Another great night with some lovely South American wines tasted. Must also say thank you to the committee members who prepared food matches. The combination of food with the wines gave the evening an interesting perspective.
The wines tasted with food matches are repeated below:
2018 Vina Aquitina Rose (Chile)
2018 Casa Marin Cartagena Sauvignon Blanc (Chile) – South American Ceviche
2014 Queulat Carménère (Chile) – Steak with a Chimichurri sauce
If anyone is interested in any of the recipes used on the night, let me or Wayne know. We can provide. May I just point out though, that if anyone believes it is only 5 minutes preparation time for the Argentinian Fried Bread, they are delusional.
These words were uttered by the French-born English wine merchant and author André Simon in 1964 when tasting Hawke’s Bay winery Te Mata’s 1912 red blend. More than half a century after it was first made – the same year as the sinking of the Titanic – the red wine was still very much alive, so why has New Zealand not developed a reputation for making age worthy wines?
Two words: Sauvignon Blanc.
The New Zealand wine industry is dominated by a grape variety that is typically fermented and put into bottle within months – or even weeks – of being harvested. ‘Picked, pressed and pissed before Christmas’ is the life cycle of Sauvignon Blanc in some winemakers’ view. Why wait for Christmas when you can drink the wine before Easter? Moana Park winery has released a Sauvignon Blanc on April 1 and that was no April Fools. If the previous vintage has been small and stocks are running low, a few blocks might be picked early to produce a wine to bridge the gap between vintages, such as Villa Maria’s Early Release Sauvignon Blanc.
However, there are a growing number of smaller, quality focused producers that are holding back their Sauvignon Blancs before releasing, giving them time on lees and time in bottle. Having tasted some of Marlborough’s finest Sauvignon Blancs at seven or eight years old, drinkers need not be in such a hurry. Putting the brakes on wineries releasing wines doesn’t help their cash flow and with grape growers to pay and bank repayments due, accountants can overrule winemakers, putting the onus on drinkers to put the wines in their usually non-existent cellars.
It is partly a matter of wine culture: New Zealand does not have a long-standing tradition of making and drinking wine. Having rejected Prohibition in 1919, the country continued to operate under a cloud of abstemiousness, promoted by restrictive licensing laws. Until 1961, New Zealanders couldn’t enjoy a glass of wine with a meal in a restaurant. The 1960s brought licensing change with more and more restaurant licences granted, a rise in the number of wine shops while a rise in tax on beer and spirits in the 1958 ‘Black Budget’ gave wine an encouraging bump.
The 1950s witnessed the birth of aspirational winemakers and pioneers seeking to move away from fortified wine and hybrids to quality table wine made from vitis vinifera, which gained increasing momentum, culminating in legislation outlawing a sugar and water culture and a state-sponsored vine pull in the 1980s. In the 1970s, regular wine columns had appeared in several newspapers, catering for an educated population who had done their ‘OE’ (overseas experience), travelling around Europe, experiencing wine and food culture. From just 174ml of wine per capita in the early 1960s, wine consumption increased to 5.3 litres by the end of the 1970s. In 2016, the figure stood at 20.2 litres but has remained stagnant for a decade. (Come on team, get drinking, we have to lift this again – Ed)
Red wines in New Zealand, like whites, are all too often released early and consumed early, meaning there are few older vintages available to purchase and enjoy. There are relatively few wine collectors and fine dining restaurants with cellars and mature stocks of New Zealand wine and thus some wineries are starting to take responsibility for ageing their wines until they approach their drinking window. Judy Fowler, owner of Puriri Hills Vineyard in Clevedon, Auckland, which specialises in Bordeaux blends, has a Brunello di Montalcino approach to releasing her reds. “My late release policy is based on the fact that we attempt to produce Bordeaux-blended wines made in the longstanding traditions of Bordeaux. The great Bordeaux generally benefit from ageing five to 10 years or longer. Our wines are built to age well. However, we are a small, newer vineyard [established 1998] with perhaps another 300 years to earn the reputation for quality that the grands crus of Bordeaux have. As such, we do not expect our customers all to want to wait for five or more years to taste our wines at their best, so we do the ageing here at the vineyard before release.” While Fowler is not alone, most wineries don’t apply the release-when-ready-to-drink policy across the entire range, as it can leave suppliers wine-less and raise the prospect of delisting.
It is difficult to judge the ageability of New Zealand wines with so little precedent. In the past decade, young vines have matured, viticulture has evolved, winemaking has become more refined: a Pinot Noir produced 10 years ago from young vines by winemakers that were still getting to know their site will be quite different today than a current vintage opened in a decade’s time. When asked to provide drinking windows for a recent Central Otago Pinot Noir or Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Sauvignon, it is a case of pinning the tail on the donkey.
