Dining with the wines of NZ winery Jackson Estate

Oct 20, 13 Dining with the wines of NZ winery Jackson Estate

Posted by in Food and Wine, New Zealand wine

A few weeks ago, I attended a dinner hosted by John Stichbury, owner of New Zealand winery, Jackson Estate and his head winemaker, Matt Patterson-Green. I remember sampling a few of Jackson Estates wines in the past and quite liked them so I was looking forward to the dinner and tasting. I like New Zealand sauvignon blanc although you have to be careful what you buy because there is a lot of boring sauvignon blanc cluttering the shelves. John told me over dinner that  Jackson Estate have always prided themselves on quality and have never compromised this idea. In his opinion, there are “too many wines that are boring as hell!” I couldn’t agree more. To back up his claims, we had a tasting of Jackson Estate wines with dinner at Sushino. A Brazilian/Japanese fusion restaurant, the food was an interesting combination of flavours. My favourite wines of the evening were the Gum Emperor 2010 pinot noir and the Grey Ghost Sauvignon Blanc 2011. John described The Grey Ghost as a  “winemakers wine,” putting s.blanc into oak is always slightly controversial and with the Grey Ghost, it goes into French oak barrels (though they are 6 years old) for an extended amount of time. The result is a smoky, flinty almost steely wine with a lot of complexity and texture. They also make this wine using the wild ferment which might also go towards giving it that elusive quality which gives it it’s name. The Gum Emperor is a single vineyard wine and his named after the stand of Gum Emperor trees that act as a wind break for the vines. An intense and brooding pinot, it has a lush body, silky smooth with medicinal, herbal notes on the nose and a striking minerality on the palate. Excellent, ripe fruit followed by balancing acidity make this a delicious wine on it’s own or paired with food. We were served Miso glazed lamb chops which were perfectly cooked and excellent with the wine. A very...

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Brancott Estate 2010 Chosen Rows Sauvignon Blanc debut

Feb 15, 13 Brancott Estate 2010 Chosen Rows Sauvignon Blanc debut

Posted by in New Zealand wine

Brancott Estate winemaker Patrick Materman was in town this week and unveiled their newest sauvignon blanc, the Brancott Estate Chosen Rows 2010. What makes this particular sauvignon blanc stand out from your run of the mill NZ s.blancs is that it is made with ageability in mind. Patrick and Brancott have produced what they hope will be a wine that shows that NZ s. blanc has aging potential, something that it has been accused of lacking in the past. The Chosen Rows experiment began in 2008 with the selection of 14 different plots around Marlborough. Patrick said that although primary fruit has been important for NZ s. blanc, he wanted to find a way to take it up a notch. So they “threw out the rule book” and started from scratch. They introduced many changes and experimented with things like indigenous fermentation, the use of oak, large formant barrels, foudres, and extended time on the lees, all in an effort to produce a s. blanc that would not only have ageability but also have concentrated texture and mouthfeel. They harvested 280 tonnes in 2009 but produced only 12 cases. After a few more tweaks, in 2010 they produced 3,500 cases of the 2010. Patrick had brought along the 2009 as well as the 2010, 2011 (which was a Fume Blanc style) and the still-in-barrel 2012. They haven’t decided on the final blend for the 2012 just  yet. I tasted the 2009 and found it to be a vibrant wine with a subtle fruit nose and rather austere, not as fleshy as I thought it would be, I had to bear in mind that this wine was the prototype for what was to come.  The 2010 definitely showed a lot more complexity and intensity – with an aromatic nose, textured but fresh with a good balance of fruit and acidity. The 2010 had been aged in large oak barrels and the oak was finely integrated into the wine. It was certainly not your everyday NZ...

