 Years of New Zealand Wine

September 25, 2019, marks 200 years since the first planting of grapevines in New Zealand. From the humble beginnings of a vine planted in Northland, the New Zealand wine industry has grown to become a $1.83 billion export earner, with an international reputation for premium, diverse and sustainable wines.

Reverend Samuel Marsden, Chaplain to New South Wales (1765-1838), records September 25, 1819, as
the day he planted a vine in the rich grounds of the Stone Store, Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands. These
pioneering vines were the very first to be planted into New Zealand soils, with New Zealand being one
of very few countries in the world where the exact date of the planting of the first vines is known,
making our story unique on the world stage.

Throughout the 19th and early 20th century, a significant number of European immigrants came to New
Zealand and set up vineyards in different regions. They each contributed to the early establishment of
the diverse wine regions of New Zealand. The New Zealand wine industry today consists of over 700
wineries and more than 600 grape growers, with the growing success of this industry depending
strongly on the commitment and passion of the people behind it.

Since the 1990s, there has been an evolution in the grape varieties that we see planted throughout our
regions. Sauvignon Blanc is now the most widely planted variety, accounting for 76% of total production,
followed by Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

As we raise a toast to the past, we also look ahead to the future. The New Zealand wine industry is
dedicated to ensuring that we celebrate another 200 years, through a commitment to sustainability and
innovation that will protect the places that make our famous wines. Over 98% of New Zealand’s
vineyard producing area is now Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ) certified – and this is
unmatched by any voluntary scheme around the world.

New Zealand Winegrowers will be marking the 200 year anniversary with an industry event in
Northland, including a ceremonial re-planting at the historic Stone Store, followed by a regional wine
tasting and dinner on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

In his diary, Marsden prophesied, “New Zealand promises to be very favourable to the vine, as far as I
can judge at present of the nature of the soil and climate. Should the vine succeed, it will prove of vast
importance in this part of the globe.” His prediction has been brilliantly fulfilled.

For further information contact:
Amber Silvester
Communications Manager, New Zealand Winegrowers
021 794 381

Editors notes:

  • The first recorded wine was from James Busby in 1830s. Busby, the Crown’s Resident in New
    Zealand lived in what is now called the Treaty House at the Treaty Grounds in Waitangi. James
    Busby was the architect of the Treaty of Waitangi and is regarded as the first winemaker in New
    Zealand.
  • In 1840, naval officer and explorer Jules Dumont D’Urville visited and was disappointed to find
    Busby not in residence, but tasted a wine made by Busby. Onboard his ship, Astrolabe, Dumont
    D’Urville wrote the first New Zealand wine review in his journal, “with great pleasure I agreed to
    taste the product of the vineyard that I had just seen. I was given a light white wine, very
    sparkling, and delicious to taste, which I enjoyed very much”.

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International demand for New Zealand wine at an all-time high

International demand for New Zealand wine shows no sign of slowing, with total export value reaching a record $1.83 billion according to the 2019 Annual Report of New Zealand Winegrowers.

Export value has risen by 6% in June year-end 2019, and at a retail level, this translates to over $7 billion
dollars of New Zealand wine sold around the world annually. The UK and USA led the growth, with the
USA continuing to be New Zealand wine’s largest market with over $550 million in exports.

The premium reputation of New Zealand wine has translated to real value in its major markets where
the country remains either the highest or second-highest priced wine category in the USA, UK, Canada,
and China. “This year’s export results again reflect the New Zealand wine industry’s strengths, and
reinforce our international reputation for premium, diverse and sustainable wines.” said John Clarke,
Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers.

The report highlights the completion of the 2018 PwC Strategic Review, the first within the industry
since 2011, which provided a wealth of usable insights into the state of the New Zealand wine sector,
challenges and opportunities. “The Strategic Review report noted the continued steady growth of the
industry, and identified a range of challenges and risks that need to be addressed to maintain that
trajectory and ensure all members have the opportunity to benefit” said Mr Clarke.