However, there’s no doubting the country’s best wines have the components to age gracefully: intensity of fruit, richness of ripe tannins, acidity (and pH), alcohol and magic all play their part in the development of a red wine. In whites, high levels of acidity and flavour precursors elongate their shelf life.
There’s also a small matter of the closure: screwcaps are omnipotent in New Zealand. Although a small but significant number of producers continue to seal their top Bordeaux blends under cork (while putting the rest of their range under screwcap), it is likely that the wines will age more slowly, because of the lower rate of oxygen ingress compared with a natural cork.
What is clear, is that far too many New Zealand wines are being consumed before they are out of nappies. It’s time to let them grow up.
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.
Well our tasting for September was certainly different and a great learning experience. It’s not often you get to taste 11 wines from the period 1974 to 1996. And to help judge these wines, Wayne had organised a novel rating system that required each table to come up with a ratings that were  Superb -aged perfectly,  Still enjoyable or has interest,  Drinkable but dying,  Dead – nothing to commend it to lastly,  In decay – not even going to taste this.
He had also arranged for John Saker to attend the tasting and he proved to be a valuable contributor to our discussions, using his knowledge and wine judging skills to highlight things that many of us might not have considered. He particularly liked the Aussie 1990 McWilliams Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon which still had some structure, fruit flavour and mouth feel.
However, it was on the decline from its probable peak 7 or 8 years ago. But still, it did show how a white wine such as a great Hunter Valley Semillon could last. Of the other 10 wines tasted, there were two 1994 wines that attracted the most support, a Leconfield Coonawara Cabernet Merlot Cabernet Franc blend and a French Cordier Sauternes. Sadly 4 of the wines were rated as a 1 or zero. Whilst the oldest of these was from 1975, there were others from the 1994-1996 period that did not measure up. The 1975 had suffered from a leaking cork and had oxidised badly whilst two of the others were white wines that in all honestly , should never had been cellared that long [because of their grape and style].
Wayne’s biggest disappointment of the night, however, was the wine that had been stored in a very large bottle dating back to 1893. The providence of this wine actually dated back to the period 1980 to 1995 and had been stored in this old bottle for later tasting. Wayne had tried to find out more about this wine from CJ Pask who was reputed to have taken it from a barrel and stored it in the bottle for Richard Gooch to taste at a later date, but Chris couldn’t recall the occasion. In any event, this wine was one to be rated a zero, having unfortunately deteriorated to such an extent that no one was prepared to suggest what it might have included, even if the suspicion was that it was once a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and maybe some Cabernet Franc, all from young vines on the Gimblett Gravels.
In conclusion, whilst this evening may have lacked a standout wine that would make the tasting memorable, it did serve to be both educational and to serve as a warning. I think most members will have gone home and looked for those forgotten wines at the back of their cupboards or cellars in order to drink them before they start their inevitable decline into mediocrity.
A special thanks to Linda Caradus, partner to the late Richard Gooch. It was her wish to give the club these very old wines so that we could use them as a learning experience and they certainly did that. It was just a shame that overseas business prevented her attending the tasting and seeing the interest that the 11 wines provided.
An Auckland Chardonnay and a Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot both shone at this year’s Romeo Bragato Wine Awards.
Grown by Brett Donaldson, the Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Chardonnay 2014 won the coveted Bragato Champion Wine of the Show Trophy – Champion Single Vineyard and the Bill Irwin Trophy for Champion Chardonnay.
“This Chardonnay demonstrated exceptional respect to the variety and is a shining example of what hard graft in the vineyard and soft touch in the winery can achieve. It shows wonderful expression and captures the essence of the Ihumatao vineyard. Simply stunning!,” said Chairman of Judges Ben Glover.
The Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2014, made from grapes grown on the Vidal vineyard by Phil Holden, won the Richard Smart Trophy – Champion Domaine Wine.
“High quality, perfectly ripened fruit was allowed to shine through in this expertly crafted wine. It had superb balance and respect for the fruit, providing seamless delicacy, acidity and palate weight,” said Mr Glover.
The Bragato Wine Awards are held each year as part of the New Zealand Winegrowers Romeo Bragato National Conference, and recognise the grower for viticultural excellence. The competition acknowledges that growing excellent grapes is the foundation of making wines of true quality. The Trophies were presented at the Bragato Dinner in Marlborough last night.
To be awarded the Bragato Champion Wine of the Show Trophy – Champion Single Vineyard Wine, a minimum of 95% of the grape juice content must come from a single vineyard.
