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Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Wine tour operator, wine writer and lapsed physiotherapist. "Nature abhors a vacuum. I personally hate dusting."

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

By Jove - Heron's Flight winery - Sangiovese

(A cautionary tale)


Heron’s Flight pioneered sangiovese about 17 years ago in the clay soils of Matakana. The first vines were planted in the late 1980s, by couple David Hoskins and Mary Evans, starting off with chardonnay, cabernet and merlot. Then in 1994 David’s infatuation with Italian wines led him to plant sangiovese. Since then, all the other vines have been pulled out and replaced with either sangiovese or latterly, northern Italian grape dolcetto. Sangiovese translates as ‘the blood of Jupiter’ and is the variety from which the famous Brunello di Montalcino red wine is made.

I was first introduced to the wine, by David and Mary about 14 years ago when I started my wine tour business. Since then I have got to know David and Mary and watched their wine develop to gain the attention of some of our top critics. On a recent visit, David handed me a bottle of the brand new 2013 release, and said, “Here. See what you think.”
So, I tucked the bottle inside a carry bag and popped it in the rear of the tour coach. All very well. On arrival at home, sadly ‘some items had moved during transit’ and when I opened the hatch, horrors – the carry bag slid out of the coach and landed in the gutter with a loud crack. I immediately thought, “Oh no. I can’t ask David for a second bottle. Plus I won’t be up that way for several weeks. Golly.”
Thus, the sight of a fiftyish man, furtively drinking red wine from a Pt. Chev gutter with a teaspoon did occur some time in the second week of February. Luckily, I soon got another Matakana tour booking and David supplied me with my second sample bottle. It tasted a whole lot better. I also opened a bottle of the 2012 second tier sangiovese for comparison.

Heron’s Flight Matakana Sangiovese 2012 $30.00
This is a second tier wine, made in years when David feels the quality is not quite up to premium level. Yet after three years bottle age, this wine is drinking very nicely. Earthy, smoky and black cherry aromas. Ripe flavours of blackberry, liquorice, and sour cherry, with a gently rustic long finish.

Heron’s Flight Matakana Sangiovese 2013 $60.00
Literally a few weeks in the bottle, this is very much a youngster but shows huge promise. Purple crimson colour. Aromas of ripe plum, spice and herbs. Opens out after decanting with rich ripe flavours of black cherry, dark berry fruit, spice and chocolate with a long finish. Fantastic.  I won’t drop another bottle of this one.

Heron’s Flight Vineyard
9 Sharp Road
09 950 6643 or 021 0258 8203
email:
contact@heronsflight.co.nz
www.heronsflight.co.nz
Open 7 days from 9.00 am. Don’t miss pizza on summer weekends!


Phil Parker is a wine writer and operates Fine Wine & Food Tours in Auckland www.insidertouring.co.nz  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Waiheke Island's new wineries




Over the hols we managed to catch up with two brand spanking new winery operations on Waiheke Island.


Batch Winery
129 Carsons Road
09 372 3223  
www.batchwinery.com
Open Summer 7 days 11.00 pm – 7.00 pm 
Winter Saturday & Sunday 12.30 am – 4.30 pm
The highest elevated vineyard on the island, Batch has spectacular views out over the gulf and islands. Local architect David Scott has designed a suitably stylish Kiwi shed-like winery building that also incorporates state of the art gravity flow technology and winemaking equipment. They have three labels: Fizz (sparkling Prosecco method 100% chardonnay, riesling and rosé); Batch Winery Estate, and the top tier Thomas & Sons reserve label.  All wines are grown, vinted and bottled onsite, including pinot gris, flora, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and syrah.
Notable wines – flora $60, syrah $44, and the Prosecco style sparklers $34 - $42
Food Café
Lunch 11.30 am – 3.00 pm   High Tea 3.00 pm – 7.00 pm
Simple menu with fresh and tasty options accompanied by local olive oils and freshly baked artisan Italian style breads. High Tea consists of a tall platter of savoury and sweet goodies, accompanied by a glass of Fizz.
Vineyard Dog – Ranger
The viticulturist’s dog, his favourite pastimes are meeting and greeting visitors and running madly through the vineyard