Mr Clarke noted the Strategic Review underscored how important all aspects of sustainability were in
order to maintain the New Zealand wine industry’s social license to operate. “As an industry, we need to
ensure our key focus is on enhancing sustainability initiatives. Sustainability is a cornerstone of the
reputation of New Zealand wine, and is vital to the ongoing success of our industry.”

Highlights over the last year include the completion of the first phase of the Bragato Research Institute’s
climate change programme, the commencement of a new research winery facility, and the International
Sauvignon Blanc Celebration, which saw over 100 international wine producers, experts and key
influencers visit Marlborough to experience New Zealand’s diverse Sauvignon Blanc offerings.

The 2019 Annual Report can be accessed here.

For further information contact:
Philip Gregan
CEO, New Zealand Winegrowers
021964564

Editor’s note:
• Wine is New Zealand’s sixth-largest export good.
• New Zealand wine is exported to more than 100 countries.

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Francesca Menzies 80th birthday

Francesca Menzies celebrated her 80th birthday a wee while back. Francesca doesn’t attend Club events very often these days, (a bit difficult now that she lives in the Nelson region) but she has been a member of our club since the very early days and is one of our valued life members. She has served on our committee as well as having terms as Vice President and President of the Club. A somewhat belated congratulations Francesca.

Best wishes and keep well.

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Congratulations Derek, 80

Every once in a while the Club creates its own news, or at least things happen to members that are newsworthy. This month  I have opted against searching out a New Zealand wine story in favour of a little celebration of our own.  Back in May Derek Thompson (a foundation Member of our club) turned 80.  He had a small celebration to mark the occasion at which the birthday cake pictured below was a feature.   There are three things worthy of mention about the cake.  Obviously the first is Derek’s achievement at reaching 80, the second is that the prints on the cake represent his dedicated companion, Hershey the cat, and thirdly, but by no means lastly, the cake was provided by Adeline Porter, a fellow member.  I knew there was a good reason why Derek surrounds himself with women at the top table.

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Tuku Māori Winemakers Collective

nzwine.com | 26 Apr 2019

Tuku is the world’s first Māori Winemakers Collective, bringing together awarded Māori wine companies based on their shared values of land, family and hospitality.

TUKU Māori Winemakers Collective
TUKU Māori Winemakers Collective

The collective is made up of majority Māori-owned, NZ-owned wine companies: Kuru Kuru, Ostler, Steve Bird, te Pā and Tiki Wines, offering a wide range of premium varietals from the most famous wine-growing regions of Aotearoa.

The name Tuku comes from the Māori art of Tukutuku weavings, which are decorative wall panels. These panels were lashed or stitched together by people working in pairs from either side, passing the stalks back and forth. The members all share the same values of the land, family and hospitality and by working together, hope to strengthen indigenous winemaking as a whole. There are very few companies that work collectively in this industry that will share ideas, share market resources and share a meal together.

The Tuku collective is united by a common ethos to winemaking, business and life. At the heart are the Māori values of:

KAITIAKITANGA – guardianship of the land and people
Like the majority of New Zealand winemakers, TUKU is all certified sustainable, but they take it a few steps further than that. The collective is all about family, and they want to ensure that they look after our land and people, to make sure future generations get to experience Aotearoa in the same way we have.

The collective supports several organisations dedicated to Kaitiakitanga. In the vineyards, they use various methods to enrich vineyard soils, such as compost, liquid seaweed, molasses and beneficial bacteria and fungi for ground drenching and lambs to graze in the winter. They have a strong focus on re-using and maximise recycling opportunities wherever possible. They all strive to ensure all their actions have the long-term interest of our land at heart.

WHAKAPAPA – our family, our heritage
Whakapapa links people to all other living things, the earth and the sky, and traces the universe back to its origins. TUKU are all extremely proud of their heritage and where they come from and they have many generations working within the companies. They embrace the past, live in the present and look to the future.