To be awarded the Richard Smart Trophy – Champion Domaine Wine, a minimum of 85% of the grape juice content must come from a single vineyard.
Bragato Champion Wine of the Show Trophy and Champion Single Vineyard Wine
Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Chardonnay 2014 Ihumatao Vineyard, Auckland Brett Donaldson
Richard Smart Trophy and Champion Domaine Wine
Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2014 Vidal Vineyard, Hawke’s Bay Phil Holden
Friedrich Wohnsiedler Trophy Winner and Champion Riesling
Maude, Mt Maude Vineyard East Block Riesling Central Otago 2016 Mt Maude Vineyard, Central Otago Dawn and Terry Wilson
Brother Cyprian Trophy Winner and Champion Pinot Gris
Aronui Pinot Gris Single Vineyard Nelson 2016 Whenua Matua Vineyard, Nelson Jonny Hiscox
Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Gewürztraminer 2014 Ihumatao Vineyard, Auckland Brett Donaldson
Champion Other Red Wine
Coopers Creek SV Hawke’s Bay Malbec ‘Saint John’ 2013 Saint John Vineyard, Hawke’s Bay Wayne Morrow
Champion Sweet Wine
Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Noble Riesling Botrytis Selection 2015 Rocenvin Vineyard, Marlborough Chris Fletcher
New Zealand Wine Cellars Spence Brothers Trophy Winner and Champion Sauvignon Blanc
Tohu Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2016 Tohu Awatere Vineyard, Marlborough Mondo Kopua
Bill Irwin Trophy Winner and Champion Chardonnay
Brett Donaldson Ihumatao Vineyard, Auckland Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Chardonnay 2014
Wooing Tree Rosé Central Otago 2016 Wooing Tree Vineyard, Central Otago Geoff Bews
Mike Wolter Memorial Trophy Winner and Champion Pinot Noir
Black Quail Estate Pinot Noir Central Otago 2013 Keillor Vineyard, Central Otago Rod and Mirani Kellior
Tom McDonald Memorial Trophy Winner and Champion Classical Red Wine
Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2014 Vidal Vineyard, Hawke’s Bay Phil Holden
Alan Limmer Trophy Winner and Champion Syrah
Falcon Ridge Estate Syrah Nelson 2015 Falcon Ridge Estate, Nelson Alan J Eggers
Judges gearing up for Bragato Wine Awards 2016
(9 August 2016)
A 13 strong judging team, including international judges Andrea Frost and Nick Ryan, is gearing up to judge over 600 entries for this year’s Bragato Wine Awards in Auckland on 16 and 17 August.
Andrea Frost is an award-winning wine writer, columnist and author based in Melbourne, Australia. In 2013, Andrea was named Wine Communicator of the Year and her first book, ‘Through a Sparkling Glass, an A-Z of the Wonderland of Wine’, was awarded Best Wine Publication. In 2012 and 2013, Andrea was named Wine Business Monthly’s ‘50 Stars’ of the year.
Fellow countryman Nick Ryan is a wine writer, judge and educator based in Adelaide. Nick used the knowledge he had gained from raiding his father’s wine cellar to land a job with one of Sydney’s leading wine merchants. Realising that writing about it was easier than lifting it has led him to where he is now. Nick is a regular contributor to Men’s Style Australia and Gourmet Traveller Wine and has judged in many Australian and international wine shows.
Leading the Bragato Wine Awards team is Chair of Judges Ben Glover, Group Winemaker for Accolade Wines New Zealand.
“This is always a wonderful opportunity and privilege to view, assess and reward our industry peers’ wines”, said Mr Glover. “The Bragato Wine Awards is a unique forum on the wine industry calendar that champions the grape grower, recognises the vineyard and awards viticultural excellence.”
The Bragato Wine Awards, held each year as part of the New Zealand Winegrowers Romeo Bragato National Conference, recognises that exceptional grape growing is the foundation of making wines that express true quality of place. Judging takes place on 16 and 17 August at AUT in Auckland City. The trophy winning wines will be revealed at the Bragato Dinner at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre in Marlborough on 25 August.
Judging Team: Chair of Judges – Ben Glover Judges – Rod Easthope, Helen Masters, James Millton, Helen Morrison, Simon Nunns, Barry Riwai, John Saker International Judges – Andrea Frost (Australia), Nick Ryan (Australia) Associate Judges – Lauren Swift, Liz Wheadon, Stephen Wong MW
Wine experts have settled on a list of close to 50 wines, some costing more than $100 a bottle, for Air New Zealand to select from for its business class passengers.