Frenchman’s Hill Estate and Expatrius Wines
1 Margaret Reeve Lane
09 372 3387 
www.frenchmanshillestate.co.nz
email: info@frenchmanshillestate.co.nz 
Open Summer 11.00 am – 4.00 pm Thursday to Sunday
Winter 11.00 am – 3.00 pm Thursday to Sunday (phone ahead)
Couple, Luc and Anna Desbonnets bring a touch of Gallic flair to Waiheke with their new vineyard, café, cellar door/gift shop and boutique accommodation. Anna takes care of the retail and wine tasting, while Luc looks after the vines and makes wines under the Frenchmans Hill Estate and Expatrius labels. The property consists of 5 hectares of north facing, steeply sloping vineyard just below the tasting room, plus olive groves and wetlands. Frenchman’s Hill also has two other vineyard blocks on Waiheke. Olive oil and figs prodded on the property are also for sale. The gift shop features art works and funky homeware and décor items. Tastings can be had at a small bar, or in the spacious covered courtyard with views across to Anzac Bay.
Notable wines
The Rocks Rosé $35, Blood Creek (Meritage Bordeaux style) $98.
Food – Café
Simple bistro fare at reasonable prices
Accommodation - Guest House
The secluded guest house provides a luxury getaway accommodation with an apartment for 1 to 4 guests. Continental breakfast and complimentary wine tasting is included in tariff ($345 to $445 depending on numbers and season.)

Phil Parker runs the best wine tours in Auckland known to human kind 


Thursday, November 20, 2014

NZ Wine & Cheese - Marriage Made In Foodie Heaven

I remember as a student in the 1970s, attending a ‘wine and cheese’ function held by Auckland University students. I consisted of scruffy long-haired people drinking bad red wine accompanied by bits of Colby on toothpicks.
Happily, NZ has come a long way since then with both its cheese production and wine quality. And surely, two of our major industries – dairy and wine, should complement each other. I’m not a major foodie, but I do know a few and have picked a bit of knowledge along the way. These cheese matches are just a suggestion. As for most food and wine matching, it’s all about personal preference and experimentation.

Yealands PGR Awatere Aromatic Blend 2014 $NZ 15.99
Something quite different from Yealands – a blend of three grape varieties: 49% Pinot Gris, 32% Riesling, 19% Gewürztraminer.
Aromas of pear and red apple skin, with flavours of ripe pears and citrus fruits, with a tangy dry finish.
Cheese match – Puhoi Feta

Ngatarawa Stables Pinot Gris Hawkes Bay Pinot Gris 2014 $NZ 15.00
A medium-bodied style stone fruit and ripe pear aromas. Nashi pear and white peach flavours and a clean crisp finish.
Cheese match – Kapiti Triple Cream Brie

Matawhero  Gisborne Gewürztraminer 2014 $15.00
On the nose, mineral, spice, tonic water and rosewater. On the palate, dry and crisp, with spicy clove, lychee fruit, lime and quinine.
Cheese match – Mainland Vintage Cheddar

Heron’s Flight Matakana Dolcetto Rosé 2014 $24.00
Vivid raspberry juice pink colour, on the nose a hint of strawberries and minerality.  In the mouth, quite surprisingly rich with spice and red fruit flavours a hint of sweetness and a dry finish.
Cheese match – Whitestone Creamy Havarti

Catalina Sounds Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013 $NZ 27.00
Aromas of toast, black berry fruit and spice. Silky ripe palate with flavours of red berry fruits and black cherry.
Cheese match -
Kapiti Kahikatea Camembert

Mountford Estate Pinot Noir 2009  $NZ 67.00 (approx)
Starts off on the nose with savoury and fruitcake aromas and hint of tawny port. One sip and I’m seduced - gorgeously soft and integrated flavours of fruit cake, Maraschino cherry, sweet liquorice and mocha.
Cheese match – Bouton d’Or Camembert


Fernado De Castilla Pedro Ximinez Sherry 750 ml $NZ 34.00
Pedro Ximinex (PX for short) is a famous Spanish grape variety from which the eponymous rich, sweet sherry is vinted. Greeny brown in the glass, it smells a bit like molasses. In the mouth, unctuous and intensely sweet with muscatel raisin and golden syrup flavours. Mmmmm.
Cheese match – Barry’s Bay Peninsula Blue

Pegasus Bay Finale Waipara Noble Semillon 2011 (barrel matured)
$NZ 40.00
Aromas of dried apricots, honey and marzipan. Mouth filling, sweet and
Rich, it has flavours of honey and marmalade with a hint of acid to balance the sugars.
Cheese match – Puhoi 7 Year Old Cheddar


Special thanks to Tracey Larsen from Matua Valley cellar door for cheese matching advice.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Got A Whole Lotta Wine

As per my last column – there have been many opportunities to taste new wine releases as we head toward Auckland’s summer.  I still have a heap awaiting review but here we go with the latest.  Cheers!

