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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, May 26, 2011

Wines for the Southern Hemisphere Winter

Phil runs wine tours in Auckland - rated "No 1. Auckland Attraction" by TripAdvisor

In spite of climate change, most of us in NZ do experience four seasons, and our wine choices appropriately change with them.  Outdoor entertaining in summer accompanied by crisp chilled white wines and light reds, segues into indoor dining with bolder wines to accompany heartier food and cooler climes.

As a step up from Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling - with their young and fruit led flavours; my personal choice has always been Chardonnay. Now, there was an anti Chardonnay movement around ten years ago (the ABC club: anything but Chardonnay).

This was a backlash against the bright yellow Chardonnays that were wildly over-oaked and tasted like a school desk. Sadly, while winemaking has moved on, there are still quite a few Luddite lushes out there who point blank refuse to drink it. This is a pity, because winemaking has moved on, and most of our Chardonnays are subtly oaked, mellow and delightfully complex wines that reward cellaring for up to five years.

After summer’s Roses and light Pinot Noirs, I would suggest a move to Shiraz (or Syrah as we call it). Syrah grapes produce a soft, full-bodied wine with a hint of black pepper aroma and black berry fruit flavours. Hakes Bay’s Gimblett Gravels region in particular is producing some of NZ’s finest examples of Syrah – some of them scoring higher than Aussie Shiraz in international wine competitions.

Here’s a few that I have tasted recently. And remember that in cooler weather, white wines can be served at room temperature and reds often benefit from warming up prior to serving. (My old trick – in case you missed it, immerse the unopened bottle of red in a basin of medium hot water for a few minutes. Dry off, open, enjoy.)

Tohu Marlborough Chardonnay 2010 $NZ22.00
Tohu label takes pride in its Maori ownership, a cooperative of South Island Maori organisations: Wakatu Incorporation, Nga-ti Ra-rua A-tiawa Iwi Trust (NRAIT) and Wi Pere Trust. This wine is a crisp, clean and fruity light style of Chardonnay that is very easy to drink young.

Karikari Estate Chardonnay 2009 $NZ32.00
Karikari Estate has 100 acres of vines on Northland’s Karikari Peninsula, planted with a variety of reds plus Chardonnay and Viognier. This is more in a medium style, with mineral and stone fruit characters and a clean citrus finish.

Discovery Point Judd Selection Chardonnay 2008 $NZ30.00
Discovery Point wines are made by Master of Wine, Steve Bennett who has 20 years experience as a wine-educator, journalist, judge and wine buyer. Displaying the mellowing affect of a few years in the bottle, this is a gorgeous wine – rich, creamy and integrated with flavours of oak, peach, melon and hazelnut.

Sacred Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2010 $NZ20.00
Deep purple colour with aromas and flavours of cloves, poached plums, liquorice and beetroot and medium tannins.

Selaks Winemakers Favourite Hawkes Bay Syrah 2009 $NZ20.00
The grapes were fermented in stainless steel, then matured in oak for 12 months. Flavours of raspberry, black berry fruits, mocha and peppery spice.

CJ Pask Hawkes Bay Gimblett Road Syrah 2008 $NZ20
A silver medal winner from the AWC Vienna International Wine Challenge, this is a lovely wine. Earthy spicy flavours of black berry fruits and a hint of pepper. Firm tannins mean this one’s a keeper – say put it away for two years more.


  1. i like the light red one! Awesome wine for me!

  2. No worries - wine is all about personal preference. Light Pinot Noirs are among my faves!