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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, December 22, 2013

New Zealand Rose Wines for Summer

Some years ago, Rosés were quite rare and largely undrinkable.  However, now that summer is kicking in, the shelves are steadily filling with a number of very respectable light reds vinted from grape varieties such as Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, and even Cabernet Sauvignon.  Plus the really good thing is, in warmer weather you can chill many of them with a clear conscience.

Rosés are made by crushing red grapes, then leaving the juice on the skins for a short period (as little as 12 hours) to extract a minimum of colour and maximum grape juice flavours before pressing and racking off 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.  They also come in a spectrum of sugar level from dry to medium sweet.  Buyer beware.  It may be lolly water or Pinot-Lite depending on the whim of the winemaker.
The sweeter Rosé styles can tolerate chilling before serving, but the more delicate dry, to off-dry Rosé, could be cooled in the fridge for no more 30 minutes.

Food matches – BBQ tuna, salmon, crayfish, prawns, chicken, crab, spiced rare lamb.  And here comes summer! Whoo Hoo!  Here’s a selection, from dryer to sweeter, and finishing with a fantastic bubbles.

Wooing Tree Central Otago Rosé 2013 $NZ 28
Dry and crisp. Flavours of red plum and strawberry.

Bélouvé Côtes De Provence Rosé (France) 2012 $NZ 24
Cabernet, Grenache and Syrah go into the blend for this French Rosé from Provence.  Clean ripe flavours and a lengthy palate.

Soho Waiheke Rosé 2013 $NZ 26
Hand-picked Waiheke Island fruit – Merlot and Malbec are blended to make this red fruit cocktail of flavours. Cherries, red berry fruit and plum flavours with crisp acidity.

Kate Radburnd Hawkes Bay Berry Blush Rosé 2013  $NZ 16
A Hawkes Bay Rosé from Pask winemaker Kate Radburnd.  This one is just off-dry, with red berry fruit ripeness and soft acid finish.
Marques de Carceres Rioja Rosado (Spain) 2012 $NZ 22
Two typical Rioja red grapes-  Tempranillo and Grenache are blended to create this wine.  Mild oaky flavours, and a rich just off-dry ripe palate of plums and strawberries.

Quartz Reef Rosé Methode Traditionelle  Central Otago $NZ 40
100% organic Pinot Noir, and aged for 24 months. Rich and rounded with a lingering finish.  A lovely elegant bubbly for the summer season.
These wines are stocked by Glengarry. 

Disclaimer: I work in part time retail at Glengarry Grey Lynn. 
Phil Parker is a wine writer and operates Fine Wine Tours in Auckland.

Monday, November 18, 2013

FOX IN THE CITY - Foxes Island comes to Town

John Belsham, regarded as one of New Zealand’s top winemakers and wine critics founded Foxes Island in 1992.  His focus is on hand made, regionally expressive wines – the philosophy that he absorbed in his time as a winemaker in France, where he lived in Bordeaux from 1977 to 1981.

Following his return to NZ he founded Rapaura Vintners - the first contract winemaking company in New Zealand.  A year later, he established Foxes Island in Marlborough’s Awatere Valley where he focuses on premium single vineyard wines.  Notably recognised as a Pinot Noir producer, Belsham planted the Awatere Estate with its seven distinct terraces in 2000. The vineyard is planted primarily in Pinot Noir (70%) plus select blocks of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.

Just this year John opened his Cellar Door - not in Marlborough but at 15 Williamson Avenue.  The central location and spacious show room/Cellar Door provides a tasting room with further options for weddings and corporate functions.
Tastings start at $20 per person for two wines with a small cheese platter, accompanied by a video tour of the Marlborough vineyard. Specialised group tastings are available by arrangement, including the option of a private guided tasting with winemaker John Belsham.
Company director Kelly Brown is often onsite. She has a sound science, viticulture and oenology background and has served on international wine judging panels.  Cellar Door manager is Kirsten Heaps.

Here’s some notes on a recent sampling.

Foxes Island Sauvignon Blanc 2011  $NZ 23
A softer style of Sauvignon without the over the top Marlborough acidity that can be off-putting.  Grassy flavours with blackcurrant and gooseberry palate and a medium dry finish.

Foxes Island Chardonnay 2009 $NZ 40
Creamy, toasty and mellow with stone fruit characters and a long finish.

Fox Vineyard Selection Pinot Noir 2009 $NZ 23
Soft and silky, with spicy red berry fruit a hint of liquorice and a savoury earthiness.

Foxes Island Belsham Estate Pinot Noir 2008 $NZ 42
Elegant and
savoury, with herbal and red berry fruit flavours. Beguilingly delicate at first, yet with a lengthy complex finish.

Foxes Island
15 Williamson Avenue
Grey Lynn
Auckland City
Ph:  09 378 1369  Web:
Cellar Door & Events:
Open Monday to Friday 9.00 am -6.00 pm  Saturday 12.00 Noon -5.00 pm.