Villa Maria Pinot Gris Private Bin Light 2014 $15
I was a bit cynical about low alcohol wines – but this is the real deal. At only 9% alcohol, this tastes like a full bodied, crisp and fruity Pinot Gris. It has enough complexity and balance to stand up against a regular 12-14% alcohol wine.

Craggy Range Te Muna Martinborough Pinot Gris 2014 $27
Aromas of orange blossom and minerality. This is an elegant and lean style of Pinot Gris with flavours of lime, fennel, white peach, and fresh pineapple and a crisp finish.

Gladstone 12,000 Central Otago Miles Pinot Gris 2014 $21
Citrus blossom and poached pear aromas. Time spent on yeast residue had added a layer of creaminess to the stone fruit and Nashi pear flavours.

Vidal Marlborough Riesling 2014 $18
Citrus and floral aromas. On the palate, an elegant and delicate, just off-dry wine with lime, ripe pear flavours and a crisp clean finish at only 11% alcohol.

Waimea Classic Nelson Riesling 2014 $20
Aromas of lemon/lime and green apple, but opens up on the palate with ripe honeysuckle, lemon squash, and tropical fruit.  Yet with a crisp clean finish.

Dry River Martinborough Viognier 2012 $45
Nectarine and rhubarb aromas, with elegant, complex flavours of apricot, white peach and lemon squash with hint of sweetness. Crisp, dry and lengthy palate.

Pegasus Bay Waipara Gewürztraminer 2012  $29
Yellow gold colour, with aromas of honey and ripe nectarines. This wine was aged in old oak barrels.  Flavours of spice, honey, grapefruit marmalade and lychee fruit in an unctuous and lush style.

Vidal Anthony Joseph Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2013 $16
Citrus and mineral aromas. Palate of toasted almond, grapefruit, ripe pear and quince – with a lengthy aftertaste.

Vidal Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013 $25
Floral potpourri aromas, with ripe black fruit.  In the mouth – ripe fruit flavours, with Black Doris plum and savoury smooth finish.

Heron’s Flight Matakana Sangiovese 2012
Dark berry fruit, floral and subtle spice aromas.  Dark cherry/berry and earthy fruit cake flavours with a firm tannic finish. One to cellar for a few more years.

Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé NV $140
Billecart is a family run winery, making Champagne in Epernay since 1818. Their Rosé is the flagship wine, made with about 50% Chardonnay, plus around 1/3 Pinot Noir and a dash of Pinot Meunier. Aromas of red berries, brioche and mineral. A fine beaded Champagne with subtle cherry and spiced fruit and crisp mineral finish.

Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve NV $60 - $99
Citrus flower and red berry fruit aromas. Crisp mineral acidity with flavours of pear, apple, a hint of toast, and stone fruit.
Read Phil’s Blog at nzwineblogger.blogspot.co.nz


Phil Parker is a wine writer and operates Fine Wine & Food Tours in Auckland 


lots of new wines from NZ

For a wine writer, spring is the best time of year. Wines that have been held back for release are suddenly flooding the market in a vinous tsunami of diversity – from softly aged reds that have been quietly snoozing in seasoned oak barrels for a number years, to fruity and fresh young things bursting with flavour, from the last vintage.

This is one of those times when I don’t mind the courier knocking on the door at 7.15 am to deliver mystery packages – because mostly they contain what we in the wine scribe fraternity describe as ‘trade samples.’
And thus, in the name of ongoing professional development, these wines must be sampled.

NZ has been blessed by two fantastic vintages – 2013 and 2014.
The former, more about quality yet with less quantity.  And the latter, a rare ‘beautiful collision’ of both quality and quantity.  We can be justly proud of our wines. As locals, we have access to some amazing wines, many of which are not exported. As a nod to the fine reds from Australia, I have also included a great Shiraz.


Mudhouse Marlborough Pinot Gris 2014 $20.00
Pale gold colour. Aromas of lemon squash lime juice. Medium sweet and lush with flavours of spice, quince and poached pear.  Time ageing in oak barrels has added a layer of complexity and softer flavours.

Mountford Waipara Valley Pinot Gris 2011 $29.00
Hailing from Waipara, this is a lush and unctuous late harvest style sweet wine in line with the Vendange Tardive style from northern France’s Alsace region. A mouthful of spiced quince, pear, honey and golden queen peach. 