WHĀNAUNGATANGA – a sense of family connection
It is a big part of Maori culture to create a sense of belonging and to embrace people into their whānau. It is important for the collective to create meaningful relationships through shared experiences and by working together. They respect and foster relationships within their organisations, within their iwi and within the community. We may not be born of the same parents, but you are still very much part of our whānau.

MANAAKITANGA – hospitality/generosity
TUKU thrives on this. Wine is a great thing to share with friends and family and that is what TUKU is all about. Enhancing that special moment, showing generosity, sharing a slice of New Zealand and embracing you into our whānau.

Māori business are unique because of our culture, our values and our approach.

TUKU believes the future for Māori businesses is bright and there are already many key Māori businesses on the world stage who contribute greatly to the New Zealand economy.

When you buy from local people and their families, you are enabling growth and success for future generations. When buying TUKU wines, you are supporting indigenous producers who are connected to the land and to their wines.

2019 President’s Annual Report

8 May 2019

It is indeed my privilege to present to club members the Cellar Club’s annual report for the year 2018 – 2019.

I want to stress that the club is first and foremost about you.  It is you as active members who make the club as vibrant as it is.  Maintaining membership at a sound level is the key.   Thank you for your support for events and meetings during the year and attending tonight’s AGM.   Our monthly meetings continue to be well attended, in fact the average number of members attending monthly meetings relative to the club’s subscription membership has perhaps never been better.  Total numbers attending tastings again exceeded 300 during this last year (at 9 meetings) but we have noted that guest numbers were a little down and this may need to be addressed if we are looking to build on our membership.

In particular the numbers attending the two club dinners in July and December 2018 were also at a high (the 2 dinners were collectively over 90) and as these dinners are highlight events for members we will continue to prioritise efforts to choose the right venue, creating a chance for you to share good wines with your table and to enjoy some of the first class cuisine that Wellington restaurants do provide.

May I add that this report, rather than being printed, is posted for your interest on the club’s website.

Keeping the membership levels up and ensuring meetings are well attended is a prime objective to ensure the club remains viable and we can sustain the costs that running the club incurs.   You will see from the financial report prepared for the AGM that the club’s finances are in very good shape thanks particularly to the diligence and astute budget management of our long serving treasurer.

These club’s finances and fixed costs are manageable but do require active attention.  Venue hire, licenses for the club website and the council’s liquor requirements, presenter gifts and the costs of the wines are the key points of focus.   With healthy finances we are able to subsidise the annual BBQ and dinners, sustain a club cellar and provide those cellared wines at dinners and the AGM tonight.  We are fortunate that occasionally the wine presenters either heavily discount the wine or are prepared to donate their wines.  This can be unpredictable but where it eventuates we are grateful and it allows the benefits to flow back to members.

This is often a function of the size scale of the wineries or their subsequent response to your level of orders.  It is worth noting that the presenters cover their own travel, visiting and accommodation costs and for some this is substantial.  In those terms I want to thank members most sincerely for their preparedness to order on the night and many of the presenters particularly comment on both their orders and naturally express a willingness to return to the club.  I know that is not always true of some other wine clubs where they have different arrangements and expectations.  Our club’s operating model is not unique, but where other styles of club operations put some pressure on presenters and wineries, our model ensures good relations are maintained with wineries, our financial viability is ensured and door charges and subscriptions remain affordable.

Therefore, the level of support from members suggests the formula may be right but I want to stress that meeting your interests is paramount.  We would want to hear both suggestions for meetings and ideas and options for events that are planned.   Each member of the committee is only too willing to talk with you to seek and explore ideas to ensure the club remains in good heart and is delivering what members want in terms of wine education, quality wine experiences and a good social atmosphere at meetings and amongst members.

As members you have excelled with the help you provide with meeting logistics.  Looking after the glassware, setting the venue hall up and helping stack tables and chairs away, assisting with pouring when requested, being inclusive at tables and helping with distribution of wine orders does ease the pressures involved in meetings and covering the necessary tasks and it is appreciated.

