New head for top Kiwi company

Wellingtonian Andrew Parkinson will take over as managing director of one of New Zealand’s biggest wine import and distribution companies this year, Negociants NZ. He will officially step into the shoes of managing director on 28 May 2021 when Clive Weston steps down after thirty years with the company, which includes Nautilus Wines of Marlborough in its portfolio.

The news has a domino effect with Dean McHenry taking over from Parkinson as general manager of Negociants New Zealand (domestic) and a new appointment, yet to be made, of a national sales manager, to take over from McHenry.

Clive Weston praised the people he has worked with at Negociants over the past 30 years. “Working with such a fine group of talented, enthusiastic, wine wise people, past and present, has been a great honour; we have a good number of long serving individuals in the team, as well as some who have made Negociants their workplace of choice in more recent years but the blend works well.”

Andrew Parkinson says he met Clive Weston in the lobby of the Regent Hotel in 1988 and has since counted him as a leader and innovator in the New Zealand wine and hospitality industries. “His influence will be long felt in our business and I am assured that sage advice and a glass of Nautilus Pinot Noir is never far away if needed.”

Heartwood highlight from first Chardonnay Collection

Hawke’s Bay may usurp Gisborne’s spot as Chardonnay Capital of New Zealand yet. The second biggest wine region in the country (Hawke’s Bay) has just released its first official regional Chardonnay Collection with 12 wines, which I am tasting as I write. The region’s winemakers were invited to submit Chardonnays from the 2019 vintage to Cameron Douglas, a wine consultant and reviewer who also holds the Master Sommelier qualification. He was employed by Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers to conduct a blind tasting of the 55 wines submitted, from which he selected the 12 top wines. The collection is destined to become an annual feature on the Bay’s winemaking calendar, which will highlight the region’s most popular and most widely planted white wine grape and wine. Chardonnay is also the world’s most popular white wine in terms of numbers globally.

The inaugural collection is featured below. My highlight of the impressive line up is this wine:


2019 Tony Bish Heartwood Chardonnay $34.99
Heartwood Chardonnay is one of the icons in winemaker Tony Bish’s stable of full bodied, next level, dry, rich and flavoursome whites. And the 2019 Heartwood Chardonnay was one of only two New Zealand wines to make the cut into the 2020 Top 100 Wine Discoveries by leading wine authority Robert Parker. It’s made from 100% Mendoza clone Chardonnay grapes grown in the Upper Dartmoor Valley and Bay View in Napier. All grapes were hand harvested and 95% wer fermented in barrel with 5% in Tony’s new French oak ovum. The wine was matured for a year in 25% new Taransaud oak with regular lees stirring (aka batonnage) to enhance the creamy expression of oak maturation.
Balance is key to great taste and this wine has it in spades with freshness to burn, a full body and loads of creamy expression to please the crowds – with zesty acidity to appeal to me. It’s great to see a modern style Chardonnay combining elements of ripeness and spine.

The first Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay Collection

2019 Askerne Estate The Archer Chardonnay RRP $50
2019 Bilancia Tiratore Chardonnay RRP $90
2019 Church Road Tom Chardonnay RRP $150
2019 Clearview Estate Reserve Chardonnay RRP $45
2019 Collaboration Wines Aurulent Chardonnay RRP $35
2019 Coopers Creek Select Vineyards Limeworks Chardonnay RRP $25
2019 Elephant Hill Salomé Chardonnay RRP $75
2019 Monowai Estate Upper Reaches Chardonnay RRP $35
2019 Pask Declaration Chardonnay RRP $45
2019 Sacred Hill Riflemans Chardonnay RRP $70
2019 Tony Bish Wines Heartwood Chardonnay RRP $35
2019 Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Chardonnay RRP $80

Two new wine qualifications launch this year

Wine generates a cool $2 billion for New Zealand so two new courses are launching this year to transform our knowledge of this highly successful (and still relatively youthful) industry.

Celia Hay is launching the new courses this year at the New Zealand School of Food and Wine, which she founded in 1995 in Christchurch, then relocated to Auckland in 2011 after the quakes.

“The focus of the two new courses is building knowledge of New Zealand and international wine regions through tasting and research and at the same time considering how successful regions manage their tourism and food and wine experiences,” says Hay, who is the director and a hands on tutor at the NZ School of Food & Wine.

“New Zealand’s wine story has been one of resounding success with wine now a $2 billion dollar sector in this country,” she says.

The courses will offer new career opportunities for people of all ages, especially in sales and marketing, at winery cellar doors,  food and wine tourism and enhancing customer experience in restaurants, cafes, bars and hotels.

“There is much to learn from understanding what makes a wine region successful and famous as a destination to visit. We see this knowledge as being important and extremely helpful to build our own New Zealand wine destinations and enhance their visitors’  experience.”

Wine tasting provides an opportunity that Hay describes as unique when it comes to tasting and savouring the characteristics of wine regions, which can be captured in the glass. Whisky is similar because it can reflects a style that is associated with the Highlands in Scotland or the smoky peaty styles that defines whiskies from the Scottish isles.

The qualifications will also focus on the business of running wineries and restaurants. Graduates will develop confidence in the use of digital marketing applications, understanding promotional and sales platforms and techniques. All of these aspects comprise the sales and marketing toolkits of successful businesses.

NZ Certificate in Professional Wine Knowledge Level 5 and the NZ Diploma of Wine Management Level 6 will be available as full time and part time programmes with some remote learning options for people living outside Auckland.

Both qualification embed the WSET Level 2 and 3 Award in Wine and the WSET Level 2 Award in Spirits. New Zealand residents are eligible for student loans, allowances and Free Fees, if they meet the criteria.

Find out more about the new courses… The courses are the NZ Certificate in Professional Wine Knowledge Level 5 (more details here) and the NZ Diploma in Professional Wine Management Level 6 (more information here).