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Welcome to Sue Courtney's web log (blog) of vinous ramblings.  One day I'll update it to proper blogger software but right now I haven't the time to research which blogging software is best, nor do I have the time to teach myself how to use it.  I'll stick to archaic html to record my daily events.  It's my on line journal and an adjunct to my website which is for more formal tasting notes and articles.

You'll find links to other wine blogs on my Vinous Links page.

If you want to make a comment, drop an email to and, if appropriate, I'll post it in the appropriate place.

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Archive: October 16th to October 31st 2007
Oct 31st: Fighting the Frost
Oct 30th: Wine of the Week: Auntsfield Pinot Noir 2006
Oct 29th: Marlborough Wine Weekend
Oct 29th: David Herd Life Time Achievement Award
Oct 26th: Blast from the Past: Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 1988
Oct 25th: Wine of the Week: Greystone Pinot Gris 2007
Oct 24th: Collards closes its doors
Oct 23rd: Controversy erupts over Hawkes Bay Wine Awards Champion
Oct 23rd: Awhitu Wines - as far as you get get off the beaten track
Oct 22nd: Gisborne's International Chardonnay Challenge another show with a drop in entries
Oct 21st: Delish Lamb Drums and Coopers Creek Syrah
Oct 19th: Frost bites hard in Marlborough
Oct 18th: New Vineyard Location: Paewhenua Island
Oct 17th: Hawkes Bay Wine Show winners found
Oct 16th: New Vineyard Profile: Boreham Wood
Other Entries

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Oct 31st 2007

Fighting the FrostFrosted Vine

Saw some frosted vines in Marlborough in the weekend. Funny how the frost strikes. I was intrigued where there was just one vine in a row that had been bitten by frost. This sporadic type of damage seemed quite common. But it was heartbreaking to see whole rows that had been 'toasted'.

It also appears that vines in the little gullies on undulating terrain were more susceptible, as were vineyards on the North Bank and in the Southern Valleys. Vines on the Wairau Plains were largely unscathed.

Wind MachineThe main weapons for fighting frost are wind, heat or water and with frost attacks becoming more regular events, some of the new vineyard developments are commencing with the installation of wind machines - the photo shows one in an empty paddock. Established vineyards without permanent wind machines may resort to any or all of frost pots, fires, gas turbines and overhead water sprinklers as well as an arsenal of helicopters, which are used to draw down the warmer layers of air.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Oct 30th 2007

Wine of the Week: Auntsfield Pinot Noir 2006

After spending three days in Marlborough (see below) it should come as no surprise that a Marlborough wine features as the Wine of the Week. The wine I've chosen is the Auntsfield Hawk Hill Pinot Noir 2006 from the Southern Valleys sub region of Marlborough's Wairau Valley. Auntsfield is the name of the farm where Marlborough's first grape vines were believed to have been planted in 1873.  The vigneron was David Herd who has now been officially recognised as Marlborough's first winemaker. His Brown Muscat wines went on to win awards at shows in both New Zealand and Australia and were lauded for their medicinal attributes. Now Aunstfield has been revived and the wine that the current owners, the Cowleys, are producing would make David Herd proud.
A few weeks ago I was most impressed with the Auntsfield Pretty Horses Rosť 2007 made from Pinot Noir grapes. This week, Aunstfield Pinot Noir stars again.
Click here to read the Wine of the Week review.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Oct 29th 2007

Marlborough Wine Weekend

I've just returned from three fantastic days in Marlborough wine country at the inaugural Marlborough Wine Weekend. What an experience. Delicious-tasting Marlborough wines - and not just Sauvignon Blanc, but Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, bubbles and other interesting varieties that are less known from the region.

Expanse of the Awatere, looking westThe first day was all about familiarising the guests with the expanse that is Marlborough and three sub-regional tastings provided the opportunity to taste the wines where they came come and to compare and contrast regional characters. These tastings of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir took place at the Kaituna Vineyard on the Wairau Plains, at the elevated Dog Point Vineyard in Wairau's 'Southern Valleys' and at Vavasour Vineyard in the Awatere Valley, some 30-odd kilometres south. From the tour buses that transported guests between the venues, it was jaw dropping to see the vineyard plantings marching in formation across the plains, over the passes, up minor valleys and south beyond the Awatere towards Kaikoura.

Grand Pinot Noir TastingThat night a 'Supper Club' party had 25 of the region's producers in a large marquee, pouring their wines of all varieties, including the rarely seen Semillon, Pinot Blanc and Syrah.

