First harvest – Grant Taylor

We all appreciate Grant Taylor’s knowledge, expertise and sense of humour. But I’ve never heard a harvest described the way Grant has in the latest edition of the winegrower magazine. He describes the anticipation of a first harvest after he has taken over managing a vineyard in the Waitaki Valley.

Montana Wines dumps Kiwi grapes in favour of Australian

Belinda Feek | NZ Herald reporter based in Hamilton | | @ought2bee

A top Kiwi wine brand has ditched its award-winning Marlborough grapes for some of its wines – in favour of those from Australia.

A Kiwi wine reviewer has slammed one of the country’s best-known wine labels for its decision to start using Australian grapes in some of its wines.

Montana has ditched its award-winning Marlborough grapes for those from across the ditch to keep it cheap for consumers.

And many consumers looking for a well-priced New Zealand wine will not be aware of the change unless they check the back of the bottle.

At this stage, the move is just for its Montana Classic 2017 sauvignon blanc and Montana Classic 2016 pinot noir. Wine aficionado Bob Campbell wrote about his disgust in the move in his latest column online.

He dubs the move legal but “deceptive” and says the Montana brand is “as Kiwi as Buzzy Bee, Jaffas and Fred Dagg”.

Montana was bought by alcohol distribution giant Pernod Ricard in 2010 and eventually renamed Brancott Estate to avoid confusion in the United States.

An image of a Montana Sauvignon Blanc from 2010 proudly boasts that it’s from Marlborough. The company is using grapes from Australia for its 2017 wine.

Montana’s classic range has been selling for $9.99 recently, a price Campbell believed now justly depicts the quality of the wine.

Campbell said that although he is yet to taste the drop, there was a reason for the price difference.

“Australian sauvignon blanc is, by and large, inferior.”

Campbell told the Herald Montana wine was close to his heart as he was working for it in 1973 when it planted its first grapes.

“I began my wine industry career in 1973 as an accountant with Montana so I guess it’s kind of personal. I might be overstating the case but it’s just that, to me, Montana and Marlborough are inextricably linked.”

The sauvignon blanc was due to be released this month, he said.

He described Marlborough sauvignon grapes typically producing “punchy, aromatic, zesty, tropical” flavours, as opposed to Australian grapes having “much less” character.

He’d been in touch with Pernod Ricard, which had confirmed the company had been trialling Australian grapes for two of its wines last year. It was also keen to keep delivering good wines in the under-$10 category.

Pernod Ricard New Zealand managing director Kevin Mapson said increased demand and the rising costs of New Zealand grapes meant it was increasingly challenging to produce New Zealand-sourced wine that could be sold for under $10.

“By sourcing grapes from Australia, we can continue to make wines of the quality that Montana consumers expect at the same price point. This sourcing transition only applies to the Montana Classics and Montana Affinity ranges. All the other Montana ranges will continue to be made from New Zealand grapes,” Mapson said.

He said the company had worked hard to minimise the change in style but said it was true Australian sauvignon blanc was less “aromatic” than that from Marlborough so would seem more “subdued” but disagreed the grapes were inferior to New Zealand’s.

Mapson said the company had adhered to all the legal requirements for labelling so consumers were aware of the country of origin and were communicating the change to trade customers.

Over time most of the Montana Classic and Affinity wines would be made from Australian grapes, he said.

But he maintained the company was committed to its Kiwi heritage and had recently invested in the Montana Reserve range and that, along with its Montana Festival Block and Winemaker Series, would all continue to be sourced from New Zealand grapes.

Marcus Pickens, the general manager of Wine Marlborough, said they were aware of the move and it would be discussed at their next board meeting.

He said there were rules in New Zealand around the labelling of wine, which Montana would be aware of, as there was evidence it caused confusion for customers.

NZ Wine Growers Association declined to comment.

