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

Wine made in.....Eggs?

Wine made in eggs? What? Yup it's a thing, big concrete eggs....Wine in ceramics isn't really anything new as the greeks and the romans made and stored their wine in ceramic amphora.

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However legendary French winemaker Michel Chatpoutier, who was a massively into organics and biodynamics long before anyone else in France was believes the egg holds special mystical characteristics so commissioned the first modern concrete egg in 2001 in the Rhone.

The beauty of wines made in eggs is that it retains the fruitless that a ferment in stainless steel does so well, but in addition gives the characteristics of oak (Complexity, Minerality) without oak flavours. New Zealand egg wine enthusiast Tony Bish claims that "minerality is the holy grail of wine at the moment.”

The deal is the shape of the egg results in a different temperature between the outside of the egg & the inside of the egg which creates natural convection currents. Basically the yeast never stops moving and needs no manual involvement.

So why not have a lots of eggs & make more wine...well it's not quite that simple as this baby weighs 2 tonnes, so expensive to import. But that's what Tony Bish did, owning the very first concrete egg in Australasia and then being the innovator that he is, he commissioned his concrete tank maker in Hawkes Bay make some more and now he sells them to other winemakers in NZ & Australia

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So which wines are there to try? Well it didn't surprise me at all to learn that the first NZ winemaker to purchase an egg of Tony Bish was Dave Clouston of Two Rivers, Marlborough, Dave is a remarkable innovator and this Altitude Sauvignon Blanc 2016, is NZ's first egg made Sauvignon Blanc, it cost $29 and has amazing flavours of pineapple, white peach with juicy citrus and crisp salinity. Complex, elegant, next level Sauvignon Blanc.

This one is literally hot of the presses (it was bottled last Friday) & Villa Maria is the first of the big wineries to release an egg wine. They have chosen the Spanish grape Albarino  from the Hawkes Bay to be given the egg treatment & wow this 2017 is a stunna! Bone dry but with fruit sweetness of peach & lime, subtle minerality and a satisfying long finish. This may be the easiest of the bunch to seek out, and at $32, seek it you must.

You just cannot talk NZ Wine in eggs without mentioning Tony Bish, the man who brought the egg to NZ. Tony has been making "Golden Egg" since 2015 and it sells out every year. This is Chardonnay but taken to the next level. White peaches, preserved lemons and what a struck match characteristic that you could mistake for an oak characteristic but it can't be because it hasn't seen oak. The 2017 “Golden Egg” Hawkes Bay Chardonnay has to be tasted to be believed and at $40 for this rich opulent, acidic, salty nectar? We're not in Kansas anymore Toto.

I was lucky enough to catch up with the remarkable Mr Bish at his awesome micro-winery cum entertainment venue The Urban Winery (highly recommend a trip there in you're ever in The Bay) on my last trip to Hawkes Bay, and he told me all about why he decided to not just import an egg but actually start producing them!

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

International Chardonnay Day

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Or as I like to call it, International "happiness in a glass coz it's the nectar of the Gods" day - but whatevs. 

Yes, Chardy day is upon us once again & I'm pretty excited at having the chance to dedicate a whole segment once again to one of my all time favourite varietals. Whether you like them big, buttery & oaked or lean, linear & oak free (AKA Chablis) I think you find a Chardonnay out there for you.

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My picks this week are a diverse bunch each with a different story to tell, and each from a very different parts of the world. The first from just around the corner is the Kumeu. The Kumeu Road, Kumeu Village Chardonnay is a wine that I frequently have the conversation with other wine peeps as to how can they make a wine this good, this affordable? We're stumped as honestly, I've seen it as low as $16 and it's a wine that could easily go for a whole heck more. The quality never falters and the flavours of pineapple, citrus & stonefruit always delight.

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Remember a while ago I went crazy for the Jacobs Creek "Double Barrel" reds? Well they only went & made a Double Barrel Chardonnay. This is a really elegant expression of Australian Chardonnay & not one for you if you like an oaky butter bomb, which I actually feel people are moving away from anyway. To make this Chardonnay they take the grape juice & split it in half, barrel ferment half in old scotch whisky barrels & the other half in traditional oak wine barrels then blend the two together to get the end result, which is is pretty amazing wine with flavours of lemon & stonefruit & hazelnuts. The other thing that is pretty amazing is it's price point of $22. Love your work Jacob's Creek.

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Irwin is Matawhero's flagship wine and it a tribute to the late Bill & Denis Irwin, a father and son team who founded Matawhero. Bill was an innovator in the early days of New Zealand wine, making many remarkable contributions to wine including the importing of the new vines and clones into and making the seemingly audacious move of entering New Zealand wines into international competitions. Although this is the first release for Irwin Chardonnay, they plan to make this wine in the finest years and when I say made, well, crafted is probably a better term. the wine is befitting the namesake oozing peaches &  citrus, with hints of oak. Definitely a special occasion wine which is probably just as well as it comes in at $60, but considering the quality of the wine, the potential for aging & the tribute to a wine legacy, I think it's worth every penny

For more on international Chardonnay Day, click the link below to hear my chat with Wendyl Nissen on the RadioLIVE Long Lunch

Grab your tiara, it's royal wedding time & I've got some wines for that...

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You do have to ask, is there an alternative topic of conversation this week other than the Royal Wedding? Well even if there is I don't want to know as I'm so excited to see Prince Harry finally tie the knot. Will it last? Well, who know but all I know is there's one heck of a wedding coming our way.

