Is there anything more tedious than a social media post announcing the individual is doing the January Dryathlon (or Dry July). “Hey, everyone, I’m not drinking for the next 31 days…” which means please reply with praise. It’s as bad as the post “Feeling sad…”, which fishes for online sympathy. That’s an automatic unfollow in …
Six years, one month and 13 days after landing in New Zealand, I said goodbye to the wonderful warmth of Auckland in January; afternoons spent on the beach digging sandcastles swapped for muddy puddles and early morning windscreen scraping in North Yorkshire.
My Kiwi husband is delighted.
We’ve moved back to be closer to my family …
Think New Zealand red, think Pinot Noir but there’s more to New Zealand red wine than one variety: some of the best reds I’ve reviewed over the past 12 months reflect New Zealand’s ability to produce classy Bordeaux styles as well as sexy Syrah, particularly in the warmer climes of Hawke’s Bay.
When it comes to …
Imagine that the only thing you could eat for the rest of your life was ham sandwiches.
Ham sandwiches are very nice but it would become very boring after a couple of days, let alone a lifetime.
When Stone’s Ginger Wine sits in the New Zealand Syrah section of the supermarket, there is something sadly amiss.
No matter how much the local and international wine media extol the grape’s Rhone-like wines, the variety sells like lukewarm cakes. The selection of Kiwi Syrah occupies a lonely corner of the wine section next to …
Between reading “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, and flicking through baby name books, I’m halfway through Dominic Streatfeild’s “Cocaine: A Definitive Guide”. I appreciate it’s an unlikely reading list.
Cocaine is an excellent social history of the product, in the same ilk as Mark Kurlansky’s “Salt” and Ian Williams’s “Rum”. Now, you might wonder where …
Auckland’s CBD played host to a pop-up winemaking experience in recent weeks. Blend was a Jacob’s Creek-inspired event, inviting the public to blend their own white or red, and take it home.
1,600 people assembled their own wines before it packed up and headed to Sydney. If it’s deemed a success, other cities will get an …
When New Zealand makes an unoaked Macon-like wine with 12 percent alcohol, which is cheaper than most Chardonnays in the country, it’s time to sit up and take notice.
Sacred Hill’s recently released Virgin Chardonnay is unoaked with no malolactic fermentation, creating a crisp clean wine with pure white stone fruit and citrus flavours. Having been disappointed all too often with expensive, buttery and oaky New Zealand Chardonnays (Villa Maria’s Keltern Chardonnay and Kumeu River excepting), I wondered why aren’t there more unoaked Chardonnays in New Zealand?
Australia is way ahead of its Tasman neighbour, making a host of earlier picked “unwooded” Chardonnays to satiate an ever-growing appetite for refreshing, crisp white wines.
Bish thinks the unoaked Kiwi Chardonnay has an undeserved reputation from the late ‘90s and early 2000s, when unoaked Chardy sales were going well. “I think the whole genre got a bit overplayed. It ended up being a not-very-flash vinous grocery wine selling under $15 and that tainted the category,” he says.
Then there’s the competition circuit, where delicate, understated wines get overwhelmed by the fruit and oak bombs. “Oaky Chardonnay wins awards. It [the Virgin Chardonnay] has not got a shitshow of winning a gold medal in a line up of Chardonnays,” says Bish.
Bish has been pestering his team to do a Chablis-like style for some time. “I have been nagging people to do it for years.” With the winery looking for something new to celebrate its 25th anniversary, Bish got his opening and the Virgin Chardonnay was born.
Unfortunately, the cool summer and all-round crappy weather in New Zealand’s north island means there won’t be any Chardonnay from the block used to produce Rifleman’s and the Virgin this year, so the 250 cases produced last year will have to last us until 2013.
In the meantime, I shall be on the lookout for more Virgins in New Zealand and leave you with a classic bit of Madonna…
Two weeks with no blog update. Disgraceful, you might be thinking. And you’d be right. Apologies.
If I can make excuses it’s because I’ve started a new job, working for wine-searcher.com. Currently a search engine to find wine and the best prices, it is launching an online wine magazine in April and I’ve joined the team. It currently has 1.5 million unique visitors a month with 60% of those visitors from the US of A. While we’re based in Auckland, New Zealand it’s going to have a global reach so we’ll be pulling a few strange shifts to make sure we don’t miss anything going on in Europe.
In the past fortnight, I have also been asked to be a panellist at Pinot Noir 2013 in Wellington, which is pretty exciting. I’ll be on a panel with hte likes of Lisa Perotti-Brown MW, Tim Atkin MW and Matt Kramer. Not bad for a girl from the Boro. I’ll have to practise my posh voice or no-one will understand my north-east accent
Eden Valley Riesling producers have launched a proprietary bottle, embossed in the same vein as Chateauneuf du Pape. And the first vintage using this bottle – 2011 – is hitting shelves now.
The green flute has a symbol on the front representing the rolling hills of the Eden Valley and the region’s name is also embossed. It gives the region’s wines much better on-shelf presence and gives confused consumers a better idea what to expect if they’ve tried an Eden Valley Riesling before.
While it’s early days for the bottle, the region’s two biggest producers, Yalumba and Peter Lehmann, have not come on board for the first release. The price per bottle – some quote 90 cents, others more, others less – is perhaps a little high, particularly in the current economic climate when producers are looking to cut costs. However, a special mould had to be created to produce the bottles hence the high cost. What’s more, the Eden Valley is not a mass producer so the economy of scale is certainly not there to bring costs down.
Yalumba’s Louisa Rose, explains their decision. “The issue for us is that it’s quite expensive and our brands are much bigger than most. It’s a commercial decision at the moment but I think it’s a great idea.”
And Ian Hongell, winemaker at Peter Lehmann, adds “We are not using the Eden Valley bottle because we have our own proprietary bottle.”
Yet, if the biggest producers came on board, they would have the economy of scale, and the project would have more clout.
One of the area’s most renowned producers, Henschke, has bottled its 2011 Julius Riesling in the proprietary bottle but Stephen Henschke admits, “Not enough are using it but I think more people will be influenced to start.”
I certainly hope more producers do come on board. It is a small region that is technically part of the Barossa zone and there is very little awareness of the area.
Thus far the Clare Valley has achieved a higher profile status for its Rieslings but with greater unity and widespread adoption of this bottle, there is an opportunity for the area to become known as the premium Australian Riesling region. It should take a leaf out of Central Otago’s book, which has become known as the leading new world Pinot Noir producer through its collaborative marketing efforts.
There is a real opportunity for the region: Eden Valley Rieslings offers fresh wines that are clean and modern, and would suit the current consumers’ appetite for vibrant, unoaked styles. With moderate alcohol levels (12-12.5%), lemon, lime and lavender aromatics, they would appeal to a wide audience.
Yet it is relatively unknown: as part of the Barossa, it often gets overshadowed by its bigger brother. The proprietary bottle is a good start to increase its recognition, but it shouldn’t stop there.
*Packaging manufacturer Amcor produces the proprietary bottles. I have contacted them, asking for details on production costs, price per bottle and units sold thus far but they have not responded to my calls.