People, places, wine

Women in Wine mentor applications open for 2019

Calling all women working with wine – applications are now open to mentors and mentees for the country’s second ever Women in Wine NZ Mentoring Programme.

Pictured above: The mentors in the inaugural 2018 Women in Wine Mentoring Programme.

The Women in Wine NZ Mentoring Programme launched last year and is currently on the hunt for both mentees and mentors. Its aim is to match a mentee with a mentor in each of New Zealand’s nine wine regions.

The programme is gaining positive support from both mentors and mentees following the inaugural programme, launched in 2018. Jane Hunter of Hunter’s Wines in Marlborough was a mentor last year, who said she found last year’s programme extremely uplifting and motivating.

This year’s intake, like last year’s inaugural group, will include one mentor matched to one mentee from each the country’s nine wine regions.

The idea is to provide a structured platform on which to share information, experience and education by cross pollinating women from different areas of the wine industry to learn. Numbers of mentors and mentees in each region are anticipated to grow in future years and the fledgling programme is gaining positive support from the wine industry.

All applicants must be members of New Zealand Winegrowers, but intake criteria could widen in future. The programme may also potentially broaden to include both genders, in years to come.

Applications close on 10 February 2019 and the programme is supported by New Zealand Winegrowers, which is the official wine industry governing body.

Best in show… two great whites in a different light

According to a workmate, a mind and a parachute have something in common – they only work if they’re open.

Sam Weaver models Churton Best End Sauvignon Blanc on the great whites of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé in France’s Loire Valley.

It’s a good analogy for how many of us working in the drinks trade feel about high volume products, which leads me to Sauvignon Blanc – the most planted grape in New Zealand (23,102 hectares of the country’s total of 37,968 hectares) and the sole ingredient in these two wines of the week from Marlborough and Central Otago.

Sauvignon Blanc makes up 77% of the white grapes grown in this country and over 85% of our wine exports, so it’s easy to tire of the familiar, if high quality, styles of fruit driven Sauvignon – but here are two wines that throw a new light onto this familiar wine.

A big wine from a tiny winery… Churton Best End

2017 Churton Best End Sauvignon Blanc $47

Sam Weaver has a background in the English fine wine trade so it’s no surprise to see his great whites modelled on the great classics of the world, such as France’s Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, whose complex flavours inspired this cool, calm and collected, full bodied Sauvignon Blanc, made from a 1.2 hectare vineyard on a north facing slope, 185 metres above sea level above the Waihopai Valley in Marlborough.

Hand picked grapes were barrel fermented in old oak and the wine is unfined, unfiltered and made in small quantities – 2890 bottles made from 2017.

This is one of the best Sauvignon Blancs ever produced in this country – a stellar full bodied, rich and flavoursome white. Delicious.

Central Otago sweet white

2016 Amisfield Noble Sauvignon Blanc $45
This delicious sweetie tastes like a combination of liquid clover honey and freshly picked green plums. It contains 122 grams of residual sugar per litre, balanced by vibrant acidity (7.20 to 8.20 grams per litre), which tones down the sweet flavours, adding length to every sip.

Central Otago is known for many impressive peaks from its majestic mountains to its powerful Pinot Noirs, so sweet Sauvignon Blanc steps outside the norm for this southern region. That’s no surprise from Amisfield winemakers, who experiment with a diverse range of delicious styles from sweet Sauvignon to a full bodied, barrel fermented fumé – also incredibly tasty, but that’s another story.

Wine of the week, 6 January 2019

Can you believe it’s 2019? Already? Where did last year disappear to? Sketchy memories of a challenging year seem to evaporate every time I try to grasp hold of one and recall exactly what happened. There were highs, of course. This Chardonnay, for instance, which drinks like a dream now – and won’t break the bank.

2016 Mahi Marlborough Chardonnay $29

Like a stock pile of great looking labels, this wine arrived late in the piece in 2018 and I finally had the opportunity to give it proper attention this week, only to be wowed by its beautiful big, full body, dry flavours, fresh citrusyness… and all balanced beautifully by a gentle note of creaminess, which fits the style and never takes over the wine’s lemony fresh taste.

This is a great wine from a top producer – winemaker Brian Bicknell (who also owns Mahi Wines). Here, he highlights the potential of Marlborough to make exceptional quality Chardonnay that drinks well now and has the power to go the distance too – it can age for five to six years and longer in a optimum cellaring conditions.

I am an independent wine writer, journalist and editor, and all views expressed on this website are entirely my own. 

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