It is pleasing to reflect that the club continues to thrive as Wellington’s pre-eminent wine society established and operating since 1980 expanding from a local suburban focus to a membership residing from across the city, the Hutt Valley to the Kapiti Coast.  Your continuing involvement has ensured this longevity into our 40th year.

The programme over the last year was varied and well received.  We visited Hawkes Bay [Unison Vineyard, Clearview Estate and Askerne Wines], tasted internationally from France [Maison Vauron with cheeses], Portugal [Confidant Wines] and Australia [Yalumba with Negociants], tasted Marlborough [with Villa Maria], looked at quality wines under $25 with Joelle Thomson and dined at Saigon Van, at Juniper and the traditional January BBQ (courtesy of life member Derek Thompson).

My thanks go also to an outstandingly willing committee.  This is a group that is dedicated, reliable and affable.   The portfolios are well shared and the committee’s focus is sustained membership, managing costs, providing publicity and information, and promoting wine education.   It is pleasing for me to note that the current committee members have all expressed a willingness to continue in their involvement.

This is a group notable for their collective efforts and backing each other up.  The committee deals with a plethora of issues, with finances and organising the annual tasting programme being a focus.   There certainly is an extensive timely email flow amongst the committee and we always have a quorum at monthly committee meetings.   Planning and being flexible are the keys, although occasionally there is pressure on the scheduled monthly programme.  Invariably we manage to come through and frequently achieve stellar presentations.   Our secretarial support, the newsletter and our website as our “shop windows”, licensing and venue realities, catering and balancing our books all require dedication and effort.  For this collective endeavour I am grateful to committee members.

The club is about sociability, extending wine experiences and broadening horizons.   We are always looking for the means to increase our membership.  It is always a pleasure when you bring along guests to meetings and functions as prospective members and we are happy to make incentives for you to do so.  With guest numbers a little down of late there is a real interest to encourage your friends and acquaintances who may wish experience a tasting evening and perhaps to join the club.  Specifically, how we can increase younger membership is one of the challenges going forward.

Thank you for your support and active involvement and hence I raise a glass to you one and all and trust we will continue to do so for the year ahead and to mark the club’s 40th year.

Murray Jaspers
President
The Cellar Club Inc

Raymond Chan: a wine critic without pretension

Raymond Chan, wine critic; b July 21, 1956; d February 10, 2019

Raymond Chan won a strong fan base of winemakers and marketers alike.
[Image Andrew Gorrie]
Raymond Chan, who has died aged 62, was a great wine communicator and for spearheading dynamic tastings in Wellington in the early days of the modern New Zealand wine industry.

He will also be remembered by family and friends (of whom more than 300 turned up to celebrate his life at a wake in Martinborough) as a man of incredible courage and determination.

Chan died at home in Wellington last month with his partner, Sue Davies, by his side.

It had been a long journey with cancer, and he was constantly praising Davies for the incredible support she provided during that time.

He lived with cancer for 10 years. During this time, he led a new style of wine communication – paid wine reviews online. He swiftly won a strong fan base of winemakers and marketers alike who wanted and needed written independent wine reviews.

He wasn’t without his detractors, but this did not deter Chan from his meticulous detailing of viticulture and winemaking information on his website, which was an invaluable resource tool for the New Zealand wine industry.

He and his work will be sorely missed because of his great ability to communicate about wine to both newcomers and experts alike. Despite his battle with debilitating cancer, he ploughed on with daily life, cycling down the hill from his home in Hataitai to Newtown each morning, working on his website each afternoon.

Chan wasn’t without his detractors but this did not deter him from his meticulous detailing of viticulture and winemaking information on his website.
[Image Andrew Gorrie]
His sunny disposition and love of wine came through in both the tastings programme he spearheaded in Wellington in the 1980s and 1990s, and on his website.

His desire was to democratise wine for all. He succeeded.