Gladstone Vineyard Sophie’s Choice Wairarapa (Oak Aged) Sauvignon Blanc 2012 $35.00
A great Savvie for those who are put off by the Marlborough acidity.  This one has spent 10 months in French barrels. Classic gooseberry and passionfruit flavours with a hint of toasty hazel nut, yet with a crisp finish.

West Brook Barrique Marlborough Chardonnay 2013 $24.00
Formerly, a blend of Auckland and Marlborough fruit, this time it’s 100% Marlborough fruit. A rich and rewarding wine with ripe flavours of canned peach, grapefruit and mandarin, a crisp citrus finish and a hint of toasty oak.

Main Divide Te Hau Reserve Waipara Pinot Noir 2012 $33.00
Garnet red colour with aromas of spice, potpourri, toasted almonds, and cigar box. Ripe black cherry/berry flavours, with medium soft tannins and a lengthy, tarry dry finish.
Waimea Nelson Pinot Noir 2013 $25.00
Garnet red and clear, this is a classic Burgundy style Pinot, with savoury smoky aromas and a complex palate of cherries, dark chocolate and spices, with soft tannins.  If I had the patience, I would put this away for 4 more years
Gillman Matakana 2008 $70.00
Retired medical specialist, John Gillman and his son Toby explored winemaking way back in the mid-1980s, working at local Providence vineyard. Toby further explored winemaking in Bordeaux in 1997, and on his return the family invested in establishing their own vineyard in Matakana.
This wine is in the classic NZ Bordeaux style and vinted from Cab Franc, Merlot and Malbec. Typical black spiced berry fruit, black currant and soft leathery savoury flavours. At six years in the bottle, this is drinking extremely well now, but will cellar for at least two to three years.

Brown Brothers Patricia Shiraz 2009  $55.00
Dark opaque garnet/purple colour, with aromas of blackberry and black currant, marshmallow, and a hint of spice. Rich, ripe and generous, this is a big Aussie wine, yet with seductively sweet and ripe dark berry fruits which open up into spicy and soft tannins with a silky yet lengthy finish. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Planet Wine South African Wines NZ

Today I was hosted by Martin Cahnbley of Planet Wine NZ to a range of very impressive South African wines.
For most NZers, South African wines are a rarity - and when we do find them, they tend to be low-end cheap supermarket, bargain bin, very *ahem* forgettable wines.
However in the past, I have been exposed to some fantastic wines from the Nederburg label.
And today was another treat.

Here we go. First up a bunch of Chenin Blancs.

BADENHORST Secateurs Swartland Chenin Blanc 2013 $NZ25.60
Predominantly Chenin, but a 'sprinkling' of Palomino. Aromas of crisp apple, honey and fresh pineapple.  Palate of crisp apple, with dry pineapple/tropical flavours and a hint of tonic water and a clean medium acidity finish.

RAATS Family Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch 2009 $NZ 43.20
Scoring highly with Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator, this is a lean dry and herbal style.  Aromas of honey and minerality. Palate of tonic water, dry, mineral flavours and oak influence from 20% barrel time.

KEN FORRESTER Reserve Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch 2013 $NZ 28.80
Aromas of toffee and honeyed fruits.  Palate of apricot, honey and creamy yeast.

FORRESTER MEINART  FMC Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch 2012  $NZ 96.00
Classy Chenin, with a nose of ripe pear, and vanilla oak.  Flavours of ripe pineapple and honey with dried apricot and a soft finish.

Now, to the reds...

NEWTON JOHNSON Pinot Noir Walker Bay 2010 $NZ 64.00
Clear garnet read. Aromas of smoke, savoury meats and cherry. Palate of cherry spice, big alcohol and leather, gamey flavours.

RAATS Dolomite Cabernet Franc Stellenbosch 2012 $NZ 32.00
Opaque dark garnet red colour. Dusty aromas, with oak, spice and leather.  Flavours of chocolate, black cherry, spice and blackcurrant with a big alcohol whoomph and dry finish.

MEERLUST RED Stellenbosch Somerset West 2011 $NZ 32.00 Another big wine - Merlot domonant Bordeaux style blend. . Aromas of tar, liquorice, spice and dust. Palate of ripe blackcurrant, spice liquorice and a lengthy palate.