Six of the nation’s leading independent wine experts have selected “The Fine Wines of New Zealand” – to serve in planes from September.
A selection panel comprising Masters of Wine Alastair Maling, Michael Brajkovich, Sam Harrop, Simon Nash and Steve Smith along with Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas has agreed on the list for 2016 which includes 47 wines representing seven varietals.
One of the key criteria was consistency, with a wine having had to have been produced to an ”exceptional standard” for a minimum of five consecutive years.
Air New Zealand chief operations officer Bruce Parton says the airline had been a longstanding supporter of New Zealand’s wine industry.
It spends about $6 million a year on wine for passengers throughout aircraft.
“We believe we can help further build awareness and appreciation of these world class wines with international travellers and propel leading New Zealand wineries to even greater commercial success,” Parton said.
The wines would be promoted through its inflight entertainment system, at offshore events and using contacts internationally to help open up key export markets for the wineries should they need this support.
The airline’s specialist inflight wine consultants, who are based in New Zealand, China and the United States, will select wines from the list for serving in business premier cabins. Not all on the list of 47 would make it on board as some do not react well to high altitudes or are available in sufficient quantities.
Parton said it was important that the wines were selected independently of its existing wine programme.
”We look forward to working closely with the wine masters in the coming years to compile this list annually.”
In 2014 Air New Zealand moved to a three-year deal with a single supplier, Villa Maria, in its economy section which upset some in the wine industry, but which the airline said had been part of simplifying the supply chain.
The Fine Wines of New Zealand for 2016:
Aromatics Felton Road Dry Riesling 2014 Felton Road Block 1 Riesling 2015 Framingham F series Riesling Kabinett 2015 Johanneshof Cellars Gewürztraminer 2014 Stonecroft Gewürztraminer 2015 Te Whare Ra Toru SV5182 2014 Millton Vineyards Clos de Ste Anne Chenin Blanc 2014 Prophet’s Rock Pinot Gris 2014 Dry River Pinot Gris 2014
Pinot Noir Felton Road Block 3 2013 Burn Cottage 2014 Valli Bannockburn 2014 Rippon Vineyards Tinkers Field 2012 Bell Hill 2012 Ata Rangi 2013 Dry River 2013 Craggy Range Aroha 2013 Kusuda 2013
Bordeaux style Te Mata Coleraine 2014 Craggy Range Sophia 2013 Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013 Esk Valley The Terraces 2013 Stonyridge Vineyard Larose 2014 Church Road Tom 2013
Sauvignon Blanc Cloudy Bay Te Koko 2011 Astrolabe Province 2015 Dog Point 2015 Greywacke 2015 Saint Clair Reserve Wairau 2015 Vavasour 2015
Chardonnay Kumeu River Mate’s Vineyard 2014 Neudorf Moutere 2011 Sacred Hill Riflemans 2014 Dog Point 2013 Felton Road Block 2 2010 Villa Maria Keltern Vineyard 2014
A note from our friends at Stonecroft who last visited March 2012. Let us know if it’s about time you want them back.
Welcome to our new form of newsletter. We understand that some of you have been missing out on our emails which is upsetting for us (but has probably gone unnoticed at your end). Hopefully this new system will work better for everyone…
In case you are one of those who has not been kept up-to-date (and otherwise apologies for duplicating), here are a few highlights from the last couple of months:
We recently released our 2015 Old Vine Chardonnay, see here for details.
Our 2014 reds have been getting some excellent reviews, including 5 stars from Bob Campbell for our Ruhanui, Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve Syrah and The Original Syrah.
Supply of our Undressed Syrah and Chardonnay is now running low.
Dr. Gerald Atkinson has written an interesting piece on the origins of Syrah in NZ and how it was first planted at Stonecroft.
The cellar door will be open for Queen’s Birthday weekend and we will then be closed until spring, but please contact us if you would like to visit over the winter or you can purchase through our Online Shop.
If you do have any problems with this email format, please let us know.
Check this out, Villa Maria wine has a place at the BAFTA.
The Villa Maria Private Bin Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon ($14.99 from VM) was served in the same company as Taittinger to the twinkling stars of the screen.
You can understand why after reading what goes into the food and wine matching. Read Megan Nisbet’s exclusive and everything you need to know about the British Academy Film Awards – EXCLUSIVE: Behind the scenes at the BAFTA Awards 2016.
Hollywood’s finest will be enjoying a drop of Kiwi wine at this year’s prestigious Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Treasury Wine Estates’ New Zealand brand, Matua, and Australian brand, Beringer, will be served to the rich and famous at the event – now in its 22nd year.