Wine never appeared on the family dining table when he was growing up. It became important to him when he graduated from the University of Otago in 1978 and worked at Chan’s Garden Restaurant, owned by his family in Dunedin.

Raymond was one of five children. He was the eldest of the four born in New Zealand to immigrant Chinese parents who were separated for seven years between his father’s arrival in New Zealand and the emigration of his wife and eldest daughter.

The family owned a fruit shop and later a fish and chip shop and, eventually, Chan’s Garden Restaurant in South Dunedin.

When the family opened the restaurant, they all became interested in wine.

“I was amazed by the early New Zealand wines of the day, and our whole family got keen on wine through the restaurant,” he said.

Chan’s sunny disposition and love of wine came through in both the tastings programme that he spearheaded in Wellington in the 1980s and 1990s and on his website.
[Image Stuff]
He became friends with wine reps from different companies and developed close relationships with wine industry people, such as Malcolm McIntyre and Chris Staynes, with whom he formed the Wine Federation of Otago and entered wine options, a guessing game in the wine industry.

The 1980s were pivotal years in Chan’s early career. He became a judge at the Royal Easter Wine Show in 1988 when Master of Wine Bob Campbell was expanding the judging system. Then he moved to Wellington in 1989 to work at Wilson Neill as a wine adviser for the late Jose Hernandez and, later, when Wilson Neill was taken over by Dominion Breweries (DB), he went to O’Reilly’s on Thorndon Quay, where he worked for Zuke Marinkovich from 1991 to 1994.

This role saw him establish Wellington wine tasting programmes, most influentially at Regional Wines & Spirits, working for the store’s late founder, Grant Jones, whom Chan described as a visionary.

After Chan’s death, one friend wrote on social media: “He opened my eyes to wine.”

Chan’s desire was to democratise wine for all. He succeeded.
[Image Maarten Holl]
Another said: “Without him, I can’t imagine how I would have gotten into a wine career and he was super supportive even when I knew nothing – he always had time to answer my questions, no matter how trivial I imagine they may have seemed to him.”

I can echo those comments. The first time I met him was at an upstairs tasting at Regional Wines & Spirits in 1995. I was a young wine writer with very little knowledge at the time and, realising I needed to learn, the tastings beckoned.

Chan’s passion for wine was infectious. He was warm and welcoming. He lacked pretension and exuded an openness to teach, which is sorely needed in wine circles today.

I owe him a lot. Like many Wellingtonians in the 1990s, I learnt more about wine from Chan than from anyone else in wine circles. He encouraged me as a young writer, happy to see a newcomer and help them on their path.

Raymond Chan won a strong fan base of winemakers and marketers alike.
[Image ]
He was a breath of fresh air. His support for my writing career will always give him a special place in my heart. His encouragement and support for many others in the New Zealand industry means that they, too, can echo this thought.

His funeral was a small family affair in Wellington, followed by food at his favourite yum cha restaurant. The wake to celebrate his life was another matter. It was held at Ata Rangi, one of the first four wineries to establish itself in Martinborough.

The catering was by Ruth Pretty and more than 300 people turned up to pay their tributes to the man who most described as having a ground-breaking influence on their journey into winemaking, viticulture, marketing, sales and writing.

It has been my great privilege to know, admire and learn from the man who inspired one of my personal greatest wine passions – German riesling. It was a passion that he and Davies also shared.

He will be very deeply missed and very highly revered, as he deserved to be, for the role he played in championing wine and its producers at a formative time in the modern history of New Zealand wine.

Joelle Thomson 16 Mar 2019
Joelle Thomson is a writer and published author of 15 books about wine.

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NZ wine to be showcased in new podcast series

thedrinksbusiness.com | 18 February 2019

Industry body New Zealand Winegrowers has teamed up with podcast creator Lawrence Francis of Interpreting Wine in order to provide in-depth coverage of its annual tasting.

The podcast series will take the form of seven episodes, featuring interviews with four winemakers and three regional masterclasses.

