Sauvignon Blanc Day 2019


Sauv Blanc day has come once again, giving us an opportunity to pay respect to that most important wine varietal. So why is the humble Sauvvy just so important? Well simply put Sauvignon Blanc is New Zealand’s most grown grape - by far, it makes up a whopping three quarters of our wine production and of that 86% goes overseas as the world is going nuts for NZSB.

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We’re a small country, making only 1% of the world’s wine but a massive 17% of the world’s Sauvignon Blanc, putting that into numbers our valuable wine exports are worth about 1.5 Billion & Sauvignon makes up 1.1 billion of that so it’s fair to say without this humble grape, we wouldn’t have a wine industry

I know not everyone is a fan of the zesty, gooseberry, passionfruit grassy flavour that personifies a Marlborough Sauvignon but when you look at the numbers, at the very least you have to respect just now much it is revered around the world. Sauvignon Blanc has put New Zealand on the wine world map.

We’ve been growing Sauv commercially since 1979 and at the current time we grow 21.4 thousand hectares of it - 19 thousand of that in Marlborough alone, that figure has doubled in ten years to keep up with global demand as 5 million glass of NZ SB are quaffed globally every year

Know this, Marlborough Sauv is no one trick pony, lots & lots of innovation happening in order to produce wines with more complexity, aging ability and more. So if you swore off Sauv a few years ago, maybe now is a good time to give it another try.

My picks for International Sauvignon Blanc Day 2019 are:

If you want to go organic - and lots more people are try Loveblock or The Darling Wines

If you like the typically Marlborough style and you aren’t afraid to show it give Invivo, Hunters or Mud House a sip

For something a little more restrained & refined pick up Te Whare Ra or SOHO Caviar

For something with age or just a departure from the norm try Giesen The Fuder or Villa Maria Sur Lie

Australian wines on ANZAC week

Following on from ANZAC day where we celebrate and comemerate the brave New Zealand and Australian soliders who fought for our freedom I thought I would celebrate what is great about Australian wine, because although there is no doubt a bit of rivalry between us & the guys next door, at the end of the day we’re all cuzzies.


Australia is a massive market for wine, producing almost 1.5 billion bottles of wine each year, that’s pretty huge! Their biggest market is their domestic market but next to that comes, well little old NZ, it makes sense as it’s so close and also their climate lends itself a lot more to those big bold robust reds like shiraz and cabernet sauvignon

The Australian wine regions we know best would have to be South Australia with the famous Barossa boasting some of the oldest vines in the world, thanks to that little sap sucker Phylloxera which descimated the vineyards of Europe in the 1800’s, and it’s famous for these big reds.

Other regions include New South Wales’ Hunter valley that does semillion like no-one else (IMO), Victoria with it’s incredible cab sauvs & also pinot noir in the cooler spots, Western Australia’s Margaret River is renowned for it’s chardonnay and finally the little island that could, Tasmania producing remarkable pinot noir and sparkling wines (a bit like us which if you look at it’s latitude you will see why).

Shiraz & Chardonnay are the top produced varietals in Australia making up 44% of overall production, but the wines we import the most of are the bigger reds. These are robust and delicious and some of my favourite wines to either cook with or enjoy with some proper steak. They are also great value for money but they do tend to be higher in alcohol so beware & don’t forget your standard drinks.

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Admission time, I am biased when it comes to Jacob’s Creek, I got engaged between the vines there while staying at the Jacobs Creek Cottage, so it’s fair to say that I’m a brand adorer. But wine me loves the work they are doing to produce premium quality wines in a mid range price point. As far as I’m concerned this is where they are excelling & that is true of the new Jacobs Creek, Barossa Signature range which will be hitting NZ shelves on May 20th. It’s looks gorgeous & there is both a cabernet sauvignon and a shiraz to choose from. The cab is typical but in a good way, gorgeous full bodied, no messin’ around cabernet with gorgeous dark fruits and big tannins. The current vintage is 2017 and if you like your big cabernets you will love this, it is also a fun one to experiment with cellaring as at $20 a bottle and it’s ability to cellar easily for 5 years or more, a case wouldn’t break the bank. 14%

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I hadn’t hearf of Pirathon before so I was thrilled when they reached out to know if I would look at their Shiraz. This Barossan comes in a silver or gold and I’m going to talk about the silver as it’s a more affordable $25 price range. The bottle is cool with the logo embossed on it (I love that), but the all important bit - the juice inside is worth seeking out. Dark fruits but bright and fresh in flavour with signature shiraz peppery spice we love but also aromatic spices that reminded me of Christmas cakes of my childhood. This one definitely comes under the warning of being dangerously drinkable because of it’s whopping 15% alcohol. Might be one to seek out but no doubt if you ask nicely (& pay for shipping) they will send to NZ.