MORGENSTER Laurens River Valley 2005 $NZ 44.80
Another big red at 14.5% alcohol. Merlot dominant blend. Smoky aromas, with a hint of floral potpourri. Ripe and sweet palate with tar, liquorice, BBQ meats, spice and black cherry.  Long finish.

KANONKOP Paul Sauer Stellenbosch 2008 $NZ 57.60
Mineral clay aromas with spice and tar. Cabernet 69% with  Cab Franc 22% and Merlot 9%
Medium soft tannins with floral, spice, blackberry and cassis flavours.

KANONKOP Estate Pinotage Stellenbosch 2012 $NZ 54.40
Dark and opaque with aromas of plum, spice and smoky tar. Sweet and ripe black fruit flavours of boysenberry and black currant.

KANONKOP Kadette Pinotage Stellenbosch 2013 $NZ 25.60
Dense garnet red.  Aromas of spice and black berry fruits and pepper. Sweet and ripe, with blackberry, cassis and oaky tannins.  Great value

KAAPZICHT Pinotage Stellenbosch  2011 $NZ 30.40
Dark and opaque. Aromas of tar, liquorice and spice. Ripe and soft fruit flavours of plum and cassis with soft tannins.  Another bargain.

ADI BAADENHORST Family Red Swartland  2010 $NZ 51.20
Syrah dominant, with Grenache, Cinsault and Tinta Barocca (thick skinned grape normally used for making port).  Opaque and crimson. Aromas of spice, smoke and leather.  On the palate, a big tannic hit, with black fruit. Complex and dry - maybe needs a bit more time.

LUDDITE Shiraz Botriver 2006  $NZ 64.00
Fruity, spicy aromas of black fruit and oak. Ripe and jammy in the big Australian Shiraz style with intense black currant and cassis.

BOEKENHOUTSKLOOF The Wolftrap  Red 2013 $ NZ20.80
Syrah 66% Mourvedre 32% Viognier 2%
Medium opaque.  Aromas of spice and cherry.  In the mouth - sweet, ripe and spicy. Good value.

Finally..

KLEIN CONSTANTIA  Muscat de Frontignan Vin de Constance. $NZ 99.20
South Africa's most renowned dessert wine. Rich golden honey colour, with aromas of toffee, honey and beeswax. Intense and complex sweet palate of sultanas, caramel, toffee and honey with a clean acid balanced finish

AVAILABILITY:
Auckland : The Wine Barrel, Wine Circle, Wine Direct, Blanc, Accent on Wine, Wine & More,'Liquorland Northcross
Wellington: Wineseeker, Region Wines, Moore Wilson Centre City
Christchurch: Decant, Vino Fino

Phil runs wine tours in Auckland region


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Spring wine releases in NZ

With signs of seasonal change, for example - waggly-tailed fluffy white lambs in the rural west, magnolia blooms, daffodils, torrential rain, and intoxicatingly fragrant erlicheer flowers, it does appear that … finally Auckland is gettin’ Springy With It. (By the way – I always thought that they were called ‘early cheer’ as in – early, cheerful spring flowers).
So much for my botanical nominative incompetence.

Anyway – this is also, fortuitously, the time when wineries release their new wines on to the market and send out trade samples to wine writers for appraisal. I drink … therefore I am one.  Here’s a recent selection.

Mudhouse Pinot Gris 2014 $NZ 20.00
Pale gold colour. Aromas of lemon squash lime juice. Medium sweet and lush with flavours of spice, quince and poached pear.  Time ageing in oak barrels has added a layer of complexity and softer flavours.

Mountford Pinot Gris 2011 $NZ 29.00
Hailing from Waipara, this is a lush and unctuous late harvest style sweet wine in line with the Vendange Tardive style from northern France’s Alsace region. A mouthful of spiced quince, pear, honey and golden queen peach.  

Gladstone Vineyard Sophie’s Choice (Oak Aged) Sauvignon Blanc 2012 $NZ 35.00
A great Savvie for those who are put off by the Marlborough acidity.  This one has spent 10 months in French barrels. Classic gooseberry and passionfruit flavours with a hint of toasty hazel nut, yet with a crisp finish.

Main Divide Merlot/Cabernet 2011 $NZ 20.00
2011 wasn’t the best of vintages – with a cooler temperatures and a lot of rain late in the season. Yet, this is a good value Merlot dominant blend – with cherry/berry fruit flavours, spicy characters and medium tannins

Phil runs Fine Wine & Food Tours in Auckland