Beringer’s 2013 Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and 2014 Napa Valley Chardonnay will be on offer during the awards ceremony while Matua’s 2014 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and 2014 Marlborough Pinot Noir will be served at the party afterwards.
About 1200 bottles of wine would be on-hand for celebrities to indulge in.
Treasury Wine Estates spokeswoman Megghen Driscol said guests would drink about 100 cases of wine throughout the evening.
“That’s approximately 6000 glasses of wine.”
This is the company’s third year serving wine at the awards show, Driscol said.
“We were initially approached because the organiser wanted well-respected wines that were nationally distributed – both Beringer and Matua fit that bill perfectly.”
Two wine bars would serve only Beringer, and several full-service bars would pour Matua along with other beverages, she said.
When asked whether the celebrities enjoyed their wine, Driscol said: “Well, they go through 100 cases of premium wine in one night, so one would have to assume they enjoy it…
“We don’t want to name-drop, but I can say that that several celebrities ask for Beringer and Matua by name now, so we’ve certainly created awareness amongst this highly influential group of tastemakers.”
With big names like Leonardo Dicaprio, Cate Blanchett, Helen Mirren, Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet and Rachel McAdams in attendance, brand exposure makes for great business.
“This truly is a win-win partnership.
“In addition to awareness and trial, we very much consider this to be a brand building activity which is always tough to score,” she said.
“However, we do leverage SAG content [through] our social media channels and see it as a great opportunity to build brand awareness amongst an influential group of people and create a buzz in the market.”
A few US-based Treasury Wine Estate’s staff get the honour of pouring the wine and educating the stars on the wines, she said.
The SAG awards are being held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on January 30.
It is now official that Ash Ridge has the best young winemaker in the country. Lauren Swift was awarded the Young Winemaker of the Year trophy last night at the Bragato Dinner, by Mike McRoberts of TV3. Obviously we are all absolutely thrilled. Another huge feather in the cap for this extremely talented winemaker, and I think you can see this in the wines that are being made.
And while on the Bragato Awards….
Romeo Bragato Wine Awards 2015
An Auckland Chardonnay and a Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot shine at this year’s Romeo Bragato Wine Awards. Grown by Brett Donaldson, the Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Chardonnay 2013 won the coveted Bragato Trophy – Champion Single Vineyard Wine and the Bill Irwin Trophy for Champion Chardonnay. “The Bragato Trophy went to this beautifully handled Chardonnay because in simple terms – it was exceptional. The wine had a sense of place and it was a pleasure to savour and taste” said Chairman of Judges Ben Glover.
Villa Maria’s Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2013, made from grapes grown on the Vidal Vineyard by Phil Holden won the Richard Smart Trophy – Champion Domaine Wine. “This was just a beautifully crafted wine – well done to all on allowing the fruit to shine with deft and subtle winemaking” said Mr Glover.
The Bragato Wine Awards, held each year as part of the New Zealand Winegrowers Romeo Bragato National Conference, are awarded to the grower for viticultural excellence. The competition recognises that growing excellent grapes is the foundation of making wines of true quality. The Trophies were presented at the Bragato Dinner in Hawke’s Bay last night.
The general consensus was that the June tasting was excellent. Although the evening was mainly a red night most people enjoyed the presentation. We were a little disappointed that the number attending, 31 people, was lower than expected. Dan Baldock was pleased with the orders received. The club has thanked him for the presentation. As Dan is a company representative without stocks of wine, the wine had to be purchased from a third party – in this case, Moore Wilsons. This was a slightly different approach to the usual purchase procedure, but the purchasing of the wine via an order form from Moore Wilsons worked well. To recap, the wines presented were:
Winter is clearly upon us, some snow on the lawn when we woke yesterday morning. Why have we not organised a holiday in a warm climate, I ask? Can’t even resort to wine as Patricia and I are doing the Dry July thing, but we will be buying a “Pass” for the Dinner. Never mind, it will soon be spring.
From time to time members send me little items of interest, and where possible I am happy to include them. I would encourage members if they find items of wine interest to let me know. It is always helpful. The item below attracted Evelyn Dawson’s attention.
Bernard Hickin, chief winemaker for Jacob’s Creek, talks about the company’s newest double barrel release.
“Having worked with Jacob’s Creek since its official launch in 1976, chief winemaker Bernard Hickin knows a thing or two about good grapes. And this year, he is taking the Australian company to new heights with the release of a special new wine range into the Antipodean markets: Double Barrel, a collection of premium red wines finished in aged whisky barrels. “The double barrel technique … imparts additional layers of complexity, beautifully integrated tannins and an incredibly smooth mouthfeel,” says Hickin of the Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 and Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Barossa Shiraz 2012.”