New Zealand Red Wine
A wonderful country. I spent a year in New Zealand and toured both north and south islands. Wine making is a relatively new venture in the land of the long white cloud. There were virtually no grapes planted on south island until the 1970s! And already cool climate Marlborough has given the world a completely new style of wine with it's sensational sauvignon blanc. Love it or hate it, there's no other wine in the world like it. The cooler climate of the south island is also ideal for pinot noir and they make some stunning examples. As all the vineyards are virtually new, it's the pioneering spirit of couples and families that has been the back bone of New Zealand wine, while the rest of the world was being dominated by corporate brands. If you want a truly oustanding wine go for one that is family owned. The ones I'm recommending are superb.
The New Zealand wine industry has flourished and the number of wineries has virtually doubled in the last ten years from 600 or so to well over 1000, with the emergence of many boutique wineries. Anybody who has travelled to New Zealand knows that they are blessed with vast tracts of fertile land and usually great weather too, producing an abundance of fresh produce. They have a very healthy diet and lifestyle, and this passion for quality natural produce has influenced their winemaking. Steer clear of the mass produced brands, and particularly all the UK bottled "own label" Sauvignon Blanc that has flooded the UK since the credit crunch, and you will discover that there are many boutique wineries producing outstanding quality wines with minimal additives and manipulation.
The Gimblett Gravels area of Hawke's Bay has become world famous for quality reds, particularly Bordeaux varietals (such as Cabernet, Merlot and Malbec), and Syrah too. Hawke's Bay is also renowned for producing New Zealand's best Chardonnay. Waiheke Island is producing some outstanding reds, Martinborough is now recognised as a top region for Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, and Central Otago and Canterbury are producing world class Reisling as well as the Pinot Noir they're famous for. An abundance of riches!
Julicher Estate Winery
Julicher is a boutique winery on the Te Muna Terraces on the outskirts of Martinborough, built by Wim Julicher himself. In fact when we were out there in September 2011 Wim was building himself and Sue a bigger house on the vineyard (he used to be a builder before buying a vineyard). It's a stunning location well worth a visit if you get chance. They specialise in producing distinctive hand crafted wines and released their first vintage in 2002.
Although they have a good sized vineyard (20 hectares) on the Te Muna Terraces (which has a unique microclimate), the winery itself is on a small scale. Wim built a couple of good sized temperature controlled steel framed buildings which house all his winemaking equipment. It was a delight after visiting some large scale operations to see a real hands on working environment like this.
The grapes are grown right next to the winery, picked into small trays, carried into the winery and immediately vinified - you don't get fresher than that! This eliminates the commercial practice of spraying picked grapes with potassium metabisulphite to keep them fresh while they wait around the vineyard in large trailers or wagons. And it also ensures the grapes don't get damaged being tipped into these trailers so Wim is working with perfect fruit. These factors enable him to make top quality wines with comparatively very low sulphite levels
Wim and Sue do all the work themselves with help from two vineyard hands. Wim recruited a talented winemaker, Outi Jakovirta, who is originally from Helsinki but settled in New Zealand after working in the wine industry in several European countries, Australia and California. She completed her Postgraduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology at Lincoln University.
And that's the whole team - when we say this is hand made wine, it really is!
Julicher wines are already renowned for excellent Gold Medal winning Pinot Noirs, and they're quickly gaining a reputation for top quality whites too. Their Resling has been very highly praised - I tasted it and was blown away, but unfortunately it was already sold out. Their Pinot Gris is just fantastic, as is their Chardonnay. And the Sauv Blanc is very good too, as is the Pinot Noir Rose
.........I could go on and on.
Their wines are superb quality, made with real passion. Please give them a try and support Wim and Sue as they strive to make the best Pinot Noir (and other varietals) in New Zealand!
Squawking Magpie Winery
From day one I have passionately believed that quality fruit in our Gimblett Gravels vineyards in the Hawkes Bay would produce outstanding wine in our bottles. While in the winery technical management and winemaking processes are necessarily complex, our aim has always been simple: to create quality wines worthy of fine food and great company.That will always be our aim and I make a personal promise to diligently and unrelentingly keep on delivering just that. Life is short, so enjoy our wines today, but if you can trust yourself to cellar a bottle or two, youll be richly rewarded..Gavin YorttDirector, Squawking Magpie
Exclusive to us in the UK!
Mills Reef is widely recognised as one of the very best premium wineries in New Zealand. Their vineyards are in the unique Gimblett Gravels area of Hawke's Bay which has a unique microclimate thanks to the year round hot sunny weather, and the individual stoney soil structure from which the area gets it's name. Although New Zealand is better known for cool climate wines like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, there are a few pockets like Gimblett Gravels which are particularly suited to producing big powerful reds like Syrah and Bordeaux blends. No wonder then that Mills Reef have a reputation for producing New Zealand's best Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet as well as world class Bordeaux blends!
Their stunning purpose built winery is located further north in Bethlehem just outside Tauranga, on a 20 acre site with lovely views and a superb sun terrace for the restaurant. If you're ever travelling in New Zealand stop by and enjoy lunch on the terrace (much nicer than going into Tauranga itself!). They make their Reserve and Elspeth wines entirely on site here. As soon as the grapes are picked they're transported to the winery to be crushed and fermented. They have two temperature controlled cellars for ageing the wines, one for the whites, one for the reds. All their winemaking and ageing is done here, and the winery also has full laboratory facilities, a visitor centre, tasting rooms and restaurant catering for 150 people. It is nicely set up for visitors to relax and enjoy the experience while they sample some excellent wines.
We are delighted to be working with Mills Reef to bring their wines to wine lovers in the UK.
Please visit Mills Reef Website
to read more about them.....
Jurassic Ridge Winery - Waiheke Island
Wineries anywhere don't come more "boutique" than Jurassic Ridge!
Waiheke Island is now New Zealand's most fashionable wine region, since it was discovered it had the ideal conditions to make world class red wines from traditional French and Italian grape varieties.
Jurassic Ridge, owned and run by Lance and Luciana Blumhardt, is a tiny operation of just 1.6 hectares where all the wines are made by hand - literally. The operation is just Lance and his wife Luciana who hails from the fabulous Taurasi district of Italy (famous for making some special red wines from the local Aglianico grape, and a particular favourite of mine!).
Lance is a retired neurologist, now a full time winemaker, vineyard hand, cellar door person and odd job man organising everything on the vineyard and in the winery. Luciana is a still active neurophysiologist, as well as full time vineyard hand and viticulturist. Lance had originally studied geology before switching to medicine which no doubt had a hand in him selecting a unique piece of land consisting of 155 million year old Jurassic rock to plant his vineyard.
While teaching medical students in the UK he found himself spending too much time in the Chateaux of Bordeaux, and decided it was time to take early retirement and set up his own vineyard and winery.
They planted their vineyard by hand in 2002. It takes several years before a vine is fit to yield a working crop so the actual winemaking started with the 2004 vintage. Since then they've gone on to win some top awards and huge critical praise. Their wines are made with real passion and attention to detail that often gets quickly lost in bigger operations. Not surprisingly given his time in France, Lance's wines have an old world influence focussing on elegance and structure over pure fruit.
Lance also has a unique vineyard in the Waihopai Valley in Marlborough, which is roughly midway between Blenheim and Awatere Valley. This produces wonderful fruit with mineral qualities, which Lance's good friend Alan McCorkindale (former head winemaker at Cloudy Bay back when they were making outstanding wines) vinifies for him. This Sauvignon Blanc is something special!