Tales of wine, people and travel

Bud Burst… Wellington Sunday 11 November

Sicily, Mt Etna, winemaker Alberto Graci (right) with Italian wine importer in New Zealand, Marco Nordio

Bud Burst Natural Wine Festival is being held in the capital this Sunday 11 November from 12pm to 6.30pm at the Boatshed and Rowing Club on Wellington waterfront.

This wine festival explores the controversial world of natural wine, exploring concepts such as – is natural the enemy of fine wine? And what is natural wine all about anyway?

To kick things off, I interviewed wine importer Marco Nordio, who is based in Auckland and imports a range of interesting adventurous wines from Italy, including Alberto Graci’s wines; pictured above.


What’s the best thing about Bud Burst?


MN: It is a breath of fresh air in the world of wine. There is energy and innovation in natural wines even if in many cases it is just a return to the original roots of winemaking.  It is about shortening the distance between the land and the wine though non interventionist winemaking.  This method is more difficult than it seems as there is a lot of knowledge to acquire before reaching the  result.  Bud Burst is a great way to expand interest and  knowledge of natural wines.


How many wines will you take there this year?
MN: I will present three wines made by Luca and Carolina Valfaccenda from Roero in Piemonte, Italy. It is a project born in 2010 with the grapes Arneis and Nebbiolo planted in the Roero region, which is near to the more famous Barolo and Barbaresco. They produce five wines. All have a defined personality. There is the south facing Arneis planted in sandy soil, producing an elegant and intensely perfumed Arneis that ends up in their top wine: Arzigh (meaning hazard in Piemontese dialect). In the east facing vineyard there is more limestone with sand and clay soils, which provides the wines with a fresher, more mineral style.
Only a limited amount of SO2 is added to his wines and there is no filtration or  clarification. Spontaneous fermentation and maceration are adopted to extract  attractive structure from the skins of the grapes.
How well do you think most wine drinkers understand natural and low intervention wines?
I think the idea is spreading relatively fast but it still reaches only a small number of wine drinkers.
How can people better understand these concepts?
Those of us working with wine need to provide more information to the public so they can better understand the meaning of natural wine. These wines have a fresh energy and a distinctive personality that is very attractive but it is also about respecting the environment while making these wines. The idea is about leaving the land in the same condition it was before growing grapes and possibly better.
How would you like people to think about these wines? 
I would like people to appreciate the best natural wines for being good wines, first of all.  They can also be a statement in favour of small scale, hands off winemaking that departs from machine based, industrial wine making. It is my opinion that we should also help the wine drinker to discern between good and bad natural wine,  as quality is not a given. 
There is a lot of research and experimentation involved in making a good natural wine and a lot of wine gets disposed of (hopefully) in the process.


Bud Burst


Bud Burst is on Sunday 11 November, 12 noon to 6.30pm, The Boatshed, Taranaki Street, Wellington.


Buy tickets here:

Coal Pit in Otago appoints new winemaker

It sounds more like an interesting piece of earth than a winery but therein lies the beauty of the evocatively named Coal Pit Wines in Gibbston Valley, one of Otago’s coolest grape growing sub regions – and today it announced a new winemaker – Anika Willner.

Coal Pit winery & vineyard in Gibbston Valley, Central Otago

The Coal Pit name comes from an historic area in nearby mountain ranges, which provided early pioneers, musterers and gold miners with coal. Many of Central Otago’s best wine brands are named after striking nearby landmarks, such as Chard Farm’s Judge and Jury Chardonnay, to name one of many examples.

Rosie Dunphy, Coal Pit Winery owner

Willner will be joined by winemaker Olly Masters, the man in charge of defining wine style and quality at Misha’s Vineyard and formerly of Ata Rangi fame. Masters is one of New Zealand’s most highly respected winemakers and he will work as a consultant to Coal Pit.

Willner is a graduate of Ohio State University and was part of the Coal Pit winemaking team for the 2018 vintage. She also has winemaking experience in Oregon, Australia, Germany, South Africa as well as New Zealand.

“We are thrilled at these additions to our Coal Pit team… We have been focussed on improving the vineyard since we purchased in 2001 and have made wine on-site since 2007 to ensure maximum quality from vine through to bottle,” says winery owner Rosie Dunphy, who produces Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc for domestic and international markets from her 12 hectare vineyard.

The name Tiwha (the brand name of the winery’s Pinot Noir) is a Maori name, which pays tribute to Rosie’s late father and to her family heritage.

Big bodied Chardonnay tasting

The most popular white wine on Earth

Flowering on vines in Marlborough’s sunny southern valleys; no wonder the wines taste so good from these hillside vineyards

If you had to name the most popular white wine on Earth today, big bodied Chardonnay would be the first to spring to mind, but where do you find it in a world of ever increasing diversity?

A tasting in Wellington on Thursday 15 November at Regional Wines is one place to start – we will open four top shelf Chardonnays, all big bodied beauties made from one vineyard in Marlborough – Clayvin.

Big bodied Chardonnays

2015 Fuder Clayvin Chardonnay

2012 Fuder Clayvin Chardonnay

2016 Fromm Clayvin Vineyard Chardonnay

2009 Fromm Clayvin Vineyard Chardonnay

The Clayvin Vineyard’s long, sunny days take Chardonnay to new heights of ripeness in Marlborough – New Zealand’s biggest wine region.

About Clayvin Vineyard

Clayvin was the first vineyard ever to be planted on a hillside in Marlborough back in 1991.

It is in an area of Marlborough called the Southern Valleys, which is a series of rolling hillsides that face north, which helps to maximise the sunshine hours that grapes receive. This means that grapes growing here tend to ripen more evenly and develop lots of tasty stonefruit types of flavours on the ripening journey. The hot days need to be balanced. Enter cool nights. These enable grapes growing here to retain their fresh vibrant acidity, which balances the bold and powerful fruit flavours deliciously well.

And don’t just take our word for it.

In two weeks’ time, we have two of Marlborough’s most talented winemakers winging their way to Wellington for a tasting of these big bodied Chardonnays (with some top reds thrown in for good measure too).

Taste big bodied Chardonnays

Winemakers Hätsch Kalberer of Fromm and Nikolai St George of  Giesen will take us on a tasting tour in our wine glasses with a great line up of wines made from these dramatic hillside vineyards in Marlborough’s southern valleys.

The whole tasting

2015 Fuder Clayvin Chardonnay

2012 Fuder Clayvin Chardonnay

2016 Fromm Clayvin Vineyard Chardonnay

2009 Fromm Clayvin Vineyard Chardonnay

2014 Giesen Single Vineyard Clayvin Pinot Noir

2011 Giesen Single Vineyard Clayvin Pinot Noir

2016 Fromm Clayvin Vineyard Pinot Noir

2006 Fromm Clayvin Vineyard Pinot Noir

2016 Giesen Single Vineyard Clayvin Syrah

Bookings are essential…

Book here: email John

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