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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."


Sunday, February 7, 2016

♫ Summer Wine … And The Livin’ Is Easy … ♫

 Yes folks, it’s time to relax, watch tennis, get sand between your toes, and slap on sunscreen. For most of us, the New Year brings a chance to wind down, shrug off the last twelve months and recharge the batteries for the year ahead.

Our drinking habits correspondingly change with warmer weather, generally away from big reds and chunky Chardonnays, in favour of chilled white wines, rosés and lighter reds like Pinot Noir. Yet there are still those long, languid evenings when the air cools and a rich, velvety red is just right to go down with that piece of scotch fillet and a few snarlers fresh from the smoking BBQ.

Sauvignon Blanc is still wildly popular with NZers, as is the upstart Pinot Gris, but we are getting more adventuresome with new white varieties like Grüner Veltliner, Arneis, and even (as below) Bianchetta.

Rosés have made enormous inroads into our drinking habits over the last three years or so. They are made by crushing red grapes, then leaving the juice on the skins for a short period (as little as 4 hours) to extract a minimum of colour before and racking into fermentation tanks. The resulting wines are light, often blush pink and have red fruit flavours of strawberries, plums and raspberries. These are crisp, refreshing drink-young wines, which will not benefit from cellaring. And there has been a shift away from the sweet style rosé to off-dry and bone dry – more in the style of rosés from Provence. As with summer whites, they can stand a bit of chilling. But don’t over-chill them as the fruit flavours will disappear. These are a good match with seafood, salads and chicken dishes.
Pinot Noir is an all-rounder that suits any season and is a good match with duck, chicken, turkey and mushrooms. It can also pair well with seafood like salmon and tuna.

And for the BBQ, as a bang-for-buck big juicy red - it’s hard to go past an Argentinian Malbec.
Here’s a selection for your perusal.

Matawhero Gisborne ‘Church House’  Bianchetta 2010 $25 NZD
Bianchetta Genovese is a rare white wine grape variety used almost exclusively along the coast of Liguria innorthwest Italy. It is most commonly used to make sweet white wines.
A very attractive old gold colour, this wine has aromas of lychee fruit, blond tobacco and peaches. On the palate, it’s rich and complex with a Chardonnay-like flavour profile with a spectrum of flavours from clover honey, to tobacco, but with a dry finish. 19 points
Not widely available. But good luck.

GeorgeTown Vineyard Central Otago Pinot Rosé 2015  $30 NZD
This is a good rosé for folks who tend to write them off as lightweights. Attractive pale salmon pink colour. Subtle nose – strawberries and cream, with a hint of savoury spice. In the mouth it’s
peach, raspberries, cherry and cranberry. Good palate weight at 13% alcohol with a dry spicy lingering finish.18 points
Available: Herne Bay Wine Cellars

De Martino Gallardía Itata Valley  Cinsault Rosé Chile)  2014 $33 NZD
The Itata Valley is located about halfway up the long, skinny Chilean coastal wine growing region. It has a Mediterranean climate and generally grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay. Cinsault is a southern French grape variety.  This wine smells of cranberry, almonds and marzipan. Tastes of red summer berries and has a dry mineral finish. 18 points
Available: Herne Bay Wine Cellars
Folium Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013  $27 NZD

A softer style of Sauvignon, with less of the typical racy acidity, plus a bit more complexity.  Flavours of black currant, green bell pepper and herbs with a mineral dry finish. 19 points
Available: Herne Bay Wine Cellars, Farro

Easthope  ‘Black Hawk’ Hawke’s Bay Dry Pinot Gris 1015 $30
Aromas of lime juice, green pineapple and melon.  Opens up on the palate with citrus, peach and honey but with a dry finish. 18 points
Available: Herne Bay Wine Cellars
Bannock Brae ‘Goldfields’ Central Otago Pinot Noir 2014  $35 NZD
Has aromas of cherry, smoke and tar with a whiff of raspberry. Swished around in the mouth, it opens up with sweet soft fruit – tamarillo and sour cherry, medium firm tannins and a spicy savoury finish. 18 points
Available: many fine wine stores. Check their website for suppliers.