When Montana wines made with Australian grapes will hit the shelves:

  • Montana Classic pinot noir 2016 – December 2017
  • Montana Classic sauvignon blanc 2017 – January 2018
  • Montana Classic chardonnay 2017 – August 2018
  • Montana Classic merlot cabernet – August 2018
  • Montana Affinity sauvignon blanc 2018 – November 2018
  • Montana Affinity pinot gris 2018 – November 2018

Have you Heard

It is not unusual for many of our friends, who are still working, to ask Pat and me what we do with our time now that we are retired.

Just as an example, the other day we went into town to do a little shopping. When we came out of the store there was a cop writing out a parking ticket. We went up to him and I said “Come on Mate, give a senior citizen a break”

He ignored us and continued to write out the ticket. I called him an a***hole. He glared at me then started writing another ticket for having worn tyres. So Pat called him a s***head. He finished the second ticket and put it on the windshield with the first one.

Then he started writing more tickets. This went on for about 20 minutes. The more we abused him the more tickets he wrote. Just then our bus arrived and we got on and went home. We weren’t too concerned about the vehicle’s owner because of the sticker on the back window “I support the Greens”

We try to have a little fun each day now that we are retired. It’s important at our age.

Still being arranged – April tasting 2018

Tim Gibson drew himself and his family on the Mount Victoria lookout in the Wondrous Wellington Advent Calendar.

Hopefully, the sun is going to keep shining on us here in Wellington. Unfortunately, our plans for the April meeting have simply not come together.

Your committee is now looking at some new options. We will let you know as soon as we can arrange an alternative. Fortunately, we do have some skills and we are sure that whatever happens, we will have an enjoyable event.

Summer Romance – March 2018

A love affair with wine

Our summer has been truly magnificent this year and so was this tasting. What better way to celebrate Valentines Day than through “a love affair with wine”. The committee has thanked the presenters for this tasting and for their preparation that went into their offering. It was a varied line up with both well-known wines and boutique wines. Each presentation offered a different slant on what was presented. It appears that a bit different is popular with our members. The only issue was with the pacing of the evening as there was not much space between each presentation. It was a great night with the chocolate being a highlight. Feedback from the attendees has been very positive.

Just to repeat the selection went something like this.

  • Quaffer – Pol Remy – Wayne
  • Aotea Sparkling Wine – Wayne
  • Landsdowne Pinot Gris – Robin
  • Spy Valley Gewürztraminer – Anne
  • Fickle Mistress Pinot Rose – Murray
  • Clearview Blush – Jenny
  • Dorrien Estate Lockwood Smith Sparkling Shiraz – Steve

Late cancellations, Summer romance tasting, Wine of Australia

Late cancellations

We were finding that working too far ahead occasionally left us in trouble with late cancellations so your committee decided to arrange tastings a little closer to the time. This does not seem to be working out so well and we are in repair mode over the April tasting. Rest assured though that something will be arranged that will meet the usual high standard of our events.

Summer romance tasting

At the February summer romance tasting, I mentioned that the Lansdowne wines could be purchased. The offer was not taken up at the time but is still on the table. Lansdowne produces three wines and they are of a very high quality. There was some really good feedback on the Pinot Gris on the night. The wines have been bottle aged but will all cellar well. The Pinot Gris is $19.55 while their Pinot Noir and Syrah are more expensive at $38.25. These prices include a 15% but are only available through me. Let me know if you are interested.

Wine of Australia

Shows the value of reading the label fully. The Montana Wines mentioned will say “Wine of Australia” on the back. Clearly to be avoided if you want to be sure you are drinking NZ wines.

Robin Semmens, Editor

Chilled red wines and warmer white wines have more flavour

Wine is a complicated beast, but best rules to follow are: chill your reds lightly and let your whites warm a little.
Wine is a complicated beast, but best rules to follow are: chill your reds lightly and let your whites warm a little.

Thomas Heaton | January 25 2018

Kiwis are drinking their red wines too warm and our whites too cold, according to expert sommeliers.

Refrigeration leaves white too cold, and chances are red is too warm in the current summer weather.

