International Sauvignon Blanc Day 2018

Image: NZ Wine

Image: NZ Wine

If I've said it once (and I have) I've said it a million times, what would we do without wonderful NZ Sauvignon Blanc, it constitutes 77% of the wine we make in New Zealand & those around the world go nuts for it. Although we make only 1% of the world's wine - 17% of the world's Sauvignon Blanc is from little New Zealand down here at the bottom of the earth. Pretty amazing. of our Sauv production (86% of which is in Marlborough) 86% (more than 166 million bottles) goes overseas, there are brands that we don't even see here in NZ as it is made specifically to be exported. It's a behemoth and we own our wine industry to this lovely grape which originates from Bordeaux in France.

So it makes sense that we should celebrate it right? With that in mind I have six (yes SIX) lovely Sauvs to talk to you about today. Three of which I talked about on the AM Show this morning & the other three on my usual slot on RadioLIVE with the gorgeous Wendyl Nissen.

The wines I picked for The AM Show are combo of two more "typical" Sauvs & one that's a wee bit special. The Huntaway (yup as in the dog) 2017 is definitely the typical Sauv lovers Sauv but that's not a bad thing at all, its acidic, grassy with bright citrus & hints of pineapple, it's lovely, it's affordable & available widely for anywhere between $15-$18 dollars depending on where you purchase it.

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The Wither Hills "Rarangi" Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc is a wine I've talked about before, but it is actually well deserving of another mention as it is the Wither Hills flagship reserve wine, from a beachside single vineyard site this wine was given the top marks out of a selction of more than 80 NZ Sauvignon Blancs by Wine Guru (and some might say God) Robert Parker last year. This is the wine for those that don't like the super high acid of Sauv as it's slighly more pared back and sophisticated. It's also priced really reasonably at $25, available at liquor stores and some of your more fancy supermarkets.

But now for something a little different SOHO bring us the aptly named "Caviar" 2017, single vineyard, hand harvested, organic, wild barrel fermented and made by my all time wine crush Dave Clouston - before I had even opened the bottle I was in love. This wine is spectacular and it is the wine for people who say they don't like Sauvignon Blanc.  The 8 months of aging in French Oak both mellows out this wine & adds wonderful complexity & exoticness. Worth every penny of the $38, which I admit is a premium for a Sauvignon Blanc. Have a look at my stint on the AM Show this morning...

As we have featured NZ Sauvignon Blancs before on The Long Lunch I wanted to pick some others that were a little bit special & a whole lot different. These are wines that I would describe as very non-typical but that just adds to their wonderfulness.

The Ara "Resolute" Single Estate is a 2015 Marlborough Sauv which has been hand picked, wild fermented & aged in oak, none of which are characteristics you associate with Sauvignon Blanc you also don't associate this amount of texture & complexity with a Sauv either. This wine is aromatic wine and complexity flavours of white peach notes and a long finish. A most unsauvy sauv for $25....I'm impressed.

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Blank Canvas wines are a young husband and wife team in Marlborough who I firmly believe we all need to keep a very close eye on as they are making some really different, but fantastic wines. Their "Abstract" Sauvignon Blanc 2016 is one such oak barrel-fermented with delicious passionfruit flavours yet a mouth watering minerality and just a hint of nuttiness that I think will only get better with age, not something you say about a Sauv! Pick this up at select stores and via the Blank Canvas website for $35

Finally the big daddy, this 2013 (yup that's the most recent release) Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from Giesen is called "The August 1888", pronouned Aw-Goost is named after the Giesen Brothers Grandfather who was a Sommelier & it was their first small batch wine. It's impressive; big, complex with flaours of pineapple & brioche from it's time on Lees. It also has that gun flint/struck match character that some people don't like I actually don't care for if its too strong, but in this wine, it all just works. Not one for the financial faint at heart it costs $43 but it really is a wine to for a special occasion or popped in the cellar.