The Grand Tastings of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, with local and international comparisons, showed the diversity of each of the varieties but particularly of Sauvignon Blanc, where wines from five countries were compared.

Riesling took centre stage at the 'Riesling Rendezvous', which I enjoyed at beautiful Spy Valley winery, then that night the Gourmet Dinner took place. Martin Bosley from the Yacht Club in Wellington created a superb six course degustation menu to match to bubbles, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and sweet wine.

Lunch at Spy ValleyThe last event was more bubbles on a cruise through the Marlborough Sounds with lunch at a mussel farm. I chose not to attend this as I don't eat mussels and I've cruised the Marlborough Sounds before. Instead I made arrangements to visit Auntsfield Estate upon which is the site of Marlborough's first vineyard, believed to have been planted in 1873. Then Herzog Bistro was the venue for a leisurely lunch and wine tasting.

It was a totally awesome event and meticulously organised from a participant's point of view. The only hiccup, which had some of the organisers tearing their hair out on the first morning, was the inability of Air New Zealand to put on the flights that people were booked on. I was one of those affected by flight 'cancellations' and as a result I missed out on one of the three sub-regional tastings on the first day, the Wairau Plains tasting the sacrifice.

Grand Gourmet Dinner settingI totally recommend this event to any winelover who wants to soak up the region in a most relaxing, glamorous and educational way. Three days of wine amongst the vines and delicious seasonal produce. What could be better. More, of the same, that's what.

While the $635 ticket price could be perceived as expensive, compare this to the $250 ticket price of Pinot at Cloudy Bay which is an International Pinot Noir tasting and lunch, or the $200-plus price for the Air New Zealand Wine Awards dinner.  $635 for all of the weekend's events with all wine and food as well as transport to and from all the venues included, is pretty reasonable really.

Highlights of the tasting events will be posted here soon.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Oct 29th 2007

David Herd Lifetime Achievement Award

Gerry Gregg - October 2007. Photo by Sue CourtneyGerry Gregg from Pernod Ricard was the recipient of the inaugural 'David Herd Lifetime Achievement Award' presented at the Gourmet Dinner finale to the Marlborough Wine Weekend on Saturday night.  The popular recipient humbly accepted the Trophy designed by Fran McGuire. Ms McGuire said the dots represented the vineyard posts and the wires connected them while the black band is the river which separates the current vineyard boundaries from the potential beyond them.  

Gerry Gregg joined Montana Wines in 1976 and has worked tirelessly in the industry and in the promotion of Marlbrough wine, ever since. 

The award is also in honour of Marlborough's first winegrower, David Herd, who grew brown muscat grapes on the Auntsfield Estate in the Southern Valleys as far back as 1873.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Oct 26th 2007

Blast from the Past: Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 1988

I'm winging my way to Marlborough today, almost exactly 19 years to the day that I discovered Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Back then we had been travelling the South Island for nine weeks on what had been an unsuccessful attempt to ski every field but 1988 was a bad season for snow. We also spent two weeks on the West Coast and didn't even see the top of the Southern Alps, but that's the West Coast for you. So our plans to ski the Fox and the Franz Josef Glaciers were abandoned too.

It was the last South Island day of that nine week trip when we discovered the wine. We were in Blenheim and had an hour in hand before we had to check in at the ferry terminal for the journey across Cook Strait to the North Island.

"Let's find out where that Hunters is," I said to Neil. We had heard about Hunters because it had massive newspaper coverage after winning some competitions in the UK. The Automobile Association office told us to head up towards Picton, turn left into Rapaura Road and we'd find Hunters some way along, on the right.

Back in the car I looked at the 'x' I had marked on the map and suggested we head along Old Renwick Road, turn right into Jackson Road and right into Rapaura Road and Hunters would be on our left. That way we would discover more of the region.

A little way along Jackson Road we came across Cloudy Bay, a winery we had never heard of before. It was 9.50am and the sign said the winery was opening at 10, so we decided to drive in and wait. But a staff member came out and invited us in. They gave us a wine to taste and I will never forget the explosion of fresh flavours that filled my mouth and stirred my senses. It's a taste I still remember. The wine was the newly released Cloudy Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 1988. It kindled my passion for wine. You could say it was my wine 'epiphany'.

We bought two bottles.

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc is one of the few Sauvignon Blancs I have always enjoyed with a little age. I think it comes into its own about a year after release. But how would a 19-year-old Cloudy Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc taste? I was about to find out because the other day Neil had 'discovered' a bottle we bought on that memorable day. We opened it along at our Labour Weekend 'past it' party.