The first episode will be unveiled today (18 February) with all seven due to be released by 24 February.

The podcasts are available free of charge on major platforms including Spotify and iTunes. They will also be made available on the New Zealand Winegrowers website at a later date.

The episode schedule is as follows: episode one, Jamie Marfell, group winemaker at Pernod Ricard; episode two, Warren Gibson, winemaker at Trinity Hill; episode three, Sam Bennett, winemaker at Te Pa Wines; episode four, Kevin Judd, winemaker and owner at Greywacke; episode five, Rebecca Gibb MW, a masterclass on Central Otago, episode six, Ronan Sayburn MS and Kevin Judd, a masterclass on Marlborough; and episode seven, Rebecca Gibb MW, a masterclass on Hawke’s Bay

Europe marketing manager at New Zealand Winegrowers, Chris Stroud, commented: “We were delighted when Lawrence approached us to cover our annual tasting on his podcast. This series allows people who were not able to attend our tasting the opportunity to hear directly from the winemakers and learn from the regional masterclasses. We hope it brings a flavour of New Zealand to them.”

Lawrence Francis, content director at Interpreting Wine added: “Podcasting is a versatile and effective tool for wine communication. I know farmers who listen to the show on their tractors and others who play it while driving or working off their wine calories in the gym. In September 2018 Ofcom found that half of UK podcast listeners are under 35 so I think it’s an excellent way to connect with young wine drinkers.”

New Zealand Winegrowers’ annual London tasting took place on 16 January this year. You can listen to the podcast series here.

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Raymond Chan’s pivotal role will be remembered

 

I wrote this obituary this morning for Raymond Chan, who was my friend, my mentor and a man who played a pivotal role in championing wine and its producers at a formative time in the modern history of New Zealand wine. It is also published on my website at www.joellethomson.com

Courageous, determined and undeterred. Raymond Chan will leave a legacy of great courage, as well as of good humour and a passion for wine.

He passed away on Sunday 10 February after a long journey with cancer, which lasted the best part of a decade. His long term partner, Sue Davies, was an integral part of this journey, offering unwavering support, putting her own career on hold, much of the time, to ensure Raymond had what he needed.

His bravery will remain as inspiring as his cheeky good humour and his passion for wine, which perhaps shone brightest in his role at Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington where he ran and hosted great tastings for many years.

Wine never appeared on the family dining table when Chan was growing up. It became important to him when he graduated from the University of Otago in 1978 and worked at Chan’s Garden Restaurant, owned by his family in Dunedin.

“I was amazed by the early New Zealand wines of the day and our whole family got keen on wine through the restaurant,” he once said, when asked how he got into wine.

He and his wine friends, such as Malcolm McIntyre and Chris Staynes then formed the Wine Federation of Otago and entered wine options, a guessing game in the wine industry.

The 1980s were pivotal years in Chan’s early career in wine. He became a wine judge at the Royal Easter Wine Show in 1988 when Master of Wine Bob Campbell was expanding the wine judging system. Then he moved to Wellington in 1989 to work at Wilson Neill as a wine advisor for the late, Jose Hernandez, and, later, when Wilson Neill was taken over by Dominion Breweries (DB), he went to O’Reilly’s on Thorndon Quay where he worked for Zuke Marinkovich from 1991 to 1994.

This role saw him establish Wellington wine tasting programmes, which he spearheaded most influentially at Regional Wines & Spirits, working for the store’s late founder, Grant Jones, who Raymond described as a visionary.

“He opened my eyes to wine,” said one wine friend, on social media this morning.

“Without him, I can’t imagine how I would have gotten into a wine career and he was super supportive even when I knew nothing – he always had time to answer my questions, no matter how trivial I imagine they may have seemed to him,” said another wine industry friend.

I can echo those comments.

