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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, March 19, 2015

Foxes Island Celebrates 24 years

John Belsham, one of New Zealand’s top winemakers and wine critics founded Foxes Island in Marlborough 24 years ago. 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. In 2010, Foxes Island achieved full sustainable certification (SWNZ). The following year, an organic farming program was implemented on the estate.

In mid-2013 Foxes opened their cellar door, not in Marlborough but at 15 Williamson Avenue, two blocks from Ponsonby Road. The central location and spacious, elegant show room/cellar door provides a tasting room with further options as a venue for weddings and corporate functions catering for up to 75 people. Onsite they also have a ‘wine library’ of hard to find older vintages for sale.

Small group tastings are by arrangement and larger groups can be catered for, including the option of a private guided tasting with John Belsham. Foxes have a mail order Hunt Club where a mixed case can be shipped at regular intervals through the year, plus they have just launched regular Wine Wednesdays where locals save 10% on all Single Vineyard & FOX Wines.
Company director Kelly Brown is often onsite. She has a sound science, viticulture and oenology background and has served on international wine judging panels.

I dropped in recently to sample the latest line-up. They were all great.

Foxes Island Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2013  $NZ 26
A softer style of sauvignon without the over the top Marlborough acidity that can be off-putting. Fermented in oak barrels. Aromas and flavours of blackcurrant and pineapple, and ripe guava with a medium crisp finish.

Foxes Island Icon Lapine 2012  $NZ 60
This is actually another barrel fermented sauv blanc, with no mention of the grape variety on the label – à la French wines. Lovely complex and soft wine with aromas and flavours of roast bell pepper, black currant, ripe peach and a hint of herbs.

Foxes Island Single Vineyard Riesling 2010 $NZ 30
Aromas of beeswax, citrus blossom and tropical fruit. Tastes just off-dry. Flavours of baked apple and lime with soft acids.

Foxes Island Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2010 $NZ 45
Aromas of popcorn, lime and a hint of toast. Creamy, toasty and mellow with ripe nectarine, apricot and grapefruit with a long finish.

FOX Pinot Noir 2014 $NZ 28
Incredible value. Silky and ripe with aromas of plum, cherry pie and a hint of star anise. In the mouth – savoury, rich and soft, with black cherry and black boy peach.

Foxes Island Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 $NZ 45
More complex and lean, with mineral aromas, and a hint of spice. Flavours of tamarillo, black olive and ripe cherry, with medium tannins.

Phil Parker hosts wine tours in Auckland