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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 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.