The first time I met Raymond was at an upstairs tasting at Regional Wines & Spirits in 1995. I was a young wine writer with very little wine knowledge at the time and, realising I needed to learn, the tastings beckoned. Raymond’s passion for wine was infectious. He was warm and welcoming. He lacked pretension and exuded an openness to teach, which is sorely needed in wine circles today.

It has been my great privilege to know, admire and learn from the man who inspired one of my personal greatest wine passions – German Riesling. It was a passion that he and his partner, Sue Davies, also shared.

Raymond will be very deeply missed and very highly revered, as he deserved to be, for the role he played in championing wine and its producers at a formative time in the modern history of New Zealand wine.

An international Sauvignon Blanc celebration

NZ Winegrowers – Media Release – January 2019

Visit 2019 Sauvignon NZ website

The ‘who’s who’ of the wine world descended on Marlborough for a three-day International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration kicking off on Monday 28 January.

“We have over 100 international wine producers, experts and key influencers visiting, giving us an exceptional opportunity to shine the spotlight on our diverse Sauvignon Blanc offerings,” said Sauvignon 2019 Chair, Patrick Materman. The event boasted a world-class line-up of speakers who are experts in the fields of science, research, journalism and gastronomy.

Internationally acclaimed wine writer Matt Kramer returned to New Zealand to explore Sauvignon Blanc’s place in the world of wine and speak on the future of Sauvignon Blanc. Nine Masters of Wine from all over the globe were among the speakers, including Debra Meiburg, founding Director of Meiburg Wine Media, and Sarah Heller, Asia Pacific’s youngest MW at 30 years of age, from Hong Kong. From the UK came Justin Howard-Sneyd, buyer and consultant for over 20 years with some of the UK’s leading distributors, and David Allen, originally from the UK and Director of WineSearcher. Dirceu Vianna Junior was the first South American male to obtain the title of Master of Wine and joined from Brazil, and Tim Hanni hailing from the US, where he is Managing Director of eCode.me and HanniCo LLC. Completing the exemplary line up were New Zealanders Emma Jenkins, Sam Harrop and Steve Smith.

Over 350 guests were expected to attend the celebration, which took attendees on a journey exploring the complexity of Sauvignon Blanc, emerging styles, vineyard practices, winemaking influences and future trends. The International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration is built around three themes; Place, Purity and Pursuit. Day one was themed Place and drew on Tūrangawaewae, the geographical places we feel empowered and connected to. Day two, with the theme of Purity, explored topics such as climate, sustainability and flavour. Finally, Day three dealt with what we should pursue domestically and globally, outlining future challenges and opportunities for the New Zealand wine industry.

The spectacular evening entertainment was also a highlight, with the sold-out gala event ‘Blanc’, a dinner-en-blanc theme, hosting 480 guests at Brancott Vineyard on the second evening of the 2019 celebration. Celebrity chef Martin Bosley was the culinary director of the gourmet feast that was matched with older vintages from the cellars of our wineries. The International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration brought this diverse, expressive and sought-after variety to centre stage for three action-packed days in Marlborough.

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Why amateur wine scores are every bit as good as professionals’

By Mark Schatzker and Richard Bazinet | Updated May 25, 2018

Article summary

Few consumer products offer as staggering a range of choice as wine. You can buy a bottle of Dark Horse Big Red Blend for $8. Or for around $500, you can get a 2012 bottle of Sloan Proprietary Red. Yet for each bottle, the same question applies: Is it any good?

The rise of the wine-rating crowd

Cellar Tracker online
 Cellar Tracker online

In 2004, Eric LeVine — then a group program manager at Microsoft — launched CellarTracker, a site where amateur wine enthusiasts can rate wines. Today, CellarTracker is the web’s most popular “community” or “crowdsourced” wine review website, containing 6.3 million reviews from 113,000-plus users for more than 2.2 million different wines.

Amateur and professional wine scores correlate very tightly

How similar? We ran a statistical tool called a Spearman correlation and got a figure of 0.576. A perfect correlation is 1. An utter non-correlation is 0. A score of 0.576 may not sound impressive at first, but it can actually get worse than 0 — a negative correlation, which is what you would see if you compared, say, shortness with the likelihood of playing professional basketball.

