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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."


Monday, November 30, 2009

Son of a ...Gunn Estate Unoaked Chard and Pinot Noir

Hawkes Bay label - Gunn Estate, is a consistent producer of good value wines. The Gunn family has been in Hastings for over 90 years, with grandfather George Gunn moving there from Central Otago in 1920 to try to scratch a living by farming the poor Hastings soils.

It was in the early 1980s, when Alan Gunn - George Gunn's eldest grandson (son of a son of a Gunn) - suggested that the family's land had the potential to grow quality grapes. In 1983 the Gunn family planted their first vineyard and soon became suppliers to many high profile winemakers in the Hawke's Bay region.

Finally, In 1994, the first wine was released under the Gunn Estate name - an unoaked chardonnay.

Gunn Estate produces two ranges - a White Label and a Black Label. The Black Label are all Estate grown wines, whereas the White are from various other vineyards.

On special this week - I found the 2007 Pinot Noir and 2008 Unoaked Chardonnay at under $NZ10 a bottle very good value - ripe, clean fruit flavours - fantastic summer wines for the BBQ and beyond.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Joe Walsh - One Hit Wonder - but what a goodie!!

1974. I was cleaning the Government Print Office as an after school job in my final year in high school.

I would go in there after the print people had finished for the day and clean up the floors, toilets and offices. Just me in a big empty, spooky print shop smelling of ink and solvents - but the saving grace was a huge AM valve radio, pumping out the local roack station top 20.

One of the songs I boogied around to: Joe Walsh's Rocky Mountain Way.

Along with Jet by Wings, The Man Who Sold the World by Lulu and Golden Earring's Radar Love.
Joe joined the Eagles and disappeared as a headline act in his own name. He could check out any time he likes, but he can never leave.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Te Mata's new Woodthorpe Sauvignon Blanc

Te Mata Estate Woodthorpe Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2009 $NZ19.00

Hawkes Bay icon – Te Mata produces internationally famous labels such as the Coleraine and Awatea Cabernet/ Merlots, Bullnose Syrah, and Elston Chardonnay. Te Mata owns eleven Hawkes Bay vineyards including the relatively new Woodthorpe estate – where this Sauvignon was grown.

While I’m not a fan of the very green and puingent style of Marlborough Savvies, this Hawkes Bay example is much more approachable. Rounded and low in acidity, it has aromas and flavours of melon, pineapple, stonefruit and gooseberry.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Animal behaviourists

Can they pull a habit out of a rat?

Seifried - Nelson's top producer

Austrian born Hermann Seifried and his New Zealand wife Agnes started what is now the Nelson region’s largest producer, back in 1973.

Their three children are also involved – winemakers Heidi and Chris, and marketing manager Anna. The Old Coach Road and Seifried labels are familiar to most NZers, and now they have added a reserve selection of wines under the Seifried Winemakers Collection brand, with prices starting at around $18 and heading up to $35.

Two wines which I sampled recently:

2007 Gewurztraminer - clean flavoured and spicy with off-dry sweetness. Flavours of ginger in syrup, and lychee fruit. A great match for Thai spiced foods - lemon grass, ginger and coriander.

2007 Chardonnay - toasty and peachy, with a crisp acid balance. Lovely wine - will get even better.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hello, Halo - Sacred Hill's New brand launched

Top producing Hawkes Bay winery Sacred Hill has just launched another brand in its successful stable - the Halo range, retailing for about $26 a bottle, with fruit sourced from their own Hawkes Bay and Marlborough vineyards.

Winemaker Tony Bish has had great success with his Sacred Hill Deerstalkers Syrah 2007 and Sacred Hill Riflemans Chardonnay 2007.

The Halo 2008 Syrah is a soft rich red wine with black pepper aromas and flavours of black cherry, spice and liquorice.

Halo 2008 Pinot Gris is a very drinkable fruity white, with apple/pear and Nashi flavours with a clean, crisp finish.

These are both quite young wines, which will get even better over the next few years, but are drinking very nicely right now.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sticky Moments - Pegasus Bay Noble Riesling Encore 2008

Dessert wines AKA Stickies are unfortunately rejected by a lot of wine drinkers, just because they are sweet. That’s a pity, as suitably aged dessert wines can be the perfect partner to a citrus pudding, liver pâté, or strong cheeses like Cheddars and Blues.

