Weekly wine news and top drops

Author: Joelle Thomson (page 2 of 113)

Women in wine… Rosie Dunphy

Rosie Dunphy and her eldest daughter, Georgia (right) at Coal Pit Vineyard in the Gibbston Valley, Central Otago

If you could choose any bottle of wine to drink tonight, what would it be?

RD: Given that the evenings are getting cooler, 2012 Coal Pit Pinot Noir is the wine we’re drinking at home at the moment which, of course, I’m absolutely loving. But during the summer evenings I couldn’t wait to sit down with friends and family, and enjoy some delicious cheese and a glass of 2018 Coal Pit Rosé.


How did you come to own a small winery on a back road in Otago’s coolest wine sub-region?

RD: I studied Advanced Urban Horticulture in Australia and decided that owning a vineyard and producing the very best grapes possible was where my heart was leaning. Before moving to Ireland for two years I looked around but it was my brother-in-law, the late Peter Walker, who heard that Coal Pit vineyard was for sale.  We approached a number of people for advice, including Alan Brady, the godfather of Central Otago wine. He assured me this was an excellent site and that I shouldn’t hesitate. I’ll always be so grateful to Peter and Alan for their direction.


What’s your biggest wine success to date?

RD:  It’s difficult to say but it was an honour for our 2014 Coal Pit Pinot Noir to win a trophy and gold medal at the 2016 International Wine Challenge, which is regarded as the world’s most meticulously judged wine competition with literally tens of thousands of wines entered from around the world. The same wine also won Pure Elite Gold at the 2015 Air New Zealand Wine Awards. That said, the biggest wine success is really having a great team of people around me who are all energetic, accomplished and fun to work with.

What’s your ultimate dream goal for your wines?
RD: To be the best
What’s the most challenging aspect of owning a winery?
RD: The weather.
How would you like people to describe your Pinot Noir? 
RD: World class
What was the most helpful thing you learnt in your viticulture training at Plumpton College?
RD: The course at Plumpton College was just an introduction and much of it was not relevant to a small winery in Central Otago where we don’t have many of the diseases and problems they have in the United Kingdom climate. The most valuable and helpful things Ive learnt have been day by day, running the vineyard. I’m the first to admit I rely heavily on the expertise of my vineyard, winery, sales and admin’ managers. Coal Pit is the result of a team effort.

Wines of the week… top drops from Champagne

It was my Xth trip around the sun this week so it seemed only fitting to begin it with champagne and the company of Laurence Alamanos, export director of Champagne Ayala. Her trip to Wellington was to show the new lease of life in this old champagne brand, which was founded in the 1860s in Ay, a grand cru village in the Champagne region.

Right from day one, the bubbles of Ayala have been drier than most of their champagne counterparts, which may seem like a moot point these days when so many champagne makers are producing drier wines. But back then it was a pretty big deal because many champagne producers made wine specifically to cater to the large Russian market, which had a penchant for sweet sparkling wines – the sweeter, the better. Ayala stood out from the crowd at the time by making drier styles of bubbles. It was also a significant producer in size too. The company produced approximately one million bottles of bubbles a year out of a regional total of 20 to 30 million bottles, in its heyday in the 1920s. Today, its production remains around the one million bottle mark but the regional total has climbed to approximately 300 million. And it’s no longer a family owned company, having changed owners twice since its inception, most notably selling to Champagne Bollinger in 2005. The style of Champagne Ayala’s bubbles remains true to its original dry mantra and makes a zero dosage wine, which spends four years on lees in bottle to add more body, texture and weight to counterbalance the potentially austere dryness of the wine. I like the Brut Majeur but the 100% Chardonnay blanc de blanc bubbly was my pick of the Ayala range. Which surprised me. I first fell in love with Bollinger a long time ago and it’s the toasty, yeasty, savouryness of Bolly’s Pinot Noir dominant flavours that spins my taste wheels, so it’s nice to be reminded of the greatness of Chardonnay with bubbles by Ayala, the feisty little sister of Bollinger.

Bargain buy

2015 Konrad Dry Marlborough Riesling $17.99

It’s rare to find Rieslings labelled ‘dry’ on the front label even though wine consumers keenly ask for styles that are, unashamedly, dry. Konrad Wines is a sizeable producer in Marlborough, which  makes good quality Sauvignon Blanc and this outstanding dry Riesling with its lime zesty flavours, fresh acidity and lingering finish.

Available from specialist wine stores or Konrad Wines


Treat of the week

Champagne Ayala Rosé Majeur $105

This pale salmon coloured rosé is made from 50% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier, only it’s sparkling red wine that’s blended here rather than still (which makes up a relatively low 6% of this blend). Champagne is the only French region where white and red wines can be blended together to make pink wines. It tastes toasty, delicate and lingering.

Available from specialist wine stores.


Reaching for the stars

2012 Champagne Ayala Le Blanc de Blancs $130

This new vintage champagne spent 5 years on lees in bottle; those decomposing yeast cells that release delicious nutty flavours into the wine. It’s dry with 6 grams of sugar at dosage and the Chardonnay taste stands out loud and clear, balanced by crisp, fresh, lingering vibrant acidity.

Available from specialist wine stores.

How do you think and feel about wine?

If you’re over 18 years old, drink wine and live in New Zealand, wine sensory scientist at Lincoln University Wendy Parr wants you to participate in a study about wine.

It’s a collaboration with a French university to find out how wine drinkers feel and think about wine in New Zealand, France and United Kingdom.

The survey began about six months’ ago and will close as soon as at least 200  people in each of the markets has responded.

“More people are preferable but this number gives us enough to draw some conclusions,” says Parr, who is the principle research officer at the Department of Wine, Food & Molecular Biosciences at Lincoln University in Canterbury.

“The more people who share their ideas, the better the data will represent wine drinkers of all levels, including connoisseurs and wine professionals.”

All results annonymous

The results will involve anonymous data that will be kept confidential. Data will be analysed by standard statistical methods at the university and results will involve averages only rather than individual data.

The summarised outcomes will be shared with wine industry professionals and in sensory science journals.

“The aim of the study is to gather information regarding how people consider wine in relation to aspects of their life with a view to the data being useful for wine marketing professionals and wine producers, such as what to put on a back label of a bottle.”

Take part in the study here:

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