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“The Rest is Noise” Strauss at the Southbank Centre

Jan 20, 13 “The Rest is Noise” Strauss at the Southbank Centre

Posted by in Lifestyle, New Zealand wine

I was invited to a performance by the London Philharmonic Orchestra last night to hear a performance of Strauss which was a part of “The Rest is Noise” year long music festival. There are great views of the London Eye and Big Ben from the top of the Centre which is where the Beecham Bar, the members bar of the Southbank Centre is located. Villa Maria is a major sponsor of the LPO and prior to the performance we were invited to sip on Villa Maria’s pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and rosé along with some tasty canapes in the bar. One of the best things about the event was the chance to speak to members of the orchestra during the interval, when we all returned to the Bar for more wine and canapes. The performance itself was a great show. I must confess that I’m not all that familiar with Strauss’ music other than ‘Also sprach Zaruthustra’ which opened the performance,  but watching the orchestra play is an experience in itself: the intense concentration on the players faces, the ramrod straight posture of the violinists and the entire orchestra swaying to the music they were playing. Ok, maybe I did get carried away by the music but it’s hard not to be when the melodies wash over you. Unusually for an orchestral performance, the conductor, Vladimir Jurowski spoke to the audience about each piece of work before it was performed and even had the American baritone, Thomas Hampson, join in on the conversation. It was definitely helpful from a novice’s point of view to have a bit of background about each piece of music. There were two singers that evening, Hampson who performed Notturno, Op.44 No.1 and Finnish soprano, Karita Mattila who sang the ‘Dance of the Seven Veils and the final scene from the, then shocking, opera Salome. Last night’s performance was part of the “Rest is Noise” festival which is based on the eponymous book by Alex Ross, music critic of The New Yorker. The book and the festival focus...

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Podcast with Tamra Washington, Chief Winemaker of Yealands Estate

Oct 15, 12 Podcast with Tamra Washington, Chief Winemaker of Yealands Estate

Posted by in New Zealand wine, Podcast

New Zealand winery, Yealands Estate recently won a slew of awards at the International Wine Challenge 2012 (The International Sauvignon Blanc Award, The James Rogers Award and the Marlborough White Wine Award), pretty impressive for a winery that only produced its first wines in 2008. Their chief winemaker, Tamra Washington was in town to collect the awards and on a European tour to promote their wines. I had dinner with Tamra in Brixton at Upstairs where I had the opportunity to ask Tamra about her awards, where she things New Zealand sauvignon blanc is going in the future and about the exciting possibilities that Yealands has with a block of pinot noir she discovered in Otago. Click on the link below to hear the podcast: Tamra Washington, Chief Winemaker of Yealands Estate, New Zealand. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Chatting with Sir George Fistonich of Villa Maria Estates

Sep 19, 12 Chatting with Sir George Fistonich of Villa Maria Estates

Posted by in New Zealand wine

“I’ve never met a wineblogger before, it was very nice talking to you…” That’s what Sir George Fistonich told me after we had spent about 45 minutes chatting about his Villa Maria Estates’ past, present and future. I was amused that he was amused to meet a “wineblogger”. Sir George was in town last night as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the founding of Villa Maria Estates and that’s how I found myself chatting with him.  From the humble beginnings of leased land, George and his wife, Jane, have built Villa Maria into a well respected (and well awarded) wine brand.  I had the opportunity to chat with George and learn a bit  more about Villa Maria before a grand tasting and dinner at the BAFTA in Piccadilly. After initially talking about the history of Villa Maria, I asked George what he thought set Villa Maria apart from the rest and how they had managed to be so successful in a crowded field of brands. “Innovation and quality” was George’s reply. Villa Maria is one of the top 5 family owned wineries in New Zealand and George believes that the fact that it’s still family owned allows them to do things that wineries with shareholders just can’t do. For example, in 2001 when Villa Maria switched to all screwcaps, people thought that they were crazy, but they could do it because they had no one to answer to but themselves. As we now know, George was right in his decision to go all screwcap. Villa Maria also has the luxury of being able to do experimental plantings. They have a few hectares where they can plant basically whatever they want and see what happens. They are currently experimenting with verdelho, vermentino and arneis. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. George had brought along a sample of the arneis which we tried at the tasting and I have to say it was very good. It’s great to see a lesser known variety...

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Ultimate Collection LVMH

interviewing some of LVMH’s top wine makers [vodpod id=Groupvideo.11234557&w=450&h=325&fv=%26rel%3D0%26border%3D0%26] 1st collector for Ultimate Coillection LVMHFollow my videos on vodpod Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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