In NZ most Stickies usually are made from Riesling, Semillon or Sauvignon Blanc. They fall into two main categories: Botrytised or Noble wines – where a beneficial mould called Botrytis (Noble Rot) has affected the grapes, and natural sugars are intensified by the action of tiny mould organism filaments which suck out water content.

Late Harvest wines – here the grapes are left for an extended period on the vine where they ripen even further and start to shrivel like sultanas.
Because of the preservative quality of high sugar levels in the wine, and despite low alcohol, these wines reward cellaring for ten years or longer.

Now, to Pegasus Bay 'Encore' Noble Riesling 2008

Friends had us over for dinner on Saturday, and Lizzie (mine hostess) cooked a fab beef curry from scratch, with all the accompaniments like fresh pineapple, banana in coconut, plus poppadoms and naan bread. Always hard to match curries with wine, but some hearty reds stood up quite nicely.

Then to dessert - my partner Annie bought some chocolate meringues, popped them in tall glasses and added fresh whipped cream and strawberries. I opened a bottle of the new release Pegasus Bay 'Encore' Noble Riesling 2008. Normally I prefer a cheese board with sweet wines, but in this case, the intense fresh rasiny sweetness and a lively citrus acid balance worked really nicely in partnership with desssert. The Peg Bay sweetie was probably opened a bit young - this wine will develop and gain complexityfor 6 years plus.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Two Paddocks - Sam Neill's winery

Two Paddocks is actor Sam Neill’s winery – a venture begun in 1993 in Gibbston, Central Otago with a modest 5 acres of Pinot Noir. Sam’s mate Roger Donaldson put vines in at the same time – hence the name. Donaldson and Neill worked together on the movie Sleeping Dogs back in the 1970s.

Further land has been acquired and now the label has over 70 acres planted in various Pinot Noir clones, plus a small amount of Riesling and a lavender farm.

I did manage to acquire a bottle of the 2007 vintage Pinot recently, through someone who knows someone who knows Sam… and it’s a very nice wine. Flavours of black cherry and black Doris plum, with medium tannins and savoury spicy notes.

Their website is also a treat – self-deprecating humour from Mr. Neill himself and a good read. Check out his Dances with Orangutans video on Sam’s TP Blog page.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Julie & Julia

Last night my partner Annie and I saw Julie & Julia - a feel-good movie about a blogger. So here I am blogging about a movie about a blogger.

It's about a woman about to turn 30 who gains a sense of purpose and achievement by cooking in 12 months, every recipe (524 count ‘em) in Julia Child’s 1960s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She maintains a weblog, charting her progress.

Amy Adams, a relative unknown, plays Julie. And Meryl Streep not so much acting but channelling the tall, effusive and endearing Julia Child. The movie is great – capturing 1950s postwar France with elegance as a counterpoint to Julia’s harassed 21st century gritty Queens NYC life.

As a kid I remember watching Julia Child on her TV cooking show, and was fascinated by her slightly diastracted and woozy personality as she beguilingly whipped up fab French nosh, accompanied by her American verbal quirks like saying ‘erbs’ and ‘ap-ricots.’

These were the good old days before celebrity chefs starting outing themselves, leaping out of the batwing kitchen doors, all sweaty and bug-eyed, craving adulation. These were the days when they were called cooks, and would be more than happy with ‘compliments,’ passed on by a waitperson. But I digress.

A great movie. Meryl is my pick for an Oscar.
And here's more good news: Julia died at 92 years after a life of eating French food, drinking wine and smoking.

Grasshopper Rocks!

Central Otago is one of NZ's premium Pinot Noir regions, on a par with, if not superior to Martinborough and Waipara.
(I'll leave that to others to argue.)

Grasshopper Rock is a relatively new winery on the scene, but has picked up a gold and a silver medal, plus numerous accolades for its 2007 Pinot Noir.

Managing Director Phil Handford was formerly a rural banker and heads a partnership of ‘hunter-gatherers’ from Waikato and Southland, including whitebaiters, duck shooters, rabbit hunters, fishers, creative arts folk and financiers.
Winemaking is by Carol Bunn of VinPro and grapes are grown in Earnscleugh Road Alexandra. The annual partnership review is held in Wanaka, where five families meet and share whitebait, scallops, crayfish, blue cod, venison and rabbit – with a bottle or two of their award-winning Pinot Noir.

Verdict: Lovely soft and ripe Pinot with cherry and savoury flavours. A bargain at $NZ30.00