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Want to try something new that is Aussie but not shiraz or cab sauv? I thought you’d never ask. The Caravan Petite Sirah is produced by the team at Quarisa Wines, South Australia, the same good people who make staple fav Johnny Q Shiraz. Petite Sirah is made from a grape called Durif but everyone calls it Petite Sirah (WHY do we wine folk make life so complicated?). What is clear is the deliciousness - this full bodied wine has the trademark dark fruits with hints of plum but is also incredible smooth & really nicely balanced. So crazy moreish, but watch those sips at 14.5% alcohol. A steal at $20.

To hear more on the topic click the link below to hear my chat with Trudi Nelson on MagicTalk Radio

Premium Rosé - The Next Frontier

As little time ago as last year I would have said don’t spend more than $25 on a bottle of rosé as it’s not worth it, few would be able to tell the difference past a certain pricepoint and you will get just as good a bottle under $25. How times have changed as I am seeing some premium rosés coming into the market and WOW - are they worth it.

To understand why rosé is premiumising its good to know where it has come from so here’s a rosé history in brief:

In the 70s - 80s rosé was popular but it was the horrible sweet sticky crap that quickly became associated with people who didn’t know anything about wine, that tarred rosé badly so it became ostracised in the 90’s & 2000s with no one wanting to be seen dead drinking something as cheap & nasty as rosé.

Then those clever Frenchies in Provence started a sustained marketing push to sell premium-level, sophisticated examples of rosé. This was a totally different wine: a drier, lighter style & created a vast chasm between this (cleverly marketed as) sophisticated style & the sweet nasty rosés of the past  - it worked and the rosé revolution began. Seeing the success of Provence other European wine making countries jumped on board & as we always do….the new world followed suit.

It’s just NOT a coindience that at the same time 2010 Instagram was founded - anyone who cannot see the correlation between a pink beverage and a social media platform dedicated to photosharing, needs their head examined.

So that explains why rosé is the wine-du-jour but why are wineries making premium options, simply put because of demand rosé making is being taken seriously these days. it’s not the afterthought of the past, plots of vineyard are being grown just for rosé. Wine critics - who wouldn’t have deigned to review rosé in the past are embracing the quality being produced. Wine shows now have specific rosé catagories and truth is that as much as (some) winemakers might like to deny it, everyone loves wining awards and accolades and it really does have an influence when it comes to selling wine.

So here are some premium rosés that I’m loving right now and come with recommendation to treat yoself

Lost Garden Rose

Lost Garden Rose is a new subbrand of the respected Hawkes Bay winery Trinity Hill, the bottle screams luxury and looks ever so similar to the Brangalina Provencal rosé Mirival, it’s super pale in colour and is made from a blend of Pinot Noir & Syrah. This wine is fresh & fruity tasting like ripe juicy berries with just a hint of spice from the Syrah. Yum. This is being released in April so form an orderly queue at your local wine shop and expect to pay $30 or $25 on special.

Ah Villa Maria, s there no wrong that they can do? Also innovating and generally being awesome. Case in point the new Platinum Selection Range which includes my next pick the Platinum Selection rosé, fully organic Pinot Noir fruit from Marlborough, this one is strawberries and stonefruit & incredible texture too. You know that feeling that you get when you bite into a ripe yet crunchy apple & you both feel & taste the fruit while your mouth fills with saliva - well that is this. Amazing. At the moment this is a limited edition so snap it up for $30

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Indian Summer have nailed it with their rosé in the last couple of years and now they are back with not one but two premium options, Summer Sault & my fav the Indian Summer Private Blend, this is a stonker & made in limited quantities from only the best fruit. After ferment they have left on lees (dead yeast) and barrel aged the wine, doing this adds complexity so you feel more when it’s in your mouth - or what us winey types call “mouthfeel” or “weight”. This wine is next level rosé and reminds me of raspberries and happiness. A definite treat at $35 but I think you’re worth it

Click the link below to hear my chat about these amazing rosés with Mike Puru on MagicTalk

Autumnal Wine

There is no doubt about it, even though we still have beautiful weather, temperatures are dropping, especially in the mornings & evenings. Autumn is here.

