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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."


Monday, September 5, 2016

What makes a wine writer ?

It’s a funny thing being a wine writer. On one hand you get lots of cool stuff like free wine samples for review, and invitations to tastings and events. The flipside is that everyone assumes that you’re an expert. 

I am not. But I have been freelance journo for thirty years, done wine education and run wine & food tours for 16 years.
Yet, I do get to hang out with real experts - my fellow members of Wine Writers of New Zealand, and sometimes I feel like a busker who gate-crashed a super group. Among my wine writing colleagues are Masters of Wine, winemakers, a Master Sommelier and people who have been in the trade for over 50 years. And these folks know wine inside out and could tell you heaps about the most rare grape varieties from very obscure regions all over the globe. But do you have to be an ‘expert’ to be a wine writer? E.g. do you need to be an All Black to be a rugby writer?
I like wine. I aim have fun, not be pretentious, and spread the joy of appreciating wine. I hope that you enjoy reading my columns as much as I do writing them. 

Here’s some recent wines I have tasted.

Villa Maria Private Bin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 $15
Private Bin ironically is Villa’s entry level label, but definitely bang for buck. Smells like lime and green capsicum. On the palate it has crisp acidity and flavours of passion fruit, melon and citrus. Nice aperitif style
Fairhall Downs Single Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015 $23
Classic aromas of citrus, and passionfruit with a nudge of minerality. It’s big and has intense flavours of green capsicum and passionfruit, a hint of stone fruit and a lengthy crisp finish. Great with seafood.

Allan Scott Generations Marlborough Chardonnay 2015 $NZ31
From the Marlborough family winery, the label reflects the second generation – Allan’s three adult children who are taking over the reins. Toasty oak, crème brûlée and mandarin aromas. Elegant and ripe on the palate with flavours of mandarin, canned peach and buttery oak.
Would match well with seafood or chicken.

Rockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013 $NZ36
Yum. Good old Central.  Another ripper from the deep south.  Complex savoury aromas of smoked meat with a hint of floral pot pourri, plus black cherry and black olives.  In the mouth it opens with black berry fruit plus all of the above aroma notes translated into flavours. Silky tannins and  lengthy savoury finish. Fab with venison.

Matawhero Church House Gisborne Malbec 2015 $NZ26.00
Medium bodied with plummy spicy aromas.  It’s all about berry fruit flavours.  A generous and silky palate of ripe boysenberry and cherry with a gentle tannic finish. Would be great with tomato based Italian dishes.

Heron’s Flight Amphora Sangiovese 2015 $NZ120
This one’s all about earthiness – the grapes were grown in Matakana’s orange clay, then fermented in an imported Italian terracotta amphora.  The aromas are Black Doris plum, black cherry and wet clay. On the palate again- earthy truffle, beetroot, spice, cassis, slightly gamey, with medium tannins, savoury bacon and a hint of pot pourri. I’d match this with an Italian tomato and mushroom dish – with molto parmesan !

Phil runs wine & food tours in Auckland New Zealand and is a member of Wine Writers of New Zealand