Click the link to hear my chat with the wonderful Wendyl Nissen about NZ Sauvignon Blanc on RadioLIVE

 

So there you have it, my homage to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on the day. It's been amazing, let's do it all again next year! 

 

Grüner Veltliner

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Pronounced "Grooner Felt- Leener" this wine varietal sounds more like a European villain from an action movie than a wine. But a wine it is and a bloody nice one too! Grüner is Austria's most grown grape with a third of all wines grown being Grüner Veltliner. 

The wines are light, refreshing and tangy, dry with high acidity & perfect as an alternative to either Sauvignon Blanc or even Riesling. This is such an accessible wine which you are definitely going to see more and more of it coming into the NZ market (at least I hope so!). If all that wasn't enough to convince you, it's also an amazing food wine which pretty much goes with all white meats, seafood, shellfish and cheeses & even spicy dishes. I know this is an overused term but it really is a great all rounder.

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You can't talk Grüner and not mention Seifried's in Nelson as Austria is vineyard owner Hermann Seifried's homeland. This is definitely a great example of Grüner in that it is very true to varietal. The 2016 has aromas & flavours of citrus, apple, pear and white pepper. It's refreshing & delicious, vegan & frankly a steal at $17. It's bone dry with less than 2 grams of residual sugar

Marlborough stalwarts Saint Clair Family Estate's 2015 Grüner Veltliner has lovely fresh flavours of pear and apple and feels typical of a zesty floral Marlborough white wine. Dry with only 2.5 grams of residual sugar this Grüner is widely available for $22

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Bannockbrae in Central Otago's 2016 Grüner Veltliner is called “Marlene’s Grüner” is again a very typical Grüner but with the classic Central Otago aroma characteristics of stone fruit. Dry (2.45grams) with high acidity this wine was named after an Austrian high school exchange student whom the the winemakers family hosted 16 years ago.  Through Marlene's parents, they learnt all about this amazing wine & were one of the first NZ wineries to get the Grüner clone when it first came to NZ in 2008.

So if you like a Sauv & want to try something new, give a Grüner a go!

Click the link below to hear my chat with Trudi Nelson on RadioLIVE about this little known wine & why you should try it out

Biodynamic Wines for World Earth Day

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If ever there as a style of wine that is at one with the earth - it's biodynamic wine. 

The (complex) concept is that everything in the universe is interconnected & biodynamic farming requires a strict adherence to the rhythms of nature, the earth, the cycles of the moon and our movement in relation to the sun & stars.

The concept of Biodynamics started in the 1920's with Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner (yup, the same guy as the schools) and it is a holistic way of farming and viticulture which is the oldest, anti-chemical agricultural around, it's even older than the creation of organic farming in the 1940s. 

Biodynamics is organic viticulture on steroids but without the steroids as the addition of anything non-natural (including commercial yeasts) is prohibited & the way that the vines are tended to are dependent on the biodynamic calendar which in turn based on the lunar calendar & the four essential elements of Earth, Wind, Fire & Water. For example, on Water days you water the vines, but on Air days you leave the vineyard alone & don't do anything. I know it might sound a bit hippy and celestial and I don't mean for it to come across like that because man oh man do they make some incredible wines

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There are only a handful of certified Biodynamic wineries in New Zealand because if you thought organic certification was hard (and expensive) to achieve you haven't seen anything yet...but a lot of wonderful wineries practice biodynamic principles while working toward their certification. One such winery is my favourites - Te Whare Ra in Marlborough. Their 2015 Sauvignon Blanc has beautiful flavours of peach, stonefruit, and capsicum, an elegantly balanced wine available at good liquor stores for $25

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Domaine-Thomson are on the brink of submitting their application for Biodynamic certification as we speak - exciting times! This central Otago winery only makes Pinot Noir & this is clearly a case of find what you're good and do it well. This Pinot Noir has flavours of blackcurrant & black cherries and a sort of spiciness on the tongue which makes me wonder what this wine will taste like in 5 years time. I always find the mark of a quality wine is when you can enjoy it now, but also wonder where it has yet to go over time. To find a Central Otago Pinot Noir for $29 is becoming a more difficult task day by day, to find one of this quality at that price is near impossible. Buy it by the case & see what it does in 1, 3 & 5 years time. 