We tend to drink more red wine in the cooler months but we’re not quite ready to light the fire & crack into the big shiraz and cab sauvs so here are some lighter fruiter wines that are ideal for autumnal evenings.

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If you’ve following me for a while you will know that pinot noir is the lightest of the reds and a good one, for me is impossible to pass. I’m super passionate about spreading the word of great Marlborough pinot as I do feel that Central Otago gets all of the pinot kudos, but with a Marlborough you are getting a (usually) lighter pinot teaming with bright fruit. You’re also getting great value for money as demonstrated by this 2017 Gunn Estate Reserve Pinot Noir available for only $17.

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Gunn Estate are Hawkes Bay based and their website says they source their fruit from NZ & Australia, but this is Marlborough fruit and it’s quite delicious. Light, soft and all about that fruit, specifically cherries and plums with just a little bit of that all important tannin to give it a bit of backbone.

If you’re looking for something just a bit different (and people always tell me they are), then how about trying a Marzemino? A what? Marzemino is a a rare Italian grape variety and the wine although dark in colour is medium bodied with a juicy,  floral & aromatic signature flavour and just a hint of spice. is one is made by Church Road and is part of the Rod McDonald Series and as far as I’m aware they’re the only ones to make Marzemino in NZ. For only $25 it’s a low risk way to try something new. Bring it round to a friend’s place for dinner & watch them be suitably impressed, especially if they are making Italian food. Bellissimo!

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Boutique winemakers Saorsa in Hawkes Bay are most definitely the cool kids of wine, so passionate and committed to making the very best wine they can but the right way. They believe that the only things you need are the land & time and given the quality of their wine, I’m inclined to agree. All that and they look like hot rockstars (Truly, insta doesn’t lie). They are small but they are mighty & I believe you will see more great things from these talented producers. Their Syrah is not Hawkes Bay powerhouse Syrah that we have come to know and love, soft yet earthy, fruity, floral & light with a bit of spice. Handmade, hand labelled & each order comes with a handwritten note, all that for a mere $30 a bottle. At the moment they are updating their website, so if you want to seek Saorsa wines out (and you should) contact them via their social media.

Mike Puru & I chat about all of this and some wine news on Magic Talk, click the link before to have a listen.

The first rosés of spring!

Spring is here, daylight savings is next week and it’s new release time - this is the perfect trifecta of to talk once again about my beloved rosé, to be honest last year I thought it had reached full saturation, but I could not have been more wrong. More people than ever are making Rosés and there are so remarkable ones around. I think someone needs to do a rosé festival - like Pinot Palooza but just rosé - what could we call it? Rosé All Day? Yes Way Rosé? Rosé Revolution? Rosé-A-Rific?. Anyway, I digress.

One of the myths about rosé I want to address is the fact that a lot of people seem to think that the darker the rosé, the sweeter it is, and that’s just not true. The depth of colour of the wine comes about by leaving the wine longer “on skins”, before pressing the juice away that determines the colour so just because it’s darker in colour doesn’t mean it’s sweeter. So much like in life you should not judge a book by it’s cover or a rosé by it’s colour.

2018 is the second rosé release for Master of Ceremonies and frankly last year they smashed it, at the time of going to air I didn’t know what the grapes for this rosé were but I guessed it would most likely be blend (I found out later it is indeed a blend of Pinot Gris & Merlot) the grapes are from Gisborne but the wine is made in the Hawkes Bay. The reason this wine is called MC is that the team reckon that after a few wines - everyone becomes the MC, I love a wine with a sense of humour. MC are the serious cool kids of wine - they did a collab with Stolen Girlfriends  last year of a limited edition sparkling rosé last year which was so in demand it barely hit shelves before it was sold out. Rumour has it that they are doing another cool collab this year so can’t wait to see that. So they’re cool, they’re bad ass marketers, but what does the juice taste like? In a word - delicious, it’s the crisp, dry Provençal style rosé that makes me pour glass after glass from the beautifully screenprinted bottle. An absolute home run and a bargain at $20

