Otago wine company imports new French bubbly

It’s not exactly a case of a coals to Newcastle but there is an irony about the newest imported wine available in Central Otago. It’s a Pinot Noir from France, only in this case it’s sparkling.

The Maison Vitteaut-Alberti Cremant de Bourgogne comes from Burgundy, is made 100% from Pinot Noir grapes and is a blend from vineyards in the Cote de Beaune. It’s made the same way as champagne but can’t be called champagne because it comes from outside the famous region of the same name.

The Burgundian bubbly is being imported to New Zealand by ex-pat Frenchman Thomas Moschetta, who runs the cellar door and wine club at Kinross on the Gibbston Highway, just outside Queenstown.

“I’m always keeping my ear to the ground for interesting ways to bring some of the specialties of my homeland here to share. I’m so thrilled that in June I was able to secure for Kinross exclusive importing and retail rights to this Cremant de Bourgogne (sparkling wine from Burgundy). It’s a beautiful blanc de noirs brut methode traditionelle that we think Kiwis will love,” says Moschetta.

  • Maison Vitteaut-Alberti Cremant de Bourgogne is $45 and is available exclusive from Kinross.

This is my wine of the week


Maison Vitteaut-Alberti Cremant de Bourgogne Brut Blanc de Noirs $45

This is a welcome addition to the New Zealand wine scene especially at this time of year. Blanc de Noirs means ‘white of black’ and this sparkling wine is made entirely from hand picked Pinot Noir grapes grown in the Cote de Beaune. It’s vinified by Maison Vitteaut-Alberti, using the same winemaking methods as champagne, only in this case the wine comes from Burgundy, just down the road.
It’s dry, refreshing and medium bodied with characterful, toasty aromas, reflecting the Pinot Noir grape, and tastes fully sparkling, which is suggestive of high quality winemaking.

The grapes were settled for over 24 hours then fermented with added yeasts in thermo-regulated vats at 20 degrees Celcius. A second fermentation in bottle took place in air conditioned cellars at 15 degrees Celcius and the wine has a refined freshness and rich savoury flavours and lingering finish.

It’s very good quality and value.

Mainstream wine launches new organic range

Organic wine is gaining momentum with the launch of Stoneleigh Organic, which includes four wines all certified by BioGro New Zealand.

Winemaker Jamie Marfell describes the ethos as simple and says that with minimal intervention it is possible to create wines with lifted aromatics and fresh, fruit-forward flavours, which also tick the organic certification box.

The new Stoneleigh Organic range includes four wines so far. Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, rosé and Pinot Noir are all widely available in mainstream retail stores for $19.99. They are also packed in lightweight bottles.

“We recognise that consumers are looking for more sustainable options in the products they buy and consume. We’re really proud to have created this new organic range that is 100% organic and vegan certified,” says Pernod Ricard global marketing director Eric Thomson.

  • The new Stoneleigh Organic range includes four wines: 2020 Stoneleigh Organic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, 2020 Stoneleigh Organic Pinot Gris, 2020 Stoneleigh Organic Rose and 2019 Stoneleigh Organic Pinot Noir.

New skincare combines hemp and vine health

Kirsty Harkness has found hemp to be a successful alternative to seaweed fertilisers in her Marlborough vineyard.

Vineyard health and skin health might just have something in common after all with the launch of a new range of skincare beauty products.

A Government-funded hemp research project in New Zealand vineyards has led to the launch of a new skincare range called Harkness & Zander.

The research project began when Kirsty Harkness started to investigate hemp as an alternative to seaweed fertilizers to rejuvenate the soil on her Marlborough vineyard. She applied for a licence to grow hemp from the Ministry of Health three years ago and planted it in the middle of vine rows as a cover crop.

“I had trialled, blue borage, red clover, phacelia and buckwheat as cover crops in the vineyard but it wasn’t until I looked at hemp that I got really excited and saw it as way of breathing life back into the soil.”

She also saw the potential of a secondary income from the new cover crop, if it was successful.

Three years down the track, she has now launched a new cosmetic brand called Hark & Zander, which was founded after successful trials into industrial hemp to improve soil quality and vineyard biodiversity. Her research was co-funded by Callaghan Innovation, the government’s research and development agency.

“In the same way the human body needs to be healthy to be resistant to disease and infection, the soil also responds to this methodology. Once we were confident the hemp wouldn’t take nutrients or moisture from the vines, we began looking at the potential benefits of hemp for the body as well.”

Harkness began her career as a registered nurse. The results of the research have been analysed by a local scientist and are now to be published in a North American viticulture journal, in 2021.

Her business partner in the new skincare venture is Gabrielle Zander, a specialist in blending essential oils for skincare.

Harkness says the hemp seed goes through a special filtration process to produce a clarified oil with a golden colour.

“Our first efforts to filter the seed resulted in a green coloured oil. Now we are working with a team in Wanganui, which uses the first machine of its kind in New Zealand to de-hull, remove any sediment and produce a cold-pressed, clarified oil in the golden colour hue we love – which means we can produce a locally made product without needing to import it.”

The first product is a 100% natural hemp tonic face oil, which contains nine vitamin rich plant oils such as hemp seed oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba seed oil, evening primrose oil, squalane and grape seed oil. The future range will have 15 products and will be sold through retail stores and online.

Harkness is on the New Zealand Hemp Board (NZHIA) and a government hemp committee says interest in growing hemp has increased significantly in the past three years with hectares increasing tenfold from 200 to 2000 over this time.

The company name Hark & Zander is being trademarked in China, Australia, USA, Europe and the UK with a second stage to include Canada and Japan.