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About NZ Wine
About this Site
edited by Sue Courtney
About this Site
Hi, I'm Sue Courtney from Auckland, New Zealand and I've created Wine of the Week because I have a passion for wine, a passion for writing and a passion for playing around with my computer. It was that first glass of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc that did it. It was 1988 and we had just spent a couple of months travelling around the South Island of New Zealand.
With a couple of hours to spare before having to check-in for the ferry to the North Island - a 3 hour journey on one of the country's most treacherous waterways - a stop in Blenheim to visit the Marlborough vineyards was hastily scheduled.
We decided to visit Hunters Estate but got lost. Lucky for us, as we found Cloudy Bay!
It was 10.00 o'clock in the morning and I never imagined what it would be like to have the flavours of freshly bottled sauvignon blanc explode in my mouth. Aromas of freshly cut grass and flavours of passionfruit and gooseberry combined with refreshing acidity. No wonder the wine was such a hit with critics in the UK - a cult wine. We had never heard of Cloudy Bay prior to that day. Now it is world famous, sought by thousands. Lucky me. I used to buy a dozen every year. Now there are plenty of other mouth watering savvies to buy as well.
That was the start of my love affair with wine, an affair that I want to share.
My web site, accessible via the domain name WineOfTheWeek.com, is a "webzine" - that is a virtual wine magazine - and will allow me to do this. It provides the opportunity for me to promote our delicious New Zealand wines to the rest of the world.
When I started Wine of the Week I offered
- Wine of the Week - a wine I had tasted recently and which I thought of worthy of world-wide accolade. Normally a New Zealand wine, this will not always be the case when a stunning overseas wine comes my way.
- Featured Personality - an interview with a personality in the Wine or Wine and Food Industry.
- Featured Restaurant - somewhere I had dined and enjoyed.
- Featured Publication - a book or a printed magazine or a webzine (e-zine) about food and wine or simply a magazine which includes a section on wine.
- Wine News - provided to me by press releases from wine people or something of interest I found newsworthy.
Realistically that was too far too ambitious so the early reviews and some entire categories are gone, others are archived available via 'Old Stuff' on the left hand menu bar. Like other material, wine reviews and wine stories on the site - accessible at the click of a button - just use the search feature on the front page.
Similarly, the Wine News Page and Wine Events Page have been toned down and will be fed by RSS in due course.
However in 2007, I started Sue Courtney's Blog of Vinous Ramblings for more casual postings, news and events.
But it became necessary to update to Wordpress for my wine blog, and that begins in April 2013.
Why I am doing this.
I love wine. I love the marriage of wine and food. I love writing about wine, food and my experiences. Although I write for a suburban newspaper the scope is limited. So is the readership. This 'webzine' will reach all wine and food lovers who like to cruise the cyber highway - anywhere in the world - in your own home, in an internet cafe and, dare I say it, at work! The cyber-highway goes everywhere and it's the only safe place to drive with a glass of wine in hand! And as my own 'WebMaster' I become editor of my own magazine!
What are my qualifications to do this?
- I love wine.
- I regularly taste wine.
- I undertook Wine Education classes at Takapuna Grammar taught by Mike McGuinetty in 1990/91.
- I undertook the Advanced Wine Assessment Course at the Australian Wine Research Institute in Adelaide in 1999.
- I undertook a journalism course in 1998.
- I undertook a post graduate research paper in Web Commerce Technologies (Massey University 57.754, 1999) and focused on using the Internet for competitive advantage in magazine publishing.
- I joined member of Cellarmasters Wine Club in 1989.
- I have been a member of North Shore Wine and Food Society since 1990 and am honoured to be a Life Member.
- I was the Editor of North Shore Wine and Food Society newsletter 1992-2000.
- I contribute a weekly wine column to the suburban newspaper, Rodney Times (circulation approx 36,000 in Mar 2007).
- I contribute a monthly wine column to 'Urban and Country'.