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The amount of anticipation I had over the Two Rivers “Isle of Beauty” rosé was remarkable, in fact the 2017 release of this wine was the wine that I loved so much it inspired me to go to Corisca, The original Isle of Beauty in the mediterranean. No pressure and then I learned that this year winemarker Dave Clouson had changed the grapes from last year I was really worried it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. Last year’s wine was a Pinot Noir rosé but this year it’s Pinot Noir, Syrah, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Roussanne - woah! Quite the change but if anything this year is even better, light, dry and medium bodied with remarkable mouth feel and texture. This Marlborough beauty is available for only $24

My final pick is one that although lighter in colour isn’t at at all sweet, the Matawhero “First Sun” Single Vineyard rosé from Gisborne is made entirely from Merlot from the same vineyard and celebrates the fact that Gizzy is the first place in the world to see the sun. Matawhero is a boutique winery that punches way above it’s weight and this wine is no exception, It’s fantastically berry forward oozing strawberries & raspberries with a lovely creamy mouthfeel and available for $24.  

Click the link below to hear my chat with the lovely Carly Flynn about these amazing rosés.

The first New Zealand Organic Wine Week

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Next week is the very first annual Organic Wine Week, running from September 17-23. One of the most popular questions I get asked is can I recommend a “healthy” wine to which I always rely, simply, no. Wine is alcohol & alcohol is a drug, however if you are looking for some healthier choices within alcohol then organic wine is definitely the way to go.

Why? - Basically because you know what you're consuming, Organic wines, like any organic produce are produced with the support of natural and biological products only and include absolutely no synthetic chemicals.

Organic growers must work to grow the healthiest possible grapevines, as they don’t have the option of killing any pest or disease with pesticides. However, the wonderful result is beautiful, flavourful wines, a true expression of the land (or terroir) they come from. Increasingly., organic wines are being recognised as better wines. Each year Air New Zealand list of the country’s top fine wine, this year 67 wines were selected, 30% of the wines were certified organic. The theory of organic is simple - leave the vines & let balance return to nature & get a better grape and ultimately a better wine.

Also, the world wants more organic - everything - currently the value of certified organic wine exports is $46.5million. People all around the world want a taste of clean, green New Zealand.

Currently over 10% of New Zealand wineries now hold organic certification (72 wineries out of 677 total wineries) and there are plenty more going through the long (and expensive) process of certification. Those that are certified you will know as they will proudly sport the BioGro Certification logo on the bottle.

Photo: The Darling Wines

Photo: The Darling Wines

To date a lot of the certified organics I have tried have been reds, there are some great whites but imagine how excited I was to get my hot little hands on New Zealand’s very first certified organic ROSE! Woo hoo. Chris Darling & Bart Arnst have been making wine since 2007 & are steadfastly committed to organics. The Darling Wines Rose 2018 is quite literally hot off the presses and it’s a stunna, made from pinot noir this rose is pale pink, beautifully dry with lovely strawberry flavours, but where this wine excels is the texture, it has a complex feel in the mouth that is next level. All that and it has it’s own Spotify playlist, yea seriously…all that for the bargain price of $23 give Darling Rose a search, open a bottle, press play, sit back and enjoy.

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To say Prosecco is having a moment right now is such an understatement, it is exploding! Thomson & Scott founder Amanda Thomson had a mother who was very health conscious so Amanda had to balance that knowledge with the fact that she loved the enjoyment of having a social drinkie, from there Skinny Prosecco was born.

This DOC Prosecco is 100% Organic with less than 7 grams of residual sugar, which is absolutely bone dry for a sparkling. It’s also vegan & super drinkable, it’s clean, crisp & delicious, which is what a good Prosecco should be. It is a premium product, retailing at $33 but it’s Selfridge’s in the UK’s top selling so clearly they are doing something right. One thing I will say about this wine is that it’s not really a food wine, this is one to enjoy on the deck with some friends in the sunshine.


