Tales of wine, people and travel

NZ’s first organic wine week

Organic winemakers are upping the ante in New Zealand this September with the first Organic Wine Week from 17 to 23 September.

Event organisers aim to highlight the 10% of wine producers in New Zealand who are now certified organic in production from the vineyard to the winery.

Certification is the only guarantee of any organic product. The number of organically certified winemakers is growing fast, due to local and global demand for more transparency in production methods and the healthy aspects of consumable products.

Organic Winegrowers New Zealand is an incorporated society with 180 members.

Organic Wine Week event sneak peak

New Zealand restaurants will host events with organic winemakers including…

  • The Grove (Auckland), Shepherd (Wellington), Bistronomy (Hawke’s Bay), Arbour (Blenheim), Gatherings at Black Estate vineyard (Canterbury) and Sherwood (Queenstown).
  • New Zealand retailers will host public organic wine tastings, including Commonsense Organics in Wellington and Glengarry in Auckland.
  • European events include a masterclass with organic winemakers at New Zealand Winegrowers HQ in London; a consumer tasting at the New Zealand Cellar in London, a New Zealand organic wine list focus at key restaurants in London and an organic showcase at New Zealand Winegrowers tasting events in Warsaw and Hamburg.

Organic Winegrowers New Zealand will launch a calendar of events in August on the Organic Winegrowers website at

Cloudy Bay’s new shed in Central

Cloudy Bay’s The Shed is the newest tasting room in Central Otago


It looks anything but a traditional New Zealand rural shed and the activities on offer are also rather different.

Cloudy Bay’s new cellar door offers everything from informal tastings and light snacks to private group tastings, vineyard tours on foot and in the air.

The well known Marlborough based winery has been making wine from Central Otago grapes since 2010 and purchased the Northburn Station vineyard in 2012. Its flagship Pinot Noir is Te Wahi, which is made from grapes grown both there and on the biodynamic Calvert Vineyard in Bannockburn.

All of Cloudy Bay’s wines will be available for tasting at The Shed, says estate director Yang Shen. The winery is now owned by the LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton group.

The Shed is open Tuesday to Saturday year round and seven days during summer months at 45 Northburn Station Road, Cromwell, Otago.

What I’m drinking

What’s that I hear? The world’s smallest violin playing just for me? Yes, tasting and writing about wine is a tough job but you know what they say. Someone’s got to do it and I’m glad that someone is me, especially when wines this good come along and trickle into my tasting glass. It’s hard to keep up with all the goodies, so here are five of the top drops that have intrigued my mind and my mouth in the past month.



2012 As Caborcas Single Vineyard Telmo Rodriguez RRP $93.99
It’s tempting to rate this wine even higher than 19 out of 20, it is so outrageously tasty, thanks to the intuitive winemaking of Spaniard Telmo Rodriguez, who shines his light on the grape rather than  the winemaking. He uses six different native Spanish grapes here, all grown on bush vines – low to the ground for warmth on steeply sloping terraces of 550 to 600 metres above sea level, on the edge of the Bibei River in Valdeorras (‘the valley of gold). The elevation to the sun warms the stony granite soils, providing good drainage and low fertility low so there is great flavour concentration. The leading grape here is Mencia, with its delicate dark fruit flavours, high acidity for freshness – it tastes a little like a cross between Pinot Noir and Syrah, only with its own personality. The other grapes are Meranzao, Souson, Garnacha, Godello and Brencellao.

This is a wine of real beauty.




2015 Domaine Alary L’Est’evenas Cairanne Cotes du Rhone $38

This voluptuous bottle contains a 50/50 blend of Grenache and Syrah and is certified organic, so it has plenty of feel-good factor as well as deliciousness. It’s deep purple,  velvet smooth and spicy so has loads of complexity and its intense flavours suggest low crop levels and lots of attention to details. It’s from a family owned winery that’s been making wine since 1692 in France’s Rhone Valley.


2009 Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage $125

Champagne is never cheap and rarely easy to justify in a world awash with low priced bubbles so it is refreshing to taste (and see the slightly more affordable price tag) of this new rsingle vintage wine from the biggest producers of champagne, Moet & Chandon. This massive company makes millions of bottles of bubbles a year, and significantly lower amounts of its top drops, such as this crisp fresh newcomer. It’s all about citrusy freshness and a light body… too easy to enjoy at the start of a night.



2014 Umani Ronchi Vigor Marche IGT Sangiovese Merlot RRP $26.99

The vineyard of Vigor is 150 metres above sea level and faces south in the Marche region on central Italy’s east coast. All of the grapes in this full bodied dry red were picked by hand and they include 75% of Italy’s most planted red – Sangiovese – with the remaining 25% Merlot. It’s fermented in stainless steel for two weeks and aged in old oak for a modest eight months, which softens out Sangiovese’s edgy personality and adds depth to this wine, which is a great drink with savoury foods; mushroom risotto, hard cheese and gamey flavours.

New Zealand


2015 Misha’s Limelight Riesling Central Otago $29-$31

If Riesling immediately makes you run for cover, perhaps it’s time to try this beautifully balanced medium dry white from the world’s most southern wine region. It contains 24 grams of residual sugar per litre and was bottled in September 2015 – information like this makes back labels worth sticking on bottles and what’s inside is even more compelling. It’s still youthful and will age well for up to a decade with its deliciously succulent, intense flavours of lime zest, green apples and a light body.


2015 Misha’s Vineyard Cantata Pinot Noir $30

It’s rare to find Otago Pinot Noirs of this price at all, let alone as pretty to drink as this delicate and silky southern Pinot. It’s medium bodied with high alcohol of 14% ABV – often the case for Central Otago – and winemaker Ollie Masters has championed the fruit flavours in this wine ahead of oak, which makes it a winner for me.

PS… Oops, that more than 5 top drops… 

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