Casa Montes Fuego Negro Malbec Argentina 2012 $22 NZD
Ab fab wine. Smells like ripe summer blackberries and cherries with a hint of dark chocolate. Ripe and generous flavours of black cherry, caramel, liquorice, baking spices and muscatel raisins. 19 points
Available: Online Vino Fino Argentino 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Wine Writers of New Zealand trip to Hawke's Bay.

Back in November, I was lucky to join a group of the Wine Writers of New Zealand (WWNZ) organisation on a sponsored trip to Hawke's Bay. This was a three-day trip involving hosted tastings at many local wineries.
We covered Te Mata, Elephant Hill, Black Barn, Mission, Ash Ridge, Trinity Hill, Ngatararawa, Alpha Domus, Paritua, Sacred Hill, Pask, Collaboration, Squawking Magpie, Monowai, and finally Vidal.
Whew. It was great. It was fun.  It was exhausting.
Here's my notes on Ash Ridge and Monowai

Day Two
Friday 13 November
Ash Ridge Wines
Reasonably bright-eyed and (almost) bushy-tailed, the group reassembled in the Masonic Hotel’s Emporium eatery and bar, early on Friday morning for the journey out to Ash Ridge Wines, courtesy of our EIT driving crew and their trusty 12-seater coach.
Former forex dealer Chris Wilcock and his wife Sonya (ex-Invercargill) transplanted their family back to New Zealand after 15 years of living overseas, to establish Ash Ridge. Chris has completed a certificate in wine, specialising in viticulture, and is now working on a post-graduate diploma in winemaking. They purchased bare land on the Heretaunga plains Bridge Pa Triangle area in 2000, planting vines in 2005 and now producing Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah and some Bordeaux varieties. They make around 7,000 cases per year.
Taking a punt on a bright new graduate from EIT, Chris engaged Lauren Swift as winemaker in late 2012.  To verify his good choice, Lauren went on to win a trophy with her 2013 Ash Ridge Estate Merlot, just 3 months out of college.  In 2014 they built their own winery onsite, and following another great vintage in Hawke’s Bay Lauren won Hawke’s Bay Young Winemaker of the Year.
Although Ash Ridge boasts a cellar door and café, the tasting was held in the brand new winery. Chris gave us a brief history of the venture and then introduced us to Lauren as we sampled a line-up of their premium wines.

Estate Chardonnay 2014
Aromas of citrus blossom, melon, spicy oak and blond tobacco. In the mouth, it’s light, bright and soft with hints of lemon curd and oak.

Vintners Reserve Chardonnay  2014
Quite shy on the nose, again with blond tobacco. The palate is elegant and restrained with crisp minerality.

Estate Syrah 2014
Lovely ripe and jammy aromas of black cherry and roast beef.
On the palate it’s young and ripe, with firm tannins, cassis, black olive, tobacco, and a dry finish.

Premium Estate Syrah  2014
Aromas of black pepper, tar and pot pourri. In the mouth it’s a young strapping wine with savoury notes, cherry, black olive, firm tannins and a dry lengthy finish.
Vintners Reserve Syrah  2014
Funky aromas, plus vegemite, black pepper and black cherry. Flavours of black pepper, vegemite, black olive and black currant jam. Dry, firm tannic finish.

Doppio MS clone 2014
Aromas of spicy oak and pot pourri. The palate is dark and dense and dry, with black olive and plum.
Doppio Chave  clone 2014
Nose of black currant jam, tomato & herb pizza sauce, black cherry. The palate is savoury with firm tannin. Big flavoured and dark, with cherry, black olive, and a firmly dry finish.
Premium Estate Malbec 2014
Smells of dark berry fruit and spiced plum. In the mouth it’s cherry, chocolate, cassis, and savoury with medium dry tannins.
Barrel Ferment Reserve Malbec 2015
Smells toasty, with black berry fruit. Flavours of toast, dark fruit, anise and liquorice with a dry lengthy finish.