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Millton in Gisborne was New Zealand's first biodynamic winery which is something that they are (rightfully) very proud of. Their "Opou Vineyard" Chardonnay made me so very happy. This is everything a great Chardonnay should be, teaming with fresh apple & stonefruit flavours & just the right balance of creamy and nutty that begs for you to pour another glass. Some wines make me happy just because they exist - this is one such wine. $32 and worth every penny. If you can stand having it and not drinking, and I'm pretty sure I can't, this is another one to age for the next few years as I'm pretty sure it will get better and better. 

I really have just brushed over the VERY basics here of biodynamics, to know the full story & to understand it properly I recommend checking out the Demeter website for more information. 

To hear my chat with Wendyl today on the Long Lunch on RadioLIVE check out the link below

 

 

 

 

Beautiful White Blends...

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Firstly, what is a blend? Well, that's easy it's simply a mix of one or more wine varietals

Ok,  so that's pretty straightforward , so why blend? There's a few reasons behind that but the most common one is to add complexity to the wine, whether that's complexity of flavour or texture, essentially to add something into the wine that it doesn't already have to make it better. There's a practical reason for blending too, in locations that suffer from high disease pressure (like Bordeaux, the home of blends) it's a good idea not to rely completely on one varietal as if you don't get the grapes you need, well, you're stuffed! As a blend doesn't have to be uniform every year you can make the better crop, the dominant grape that year. Makes sense, hey?

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Red blends are relatively common so I thought I would focus on white blends this week, because, well because why not. Also two of these blend are aromatics & I we all know how super passionate I am about getting more people drinking amazing New Zealand aromatics.

From the team at Elephant Hill in Hawkes Bay comes Le Phant Blanc 2015, this blend is Pinot Gris (45%) Viognier (30%), Chardonnay (20%) and Gewurztraminer (5%). Hawkes Bay is one of those areas that can have high disease pressure so this blend changes every year with the 2016 being Viognier dominant. This wine has lots of delicious stone fruit and apple flavours yet a creamy texture and dry with 1.3 grams of residual sugar - yum! $22 and available at good liquor stores nationwide and enjoy with Thai or Indian food but be mindful of the fact that this is a 14% wine & let's not forget our standards! 

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Iconic Waiheke winery Man O War rarely fails to deliver and their “Gravestone” Sauvignon Semillon  2017 is pretty spectacular. 85% Sauvignon Blanc & 15% Sémillon this wine is named after the basalt boulders that surround the vineyards and is fermented together for three months marry the flavours before bottling. This wine is dry with flavours of gooseberry and lychee and is available from bottlestores for $28 - a good NZ expression of a Bordeaux White. Enjoy with seafood or shellfish like salmon, scallops or prawns. 

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Last but definitely not least is Misty Cove's "Waitaria" 2016, this blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris & Chardonnay from Marlborough is both Organic and limited edition. These are the people who brought us wine in a can, but just because they are innovating in that space, doesn't mean that they are not serious wine makers and this is a seriously good wine. Once blended the wine is matured in oak for a year before release which gives this wine even more complexity & additional flavours of vanilla that we associate with oak aging on top of the peach & melon oozing from this multidimensional, bone dry wine. Enjoy with pretty much anything but I would most likely eat with an all the trimmings roast chicken. A real treat!

Click the link below to hear my chat with Wendyl on the Long Lunch on RadioLIVE today about these beautiful white blends. 

Royal Easter Show Wine Winners

The Royal Easter Show is NZ’s oldest national wine competition in existance since 1953 so it holds a huge amount of kudos to wine a medal & even more to win a trophy. 

