Sunday, June 26, 2011


Now don't think from the previous post that I do not like the other wine styles that New Zealand produces. I am holding to the belief that the health and success of the industry at this critical time is dependant on  continuing the momentum of exports with Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir and to not get bored with this. France  took centuries to establish reputation and awareness of their particular wine styles as did Italy and Spain. Australia and USA took many decades to do the same. Splitting this effort can be dangerous unless the experimental and new varietals are limited to  a 'cottage industry' size and used to make cellar door experiences interesting.
New Zealand makes really good Chardonnay, Merlots and Cabernets, Syrah, Rieslings and Gewurtztraminers. I love drinking these and prefer to drink these wine styles from New Zealand than any other country but.... they will not make much of a dent in the export market and it will cost a fortune to do so at the same time as confusing the market and interrupting the growth of the aforementioned Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

That said, last night we opened and drank a superb wine. It was Mills Reef Elspeth One 2005, a Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot blend from Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay. It was of a deep red colour and fair bursting with flavours of blackcurrant and rich fruit cake. The Syrah gave it a nice spicy white pepper character and the Bordeaux varietals balanced it out with cigar box and minty tones. The finish was all class with a rich fruit and soft tannins. Wow! This was beautiful. Its not a cheap wine, it cost me $79 a couple of years back but I'm going to look for more in wine-shops. If there was a world market for wines like this from New Zealand this would be in the lead.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Some New Zealand wine producers are getting excited over Gruner Veltliner and are seriously considering marketing the rubbish. Why? Because some dickhead Americans have discovered it and are drinking it. Gruner Veltliner is an Austrian grape varietal that makes insipid, boring wine. It has a thick skin (like the Austrians) and is rather acid (like the Austrians) see:

What is wrong with these jokers? They always want the next best thing. Is this a New Zealand characteristic? Do we always have to have everything new? We have hardly started up our industry (compared to other countries) and are still perfecting Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay and the Bordeaux varietals. Of these Sauvignon Blanc is the major opportunity followed by Pinot Noir and maybe Syrah. Why piss about with anything else, particularly third rate winestyles. You'd think that they would have learned from the experimentation with Viognier, Arneis and Pinot Gris. Now admittedly Pinot Gris has taken off in New Zealand but it has hardly dented the international market and really is just a fancier form of Muller Thurgau which dominated the New Zealand industry in the 70's and 80's. Splitting the effort into a whole lot of useless varieties will return us to the fruit salad mentality that producers had years ago where they tried to grow everything including hybrids (Baco 1A, Baco 22A etc) and some very ordinary and tasteless Chasselas, Palomino and others. Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noitr is the way to go. Support that for the local market with Syrah, Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurtzrtraminer and Bordeaux varietals and work to improve them. Sheesh!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


........ But naive Americans often 'discover' them.

This from Daily Wine News.
Some U.S. wine producers are shipping wine in kegs, instead of bottles to restaurants and bars.  They say, for consumers it should mean better wines at cheaper prices.

"I got the idea from my trip to Italy," said Chris Hall, general manager and co-owner of the Long Meadow Ranch winery in Napa California. He uses 19-liter, stainless steel kegs to serve his organic wines at his tasting room and to ship them to restaurants.
"In Italy, it is not uncommon to have good wine on draft in a casual restaurant. It's how they pour it into a carafe. And the real surprise to me was how good the wine was. There wasn't really any pretence about it. It was good, honest wine," Hall said.

To push the wine from the keg they use a blend of nitrogen and CO2. Hoping to not make the glassful too gassy.
Good luck.
This was done in New Zealand in the 1980s and 1990’s by Penfolds (part of Montana). The wine served was gassy, watered down crap.

Montana, who had taken over Penfolds (NZ) used the Penfolds name for bulk wines, not wanting to taint the Montana 'reputation'

Back to USA.
“Jean-Charles Boisset, whose family owns vineyards in both France and California, is using a traditional container, French oak wine barrels, to ship wine directly to consumers as well as restaurants from both his DeLoach and Raymond Vineyards. The barrels contain a plastic bladder, much like box wines, that can hold up to 10-liters or nearly 70 glasses of either Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon.”

Sounds like a big bag in the box idea to me. Chain restaurants, pubs and clubs used to do this in new Zealand with 10 and 20 litre boxes. The wine was crap. Consumers eventually voted with their feet. Today wine in a box offerings are only found in RSA’s and Cosmopolitan clubs in outlying towns like Nuova Lazio.

“Whether keg or barrel, the larger formats eliminate the risk of a corked bottle, protect against oxidation and reduce both packaging and the carbon footprint, according to the wine producers.”

This is a bullshit way of saying “We know we should have converted to screwcap wines years ago like New Zealand did but were too arrogant and now are suffering the consequences but our arrogance (and the conversion costs now) preclude us from doing it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Not that we were Greek of course although Tony had a Greek friend who had a moustache. She was his girlfriend. The 'Greeks' in question were Tony, Richard, Robert, Noel, Mike and I and the 'gifts' were crates of out of condition beer. At the wholesalers where Richard, Tony, Robert and I worked, there would be from time to time, old beer that had to be thrown away. Beer generally has a shelf life of 6 to 9 months depending on brewing methods, colour of the glass bottle, storage methods etc. In this case the beer was about two years old and had been stored in a warm part of the warehouse so was actually stuffed. It was quite cloudy and a glassful looked like one of those snowstorm globes when shaken. Management told us to tip the beer down the drain and recycle the bottles. We decided that there was a much better use for it. Parties. Or, more accurately, entry into parties. Arriving at the door of strangers didn't always guarantee ease of entry to the party. Arriving at the door of strangers with several dozen bottles of beer in your arms was like having a royal invitation.
The beer in question was Bass which was brewed in New Zealand under special licence by Waikato Breweries. It tasted pretty dreadful under normal conditions but in its cloudy state was liable to give the drinker the runs (and I'm not talking athletics here).

 The other beer was also made by Waikato Breweries and it was named Brew 22. I wasn't long on the market and probably led to the demise of many a drinker whether it was fresh or not.

Of the two we would have chosen Bass to drink if we had been silly enough to drink either.
The beer was a means of gaining entry to the parties. We would bring it in to shouts and cheers of approval and dump it in a corner of the kitchen or wash-house at the party venue (usually a student flat). We would then go about drinking any other beverages (wines, beers, spirits, liqueurs, Baby Cham) we weren't fussy until it was time to leave. Generally, after a couple of hours, it was impossible and inadvisable to use the toilet in the house as it was invariably being used and with a queue outside of diarrhetic party-goers. I guess they always blamed the party food and not the 'Typhoid Mary's' who had brought the refreshments.

Happy days!