Day Three
Saturday 14 November

Monowai Estate
Winemaking couple Emma Lowe and her Chilean partner Marcelo Nunez own Monowai Estate and winery on the northern banks of the Ngaruroro River in the Crownthorpe district. Emma was schooled in Hamilton then studied wine making in Adelaide, Australia and California. It was when she was working Chile that she met the man who would become her vineyard manager and husband, Marcelo Nunez.
The wines are produced from their own 22 hectare vineyard in the higher altitude Crownthorpe district. Cool climate varieties are the focus at Monowai, with Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot grown onsite in the free-draining stony river terraces. Almost all their production is exported, with a tiny amount sold within NZ.
With blues skies and warm sunshine beckoning us from inside the chilly winery tasting space, we decided to move the tasting table and chairs out into the winery courtyard and bask in the Hawke’s Bay sun while Emma led us through her wines.

Pinot Gris 2015
Fruity aromas of Nashi Pear, with a lovely clean palate and  fruity, unctuous texture. Medium sweet style at 6 g/l of residual sugar, with a lively complementary acid balance
Chardonnay 2014
Aromas of herbs, peach and a whiff of toast, this is a  60/40 blend of barrel aged and stainless steel Chardonnay.  The palate is medium style with stone fruit and a crisp citrus zing.

Rose  2015
On the nose, it’s all strawberries and plum. The flavour profile is off-dry and rich, with cherry, red berry fruit, and a soft medium sweet finish.

Pinot Noir  2015
Aromas of tamarillo and smoky, toast open up on the palate with mild tannins in a
soft, light and easy drinking style with flavours of tamarillo, spice and dark cherry.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sparkling Wines for Celebratation

Sparkling wine and celebrations go together, thus the festive season is a great opportunity to pop a few corks and enjoy some bubbly with your besties and favourite relatives.

The vast majority of our bottle fermented sparkling wine is made from the traditional blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. We used to call it Méthode Champenoise before the French got all proprietorial about the name. The traditional method uses a secondary fermentation in the bottle under a crown seal, by adding more yeast and sugar after the first ferment is finished, producing characteristic CO2 bubbles.

A cheaper process, the Charmat method of producing bulk quality sparkling wine, is to make the wine in bulk and the secondary ferment is done under pressure in sealed stainless steel vats. And a third method produces simple cheap sparklers by injecting CO2 into still wine before bottling (AKA the SodaStream method).

Here is a line-up of very classy sparklers to share with someone special. As someone once said (possibly the painter Francis Bacon), “Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends.”

Champagne Bouby–Legouge France Brut NV $NZ 54.25
Grapes grown in the  Vallée de la Marne, midway between the two famous Champagne towns of Épernay and Reims. Yeasty aromas of brioche and subtle herbs. In the mouth, it’s classic French fizz flavours of toast, yeast, a hint of clover honey and oyster shell.

Schramsberg  Calistoga California Brut Rosé NV $NZ 77.50
An attractive salmon pink, this is a voluptuous blend of 61% pinot noir and 39% chardonnay.  Hints of cherry cola and yeast aromas. Lovely creamy palate of sour cherry, toasted almond, canned peach and strawberries. Beguilingly ripe and soft, it has just 1.11 gram of sugar per litre.

Pares Balta Cava Catalonia Spain NV  $NZ 22.79
Produced from three indigenous Spanish grapes – Parellada, Macabeu and Xarel-lo.  (just don’t ask me to pronounce them). This is a bone dry crisp sparkler. Mineral, yeasty aromas lead on to a clean and crisp palate of brioche and soda water with a hint of Granny Smith apple and citrus.

Sartori Prosecco Italy NV $NZ 25.85
Ticks all the boxes as a typical Prosecco. Pale green gold in colour, this one smells of citrus blossom and pear. Light and crisp flavours of apple juice and Nashi pear and a hint of sweetness, with a dry refreshing finish.

Larmandier-Bernier Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs  France NV $NZ 92.92
Aromas of creamy vanilla. Rich palate of crème brulée, crisp apple and citrus with a hint of marzipan. Dry, clean finish.

