Wines of the week… Chardonnay at $20 and $30

Many people are happy to have a job in these increasingly uncertain, global pandemic times, but for those who feel heavily invested in their work, the first wine of this week will ring a few bells. Its name is a clever play on words.

Where did the name Skin in the Game come from? I asked winemaker Tony Bish this question over a glass of wine a couple of weeks ago and the reply was: “It’s mandatory when you’re a winemaker to have some skin in the game.”

He has forged a  bit of a reputation as New Zealand’s king of Chardonnay, specialising in a grape and wine he loves by exploring and experimenting with many different styles, including this, the second vintage of the newest kid on his Chardonnay block – the 2019 Skin in the Game. A cheeky and clever play on words and available from specialist wine stores or directly online from

2019 Skin in the Game Chardonnay $30
Chardonnay grapes were hand harvested from the Skeetfield Vineyard in Fernhill, Hawke’s Bay, to make this dry, medium bodied and interestingly different take on a skin contact wine. It’s recognisably Chardonnay with its creamy, savoury flavours and nutty nuances. It’s made from 100% dry farmed grapes which can reduce yields and increase concentration. It was gently destemmed and foot crushed then open top fermented and hand plunged. Overall, that’s a lot of hand work for a Chardonnay at this price, which may be next level for many but which offers very good value for money for an interesting new take on the world’s most popular white wine.

2019 Fat & Sassy $19.99
Speaking of the world’s most popular white wine, this full bodied Chardonnay is citrusy, dry and fresh with buttery flavours from its barrel fermentation but it’s the nutty, lightly savoury flavours that really drive this wine’s appeal for me. Fat & Sassy does live up to its name but it’s also got a fine thread of balanced adicity adding an edge so there’s more than purely creamy appeal here.

First off the bottling line… new 2020 Sauvignon Blancs

The 2020 vintage may have been one of the most challenging in the history of the modern New Zealand wine industry, but the quality of these two fresh new whites shows that it will also go down as one of the best.

These two mid week white wines are very different styles from two vastly different regions, which share the same vintage freshness, concentration and zesty characters.

2020 Nga Waka Sauvignon Blanc Martinborough $19-$21, 18.5/20
Winemaker Roger Parkinson, brix at harvest 21.3, 12.5% ABV, RS less than 1g/l, ph 3.1

Nga Waka Sauvignon Blanc is a small Martinborough winery whose winemaker Roger Parkinson produces this Sauvignon Blanc from grapes grown on the Pirinoa Block in the township. It’s fermented to dryness in stainless steel at cool temperatures to preserve freshness and zingy characteristics. It has bright  noticeable acidity and a flinty dry flavour profile.

2020 Seifried Sauvignon Blanc Nelson $19.99, 18.5/20
This is a dry, refreshing new release from the 2020 vintage. It’s pale in colour with pronounced vibrant tropical fruit aromas of passionfruit, white peach and grapefruit all intermingling in a lush, delicious dry Sauvignon from the northernmost tip of the South Island.
Seifried Estate is one of Nelson’s oldest wineries and now run by the second generation of winemakers, namely, the children of founders Hermann and  Agnes Seifried. The family specialise in aromatic white wines as well as a range of reds, including cool climate red grapes from Austria, such as Zweigelt, which is made in small quantities.

Virtual wine tasting on Saturday 15 August 2020

A group of Hawke’s Bay winemakers is hosting its first virtual wine tasting on Saturday 15 August from 5pm to 6pm.

The evening will include wines, canapѐs and conversation, all to be had at home with a pre ordered tasting package including five different wines from five wineries in the region. It’s called the F.A.W.C! Night In Virtual Wine Tasting and includes wines from Halcyon Days Wines, Clearview Estate, Te Awa Estate, Collaboration Wines and Smith and Sheth CRU. A representative from each winery will host the tasting. Find out  more or buy tickets at