Amateurs appear more expert than the experts

It looks very much like the enthusiasts actually do a better job of agreeing with the experts than the experts do with each other. That might sound odd, but out of thousands of wines we analyzed, only a handful contradicted this pattern. Simply put, if you want to know what the experts think, the best place to look appears to be, of all places, CellarTracker.

The better the wine, the more experts agree with the amateurs

How do wine enthusiasts compare with the experts like Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson? Very well. Javier Zarracina
How do wine enthusiasts compare with the experts like Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson? Very well. Javier Zarracina

There is also a tendency for scores to converge as wines improve in quality. This is evident in the arrow shape of the clusters in figures comparing CellarTracker with Wine Advocate and CellarTracker with International Wine Cellar. Average scores, furthermore, are high. On Wine Advocate, the average score was 89, on International Wine Cellar it was 91, and it was 17 out of 20 for Jancis Robinson. On CellarTracker, it was 89. This tells us that experts and enthusiasts alike don’t seem to be spending a great deal of time scoring mediocre wines.

Read the full article

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Fellows Honoured in NZ Wine Awards NZ Winegrowers

The New Zealand wine industry has recognised the service and dedication of industry icons Mark Nobilo, Jane Hunter and Ivan Sutherland by inducting them as Fellows of New Zealand Winegrowers at the New Zealand Wine Awards dinner held in Wellington last month. The Fellows award recognises individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the industry.

Mark Nobilo

Mark has been a tireless advocate for grape and wine industry for over 50 years from his time as viticulturist with the family firm through to his recent years as a consultant, particularly in the Northland wine industry. In his role with Nobilo Vintners Mark spent enormous amounts of time helping the Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay growers in their endeavours to produce quality grapes. In more recent years Mark has been a consultant particularly in Northland where he has shared his knowledge, without charge, with all Northland winegrowers.

Mark served on a number of industry Committees over the years but perhaps most notably on the New Zealand Grapevine Improvement Group which played a key role in sharing knowledge about and distributing improved planting material to the industry. “Mark has always given freely of his time to assist the growth of the industry,” said John Clarke, Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers.

Jane Hunter

Jane joined the New Zealand wine industry in 1983, taking up the role of National viticulturist with Montana Wines. Jane has contributed to the wider industry in many ways and served on the Wine Institute Board and various Committees for several years. Importantly she was a foundation Director of the New Zealand Wine Guild which charted the path forward for New Zealand wine in the UK in the early 1990’s and established the model of cooperation in export which has served the industry well to this day.

Jane has received a number of awards over the years honouring her contribution to our industry including in 1993 an OBE in 2009 when she was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and in 2013 became the first woman inducted into the New Zealand Wine Hall of Fame. “Jane never intended to stay in the industry long but has since become a New Zealand wine icon. One of Jane’s greatest assets has been the time and energy she has devoted to serving the wider community,” said Mr Clarke.

Ivan Sutherland, Proprietor, Dog Point Wines

Ivan, originally from Marlborough, studied Valuation and Farm Management at Lincoln University graduating in 1972. He has been involved for nearly 40 years in the New Zealand wine industry, commencing as one of the first contract growers in Marlborough in 1979 before becoming involved in viticulture consultancy. Today he is a proprietor of well know premium winery Dog Point Wines. Ivan has served the industry in a number of capacities over many years. He was a founding member of the Marlborough Grape Growers Association and served as Chair on more than one occasion.

As a strong advocate of grower issues, Ivan has always had a keen interest in research serving as Chair of the original Marlborough Wine Research Centre Board. More latterly Ivan became a Trustee of The Marlborough Research Centre and still enjoys this involvement. As an ardent advocate for all things Marlborough, Ivan was a Board member of the first International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration held in Marlborough in 2016 playing a major role in the success of the event.

Media Release – 6/11/18

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