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About Me

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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."


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wines for the Auckland Winter

Okay. It’s winter already. That means that we pathetic wimpy Aucklanders can pretend it’s freezing and we can break out the puffer jackets and Merino/possum blend cool weather apparel.  June and July generally conspire as an alliterative cold weather coalition, to offer us lower temperatures and a bit of a brisk and cool sou’westerly air flow to enable us to delve into the wardrobes and dressers for our warmer clothing.

And what better excuse than to open some great wines as we retreat from our previously welcoming north-facing decks and patios into our heat-pumped open plan living areas and enjoy some hearty food with our besties. Works for me, anyway.

By the way – from now on, I’ll be giving each wine a subjective score out of a potential 20 points.

Villa Maria Marlborough Dry Riesling 2014 $NZ 16.00  18 points
On the nose, lemon squash and mineral. On the palate, a very delicate and elegant wine at the lower end of the alcohol scale at 12%.
A lovely balance of mouth-watering medium acidity beautifully balanced with a hint of sweetness. Just off-dry, with flavours of lemon squash, mineral water and lime juice. Great with panko fried oysters.

Hidden Treasure Marlborough Pink Sauvignon $NZ 17.00  17 points
A nice blend of Sauvignon Blanc with an unnamed red, this one is a softer ros├ę style with some red berry fruit flavours complimenting the classic gooseberry and passion fruit flavours of our traditional Sav. Good with a tomato based white fish dish.

Columbia Crest (Washington State USA) H3 Chardonnay 2013 $30.00  19 points
Smells like oak and lime citrus. In the mouth, it’s young and lively with flavours of crisp, nashi pear lime and nectarine, with a hint of toast. Similar style to Kumeu River. Match with Bluff oysters.

Pegasus Bay Waipara Aria Late Pick Riesling 2013 $NZ 38.00 20 points.
Yum yum: smells like honey, beeswax and overripe nectarine. The palate is all about marmalade, honey, nectarine and ripe peach. Sweet but not syrupy, medium acid clean finish and lengthy palate. Nice with tangy cheddar

Ngatarawa Hawkes Bay Proprietor’s Reserve Syrah 2013 $NZ 39.00
19 points
This is a dark brooding Mister Darcy,with black pepper, cherry brandy, Black Forest cake. Full and rich palate of spice and dark stone fruits, with soft to medium tannins. Nice with a rich marinated pepper steak and creamy mushroom sauce.

Columbia Crest H3 (Washington State USA) Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 $NZ 30 19 points
Crimson red colour. Smells like cigar box, spice rack, and cellar dust. Tastes of ripe black Doris plums, spice, mocha, black berry fruit,with medium firm tannins. Match with spicy lamb shank.

Craggy Range Sophia Hawke’s Bay 2013 $NZ 75.00 20 points
Stunning wine that reflects a hot dry vintage. This is a Merlot dominant Bordeaux style blend, with aromas of ripe black summer berry fruits and spice. In the mouth it opens up with lovely ripe and luscious black currant, cherry and spice flavours. Medium soft tannins and a lingering finish. Great with a venison slow cooked casserole.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mid Winter in Auckland's Kumeu Wine Region

Here's a video I recorded today at Kumeu Auckland's West Brook family winery.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

New Zealand Wine Regions - My New e-book

New Zealand Wine Regions - A Visitor's Guide 

New Zealand’s temperate climate favours white grape varieties (over 90% of plantings). Sauvignon blanc alone accounts for around 75% of our grape crop. And the remaining grapes are mainly early-ripening cool-climate reds like pinot noir and merlot. Having said that, our climatic variation (from 35 degrees latitude at the top of the North Island to 46 degrees at the bottom of the South Island) allows for many variations in microclimate, in addition to soil types, prevailing winds, rainfall, protective mountain ranges and so forth. Consequently we are able to ‘have a go’ as we say - at just about any international grape variety, albeit with a variable measure of success.  Each of the regions from north to south has its own distinctive scenery, from snow-capped mountains, to rolling green countryside, to breath-taking golden beaches. Any time of year is a good time to visit, a sunny summer outdoor tasting overlooking neat rows of lush green vines, or sampling in a cosy winter cellar door with a blazing log fire.

To that end I can now announce, in a shameless piece of self-promotion, that I have just published a NZ wine region e-book, Amazon Kindle: Wine Regions of New Zealand – A Visitor’s Guide.
It has been 18 months in the making as I updated a previous incarnation published by Random House in 2008. It is designed to be an informative and entertaining guide to New Zealand's wine history, grape varieties, soil types, grape growing regions, local activities and winery dogs! As a mobile-device-friendly publication it is aimed to guide the interactive traveller in exploring our fantastic wine regions.

Speaking of fab regional wines, here’s a few.

Pegasus Bay Waipara Pinot Noir 2012 $48
Enticing aromas of pot pourri, Maraschino cherry, and liquorice with savoury spice. In the mouth, it’s all ripe flavours and, soft tannins, with black cherry, spicy, savoury baked game and a lengthy finish.

Dry River Martinborough Viognier 2014 $47
Aromas of herbs and blond tobacco. The palate is lush, ripe and just off-dry, with flavours of nectarine, guava, triple sec, herbs, clover honey and tonic water.

Villa Maria Ihumatao (Mangere) Gew├╝rztraminer 2013 $26
Great value. On the nose, it’s lime juice and gingerbread. In the mouth, just off-dry with flavours of, tonic water, Turkish delight, lime juice, and a lengthy spicy palate 

Saint Clair Pioneer Block Big John Marlborough Riesling 2013 $22
Light on the alcohol, but a lovely complex riesling with bang for buck. Smells like  beeswax, citrus blossom, lime juice and apple juice. On the palate - initially sweet, but opens up with mouth-watering crisp acidity and a full palate of lemon squash, lime juice, Granny Smith apple.  Just 9% alcohol.