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This year 1003 wines judged and only 71 a mere (7.1%) won gold medals. In order to be considered for a trophy, you have to win a gold medal - so already you can see that the winning a trophy really isn't easy. In addition, 221 silver medals and a further 389 bronze medals were awarded, Interestingly enough the most gold medals were awarded to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, followed by Sauvignon Blanc which goes to show that the might doesn't always equal right.

As you all know I'm super passionate about aromatics so I was stoked to see Riesling winning 7 medals - though that may not sound like much when you put it into the context of how many Rieslings were entered it actually makes it the most highly awarded varietal - whoop! Hurrah for Riesling! 

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My other great love, Rosé only won 3 golds, which makes me a bit sad but one that did is one of my favs and that the Ned Pinot Rosé 2017 and it is also the Rosé that won a trophy! The Auckland Agricultural & Pastoral Association Trophy for Champion Rosé in fact. You just cannot go wrong with this Rosé from Marisco, it's typical NZ Rosé made from Pinot Noir & I mean that in a good way, a stunning salmon colour, it oozes Strawberries and Cream & it's without question one of my go-to recommend Rosés as it's widely available and a steal at $18.  This Rosé was one of the first to see the desire for great quality Rosé when few other were producing it & though now it seems like everyone is producing the pink stuff this has lost none of its momentum & is consistently one of NZ's best-selling Rosés. 

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The big winner on the night was a Chardonnay (oh be still my beating heart), specifically, the Te Awa Single Estate Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2016. This stunner won New World Trophy for Champion Chardonnay, as well as the top award of the night the Guala Closures NZ Champion Wine. Not only (all of) that, but the man who makes this wine, Richard Painter, won the Trophy for winemaker of the year. Not too shabby for a wine you can pick up all over for $27, and you should, this Chardy has flavours of citrus blossom & stone fruit & is deliciously full-bodied with a just the right amount of creaminess we come to expect from a great Chardonnay. Congrats Te Awa! 

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I've talked about Saint Clair a bit, but rarely about a Merlot, however, the Saint Clair Pioneer Block 17 Plateau Merlot 2016 from Hawkes Bay is definitely worth talking about. Winning the Generator Rental Services Trophy for Champion Merlot this wine is dense & dark to look at put teams with flavours of black plums & blackberry, it's silky smooth to drink & super moreish available widely for $38. This is definitely one to treat yourself to and I didn't find it too heavy and I tend to find a lot of Merlot quite heavy and one dimensional. This beauty really surprised me & I shared this with a Pinot Noir disciple who was also suitably impressed. 

For the full list of winners from the 2018 Easter Show click here  or click the link below to hear my chat with Wendyl Nissan on the RadioLIVE Long Lunch

NZ wines in the USA

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It's definitely not news that New Zealand wines hold international appeal, particularly our iconic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc with its grassy, gooseberry, passionfruit zing and that is definitely true of our friends in America. New Zealand was recently announced as the third biggest importer of wine into the US after Italy & France, now considering we make 1% of the world's wine & France & Italy each year vie for the top spot of who produces the most - well that's kinda saying something. It is important to note that this 3rd place status is based on value, not volume. Which is even better as it means that customers in the US are prepared to pay more for a New Zealand wine as a result of our reputation for quality, innovation and sustainable winemaking practices. Our clean, green image overseas means that Americans are prepared to pay more for NZ wine. All that and we gave the world Lorde.....why wouldn't they love us?

Without doubt, the US holds great appeal for NZ winemakers, it's a huge market to conquer but it's definitely not without its challenges as each state has different laws when it comes to the distribution and sale of alcohol.

But we're not here to get into all of that, are we? Nah we want to know which NZ wines do Americans love the most and even more important than that again - what wine are American celebs drinking...

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First, the most popular. Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc is the number one selling New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in America selling almost 815,000 cases per year. It's also New Zealand's number one selling Sauv as well. It's easy to see why this wine is popular as it ticks all the boxes of a typical Marlborough Sauvignon blanc, citrus, passionfruit & green capsicum, plus in the US you can pick this up for less than $10 and for about $14 here at home. 