So what to drink to get into the royal wedding vibe? Well of course I've got a few thoughts on that front.

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Megan Markle is a self confessed lover of red wine, she specifically loves big Italian reds and even more specifically her favourite type of Italian red wine is Tignanello (pronounced Teen-ya-nello). In fact she loves this wine so much she named her (now defunct) blog after this wine's nickname "Tig". Megan describes when she first tasted Tig as an "Ah-ha" moment for her with regards to wine, she apparently said this is when she understood what great wine was all about when it came to complexity & quality. So for her, from that point on, all "Ah-ha" moments on any subject became "Tig" moments. 

Tignanello is an Italian blend of wine that is predominantly Sangiovese - it is most certainly a premium wine and one of the illustrious "Super Tuscan" wines and will set you back at least $100, however, I have found a beautiful example of a Sangiovese predominant blend from Tuscany that will cost you $20. The Rocca Delle Macie Rubizzo IGT is an amazing ruby red colour. with intense but smooth savory flavour bursting with ripe red fruit. Also, a perfect one to sip on a cold winters night while watching the royal wedding. 

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When Megan's not sipping Tig, she loves a Rosé (a girl after my own heart) she is quoted as saying when it's summer and she's out with her girlfriends it's "Rosé all day". Well, imagine my delight when I came across a beautiful, dry, easy drinking Rosé from Soho Wine Co called none other than "Harry". Harry is a Marlborough Rosé which is a delish light pink with flavours of strawberry and raspberries. Perfect. Only one hitch though, Harry is an on-premise only wine so if you want a glass of him, you are going to have to hunt him down in select bars throughout the country...(Probably wouldn't be the first to try to hunt down a prince in a bar...) 

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Rumour has it that the Queen enjoys a glass of Champagne every evening (hasn't HRH heard of AFDs?), and if there is anything that screams royal wedding it's vintage champagne. Well lucky for us Moët & Chandon Grand has just released their latest 2009 vintage champagne. I've mentioned here before the significance of a vintage champagne, but to recap, a vintage is only released in the best years as it is taken from the grapes of just one year, whereas non-vintage (NV) wines are taken from a blend of several years for consistency. A vintage champagne must be aged for a minimum of three years but this one has been aged for 9 (7 of which on lees). Considering how highly regarded the 2008 Champagne vintage was it really was expected to be a hard act to follow but Chef de Cave (Champagne Wine Maker Big Boss) Benoit Gouez believes this to be even better. The 2009 has a lot more pinot noir (50% to 2008's 40%) which gives it hints of plum & red fruit alongside the citrus & apples and mutes some of the acidity. All that and of course Moët has a royal warrant - need I say no more. Ok, alright, it's definitely not cheap at $100 but this may be the last royal wedding we see until George ties the knot - let's push the boat out & enjoy! 

To hear my chat with Wendyl Nissen on the Long Lunch about all things Royal Wedding click the link below while I get on with polishing my tiara....

Wonderful World Of Wine

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The World of Wine Festival is coming to Auckland's AUT Campus on Wellesley Street East this weekend - the 12th & 13th May - and I couldn't be more excited, it is the first time a wine festival has showcased ONLY International wines, that's right, not a single drop of NZ Wine will be available on the tasting floor (gasp). I think it's great and judging by how ticket sales are going, I am not the only one! Tickets are $60 ($45 students) and include a Riedel Ouverture Glass alone worth $25 (and it's full size!) a tasting booklet & pen, & unlimited tastes in the Tasting Hall. Worth noting that the pour size will be tastes only, so don't give your pourer any slack! If you fancy a larger pour there will be a bar on site for purchases, but frankly I think that 140 tastes is more than enough for anyone!

The team from the fest have given me a few wines to chat about and these are just three of the 140 wines from 14 countries that will be available to taste over this weekend.

Boy do the team at World of Wine know the way to my heart! This Septima Malbec 2016 from Mendoza in the foothills of the Andes is the definition of big Argy Malbec, chewy, spicy, fruity with flavours of dark plums and figs, amazing stuff and a long finish - insane value at $18

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Did you know that they make wine in Upstate New York? Well they do and they make a pretty decent drop too! The Finger Lakes are long, thin finger-like (funny that) lakes that run out of Lake Ontario and it is the main wine region in New York. It has very defined seasons & gets COLD in winter. This Dr. Konstantin Frank Gewurztraminer comes from the Finger Lakes region & is dry with lovely citrus & stonefruit flavours with lovely florals & that signature Gewurtz spice!  Dry, medium bodies & a real treat for me as it was my very first New York wine! Worth seeking out for $35

Last but not least is the Nino Franco, Rustico, Prosecco Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore NV - yea try saying that after a glass or two of Italian Bubbles! Let's just call it the Rustico Prosecco shall we? From the area of Veneto in Northern Italy this is from one of the oldest wineries in the area of Valdobbiadene’s. It's bright & fresh & refreshing & off dry and really a great wine to enjoy by itself or with seafood. A bubbles I feel it would be very easy to drink too much of! Good job it comes in at only 11% ABV.

This is a mere taste of the delights that await you at the World Of Wine Festival this weekend - if you fancy coming along then head on over to my Instagram page where you can win two tickets to Sunday's session, I'll be there so if you see me, come over & say hi!

Click the link below to hear my chat with Wendyl on the Long Lunch.