Wellington wine bar Noblerot served its wines at a range of temperatures according to the varietal; the prime range for red wine was between 18 and 22 degrees.

Noblerot Chef Joshua Dodd with co-owner and sommelier Maciej Zimny

Co-owner and sommelier Maciej Zimny said lighter, fruitier reds, such as pinot noir, lent themselves to being chilled to the bottom of that range.

During warmer summer weather, Zimny recommended chilling red wine from up to 10 minutes before serving, which would reduce the temperature by between three and five degrees.

“When you taste the wine, at a lower temperature it seems complete,” he said.

“Even when it’s slightly colder that it should be it will provide much more pleasure.”

That’s because of the alcoholic smell was exaggerated when it was warm, which was unappetising, according sommelier at Auckland’s French Cafe, Stephanie Guth.

She said. however, the sight of a chilled red wine was odd for customers.

“You want to do it justice but it’s such a weird thing for people to see, red wine in an ice bucket, even though you know it might benefit from it,” Guth said.

Twenty minutes in an ice-bucket before opening and drinking might help to boost the flavour in a pinot noir.

“The more complex the wine you have, the warmer it should be served,” Zimny said, referring to rich red wines such as merlot or Bordeaux varietals.

Conversely white wine should be served chilled, however complex oaky chardonnays should be served slightly warmer than other whites.

So chardonnay’s flavours lent better to slightly warmer temperatures than sauvignon blanc, about 14 degrees as opposed to 10 degrees, because it was important to make sure oak flavours were prominent.

Pinot noir and chardonnay hailed from the Burgundy region of France, and both were classically stored in the same cellar under the same conditions. He said wines have either been served too warm or too cold since the invention of refrigerators.

Cellar temperature was perceived as something quite different to what was initially intended, room temperature, Guth said.

Leaving white wine to warm up slightly released flavours hidden by colder temperatures.

“It doesn’t harm the wine but you tend to get a little more out of the aromas.”

The only reason one should drink a bottle straight out of the fridge was “if you don’t want to taste your wine”, she said.

Dinner, Cashmere Lounge, BBQ

December 2017 – Dinner, Cashmere Lounge

Cashmere Lounge: Those attending, and they were plentiful, have indicated that the dinner was excellent. People enjoyed the evening with great food. If there was a drawback it was that the dinner was held over two rooms, however, lost seemed to be able to work around that and share stories and excellent wine. The dinner was well organised and the owner’s feedback was that we
were fun crowd and he was rapt with the dinner. The special bubbles went down well. We are pleased to be able present this brand again at our February tasting.

January 2018 – Cellar Club BBQ

Not much to be said except to say it was another fine day and everyone seemed to enjoy the occasion. This continues to be a great venue for a gathering of this nature, the food was excellent, the wine very nice and the company superb. As always we give special thanks to Derek Thompson
for making his excellent facilities available.

Cool our reds, Programme taking shape, BBQ leftovers

Cool our reds

Those of you who know me will know that my preference clearly lies with red wines, however, even I have to admit that the weather has been rather too hot for the heavier reds. It has been suggested that we should cool our reds a little and not refrigerate the living daylight out of our whites. I’m straight into experimentation with the concept.

See the right temperature to serve every type of wine

Programme taking shape

The programme for the year is now taking shape with some good tastings in prospect. We will keep you updated as we go and we hope we can have a year of exceptional tastings.

BBQ leftovers

Invariably someone leaves something at Derek’s place after the January BBQ. This time he has found a squarish white plastic bowl that does not belong to him. Let us know if this is your bowl and we will work out a way to return it.

