Amber is the new rosé, part 1

If rosé suddenly seems bigger than Texas, here’s another cliché; behind every overnight success, there’s been 20 years in the making. It’s certainly true for the global trend in popularity of pink wine, which first outstripped white wine sales in France in 2009 and has since continued its meteoric rise internationally. This year heralded the inaugural first vintage of pink prosecco and as long as a wine contains a little bit of red colour, it’s sure to sell swiftly. New Zealand winemakers first began to discover the benefits of making rosé about 15 years ago when its growth mirrored that of Pinot Noir. That’s another story for part two of this blog, Amber is the new rosé.

Three new wines from one of the smallest regions in New Zealand shine another light on the rosé theme. Amber is the colour and it’s also not a new trend in winemaking globally but this is the first year that Jannine Rickards has produced her own amber wine, which she released in the past month, alongside two other wines under her own brand, The Huntress.

Three new Huntress wines, November 2021


2021 Huntress Waikoa Gladstone RRP $35.99
Waikoa is the first white blend made by Jannine Rickards under this own label, The Huntress. She uses four grapes here, all characterful in their own right, and co fermented for flavour integration. The fermentation was all on the skins to provide a pale gold and flesh to the flavoursome freshness of this wine. This tasty blend includes Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Pinot Gris, which combine to create an aromatic succulent wine; the weight of Viognier and softness of the Gris add power to the light body of the intensely aromatic whites, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. All grapes are from the Wairarapa and the flavours are fruity but savoury, thanks to the skin ferment character, which adds soft smooth texture to the vibrant purity of acidity.

Waikoa means happy waters in Maori, which seems like a pretty apt description for this new pink hued wine.


2021 Huntress Waihonga Amber Pinot Gris RRP $35.99

Waihonga is the first amber wine under The Huntress label by Jannine Rickards. It’s made 100% from Pinot Gris grapes fermented on skins with a small portion of skin fermented Riesling added in for structure and freshness, which works a treat thanks to its succulent acidity. The grapes in this wine were grown on BioGro certified vineyards in the Gladstone region of the Wairarapa.

This wine tastes like fruit salad in a glass with notes of guava, peach and spice, a rich mid palate and deliciously long, succulent finish.

It was bottled unfiltered with no additions. Just 378 bottles were made. Waihonga is the Maori word for nectar.


2021 Huntress Kuratea Pinot Noir RRP $32.99
Kuratea is the Maori word for light red, which captures the aim of winemaker Jannine Rickards who builds on her previous Waikura Rosé in this wine, which has moved into a lighter bodied red with structure and earthy dark cherry flavours. Its medium tannins add structure while also providing freshness, which suggests this wine can make a valid alternative to the refreshing qualities of a new white wine.

Kuratea is made from grapes grown in Martinborough and Gladstone in the Wairarapa. Partial whole cluster fermentation at cool temperatures provides pronounced summer berry flavour notes of raspberry and cherries with a dried herb taste on the finish.

It was bottled with a minimal addition of sulphur dioxide of 30ppm.

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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