West Brook Methode Traditionelle Blanc  2012 $NZ 39
Just to show that NZ can make a very respectable traditional method bottle fermented style. Made exclusively from their Waimauku estate Pinot noir grapes. On the nose it’s subtle yeasty brioche with a hint of clover honey. Lively foaming effervescent fine bubbles tickle the palate with gentle flavours of prince melon, honey, cherry and strawberry. Dry and crisp mineral finish. 
Availability all except the West Brook are available from Herne Bay Cellars. West Brook: cellar door in Waimauku
Phil Parker is a wine writer and operates Fine Wine & Food Tours in Auckland. See:

Phil’s new cellar door book ‘NZ Wine Regions – A Visitor’s Guide’ is now available on Amazon Kindle

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


As a hobby wine writer on a modest income I do like to open a different bottle of wine each night and share it with my charming spouse during dinner and over the course of an evening. But, aside from trade samples, I am obliged to buy my own wines. And these generally fall under the $25 dollar mark. I’d dearly love to say that I have a huge cellar stocked with many hand-picked bottles from the very best vintages and producers, but the sad fact is no, I don’t. 

Thus I’m always on the lookout for a bargain and sometimes stumble upon the odd gem – largely by trial and error.  As a rule of thumb, it’s extremely rare to get anything drinkable under $10. And there are some truly awful imported supermarket cheapies in the $8.99 and below range.

Generally you do get what you pay for, so don’t expect concentration of flavour, longevity or complexity in a sub $10 wine. Wines in the $25 plus range are generally produced with a lot more TLC, including crop-thinning and vineyard selection.

Anyway, here’s a selection of very good value wines that I managed to bring in under the $16 price point, on a recent hunting and gathering expedition into deepest Ponsonby.

Disclaimer: I bought the wines on special at the time of writing, from Glengarry in late September, so current prices may vary depending on where you buy these wines.

Kumeu Village Pinot Gris 2013 $NZ 14.99
Yeasty lime aromas, leading on to a rich and complex medium palate of nougat, lime juice quince and grapefruit, with a mineral dry finish. Yum.  Reflects a hot dry vintage in west Auckland. Fantastic value.  A brilliant pre-dinner wine. And during. And after.
Available from Glengarry or direct from the winery

Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Pinot Gris 2014 $NZ 14.99
A clean, crisp and mineral style of pinot gris. Smells like lime juice and cut grass. Medium palate of prince melon, lime juice, Nashi pear and a tangy dry, crisp finish. Good match with seafood.
Available from Glengarry

Coopers Creek Fat Cat East Coast Chardonnay 2014 $14.99
Smells like rock melon and citrus with a whiff of funky yeast.  A nice soft and light easy-drinking style with flavours of melon, lemon squash and nougat and a dry finish. Nice chilled as a picnic wine or a friendly BBQ white wine option for the savvie averse.
Available from Glengarry, or direct from the winery

Kate Radburnd Vine Velvet Martinborough Pinot Noir 2013  $NZ 15.99
Earthy and briny, savoury aromas.  This is a great value intense and complex Martinborough pinot.  Flavours of ripe black cherry, tamarillo, and earthy spice with a dry finish.
Available from Glengarry, Pask winery  and Boozee Liquor Online (!)
Yalumba Y Series South Australia Shiraz/Viognier 2013 $NZ 10.99
Bang for buck. Typical South Aussie dark fruit number. Blackberry and spice on the nose and again on the palate. Also some savoury baked meat flavours, plus black cherry, with medium firm tannins and a dry finish. Great with BBQ steak and snarlers.
Available from Glengarry.

Rosemount Estate Diamond  South Australia Shiraz 2011 $NZ 14.99
Yum. Big fat and sweet like a juicy ripe blackberry in the summer heat.  Again, the Aussies nail it with a value for money stunning red. Num num num. Boysenberry, blackberry, black cherry, hint of spice and a voluptuous silky palate with a soft mouthfeel.

Available from Glengarry and Countdown online.

Phil Parker runs wine tours in Auckland region.
Phil's e-book NZ Wine Regions - A Visitor's Guide is available on Amazon kindle.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Tuscany Comes to North Auckland

 When Tuscan winemaker Stefano Guidi dropped in to Matakana’s Herons Flight winery for the first time he wasn't looking for a job, he was just there to sample their Italian varietal wines and chat with the winemaker.  Owners David Hoskins and Mary Evans weren't really looking for a winemaker either, but since that first amiable meeting in Matakana in 2013, Stefano Guidi took a keen interest in Heron’s Flight’s sustainable winegrowing approach to Sangiovese and Dolcetto.