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Oyster Bay, owned by Delegat is the second biggest seller in the US and growing selling 560,000 cases per year, in addition, their Chardonnay is seeing growth in sales & they launch their Pinot Gris stateside this year. Sauvignon Blanc was the first wine Oyster Bay ever created & it has lots of citrus & high acidity teaming with delicious tropical fruits & passionfruit that jumps out of the glass to tell you it is Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is widely available for about $16

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So we know Americans are drinking and loving these wines, but what are the A-List drinking? Well as it turns out at this year's Governor's Lunch - which is the lunch where they announce the nominees for the Academy Awards - they were drinking none other than our very Own Loveblock Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc! True Story! You know what's even cooler? Loveblock is the wine that is made by Kim & Erica Crawford formerly of (yup you've guessed it), Kim Crawford wines! After Kim & Erica sold Kim Crawford to Constellation Wines they set up their own boutique, organic, vegan winery called Loveblock which was the white wine chosen for this prestigious event.

The best part is that the team at Loveblock found this out via Instagram - (Dontcha love social media?), so they actually weren't any part of bidding for this wine to be chosen, it was picked on its merits. This wine is not short on merits, while it has the grassy freshness and distinctive passionfruit we love from Marlborough Sauv you are not overcome by its acidity as everything just seems in balance. This is an elegant wine and definitely deserving of its place on a table full of VIPs. Makes the purchase price of $22 seem like quite the bargain when you know you're drinking like Speilberg! 

Click the link below to hear my chat with Wendyl about our NZ Sauvignon Blancs doing great things in the USA

"Irish" Wines

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I'm a pretty proud (new) Kiwi, but I'm also very proud of being Irish. With St Patrick's Day happening tomorrow I thought I would put a focus on some wines that have an Irish connection, as there aren't really any actual Irish wines as despite the fact that Ireland is an EU designated wine growing country, we commercially produce no wine. The main reason I can see is the weather, as a small wet island nation stuck between the Atlantic, the North Sea & the Irish Sea, it was just never going to happen!

However I have managed to find three winemakers, all of whom were born in Ireland who have are living their wine dreams here in New Zealand, much as I am.

I have to admit, not all of these wines are that easy to find, so perhaps this was a vanity project for me or maybe I hope everyone is a romantic like me who will go to the trouble to seek them out.

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My first Irish wine maker is Darragh Hughes originally of Sligo in the West of Ireland. Darragh came to New Zealand & managed bars & wine lists where his passion for wine developed, so he studied winemaking in Gisborne. After doing the flying winemaker thing to France & California Darragh returned to Hawkes Bay where he started making Pig’s Back and Maxim Wines - the reference to “Pig’s Back” made me smile as this is such an Irish-ism

Darragh’s big passion is Chenin Blanc, he thinks we can make great ones here in NZ and would love to see more of it around, so to honour Darragh’s passion I’m recommending the Maxim Chenin Blanc 2016, this wine is so clean, so fresh & bone dry with a tonne of stonefruit and apple aromas, delish & only $29.

Dermot McCollum originally from Derry in Northern Ireland boasts the oldest Syrah vines in New Zealand, I know, I was pretty impressed too! He owns Stonecroft in Hawkes Bay with his wife and is the winemaker and viticulturist of this fully organic winery in Hawke’s Bay. Their Gimblett Gravels Serine Syrah 2015 at $31 is a wine with great potential, it has lovely blackberry and red currant flavours but it’s quite a dense wine, so this is one I would recommend to buy now, but perhaps cellar for a few more years to let the tannins soften & the fruit shine through!

No story about great Irish winemakers & NZ Wine would be complete without the founding father of Central Otago Alan Brady. Alan came to NZ 1959 from Northern Ireland to work in in newspapers as a journalist and bought land in Gibbston, central in 1976 as a haven away from his busy life. Didn’t take long for him to realise that that’s where he wanted to be so he became a freelancer in 1977  so he could move full time to Gibbston.

