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

Negociants present Yalumba Wines – Cenna Lloyd – October 2018

This was a very enjoyable tasting. Cenna was a very knowledgeable presenter with a great relaxed style. She admitted to a few nerves to start with but was soon interacting nicely with the members. The wines presented were great wines at a good value for money. The tasting was a good night.

Whilst we haven’t used Negociants before, the fact that we are now licensed means we can deal with this type of operation in the future. We will keep it in mind to pencil Negociants in for another tasting soon, as they have a really good provider base.

To reiterate, the wines tasted were the:

  • 2017/2018 Sangiovese Rosé
  • 2017 Organic Chardonnay
  • 2014 Eden Valley Roussanne
  • 2017 Eden Valley Viognier
  • 2017 Old Bush Vine Grenache
  • 2015 Paradox Shiraz
  • 2014 The Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz

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Yalumba with Negociants – October 2018

A moonlit planting five generations ago has made Yalumba Australia’s most historic family owned winery. Fiercely family-owned extremely progressive and committed to looking after the land and its people, they acknowledge that the reputation of their wine is only as good as the next bottle a customer drinks. So they put the same attention to detail into every bottle of wine they make, regardless of variety, quantity or price.

Now there is a reason for Negociants to look to present Yalumba’s wine. Negociants New Zealand was established, by Yalumba, in 1985 to import and represent the finest wines of the world. They are passionate and knowledgeable about fine wine, and are committed to professionally representing family- owned wineries from around the world.

Negociants New Zealand is one of New Zealand’s leading fine wine merchants, distributing many of New Zealand’s most celebrated wines, as well as prestigious imported brands from Australia and the world to licenced trade.
Bound to be a cracker this one.

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RSVP, Local beer over NZ wine, Next trip

RSVP

We would be grateful if you could give Anne an indication as to whether or not you are likely to be attending the tasting. This will ensure that we can share out the very nice cheeses as evenly as possible. You wouldn’t want to miss out now, would you? Anne’s email address is ammegget@gmail.com.

Local beer over NZ wine

As I prepare this newsletter our President is also trying for some balmy weather, though in Bali rather than France. What he will not be doing though is matching the warmth with some good New Zealand wine. He reports that at a restaurant a bottle of Matua Sauvignon Blanc (generally available for about $13 a bottle on our supermarket shelves) was on offer for the NZ equivalent of $80.00 phew. He and Dinah have been reduced to drinking the local beer.

Next trip

We will be visiting the wines of France, Australia and Portugal over the latter part of the year. Much to be enjoyed.

Cheers
Robin Semmens
Editor

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Montana using Australian wines, Watering vines

Montana using Australian wines

You may recall that in the last issue I raised the matter of Montana using Australian wines in some of their cheaper varietals. Those of you who watch TV1’s Seven Sharp programme will have noted that this matter was canvassed last week. Once again elements of the mainstream media are lagging behind your newsletter in bringing these matters to your attention. I can only repeat, read the label fully. The origin of the wine will be mentioned.

Watering vines

Lansdowne 100-year-old pinot noir

And if it is not enough that we were ahead with the Montana story, no sooner do we give Lansdowne some coverage in our Summer Romance tasting than the DomPost is in on the act.

Those of you who get the weekend paper may have noted John Saker’s article in the “Your Weekend” magazine. John talks about the fact that not watering vines actually produces better wines. He highlights two wines, one being the Lansdowne Pinot Gris that we tasted in February.

To quote; “Since planting a vineyard with his son near Masterton more than a decade ago, Derek Hagar has never irrigated. This Pinot Gris is special, with fascinating Chablis-like characters, pear and minerally finish. It’s dry with a gently viscous mouthfeel. Excellent value too.”

You can still get it through me at under $20 a bottle if you hurry.