Over the next two years, Stefano supervised the winemaking, albeit from a distance, while still working full time in Tuscany. He had previously gained an engineering degree at the University of Milan, followed by a PhD in winemaking and studying oenology and viticulture in Bordeaux. His first winemaking job was in the Chianti Classico region, in Tuscany, where he worked mainly with Sangiovese - the dominant variety at Heron’s Flight.

Grapes were first planted at Heron's Flight Vineyard and Winery in 1987 by David Hoskins, a chemist and philosopher turned winemaker, and Mary Evans, a scholar and teacher. David (ex-Philadelphia USA) started off with plantings of Chardonnay, Cabernet and Merlot. Then in 1994 his infatuation with Italian wines led him to plant the Sangiovese. Since then, all the other vines have been pulled out and replaced with either Sangiovese or the northern Italian grape Dolcetto.  Heron’s Flight produces around 1500 cases of wine per annum, mostly sold domestically, but with some exports to UK, Hong Kong and China.

On return to Italy, Stefano met the love of his life, Napier-born lyric soprano opera singer Anna Leese, and in January 2015 the newlyweds moved permanently to Warkworth where Stefano took over as chief winemaker at Heron’s Flight. As part of the inventory from Italy, Stefano imported a 500 litre terracotta amphora in his shipping container along with his household goods. The amphora was made by a very tiny producer in Impruneta, close to Florence. Stefano’s amphora is now being used to make Heron’s Flight’s flagship premium 2015 Sangiovese. Indigenous yeasts are used in a wild ferment and there is no use of sulphites. His technique involves removing around a third of the skins post fermentation, and then leaving the wine in contact with the remaining skins for four to six months. He explains that the remaining skins prevent any oxidation by constantly releasing tannins and polyphenols which are extremely strong antioxidants.

The wine will eventually be bottled after spending no time in barrel: “With barrel ageing, there is a marriage of the tannins of the oak and the tannins of the wine. The amphora is different – the tannins in the wine are one hundred percent from the grape. After six months I take out all the skins from the amphora and then we bottle the wine.”

Stefano’s other pet projects at Heron’s Flight are making rosé, a Champagne style and a passito style sweet wine also from Sangiovese and Dolcetto (only about 50 litres) after drying the fruit on a mobile wooden rack that is put away at night.
“These are the old tricks that we use in the Mediterranean,” he chuckles.

Phil Parker runs wine tours in Auckland region.
Phil's e-book NZ Wine Regions - A Visitor's Guide is available on Amazon kindle.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Riesling Revisited

Sound Riesling

Riesling is one of three classic aromatic white grape varieties originally from the cool northern European wine region of Alsace. The other two are Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer. Riesling is also a wine that a lot of people love to hate.  In fact, many of my overseas wine tour clients (especially Brits) produce garlic and crucifixes at the very mention of the word and have to be seriously talked into trying one of ours.

The blame goes way back to some pretty awful sugary sweet style Rieslings from the 1970s and early 1980s.These were cheap, mass-produced wines in quirky bottles which caught the imagination of newbie wine drinkers and for many years thereafter branded Riesling as a god-awful sweet wine to be avoided. Nowadays we tend toward the drier end of the spectrum, mainly producing wines that are crisp, fruity and dry, or ‘off-dry’ - just slightly sweet. And that’s not to say that Riesling can’t shine as a sweet style when the grapes are left on the vine till they are extremely ripe and full of
natural fructose sugar. Taken to extreme, these wines are called Late Harvest Riesling (very ripe and shrivelled); or Noble Riesling (affected by a symbiotic fungus called Botrytis, which sucks out the water content and leaves very sweet concentrated juice with a honeyed taste).

