Friday wine with Roger Parkinson and three new Pinot Noirs

Weekly wine talk is published every Friday

Climate change keeps Roger Parkinson permanently on edge these days. The Martinborough local marks 30 years of continuous winemaking at Nga Waka next year, a milestone by any stretch but particularly in a country as new to wine as New Zealand.

Here, he shares his thoughts about wine, life and three new Pinot Noirs.

This is the 13th interview on this website based on the famous Proust questionnaire, which originated in 1886 – find out more here.

Wine of the week


2020 Nga Waka Martinborough Lease Block Pinot Noir RRP $45

Hot days, strong winds, cool nights and low yields of grapes make Martinborough potentially magnificent for ripening small volumes of high quality Pinot Noirs. This is an exceptional example from a great year.

This wine’s depth of flavour sits in an impressive framework of smoothness in a wine with a full body, super savoury taste and balanced by a refreshing, long finish thanks to acidity, which provides freshness and vibrancy to every sip of this wine, which is made from 0.8 hectare vineyard known as Lease Block, situated on Huangarua Road. This site was planted in 1999 in 100% Pinot Noir clone 5, 115, and 10/5. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered, this wine is vegan friendly.

Find out more about the other two new Nga Waka Pinot Noirs here

Meet Roger Parkinson of Nga Waka

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

On the wine side it’s playing a part in the development of Martinborough as a quality producer and approaching 30 vintages of winemaking. How did that happen so fast? Personally, the satisfaction of having grown two awesome children and watching them flourish as adults. Probably more their’sand my wife Carol’s achievement than mine but very rewarding.

What is your current state of mind?

Covid has been tough on everyone and has definitely produced some mental fatigue but I think we’re close to seeing light at the end of the tunnel. I’m pretty optimistic about daily life and have much to be grateful for but I’m very anxious for the future.

We have yet to respond urgently enough to the climate catastrophe that is charging at us so I’m very pessimistic about that.

What is your favourite part of being involved in winemaking?

The people and idea of creating the liquid history of the region in wines made in it. There is a strange dichotomy with winemaking that provides some nice creative tension. On one hand, we expect the region and terroir to deliver consistent flavours and style from one year to the next. On the other hand we look for each vintage to tell its own story. The art of winemaking lies in working within that tension.

Do you have a most treasured wine?

In 1985 when my parents lived in Rome we had the whole family together and Dad produced a magnum of 1970 Prunotto Barolo for Xmas lunch. Both the occasion and the wine, which was incredible, remain treasured memories.

Where is your favourite wine region?

Other than Martinborough, it has to be Alsace.

When and where are you at your happiest?

These days it’s all about horses. I still ride which gives me great pleasure but we also breed and race thoroughbreds so anything to do with that is my happy place.

What do you most dislike in wine?


What is your greatest fear?

Climate change.

What is your greatest extravagance?


What is your greatest regret?

Not buying much more land in Martinborough when it really was a steal.

What talent would you most like to have?

Guitar mastery rather than three-chord basher status.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

A world without wine, horses and music.

What is the trait that you most deplore in yourself?


What do you most value in your friends?

Sense of humour and empathy.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

You’d have to ask my wife Carol.

What is your favourite meal?

Slow cooked lamb shanks with Pinot of course, with tiramisu for dessert.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing what do you think it would be?

Not an easy question for an atheist to answer as it’s not going to happen.

Author: Joelle Thomson

I am a wine writer, author and educator... first bitten by a big buttery Chardonnay on a dark and stormy night in the 1980s and there was no turning back... Follow my tastings and join some too on this new site.

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