I cannot begin to explain how much of a fan I am of Black Estate from North Canterbury. When I first moved to NZ and worked in hospo this was my “treat myself” wine and I shared more than one bottle with my beloved friend Matt as we solved the world’s problems. Husband & wife team Penelope & Nicolas are some of the hardest working people in wine and are passionate about organics. They own 3 vineyards, Home, Damsteep & Netherwood and while the wine they sent me is the Netherwood 2015 which is alive with flavours of vibrant red fruits like cherries and raspberries and is fruity, floral with fine tannins, basically everything a good pinot noir should be, it is pricey at $65. So I have to also give props to the Home Pinot Noir 2016 which is an equally remarkable wine and $40, I know that still sound like a decent whack of cash but trust me when I say it is worth it delicious dark berry fruits with earthiness and hints of herb. This was the wine I drank even though I couldn’t afford it back in the day, so it will forever have a place in my heart.

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For more information on Organic wine week, including events happening near you go to www.organicwinenz.com/organic-wine-week

Click the link below to hear my chat with Wendyl Nissen about organic wines on the RadioLIVE Long Lunch

Vinos for Father's Day

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Dad, well he's just someone so special so I thought I would recommend some extra special wines which you should consider as a potential gift for Dad this September. These wines are a little more expensive than I usually recommend but these wines (and your Dad) are most definitely worth it.

When it comes to a Pinot Noir for a gift I usually recommend something from Central Otago as the region carries prestige and this one from Quartz Reef is also organic and biodynamic and has flavours of delicious dark berries, black plums, blackberries and an earthy savoriness. This wine is complex and very delicious. If you can still find the 2015 then I definitely recommend you grab it but if not the 2016 is still delicious, but just a little spicier. Widely available for $48

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Waiheke winery Man O War is synonymous with quality and this is definitely the case when it comes to the 2014 Belleraphon, their premium Syrah Viognier. Because this Syrah has the addition of a splash of Viognier, the wine is spicier, more floral and more approachable than a pure Syrah and a great wine for the Dad that loves a fuller bodied wine and for only $41 it's a great gift choice.

Some wines are just next level special and “The Great Riddler” Chardonnay 2016 from Palliser Estate is just such a wine. Named after Palliser founder Richard Riddiford who sadly passed away in 2016, this wine is a tribute to a remarkable man who was one of the people responsible for putting Martinborough on the wine map.

Richard's favourite wine was Chardonnay, and his final vintage was 2016 making this super limited edition wine (Only 500 bottles exist) the ultimate recognition of a wonderful man - and isn't that what Father's Day is really all about.

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Disclaimer at the time of going to air I hadn't tried this wine as it had arrived the same day and it was a last minute addition to my on air piece but I knew when I heard this story and saw the presentation I just had to recommend this wine. Knowing the quality of the wine Palliser produce I have no doubts about the deliciousness of this wine but the tasting notes describe as follows: "Medium-full bodied, ripe yellow stonefruits, tropical fruit and citrus fruit Rich & mouthfilling with luxurious, creamy barrel-ferment textures", this wine comes in the most stunning packaging imaginable and at $85 the ideal present for your remarkable dad (if he likes Chardonnay that is!). This wine is only available from the Palliser Estate website but if you order now I am sure they can get it to you in time for Father's Day.

Click the link below to hear my chat with Carly Flynn on RadioLIVE about this incredible wines.

You had me at Merlot...

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Merlot, it's one of those underrated varietals which has perhaps had a bit of a bad reputation for being boring because of it's mellow palate. In Bordeaux, where this grape originates they tend to make Merlot in a style that is a lot more structured and less full bodied as we do in the new world. Here we like our Merlots full bodied & fruit forward. 

That being said, we don't make a lot of it here in NZ with Merlot making up a mere 3% of our total grapes grown and unsurprisingly as this is grape that loves heat, we grow most of ours in Hawkes Bay. 

Merlot is a dark grape which is almost blue in colour, we most commonly blend it with Cabernet Sauvignon as it's such a big belter of a wine the mellowing effect of the Merlot helps to smooth out the edges and make a much more approachable wine.

I'm a recently convert to Merlot as I hadn't rated it much in the past, but I have found some great ones recently that I absolutely rate, as a good low-risk entry level introduction to Merlot, you just can't beat this one from Giesen, it's the Vineyard Selection Merlot 2015 and you can pick it up for $15 - $17 in supermarkets. Giesen are synonmous with consistancy at an affordable price, which I love. This Hawkes Bay Merlot has flavours of stewed plum & dark berries with just a hint of clove spice. 