Craggy Range Te Muna Martinborough Riesling 2014 $NZ 33.00 
A very classy, lean and elegant style with aromas of lemon squash and jasmine.  Fruity and just nudging off-dry with a mouth-watering crisp finish.
Available from Glengarry

Rockburn  Tigermoth Central Otago Riesling 2013 $NZ 30.60 
Another clean and lean style.  Not a lot of aromas – with just a hint of herbs and beeswax, but opens up on the palate with tangerine, honey and Rose’s lime juice. The back label says ‘medium sweet’ which is about right, but there is some racy acidity in there to balance the natural sugars. 9% alcohol.
Available from Glengarry, or online at Advintage

Dusky Sounds Waipara Riesling 2014 $NZ 12.00
Just to prove that it’s not always about the price. Great value easy-drinking medium dry style with flavours of lime and lemonade, and hint of green herbs. Finishes dry.
Widely available

Schloss Vollrads Rheingau Kabinett Semi-Dry Riesling 2013 $NZ 27
Rheingau is one of the smallest of Germany's 13 wine regions, yet renowned for its Rieslings. The bottle presentation is pretty cool – it looks like a metal screwcap closure, but is sealed with a T-shaped glass stopper and a clear plastic seal.  Anyway, this is a more subtle yet complex wine, with faint citrus blossom and ripe grapefruit aromas.  Swished around the mouth it has a rich palate of grapefruit, nougat and a creamy richness that I’d normally associate with a Champagne method wine.
Available from Glengarry

Ngatarawa Proprietors Reserve Hawkes Bay Noble Riesling 2014  $NZ 39
Yum. I’m a fan of desert wines and this one’s a ripper. Aromas of beeswax, honey and candied orange peel.  It’s a luscious medium bodied sweet wine, but not syrupy. Flavours of dried apricot, honey and marmalade, with just enough zip of citrus to balance the sugars.
Available online from Advintage and Ngatarawa winery.

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

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Some Big NZ and Aus Reds

It looks like winter is still with us for a month or two before we head into spring and the grapevines burst into life again.  And this time of year in Auckland in the vineyards , pruners are busy removing the old shoots from vines before the sap rises.  While vines are dormant over winter, this is the time to get in and trim off the old dead wood.  Not unlike rose bushes, the vines are pruned vigorously. The vines are cut right back to often just one trunk with two or four lateral branches left before spring kicks in. (See the video on my blog).  Work never stops in the vineyard and winery – it’s a 7 day a week job for many people in the business.
Meanwhile hare’s a line-up of hearty reds for cooler nights (and days).

Rimu Grove ‘Bronte’ Nelson Pinot Noir 2011 $NZ 23
17 points
  ★★★★ Great value Pinot from Nelson.  Aromas of spice, and ripe black cherry. In the mouth – stewed plums, Lapsang Souchong, savoury BBQ mushrooms and ripe black berry fruits. 
Available: Glengarry
Saint Clair Pioneer Block ‘Doctor’s Creek’ Pinot Noir 2014 $NZ 38
19 points  ★★★★★
A seamlessly gorgeous and voluptuous silky Pinot with aromas of potpourri, fruit cake and Black Forest Cake. It opens up with flavours of ripe black cherry, boysenberry and subtle spice, with soft seductive yet lingering tannins.
Available: Glengarry
Selaks Reserve Hawke’s Bay Merlot Cabernet 2013 $22
17 points  ★★★★ Classy red at a good price. Spicy plum and black cherry aromas. Soft tannins and ripe flavours of black currant, cherry and black olive, with a hint of black pepper.
Available: most supermarkets and wine stores
Molly Dooker ‘The Boxer’  McLaren Vale Shiraz 2013 $NZ 35
20 points 
Classic south Australian knockout Shiraz.  Smells fabulous – aromas of vanilla oak, cassis, super-ripe dark berry fruits, and pepper.  Juicy and full flavoured, clocking in at 15.5% alcohol yet manages a seamless palate of ripe black currant, blackberry, spice and Black Forest Cake.
Available: Fine Wine Delivery Company, Village Winery Mt. Eden
Molly Dooker ‘Two Left Feet’  McLaren Vale Shiraz/Cabernet/Merlot  2013  $NZ 35
19 points
  ★★★★★ Another monster at 15.5% alcohol but bang for buck nonetheless.  Smells like Christmas cake, anise and red cherries.  Smooth and savoury with some stewed plum and a hint of liquorice.  Medium firm tannins.
Available: Fine Wine Delivery Company, Village Winery Mt. Eden

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