Cheers
Robin Semmens, Editor

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NZ wine exports hit record high driven by strong US sales

The beer and wine aisle of a 365 by Whole Foods Market grocery store is pictured ahead of its opening day in Los Angeles. New Zealand sauvignon blanc has found a ready market in the US.
The beer and wine aisle of a 365 by Whole Foods Market grocery store is pictured ahead of its opening day in Los Angeles. New Zealand sauvignon blanc has found a ready market in the US.

New Zealand’s wine export values continue to rise thanks to strong United States demand, reaching $1.66 billion for the year, up 6 per cent on the year before.

While the percentage increase is lower than the average yearly growth of 17 per cent for the last 20 years, the industry was still on track to reach $2b worth of exports by 2020, chairman of New Zealand Winegrowers Steve Green said.

The latest NZ Winegrowers annual report shows to the end of June this year, the US market is worth $517 million, up 12 per cent. New Zealand wine became the third most valuable wine import into the US, behind only France and Italy.

NZ wine, a 2017 snapshot.
NZ wine, a 2017 snapshot.

Green forecast next year’s export volumes would be “more muted” because of the smaller harvest of 396,000 tonnes, down 9 per cent on 2016, but wineries were confident quality would remain high.

While the US provided the best returns, more litres of wine (74 million) were exported to the United Kingdom for a much smaller return of $389m. Traditionally more bulk wine has been sent into the UK market. Behind the US and the UK came Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and China.

Former US ambassador to New Zealand Mark Gilbert, along with many of his countrymen, has a nose for a good wine. He attended a tasting of New Zealand and French pinot noir last year.
Former US ambassador to New Zealand Mark Gilbert, along with many of his countrymen, has a nose for a good wine. He attended a tasting of New Zealand and French pinot noir last year.

The most exported variety was sauvignon blanc, followed by pinot noir and chardonnay.

The recently passed Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act would offer improved protection of New Zealand’s regional identities. The industry had also launched the sustainable winegrowing New Zealand continuous improvement extension programme to enhance the reputation of wines.

Of a total growing area of 37,129 hectares, sauvignon dominates at 22,085 ha, an increase of 685 ha from the year before. The second most popular variety was pinot noir, with 5653 ha, followed by chardonnay at 3203 ha and pinot gris (2469 ha).

Marlborough is overwhelmingly the largest region with 25,135 ha planted in vines, followed by Hawke’s Bay (4694 ha), Central Otago (1896 ha) and Canterbury/Waipara (1425 ha).

The number of wineries was 677; they reached a peak of 703 in 2012.

New Zealanders drank 40 million litres of imported wine during the past year, most of it Australian (29m litres), with the next two most popular French and Chilean.

The November Kaikoura earthquake damaged an estimated 20 per cent of Marlborough’s tank capacity, but by harvest time all of the lost capacity had been restored or replaced.

Green said the industry consulted with members on possible changes to export tasting requirements, with responses suggesting a rethink of export requirements was needed.

“We continue to believe more needs to be done in our export legislation to ensure that the same standards apply to every bottle of New Zealand wine, no matter where it is bottled,” Green said.

NZ Winegrowers were concerned at the Ministry for Primary Industries’ plan to take part of New Zealand Winegrowers’ wine export certification service contract in-house.

“We fought hard to retain the status quo, which has served our members well, and are disappointed with the level of industry consultation in MPI’s decision making process. If the service changes, we will be seeking guarantees from the government that the current speedy issuance of export eligibility statements will be protected, at no additional cost to members,” Green said.

In June the New Zealand Grape Growers Council and the Wine Institute of New Zealand finished as entities, replaced by a unified New Zealand Winegrowers.

New Zealand is now the only major wine producing nation with a single industry body, representing and advocating for the interests of its entire grape and wine industry.

The industry and the Government are working through a Primary Growth Partnership on research into lighter wine production and marketing. Last year retail sales reached $33.5m. The programme runs through to 2021, by which time $16.97m would have been spent on the partnership.

Organic wine production continues to flourish with more than 60 New Zealand wineries now making fully certified organic wines, and more still in the organic conversion process.

Wine is New Zealand’s fifth largest goods export.

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