Did the wine taste like the Sauvignon Blanc I remembered? No, not at all. In fact it didn't even taste like Sauvignon Blanc as we know it. But here's something amazing ….. the wine was not 'past it' …. It could be appreciated if you didn't think of it as 'Sauvignon Blanc'. But what would I have made of it if tasting blind? cloudy bay 1988

Cloudy Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 1988 is deep burnished gold in colour, still bright and clear with aromas that have hints of melon and dried hay. There's some viscosity to the texture and the flavours have become rich and honeyed. At first it seems like a late harvest wine with fruit sweetness and bright underlying acidity. The pungency of the sauvignon blanc grape emerges on the juicy finish and the lingering flavours are full of dried tropical fruits, like mango and pineapple. There's a flourish of lime zest and a talcy, spicy, savouriness joins in as the wine lingers. The long, savoury aftertaste is very reminiscent of an aged Hunter Valley Semillon.

This is simply one amazing wine with bright acidity keeping the wine simmering along. It's lost any canned green pea character (ok, perhaps there is a hint, but I don't mind that - think of the character as 'day lily') and has become complex and thought provoking.

The note I wrote on the bottle was 'drink by 1990'. Well we didn't, but we can still enjoy it. It just shows, that if you have the mind set, aged Marlborough Sauv Blanc is quite okay.

Oh, the fruit for this wine came from grapes grown by Corbans at the Stoneleigh Vineyard and was made by David Hohnen and Kevin Judd. It has 12.5% by volume and is sealed with a cork. This particular cork was saturated - but only on the bottom half. The top half of the cork was tight and dry.

PS: We finished the wine last night, with new seasons asparagus. Wow, an amazing combination.  Don't try a new season's savvie with asparagus, try an old one like this.  Simply sensational.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Oct 25th 2007

Wine of the Week: Greystone Pinot Gris 2007

It's there if you look, this Week's Wine of the Week, although a day late this week because of 'Labour Day', a public holiday in New Zealand. Labour Day means you get a day off unless you work in retail. I don't work in retail, so I had a 'day off'.

The Wine of the Week is the delicious Greystone Pinot Gris 2007 from Waipara in the South Island. Click here to read all about it.

Also posted are the two Wednesday tasting reports.

Last week it was some of the top wines from the Cuisine Magazine Pinot Noir tasting. I loved the top-placed wine,the Villa Maria Reserve Pinot Noir 2006, but I think the 5th placed wine, the Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Noir 2006, struck it lucky on the day. Wine of the night for value and flavour was Vidal Marlborough Pinot Noir 2006Click here for my notes.  

Last night it was Chardonnay and Shiraz - six of each.  Some lovely wines but for me one standout.  It was a beauty in so many ways, including its name.  Hentley Farm 'The Beauty' Barossa Shiraz 2005 from the Greenock area of the Barossa Valley was my 'rediscovery' of the year. It's inky black, impenetrable right to the purple-red edges. Deep, brooding and smoky on the nose, it soon opens up to reveal the most alluring spices. Powerful and tight in the palate, it's a grunter that is screaming out for a big glass, nevertheless the black fruits, sweet oak, tobacco, spice, leather and tar flavours strut their stuff with intense juiciness. Powerful, stylish and very primary with beautifully fine tannins, this delicious wine has a 'tad' of Viognier. 15% alcohol but so balanced - and a cool $50, to boot. 

I'm early with this week's tasting review.  Click here to read the Chardonnay and Shiraz notes.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Oct 24th 2007

Collards closes its doors

A group of us got together over Labour Weekend for a 'past it ' party.  That is wines that should have been drunk long before last weekend, in fact wines that should have been drunk years before last weekend. One of the wines we took along was from Collards Brothers in Henderson in West Auckland.

collards 88 claretCollards Private Bin Claret 1988 is, according to the label, "a classic style blended from Cabernet, Pinotage, Pinot Noir and Shiraz". It was an interesting wine when we bought it in January 1989 for $6.95 a bottle, and it was still 'interesting', for want of a better word, on the 'past it' party night.

Tawny in colour, it has smoke, prune and 'old fruit cake cherry' aromas, which is a promising start.  With just 11.5% alcohol, it's not surprising that it seemed a little thin in the palate and although it's a tad metallic at first, there is an earthy, savoury, spicy substance with still a touch of prune and raisin fruit sweetness and an aftertaste that is quite vinous and persistent. 'Pinotish' is the word I used to describe it. 

Technically the wine is past it, but it's definitely still drinkable, especially if you like old wines. Best with food, however.

Now the directors of Collards have decided the company is past it because last week they announced that Collards will cease its winemaking operations and will sell its winery site on Lincoln Road.  The adjacent vineyard where Collards grows grapes will also be sold.