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

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Kumeu River Chardonnay 2011 release and 2007 Review

Michael Brajkovich
Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch of Kumeu River’s 2011 Chardonnay line-up.  Gracious and generous hospitality was provided in the home of Melba Brajkovich, and attended by the whole family – Michael, Paul, Milan and Marijana plus Cellar Master Nigel Tibbits.  As expected , the wines were stunning and the lunch of Manuka BBQ cooked steaks, olive oil roast potatoes and salad (cheese board to follow) were fabulous.  My faves- 2011 Coddington and the 2007 Estate.

We had two flights of wines – all Chardonnays.  The first was the new 2011 release, and finally a retrospective tasting of the 2007 vintage.
Okay …

Kumeu Village 2011 $NZD 18
Colour: Pale yellow gold
Aromas:  Floral citrus blossom, hazelnut, lemon
Palate: Subtle flavours of mandarin and white peach, toasted almond, with a ripe and soft mid palate and crisp finish.

Kumeu River Estate 2011 $NZD 30
Colour: Pale yellow gold
Aromas: Greengage, Brioche and nectarine
Palate: Elegant and lean with toasty oak, lime and a mineral crisp finish.

Kumeu River Coddington 2011 $NZD 45
Colour: Pale yellow gold
Aromas: Grapefruit, brioche, citrus
Palate: Softer than the Estate – white peach, toasted almond with a creamy mid palate.

Kumeu River Hunting Hill 2011 $NZD 50
Colour: Pale yellow gold
Aromas: Grapefruit, herbs, toast
Palate: Toast, peach, raw cashew nut.  Crisp finish

Kumeu River Mate’s Vineyard 2011 $NZD 70
Colour: Pale yellow gold
Aromas: Toast, grapefruit, lime
Palate: Mineral and toasty with a creamy, yeasty mid palate and crisp finish.

Kumeu River Estate 2007 $NZD 45
Colour: Gold
Aromas: Nectarine, yeast, citrus fruit
Palate: Full and toasty, with creamy and ripe mid palate, toasted cashew and a crisp finish.

Kumeu River Coddington 2007 $NZD 80
Colour: Gold
Aromas: Citrus and mineral, hint of toasty oak
Palate: Tighter and leaner than the Estate. Slightly smoky and toasty, with creamy yeast and  ripe nectarine.

Kumeu River Hunting Hill 2007 $NZD 80
Colour: Gold
Aromas: Citrus, stone fruit
Palate:  Slightly leaner than the Coddington.  Nectarine and a hint of herbal anise.  Crisp finish.

Kumeu River Mate’s Vineyard 2007 $NZD 100
Colour: Gold
Aromas: Citrus, yeasty
Palate: Very crisp, dry and elegantly lean, with nectarine/ peach and a mineral finish.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


More low alcohol wines have appeared on the shelves over the last few years, mostly Sauvignon Blanc and other crisp acidic, and light fruity styles, with a few fun CO2 carbonated sparklers in the mix.  And realistically - in summer, a low alcohol option is probably a good idea when you are drinking to quench your thirst in the heat of the day.

But on the other hand, alcohol content is an inextricable part of the mouth feel of a wine.  Alcohol adds viscosity to a wine.  Viscosity is probably too strong a word because it conjures images of treacle and oil … perhaps.  But alcohol does add body to a wine. It’s like comparing a light watery Rosé to a full-on 16.5% alcohol grunty Aussie Shiraz.  They are polar opposites.

The old trick of tipping a glass on its side to see the skinny 'legs' of glycerol sliding down the interior is nothing remotely clever, but merely an index of alcohol content.  “Hey, look – this wine has alcohol in it.”  Big Deal.   You may likewise have noticed the thin viscous legs on a glass of Cognac or whiskey.  

Consequently you're very unlikely to see any legs on a low alcohol version of Chardonnay, Cabernet or Shiraz, because the big flavour mix on the palate needs to be balanced by alcohol.  But light, fruity wines can get away with a lower level of alcohol if there is up front fruit, acidity and a touch of residual sugar.  Interestingly NZ’s most awarded sparkling wine is Northwest Auckland winery, Soljan’s Fusion – a sweet and fruity carbonated  Muscat bubbly, and that clocks in at 8% alcohol.

Anyway, here’s a new range of low alcohol wines –Little Harvest from Constellation NZ.

Little Harvest Rose Hawkes Bay 2013 
An appealing pink shade, this wine clocks in at 9% .  Aromas of strawberries and raspberries, with the same on the palate in an off-dry style.
Chilled down, it will still have enough residual sugar and fruit flavours to cut it as a light aperitif style ideal for summer salads and lighter foods.

Little Harvest Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013.
On the nose this one comes off as a true Savvie - all gooseberry and passion fruit.  It has a medium dry palate with a crisp citrus finish.  Probably a bit light on the palate for most Sauvignon fans, with just 9 % alcohol.

Little Harvest Gisborne Moscato 2013
Not much at all on the nose, but once swished around the palate it does deliver that real grapey Muscatel sweet fruit with just a little spritz of effervescence.  It finishes quite crisp and clean.  At 6% alcohol it is as a colleague described - a good summer wine for cider drinkers.

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