Port from 1863 sets new world auction record

Chris Mercer – Decanter – 26 March 2019

This is the second of five Lalique demijohns of the Niepoort 1863. Credit: Lalique

A newly released bottle of 156-year-old Niepoort in a Lalique crystal decanter has become the most expense Port sold at auction after fetching more than HK$1m, according to those involved in the sale.

Hong Kong’s Grand Hyatt hotel was the venue for the new Port auction record, in a sale organised by Sotheby’s.

A buyer paid HK$1.054m (US$134,000; £102,000) for the Niepoort in Lalique 1863. All proceeds will go to The Nature Conservancy charity.

The previous world record was set in November last year for a bottle of the same Port, also in Lalique, after a buyer paid HK$992,000 at an Acker, Merrall & Condit auction.

There are five Lalique demijohn decanters of the rare Niepoort 1863, each engraved with the name of one of the five generations of the van der Niepoort family, said Lalique following last weekend’s Sotheby’s auction.

Detail on the decanter shows the signature Lalique grapevine pattern. Credit: Lalique.

Two decanters have now been sold at auction, with the second a tribute to Eduard Karel Jacob van der Niepoort.

Dirk van der Niepoort, of the fifth generation and who runs the company today, said, ‘We are thrilled to achieve another landmark price for what is the oldest Port we have ever bottled.’

Silvio Denz, chairman and CEO of Lalique, said: ‘This new world record highlights the exceptional nature of the decanters and the remarkable quality of the Niepoort 1863. We are delighted that all net proceeds from the sale will benefit a charity that carries out hugely important work to preserve nature.’

There have been several auction records in recent months.

A bottle of DRC Romanée-Conti 1945 set a new record for wine in general after selling for $558,000 at a Sotheby’s sale in October 2018.

In November, Christie’s sold a bottle of The Macallan 1926 60 Year Old for £1.2m, breaking new ground for single malt Scotch whisky.

Have you heard

I had an interesting conversation with one of our members (who shall remain nameless) after last month’s newsletter. I was advised that the lexophiles were ‘Dad jokes’ and we should get back to wine cartoons in this section. So I have a choice more Dad Jokes or look for wine cartoons. I must have a wee obstinate streak in me somewhere.

I didn’t like my beard at first, but then it grew on me. (Had to include this didn’t I – Ed)

This woman today said she recognizes me from the Vegetarians Club, but I’d swear I’ve never met herbivore.

The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine last week is now fully recovered.

When she saw her first strands of grey hair she thought she would dye.

If you don’t pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.

I got some batteries that were given out free of charge.

If at first, you don’t succeed, then skydiving definitely isn’t for you.

My wife left me and ran away with my next door neighbour!!! I’m actually starting to miss him.

I am terrified of elevators. I have to take steps to avoid them.

Do you know why cows have hooves instead of feet? Because they Lactose.

And to introduce a wine (or is that whine) element

I’ve trained my dog to bring me a glass of red wine – it’s a Bordeaux Collie.

I’m a wine enthusiast – the more wine I drink, the more enthusiastic I get’.

The first thing on my bucket list is to fill the bucket with wine.

(Not all my own work- part of this list was ably contributed by Mr Kennedy – Ed)

AGM – May 2019

The Cellar Club Inc Annual General Meeting will be held as follows:

When: 8 pm Wednesday 8 May 2019
Where: Johnsonville Community Centre
Moorefield Road, Wellington

Please give some thought to any proposals you might want to introduce for the meeting, we are happy to take ideas from members about future activities for the Club.

As always members will be provided with a light supper and the opportunity to sample some wines from our cellar after the formal part of the evening. We will send out a formal notice and documents closer to the meeting in accordance with our Club rules.

See event details.

Villa Maria – March 2019

Yet another excellent tasting with Marc Udy from Villa Maria, ably assisted by Kirsty Warbrick,  presenting a range of great wines including some from their Platinum Range. Marc is one of the winemakers from Marlborough.  He was a good speaker and the consensus is that the winery has been really easy to deal with.