Desma, Bruce and Geoff Collard, the directors of the company, said a combination of factors was behind the decision to sell and cease winemaking. The once-rural vineyard is now surrounded by industrial and commercial development and is no longer practical for a vineyard and winery. The land adjoins two of West Auckland's busiest arterials, Lincoln Road and Central Park Drive and is close to the North Western Motorway.  The land value has risen to a point that the location does not provide an economic return for the landowners. The directors have considered relocation but have decided the climate is not right to establish a new winery. The Collard brothers Bruce and Geoff will continue to manage the 77-hectare property at Waimauku, “Rothesay”, which is used for farming and grape growing.

The Henderson land was bought by J.W. Collard in 1910, and was initially an orchard before being planted as a vineyard in the 1940s.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Oct 23rd 2007

Controversy erupts over Hawkes Bay Wine Awards Champion

When the Hawkes Bay Wine awards were launched this year, the press release stated, "In a calculated turn from previous years, none of the judges (including the chief judge) has any wines entered in the competition."  The new Chief Judge of the competition, Tony Bish from Sacred Hill Wines, said in his maiden speech that "integrity was paramount".

So when the Gunn Estate Skeetfield Chardonnay 2006 won the Best Chardonnay and Trophy for Champion Wine of the Show, more than my eyebrows were raised. Keith Stewart voiced his opinion in the New Zealand Herald on Saturday, while in Hawkes Bay Today, Michael Cooper, the catalyst for Wither Hills downfall last year, called for the wine to be withdrawn. You see, Gunn Estate is a label of Sacred Hill Wines and although Tony Bish said he did not make the wine, he still is Sacred Hill's chief winemaker.

Tony Bish says he was not involved in any way during the competition judging that may have influenced the final results, but at the shows I have judged at the Chief Judge always takes part in any gold medal recalls and always takes part in Trophy judging.

Something that also confused me in the launch press release was the statement saying that winemaker scores had been removed in previous years to ensure a robust judging system. But again, in my experience, the judging panels discuss the wines if there are discrepancies in the panel member's scores. So while a winemaker's score of his or her wine may be removed, there has still been the opportunity to 'talk up' a wine - assuming the winemaker recognises it.

"We have decided to withdraw the wine, even though technically no rules were broken, out of respect for the Hawke’s Bay A&P Wine Awards," says Tony Bish.   The trophies have also been returned.

Good on you mate. That's the right thing to do.

It has now been announced that Sileni Estate 'The Lodge' Chardonnay 2005 is the new Champion Chardonnay winner.

Vidal Reserve Syrah 2005 is the Champion Wine of the Show. Champion winemaker is Hugh Crichton and the champion viticulturist is Oliver Powrie. However it appears that despite the withdrawal of the Gunn Estate wine, the Vidal Syrah should have won the top prize anyway but the competition director made an error.  “We would like apologise for this mistake. It was an administrative error and we maintain full confidence in the Awards,” says Michael Pyatt, CEO, Hawkes Bay A&P Society Inc.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Oct 23rd 2007

Awhitu Wines - as far as you get get off the beaten track

The weekend before last, when we were plotting a car club social run on Auckland's Awhitu Peninsula, we discovered a vineyard that's so far off the beaten track, if we had driven any further, we would have run out of road. Dave Hendl - Awhitu WinesIt's Awhitu Wines and it's way up the peninsula that makes up the south arm of the Manukau Harbour. The vineyard is on the sheltered side, on a cliff top location, quite close to Grahams Beach (see map). The tiny vineyard is so small, that owner Dave Hendl, calls it a 'vinepatch'. The vines were planted in 1997 so were established when Dave and his wife Wendy bought the property in 2000. They grow just Chardonnay and Syrah.

There were two wines for tasting.

Awhitu Peninsula Chardonnay 2005 ($24.50) is a lightly oaked, oily textured wine that has had full malolactic treatment. It's nutty and citrussy to the taste with a hint of grapefruit and a peachy richness to the finish, which takes on a character a little like a 'village' level Chablis.

Awhitu Greenock Syrah 2004 ($29.70) is a light coloured wine with a smoky, savoury aroma and a savoury, lightly spicy flavour with an earthy depth. The fruit is in the strawberry / cherry spectrum. It reminded me of a lighter styled pinot noir.

Dave was quick to tell me that he has had four-star rating for his wines, but a little probing revealed they were for the successive vintages, neither of which had been released.  Shayne Cox (Corazon Wines) is the winemaker.

