The ABCs of BBCs…

A big buttery Chardonnay tasting…

If I had a dollar for every woman who has asked me over the past year: “Why is there never any Chardonnay at the office drinks?”, I’d have enough to buy a bottle of Grand Cru Chablis.

Chardonnay’s got stiff competition these days.

Since its big buttery peak in the 1980s, Chardonnay has grown from fewer than 100,000 hectares globally to nearly 200,000 hectares in 2010 (that’s the latest stat’ I could rustle up, but  email me, if you have a more recent one).

Here in New Zealand, Chardonnay’s remained pretty static over the past decade. In 2006, there were 3,779 hectares of Chardonnay and today there are 3,361 hectares. Compare that to  Sauvignon Blanc, which had 8,860 hectares and now has 20,000… or Pinot Gris; 700 hectares to 2400, and then some.

We may not be able to put all these stats to right for Chardonnay lovers, but we can taste the world of big buttery Chardonnays – and we’re doing it on Thursday 9 June at Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington.

We will compare and contrast Chardonnays from New Zealand, including Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay and Pegasus Bay Chardonnay alongside Burgundy’s Louis Jadot Meursault – and many more. All wines will have their identities concealed… until we have tasted them.

The event will highlight Chardonnay’s subtle side too… well, not too subtle. We know most wine lovers on the hunt for Chardonnay want it with all the big bells and whistles.

So, come and find them at The ABCs of BBCs tasting on Thursday 9 June at Regional Wines in Wellington; 6pm to 8pm. Everyone’s welcome, bookings are essential, book here…


Accidental wine cellar

Annemarie Begg’s story: “It’s by accident that I have a wine cellar – I piled things on top of wine boxes and forgot about them but the Penfolds reds I found years later are delicious…”

If you want something done, apparently you should give it to a busy person, so the cliché goes, and Annemarie Begg is just the type – a businesswoman with a company to run, a family to care for and a new wine cellar business.

That’s why her story is on this website. The cellar business is the newest part of her fast growing refrigeration company, so we asked her to share a couple of her favourite bottles with us. Not literally – just to tell us their identities and how long she’d kept the wines for.

Turns out, she only ever cellared wine by accident.

This is her story.

When did you first store wine for longer than the trip home from the supermarket?

“I’ve got a few bottles of 2006 and 2007 reds and at first they were in the cupboard under the stairs and then I put something on top of the boxes and completely forgot about them.”

How did you unearth them?

“We found them when moving house, so drank a few bottles with friends and, they were so yummy, I hoped they weren’t too expensive. I’ve got some Penfolds from 2006 – it’s not Grange but it was delicious, so it’s great to have another couple of bottles there.”

Where did you buy them?

“I used to get deliveries from the Fine Wine Delivery Company, Caro’s in Parnell and from Glengarry’s, so over the years I’ve had lots of different wines to try and it’s always interesting not having to choose them but getting to enjoy them.”

Where are you hiding your wine these days?

“In plain view. I’ve got a small wine fridge, which keeps between 12 and 20 bottles; some bottle sizes take up more room; Riesling or Pinot Gris bottles take less, wheras Champagne bottles take up more space. The fridge is for everyday. It’s not a cellar.”

What led to wine cellars as a business?

“A few years ago we were asked to build a wine storage area in a client’s house. It’s built since then.”

What types of wine cellars do you build?

“Some are big modern spaces with heated glass doors and mirrors while others are really small because their owners don’t have big budgets, but the dollar value of their wine is important, so they want to protect it.”

What are you drinking each day?”

“I love Champagne but not daily. I’m enjoying Otago Pinot Noirs; I know they can be little more expensive but they have a bit more body, I think and I like that. Sauvignon Blanc is my favourite white and I love rose in summer.”

Where do you buy wine now days?

“Farro is over the road from work (in Grey Lynn, Auckland) and it sometimes has wines you can’t get anywhere else. I also found it interesting being at Soul Bar (at Auckland’s Viaduct) on Sunday for Mother’s Day lunch and knowing that nobody else in the country could get the particular wine we were drinking. That was a good experience for me.”

If budget wasn’t an option, what would you fill your daily wine fridge with?

“Champagne – Veuve Clicquot is my favourite.”


Annemarie Begg is the managing director of White Refrigeration in Auckland, New Zealand. 

Med’ Reds… best wines under $15 and $20… a tasting

Great value takes on a whole new meaning when tasting Mediterranean reds, which offer everything in spades… The best of these wines (which are the only ones we’ll be tasting) are smooth, soft and full bodied with their fruit flavours dialled up to high volume and they cruise in with budget prices that make us all do a double take.

This tasting is part of Regional Wines & Spirits new series of instore tastings (free) which I am hosting for this iconic wine store (it’s where wine began to make sense for me, over 20 years ago now – ouch).

So come along and discover the best under $15 and the best under $20 Med’ Reds at Regional on Saturday 4 June at 12 noon. You’ll be able to enjoy the wines, and learn more about how to find the best of the bunch yourself by learning what to look for on the labels.

I’ll be hosting this casual instore tasting and if our last few instore sessions have been anything to go by, it’s sure to prove popular, not least because we will open a wide range of wines from southern France to Spain and across to Italia… I’m looking forward to it.