Tale of two rosés

When life tells you to slow the fuck down, it’s wise to listen. This year has been a lot like that. Two hand surgeries followed by a severely sprained ankle last week have left me sitting still. Very still. Is the foot fractured? Who can tell. Certainly not the radiologist, who struggled to get a glimpse of actual bone through the swelling but please put away the world’s smallest violins because life is good, despite these minor sedentary setbacks.

Two new rosés from Astrolabe winery in Marlborough are among a vast number of new wines launched onto the market this week.

Here’s the skinny.


2021 Astrolabe Comelybank Vineyard Pinot Noir Rosé RRP $32

The price of this rosé is clearly next level but then, so too is the taste. A warm fast ferment provides this single vineyard pink wine with its dry, savoury flavours, moving the taste firmly away from a tutti fruity style into refreshing, savoury flavours of slivered almonds, dried cranberries and even an earthy note on its lingering, weighty finish.

It gains depth of flavour and body from being fermented on solids (yeast lees) and was fermented to total dryness, leaving the wine with no residual sugar. It’s a refreshing style for this very reason.

Comelybank Vineyard Rosé is a single vineyard wine made with grapes grown by Jeff and Vanessa Hammond in the Waihopai Valley.

It is 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Gris.


2021 Astrolabe Marlborough Rosé RRP $28

Minimal skin contact and a high portion of Pinot Gris (45%) give this wine its pale pink colour and flavours that are dry with candied strawberries and crisp red apples in a light bodied, refreshing rosé.

The remaining 55% of the blend is Pinot Noir.

This lively new pinkie is lighter bodied than its big sibling from the Comely Bank Vineyard. And this wine also comes from cooler vineyards; 87% of the grapes were grown in the mid Awatere Valley with the remaining 13% being grown on the Kekerengu Coast. Both vineyards are  south of Blenheim.

Wellington icon wine store owner buys into Auckland

One family owned wine store passes ownership to another family in November this year when Geoff Henderson, the owner of Regional Wines & Spirits, takes over Herne Bay Cellars, which he has purchased.
The iconic store is set for a diverse new lease of life thanks to its acquisition by Geoff, who also owns the newly designed Hamilton Beer & Wine Co and beercellar.co.nz. His business acquisitions are seeing him expand an independent group of stores in an age where independent wine, beer and spirit stores remain something of a rarity.

Geoff purchased Herne Bay Cellars from Michael Hudson, who began the store 30 years ago. Since its inception, Herne Bay Cellars has hosted famous  tastings, such as with Sir John Kirwan, and famously moved location – a whole two doors along the road from 182 to 184  Jervois Road, in 2014.
“Herne Bay Cellars will be my first store in Auckland and I intend to bring some of the extensive product range we offer at our current stores to this outstanding site,” says Geoff, who has worked in drinks retail since 2007. He started with a store in the Central Plateau region and today manages 30 employees across two of New Zealand’s most extensively stocked and well respected liquor retail stores in Hamilton and Wellington.

Outgoing storeowner Michael Hudson plans to holiday in Whangamata in November to begin his retirement, where he enjoys surfing.

Disclaimer: I work for Geoff Henderson as a writer and part time wine adviser at Regional Wines & Spirits. 

Friday wine with Dom Maxwell of Greystone

Two things he loved and one that he loathed led Dom Maxwell to leave a desk job and pursue a winemaking one. The rest is, as they say, history.

Here is Dom Maxwell’s story.

Bored at his desk job and in love with being outside led Dom Maxwell to his consider a career in winemaking because he was kindling the first flames of his passion for wine, when living in the UK. He is now the winemaker at Greystone Winery in North Canterbury, a place he began work in October 2004, initially in the vineyards there. Prior to that, he studied a one year post graduate  viticulture and oenology degree at Lincoln University. His first degree, several years prior, was also at Lincoln University in commerce and management which he followed up with nearly five years in London. He was bitten by the wine bug when working at a friend’s market garden and gradually felt frustrated sitting behind a desk. This feeling was accentuated by his partner (now wife) being in a job she loved, which inspired Dom to test the waters of more enjoyable work than sitting behind a desk.

Dom made a small amount of wine in 2005, working alongside the highly experienced North Canterbury winemaker, Alan McCorkindale, for a couple of years. His guidance and advice were invaluable, says Dom, who was handed the winemaking reins in 2008.

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

Wine of the week

2019 Greystone Chardonnay RRP $40

Thought provoking wine from a much under rated wine region; North Canterbury on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Greystone Chardonnay has a succulent dry taste of lime zest acidity which adds length and balance to this full bodied style of the world’s most popular white. Every sip shows depth of character and a range of spicy, deliciously bright flavours.

Dom Maxwell on the Proust questionnaire

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

To be able to tap into a side of myself that I never really knew existed when I was growing up; the artistic side.

In a winemaking sense, your palate, your olfactory experience and how they connects with your brain and enable you to make decisions and decipher things is an interesting state of mind. It allows me to sit back and absorb things more in lots of aspects of life whether it’s in the winery or with my children or my fruit trees. When I was growing up, I wasn’t in tune with that side of myself. I was into sport and numbers – being very good at maths.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Understanding how good I have it.

Gratitude about where I am and who I am with. My situation makes me realise – what more could I ask for? Happiness, for me, is more than just about a moment.

What is your current state of mind?

Really excited and because you’ve caught me right at the start of the growing season. There’s always so much anticipation going into the season and we feel as a team that quality is improving every year.

What is your favourite winemaking task?

Filling barrels. You’ve got this nice contented warm glow and you’re tucking the wines up into bed, so to speak.

The intoxicating aromatics that come out when the young wine goes into oak is what I look forward to. I love it.

What is your most treasured wine?

The 2015 Greystone Vineyard Ferment, which we never released. It was the first vintage we bottled, just to show people. I’ve still got a couple of bottles tucked away at home. We trial and experiment a lot with  things that don’t always see the light of day and we were really heartened by the feedback.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Without a doubt my family. My two young daughters and Nadia. Without them I don’t think I would be who I am.

Where is your favourite wine region?

I’m sitting in it. I have other regions I love and a lot I need to get to but when you are so connected to a place, you learn to love it more and more. That’s just our patch of earth. I’m starting to get to know others’ vineyards as well.

What is your most marked characteristic?

I’m got a rubber arm and find it very hard to say no.

When and where were you the happiest?

In the bush or the ocean. Being surrounded by nature and being a part of it. Breathing in the air is intoxicating and good for the soul. When you come out from nature, you feel super relaxed.

What is it that you most dislike in wine? 

Smoke and mirrors. Stories that aren’t real.

What is your greatest fear?

Finding no staff at harvest and having to do everything myself.

What is your greatest extravagance? 

Wine. I would spend more on wine than I do on clothes. It’s very hard when I see wine that I love to not buy it.

What is your greatest regret?

Not listening in class. It’s such a long time ago but it’s so easy to be derailed by other people.

Which talent would you most like to have?

To play the drums.

Where would you like to live?

A Pacific Island would be quite nice. I like heat and water.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Plotting against other people. You’ve got to be in a pretty bad place to be fixated on adhering to the tall poppy syndrome.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Being a bit of a glutton. I pay the price for indulging.

What do you most value in your friends?


Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

One or two that are unprintable when rushing in the winery.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would like to be able to turn off more easily. To be able to flick from indepth mode to out mode.

What is your favourite meal?


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

Coming back as a sea creature would be pretty good. Maybe a dolphin because they’re awesome swimmers but they’re up against it with over fishing.

What is your motto?

All know the way, but few actually take it.