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In 1981 Alan started experimenting with plots of grapes, it’s probably really important to realise that Central Otago wasn’t the mecca of wine that it is now, then, no one waw growing wine there and at that time Marlborough was just starting to take off. Alan discovered pretty quickly that Pinot Noir grew pretty beautifully there and he sold Central Otago’s first commercial Pinot Noir in 1987 under the name “Gibbston Valley Wines”. The brand is still hugely successful but Alan has since retired to….well, to keep making wine… Alan makes his own small release wines under the name Wild Irishman.

Seeing an Irish term of endearment on the front of a bottle of wine made my heart soar. “Macushla” is a term of endearment in Ireland back in Ireland which essentially means darling or love (from a chroi mo chusla - the beat of my heart)

‘Macushla” is as beautiful inside as she is out and has silky tannins, and an earthiness balanced with the fruit that is my favourite style of Pinot Noir. A wine that you could drink now or drink in a few years. I know this one is a little pricer at $60 but imagine lighting up the face of your favourite Irish person with a bottle of “Macushla"

Click the link below to hear my chat with Wendyl on the eve of the most Irish day of all :)

A celebration of wines made by women for International Women's Day

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There is no doubt about it, the women's movement is in the middle of a shift that is so powerful, so profound that I can actually feel it in my day to day life.  #MeToo, Time's Up, the Women's Marches....all of it is creating a new reality for women. It's a genuinely exciting time to be alive but this International Women's Day has caused me to reflect once again on the role we have to play as women when it comes to supporting over women. I actually believe that the biggest change will come when women put more thought and effort into supporting other women.

Me & My fellow Women In Wine

Me & My fellow Women In Wine

It's unavoidable to see that women are competitive with other women and one opinion theorises that this competition is hardwired into our DNA as a result of being programmed to procreate, essentially, it says, we're still competing with other women just in case sperm becomes a limited commodity.

Sadly this "Mean Girl" behaviour is not limited to high school, As a professional woman I have most certainly experienced cattiness, back stabbing, bitching & even being blocked from advancement by other women. I used to respond in kind...."She said that? Well wait until I tell you about her..... "but in recent years I have called "Time's Up" on my own behaviour by refusing to play the game anymore, by holding myself to a higher standard & by using my energy to support and uplift the amazing women I know deserve it & distancing myself from the people who don't. This change in my energy has made me happier, opened more opportunities for me and brought even more amazing women who want to support & uplift me into my life. Perfect.

So, after that long introduction this week Wendyl & I this week celebrate just some of the amazing women making wine in New Zealand. There are so many of them out there so I have picked three, all of whom are quite different from each other, but the one thing they have in common is that they make pretty amazing wines.

Renee Dale is a funky young surfer gal who describes herself as the "wannabe love child of Amelia Earhart and Jamie Oliver". After she got her Bachelor of Wine Science she moved to Napa to work but luckily for us back her in NZ she was unable to secure a US Visa to stay, so home she came & now makes Moi (Moment Of Impact) wines in Auckland.

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The Moi wine I have chosen is their Rose which is a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot based Rose teaming with flavours of wild berries & red fruits. At 8 grams at residual sugar it is just off dry and this delish drop was my personal choice to drink on NZ Rose day this year. Renee is also very environmentally conscious and as a result her wines don't have labels, but are screen-printed with a beautiful design on the front & a cheeky poem on that back and costs a mere $22. Renee believes every bottle should be a piece of artwork & no doubt she has hit the nail on the head with her wines that are gorgeous inside and out.

It is my absolutely privilege to consider the next Women In Wine my friend, Anna Flowerday is one half of the husband and wife team that makes up Te Whare Ra in Marlborough, one of my favourite NZ wineries. Anna is unbelievably knowledgeable & a remarkably talented winemaker, with a quick wit & an awesome sense of humour. Annas is also mother to not one, but two sets of twin girls. She is a powerhouse.