Robin Semmens, Editor

Aotea Methode Traditionnelle NV – Anna Seifried

“Winning the title of ‘WineWorks Champion Sparkling Wine’ at New Zealand’s most prestigious wine competition for the Aotea by the Seifried Family Méthode Traditionnelle NV is an exceptional feat in its own right. But for this Nelson winery, gaining such recognition with their first endeavour at a traditional style bubbly is cause for celebration. In 2010 winemaker Chris Seifried and his new bride, Susan spent four weeks in Epernay, in the heart of Champagne where they worked with Seifried family friends at Chateau Bauget-Jouette. It was an opportunity for Chris to see and learn everything he could about making Champagne, a style he had always enjoyed but never ventured to learn.

Inspired to make his own Nelson style of Méthode Traditionnelle, Chris and Susan returned to New Zealand in time for harvest 2011, and along with his father Hermann, and sister Heidi, they identified two of the family’s own vineyards that he felt would offer the fruit characters he was after. In early March 2011, the hand-selected fruit was harvested from the family’s Brightwater and ‘Cornfield’ Vineyards, both on the Waimea Plains. Made using 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, the stony, free-draining soils produced bright, exuberant fruit. Chris credits Hermann and his vineyard team for bringing in fruit that he could work with, “the challenge for the vineyard crew was to ensure full flavoured fruit, with all the character and texture, but without excessively high sugar levels”.

Made using traditional winemaking methods, and four years bottle ageing prior to disgorging, the wine has smooth biscuity notes and a delicate dry finish. Chris says that crafting a traditional style bubbly had its challenges. ‘The aim was to produce bright flavoursome fruit, but the trick when it comes to bubbly really is the bead – and getting a balance of a fine bead, with a rich dry doughiness.’

The Aotea by the Seifried Méthode Traditionnelle NV was released in late 2016, in time for the family’s 40 years of winemaking celebration roadshow, which took place in Dublin, London and Nelson last November. A celebration where Chris acknowledged his parents work as pioneering modern winemaking in New Zealand’s South Island. “With this wine, we celebrate Mum and Dad’s vision, and the arrival of the next generation, our children, who are growing up in the vineyard and winery. We hope that they too will share the passion for crafting great wines.”

Chris’s eldest child Amelia, was born just six weeks after the grapes for the Méthode Traditionnelle were harvested, and just 15 hours after Heidi Seifried-Houghton, Chris’s sister (who is also a winemaker in the family business) gave birth to her first child, Josef. Now recognised as Seifried’s most fruitful harvest ever, the 2011 vintage not only produced the first grandchildren, but also the grapes for this champion sparkling wine.”

Spanish Festive Wines, November 2017

Wayne reports, Olé indeed. From arriving to Spanish music to being seated in a horseshoe and enjoying some tapas with the wines, this was truly a night with a difference.

The meet and greet wine was the very affordable Torres Sangre de Toro Rosado 2016. I’ve always liked this wine because of the red bull that hangs from the neck of each bottle. But the contents weren’t bad either with the Rose being a bright raspberry colour with good fruit flavour. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to try a Rose that was made from grapes we don’t find here in NZ, namely Carnena and Garnacha (known respectively as Carignan and Grenache in other parts of the world).

The first tasting wine was a delightful white sherry, Lustau Puerto Fino.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve tasted this light dry sherry that is famous around the world, so I particularly loved the match with the Crumbed Olive tapas that showed the versatility of this wine when matched with salty briny foods. And Keith’s comments about Sherry’s famous solera system added to our appreciation of this wonderful wine style which seems to have fallen out of favour here in NZ.

Next to follow were the Vina Esmeralda Moscatel-Gewurztraminer 2016 and the 2013 Gran Vina Sol Chardonnay.  The first was matched with a delicious Serrano ham and honeydew melon tapas which matched perfectly the wonderful floral aromas of the 85% dominant Moscatel grape.  The Chardonnay was a nice addition to the whites being tasted.  It was fermented in stainless steel with a third of the wine fermented and aged for 5 months in new oak.

I enjoyed the freshness of this wine and its lingering aftertaste, and given the tasting notes suggest that this is excellent with fish, paella and turkey, it’s hardly surprising that the match on the night with the warm Spanish shrimp dish was excellent.