- I have contributed the New Zealand 'Insider News' to Food & Wine Magazine Wine Guide 2008, 2009 & 2010.
- For five years I wrote 'Lingering Tastes' and then the 'Wine and Vine' column in the monthly lifestyle magazine, New Zealand Growing Today, until they decided they wanted to emphasise more on gardening; and was the inauagural wine columnist for the trade magazine, FoodService.
- For a while, during 2004 and 2005, I contributed a wine column to Third Age New Zealand magazine (now defunct).
- I have contributed articles to The University of Auckland 'Alumni News'.
- I have contributed articles to Wine Enthusiast magazine.
- I have contributed articles to The New Zealand Herald.
- I have contributed articles to Robin Garr's Wine Lovers' Page and Avalon Wine and Gourmet in Oregon.
- I am a Wine Educator - I previously taught Wine Appreciation classes at Westlake Boys High School on Auckland's North Shore and taught at Orewa College north of Auckland until 2004, retiring from night school teaching in 2005.
- I had the best individual score in Liquorland Wine Options National Final in 1994 - my team that year was 'St Hallet and the Wirra Wirra Angels'
- I was in the winning team of the Liquorland Wine Options National Championship in 1995 - the team was 'Too much wine makes you Braindead'.
- In 2003 I started started playing Wine Options again and have always had a Top 5 finish, winning at least once in that time.
- I stewarded at the Liquorland Top 100 International Wine Competition in 1996 and at the Liquorland Royal Easter Wine Show in 1997 and 1998 .
- I was an Associate Judge at the Liquorland Top 100 International Wine Competition in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003, at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 (the perennial AssJu).
- I was an Senior Judge at Royal Easter Show Wine Awards in 2009.
- I was a Senior Judge at the Liquorland Top 100 International Wine Competition in 2003 & 2004.
- I was a Senior Judge at the New Zealand International Wine Show in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008.
- I wrote the tasting notes for the New Zealand International Wine Show's "Champion's List" nationally distributed supplement in 2005 and 2008 and for the www.nziws.co.nz website and publicity material in 2007 and 2008.
- I also wrote the tasting notes for the award winning wines booklet for the Air New Zealand Wine Awards in 2005 and again in 2007.
- I have worked as a waitperson in one of New Zealand's top hotels - The Chateau Tongariro - silver service was the standard.
- I judged at Sommelier of the Year competition at the Hospitality Show from 2004 to 2008.
- In 2005 I passed the entry level exam to the Court of Master Sommeliers, not because I want to be a sommelier but because I thought it would be interesting to do the course while I covered it for FoodService Magazine.
This site is non profit making. People ask me why I have a website if I make no money out of it. Well, at least I'm not losing money because of it. Perhaps you would like to commission my services for an article on New Zealand and New Zealand wine for your wine or lifestyle magazine.
E-mail me for more information.
While I do receive wine samples and sometimes go to trade tastings, I also attend the $15 weekly consumer tastings at First Glass Wines and Spirits in Takapuna, Auckland. My wine reviews from their tastings also appear on their website as well as on wineoftheweek.com.
Wineries/producers are welcome to send samples but should note they may not be contacted when reviews are completed. My primary aim is to provide a service for wine consumers who can access these reviews for free and who can find them easily via search engines, including the search facility on the front page of wineoftheweek.com.
I also review wines that I've tasted with friends ("oh no, the notebook's out again," they exclaim), at a restaurant or café with lunch or dinner, at a cellar door when travelling through wine country and last but not least, wines that I've bought.
Wines for which reasonable notes have been written (sometimes not possible at large walk-around trade tastings) will appear on this website in one place (eg the blog) or another. The aim is to have all New Zealand wines ending up in the Wine Reviews section by variety.
Any wine prices mentioned on this site are in New Zealand dollars, unless otherwise stated.
The views expressed on the site are my own unless otherwise stated.