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Te Whare Ra wines are all organic, vegan, biodynamic and handpicked. Anna once said to me "I don't know if I'm a good mother, but I'm a good winemaker". I am happy to reassure her that she is kick-ass at both!

Anna's favourite wine is the Te Whare Ra "D" Riesling which is their dry Riesling with flavours of apple, lime & citrus. I had to admit to this also being one of my favourite Rieslings & it's widely available for $28.

No list of female winemakers would be complete without mentioning Jane Hunter, the indomitable "First Lady" of New Zealand wine. Born in South Australia, Jane came to NZ to be a viticulturist for Montana Wines. She then met her husband Ernie Hunter who at the time owner Hunter Wines. After Ernie was tragically killed in a car crash in 1987, Jane took the reins & turned Hunter Wines into the iconic New Zealand brand that it is today.

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Jane has been the recipient of an OBE for Service to Viticulture. the Wine & Spirits Women in Wine Award, the Companion to the New Zealand Order of Merit, was the first woman to be inducted into the New Zealand Wine Hall of Fame and most recently won Wine Marlborough Lifetime Achievement Award. She is quite frankly a legend of wine.

Jane's favourite wine is the Hunter Gewurtztraminer, and boy oh boy this is everything a great gewurtz should be...flavours of lychee, cinnamon, turkish delight (and happiness).

Click the link below to hear my chat with Wendyl on RadioLIVE about these amazing women in wine

Viognier (Pronounced Vee-Own-Yay)

Viognier is a white aromatic grape which originates from the Rhone in France. It's a aromatic varietal which is sometimes added to Syrah in small quantities to give it perfume. Just some of the aromas you will get if you stick your nose in a glass of Viognier include roses, tangerine, stonefruits, honeysuckle and an array of spices.

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Viognier is full bodied and usually aged in oak, so it's a good alternative for Chardonnay drinkers but it has a distinctive oiliness in the middle of the tongue, I know that sounds weird, but trust me, it's a good thing.

We don't see a lot of Viognier in NZ as it's not that easy a varietal to grow, it can be prone to mildew and needs long warm days for growth, hence why we mostly see it in warm Hawkes Bay.

For the most part Viognier is a early drinking wine and not intended for aging. Serve it cool but not too cold or you will deaden the multitude of amazing flavours that flood out of each glass of this gorgeous wine. Once chilled serve with grilled white meats or spicy foods.

As mentioned there aren't a huge amount of Viognier here at home in NZ but it's no surprise that all of my picks are from amazing Hawke's Bay, including this one from Saint Clair, which even though the family's home base winery is in Marlborough they have a vineyard site in the renowned Gimblett Graves region of Hawke's Bay. Their 2015 Viognier has lush flavours of peach, apricot and lavender with the slightest hint of cinnamon spice and available for $22.

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The team at Elephant Hill in the Te Awanga region of Hawke's Bay have the most remarkable winery you could imagine; modern, stylish & state of the art with a solid commitment to sustainability (including a system that recycles winery waste water).

Their wines are pretty spectacular too. This 2016 Viognier is bone dry with a residual sugar of only 1.1 grams and once again has flavours of peach and nectarine and hints of spice and ginger. Their vintages regularly sell out so waste no time in picking up this beauty for $29

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I love guys at Element so much & upon my last visit to Hawkes Bay they gave me such a warm welcome (& filled me with so much wine...), I genuinely now consider them friends. For such a tiny winery (2.2 hectares) they put so much love and passion into what they do and make some amazing wines. This 2015 Viognier smells of apricots and citrus blossom with a rich, full body. Delish! This wine is $25 a bottle but only available online, however the awesome Dom has, once again, provided a discount code for anyone who would like to purchase these wines can get a 20% discount for the next week by using the code "Mermaid" (well what else!) at www.elementwines.co.nz

To hear my chat about Viognier with Trudi Nelson on RadioLIVE click the link below.