To reiterate the tasting included the Cellar Selection Rose 2018; Reserve Wairua Sauvignon 2018;  Single Vineyard Seddon Pinot Gris 2018; Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2016; Platinum Selection Pinot Noir 2018; Cellar Selection Grenache 2017, rounded off with the Cellar Selection Late Harvest Riesling 2015.  An enjoyable night.

Editor away, AGM, In planning

Editor away (again)

As I mentioned last month it is with some regret that (having said it is not to be missed) I will miss it and the AGM next month.  Never mind, I will have 30 days at sea to help me get over it.

AGM

Naturally, I will not be able to put together the May Newsletter. Wayne will take care of this and will ensure that all the necessary documentation is forwarded to members as appropriate for the AGM. We would suggest you print off copies of the documentation and bring it with you as it can be difficult for committee members to provide sufficient copies on the night.

In planning

The programme for the year to come might appear to lack substance but your committee is working on a number of initiatives and you can be assured that an enjoyable year of tastings and events is being planned and confirmed. Watch this space.

Cheers

Robin Semmens
Editor

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.

Chan will be highly revered for the role he played in championing wine and its producers at a formative time in the modern history of New Zealand wine, says Joelle Thomson.
[Image Phil Reid]
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.

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.

Have you heard

I have decided to move away from wine jokes this month. Editor’s privilege you understand. I came across an item on “lexophiles”, a play on words, and decided I would try a few.

To write with a broken pencil is pointless.
No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery
I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. It’s really good, I just can’t put it down.
I stayed up all night to see where the sun went, then it dawned on me.
I know a guy who’s addicted to drinking brake fluid, but he says he can stop anytime.
A thief who stole a calendar got 12 months.
A will is a dead giveaway.
A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.
He had a photographic memory but it was never fully developed.
Police were summoned to a day-care centre where a three year old was resisting a rest.

Joelle Thomson – April tasting

Joelle hardly needs an introduction. She is well known through her significant contribution to wine literature in New Zealand. She has featured in many news and other publications as well as being a regular contributor on Radio NZ. Among her other activities, she is the Wine Programme Director and teaches wine courses at Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington. She also does courses at the New Zealand School of Food & Wine in Auckland.

The theme for the evening will be “Top Drops under $25” Having such a well-established expert introducing good wines in the more affordable range will be welcomed by members. More next month, in the meantime, put in your diary.

Askerne Wines – February 2019

Another great evening with nice wines and an informative presenter. John Loughlin was a pleasure to deal with and kept the meeting running to time. A good level of orders resulted. But that all our tastings were as easy to organize as this one was. John says he would be more than happy to come back and has some interesting wines that we haven’t yet tried. We will keep this in mind.

The wines tasted included; Askerne Sauv Blanc / Sauv Gris / Semillon 2018 as the quaffer; followed by; Askerne Reserve Chardonnay 2016; Askerne Viognier 2018; Askerne Gewürztraminer 2016; Askerne Syrah 2015; Askerne Merlot Cab Franc Cab Sauv Malbec 2015; Askerne 2016 Cabernet Franc; rounded off with the Askerne Dessert Cabernet 2018.

Future tastings, Little bit late

Future tastings

A couple of your committee members have done some great work in sorting out tastings over the next two months.  You will note that things have now been settled and we can look forward to two great evenings.  Special thanks to Wayne and Murray for their efforts in putting these together.  Just remains for us to enjoy them. Check out the events page.

Little bit late

This newsletter is a little bit later in the month than we would like but we wanted to have as much information available as possible. My personal regret is that I will miss Joelle as we will be embarking on a 31-night cruise. Sometimes you just have to make sacrifices. I often say that a tasting is not to be missed but, to be fair, that applies to all of them.

Cheers
Robin Semmens
Editor

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.