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Wine of the Week for week ending 24 Jun 2007
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Matariki Aspire Chardonnay 2005
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Trying to work out what would be my New Zealand Wine of the Week, in a week when most of the wine I had tasted came from overseas, became patently clear when I attended the Tongariro Ski Club's 75th Jubilee on Saturday night and enjoyed several glasses of Matariki wine. There was the Matariki Aspire Chardonnay 2005, the Matariki Aspire Sauvignon Blanc 2006 and the Matariki Aspire Cabernet Merlot 2003, all from Hawkes Bay grapes and all packaged in a special ski club 75th Jubilee label which I didn't get a photo of because I didn't take my camera.

These wines all worked well with the food - the first course being a marinated Pacific Fish with crab and apple with sorrel vinaigrette, which the crisp, racy sauvignon blanc was an outstanding match to. The red wine was a star with both main courses. I chose a beautifully cooked marinated duck leg while the other choice was a horopito peppered lamb loin with a tamarillo glaze. But the wine that was the all round star both with and without food was the Matariki Aspire Chardonnay 2005, a silver medal winner at last years New Zealand International Wine Show.

Matariki Aspire Chardonnay 2005 is smooth and rounded, medium to full-bodied in style, full of melon and stonefruit flavours with a nutty yeast lees undercurrent and plenty of flavoursome oak to add richness. Sealed with a screwcap, a wine like this is perfect for entertaining, as proved so emphatically on this occasion. It costs about $19.95 in retail. Find out more about the wine from the Matariki website -

Drinking and skiing have long been intertwined in the ski club's history. In the early days, in the 1930's and 40's, before the club had a lodge on Mt Ruapehu, the members used to congregate at the Chateau Tongariro for their 'Winter Party'. But the Chateau was in a 'dry' zone so resourceful members, on many occasions, towed a trailer load of alcoholic beverages to stow away in their rooms. They would often set up a bar in one of the rooms to serve evening drinks after a day of skiing. These days drinking no longer needs to be covert. It's an accepted ski club tradition. But it's what we drink that has changed and with the improvement in the quality of New Zealand wine over the last thirty years, wine is now commonly the drink of choice.

Why Matariki Wines for our ski club's jubilee? Matariki is owned by John and Rosemary O'Connor and with Rosemary's parents long time members of the club and indeed Rosemary herself, having a ski club member's wine couldn't be surpassed.

Matariki Wines takes its name from Matariki, the cluster of stars in the sky that is also known as Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. Right now it is the Matariki celebration in New Zealand, the start of the Maori New Year. It happened this year on the night of June the 16th, the same night as the ski club's 75th Jubilee with Matariki Wines. What a coincidence. Want to know more about the Matariki Maori New Year celebration. This Tai Tokerau website is a very good start.

© Sue Courtney
17 Jun 2007

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