You can't talk about Hawkes Bay without mentioning stalwards Trinity Hill, John Hancock, who actually no longer works for Trinity Hill but is off doing his own exciting project (but more on that later) is a legend of wine in The Bay. This 2016 has flavours of chocolate, plums, blackberry, it's fruit forward with just a hint of spice and available widely for a very affordable $19

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So are you already a Merlot adorable and want to kick your experience up a notch? Well have I got the wine for you! This Villa Maria Single Vineyard Braided Gravels Merlot is a 2013 vintage no less, and let me tell you as far as NZ wine goes 2013 was a stonking vintage due to a long dry season. This goodness has been sitting in the bottle just getting better & will continue to do so for quite a while yet if you are the cellaring type. This wine has layers of complexity and deliciousness that blew my mind & clearly I wasn't the only one as this wine has won an embarrassing amount of awards, it is deep in colour and decadent flavours oozing black plum, coffee and the spice on the nose reminds me of when I was a kid making Christmas cake with my Mam. Amazing. If all that wasn't enough, it's also organic. Seriously. It's not cheap at $60, but if you want to make the investment, you won't be sorry. 

So if you've been avoiding Merlot (as I have) give one of these a go - I am keen to hear what you think!

Click the link below to hear my chat with Trudi Nelson (in for Wendyl) on the RadioLIVE Long Lunch 

Sparkling wines to celebrate the arrival of (our version of) the royal baby

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There is no doubt about it Jacinda Ardern is a woman at the top of her field in a male dominated profession and not just that, she is having a baby while in office - so remarkable and so inspiring and with the due date of the nation's baby being this very weekend, I thought what better way to celebrate the arrival of Jacinda & Clarke's baby than to do so with New Zealand Sparkling wines, of course, but I have picked three bubbles made by remarkable female winemakers who are also at the top of their field in wine, which is itself, a male dominated industry. 

So pick up a bottle of one of these beauties and have it in the fridge ready to POP when....our (yes, our) baby arrives.

A mama herself Jane De Witt is undoubtedly the foremost authority on Sparkling wine as she is NZ's most awarded sparkling winemaker. Jane's passion is making consistently good quality, good value wines that are accessible to everyone, and boy does she as the creator of Te Hana, Lindauer Classic, Lindauer Special Reserve, Morton Estate and my pick for today Verde. This wine is from Gisborne and is 80% Chardonnay and is the most citrusy of my picks with just the right amount of biscuitiness. It's accessible, affordable at $17 and refreshingly delish and I'm not the only one who thinks so this wine has won either Gold or a Trophy every year since 2015 at NZ Intl Wine Show,  New World Wine Awards, Royal Easter Show. Woah! When she's not dominating bubbles Jane also makes still wine for Corbans, Huntaway & Morton Estate.... overachieving much??

As I've mentioned before Jane Hunter of Hunters is the official "First Lady" of New Zealand wine. Though born across the ditch in Australia, Jane came to NZ to be a viticulturist for Montana and met her husband Hunter. When Ernie died tragically in a car crash 1987 Jane took the reigns & turned Hunter Wines into the stalwart of NZ wine that it is today. Jane's Miru Miru NV Sparkling never disappoints, for me I get flavours of bread and berries and the bubbles feel denser or more intense than other sparkling wines, in a good way, your mouth feels sparkly afterwards and what more could you ask for the bargain price of $29. Also Miru Miru is the Maori for Bubbles - how more perfect could this wine be for a truly New Zealand celebration

My final wine is a little more boutique, but no less special - just like the lady who makes it. Multi award winning winemaker Jo Gear (and Mama to two little girls) is a remarkable wine maker, particularly when it comes to whites. Her Hawkesbridge Marlborough Methode Trad 2014 teams with flavours of peaches and hazelnuts, flavours I typically associate with a really great bottle of fizz with just the right amount of creaminess. Available via the New Zealand Wine Society website for $36, this is a special bottle for a special occasion or maybe the special occasion is owning a bottle! When not making wine for NZ wine cellars, Jo has her own little wine brand called One Block Wines

So there you have it, amazing women doing amazing wine things, we cannot wait to see the new baby of the nation and pop a bottle to celebrate....I reckon Jacinda & Clarke are having a girl....what do you think?

Have a listen to my chat with Trudi Nelson on RadioLIVE this afternoon to hear more