MGs at Awhitu WinesThe wines were reasonable, the location is beautiful and the people are friendly so we arranged with Dave to take the car club run there.  That was on Labour Weekend Sunday, just past (gosh we were lucky with the weather). Dave had arranged these amazing platters of food and kept the troops entertained with his stories. Everyone said they really enjoyed it, and the half dozen or so who weren't tasting, wandered around the 'vinepatch' or sat at the outside tables and nattered.

Awhitu Wines is at 31 Greenock Drive, Grahams Beach. The website is and although the wine profiles are out of date, it gives info and contacts.

If you're planning a trip up the Peninsula, then think about the 3rd November. 2007. The Awhitu Wine Food and Arts Festival takes place at Awhitu Regional Park that day. Check out this and other activities at

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Oct 22nd 2007

Gisborne's International Chardonnay Challenge another show with a drop in entries

The International Chardonnay Challenge, New Zealand's only wine show for solely Chardonnay wines and Chardonnay blends, was held last week in Gisborne, attracting 450 entries, a 13% decrease on the entry of 520 wines in 2006. It follows the trend of fewer entries in the recent Liquorland Top 100 and the upcoming Air New Zealand Wine Awards.  However, Chardonnay competition director Pru Younger said there was a significant increase in overseas entries, with over 30% of the total from Australia. Nineteen gold medals were awarded, 16 to New Zealand wines and the other three to Australian wines. Three of the gold medal winners were locally produced bubblies.

The overall champion wine was Marsden Estate Black Rocks Northland Chardonnay 2006, which continues on its gold strewn path after also winning gold at the Bragato Wine Awards and the New Zealand International Wine Show within the last two months.

My tasting notes from the latter confirms the Marsden Estate Black Rocks Northland Chardonnay 2006 as a particularly gorgeous wine that will be right up the alley of Chardonnay-loving drinkers. It's rich, ripe, creamy and peachy and crammed with opulent oily oak and decadent, powerful flavours of apricot, oatmeal, spice and cream. It's full-bodied and long with harmonious texture and flow and a refined sophistication to the finish where tantalising tropical fruit flavours linger. Barrel fermented and matured for 12 months in a mix of French and American oak, the latter adds immediate upfront appeal. It costs $35 a bottle from the winery with 10% discount on case prices.

Marsden Estate Black Rocks Northland Chardonnay 2006 also won a couple of other Trophies, including Top North Island Wine.

Top South Island Wine is also one that is a favourite with folks in my drinking circle. It's the Seifried Estate Nelson Chardonnay 2006, a wine with a richness, complexity and length of flavour that is almost unbelievable for its well under $20 price. There's butter caramel on the nose and while it seems tight grained in the spicy, leesy palate at first, it opens up beautifully with juicy stonefruit, melon, hints of pineapple. Kingsley Wood at First Glass Wines & Spirits has been championing this wine since its release. He describes it as, "the style of Chardonnay that will bring drinkers back to the variety".

There will be no International Chardonnay Challenge in 2008. It relaunches in 2009 in May to coincide with a Wines and Crayfish celebration being held by Gisborne Winegrowers.   See for full results and press releases.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Oct 21st 2007

Delish Lamb Drums and Coopers Creek Syrah

So lamb 'shanks' have become lamb 'drums' at my local. Can't really see the reasoning behind this. But the bone was shorter and the butcher had made several slits across-ways into one side of the flesh. Bought a packet of two and found they fitted snugly into an earthen casserole dish. So a bit of the 'same old, same old' preparation from off the top of my head.

Peeled a big clove of garlic and cut it lengthways into four. Inserted two pieces into two of the slits in each 'drum'. Placed them into the casserole dish and poured over a cup of good hearty left over wine (I used a tempranillo shiraz blend). I added a small orange that had been in the fruit bowl too long, cut it into quarters and pushed the quarters, skin and all, down the side of the dish into the gaps. Added a star of anise into the liquid and laid a handful of 'pizza' thyme over the top of the meat. Seasoned with salt and pepper, covered the casserole and popped into a 160 degree Celsius oven for three hours. They were turned during the cooking, when the vegetables were placed into the oven, in a separate dish, to cook. The result, the most tender shanks I have tasted. Fall off the bone tender.

Had four wines open, all from Coopers Creek. They were

Coopers Creek SV Gibson's Run Marlborough Pinot Noir 2006
This is rich and savoury on the nose with spiced black cherry and a touch of herbs and succulent, savoury and spicy to the taste with underlying acidity adding brightness. It has all the hallmarks of a complex PN with all sorts of intricacies evolving on the finish.

Coopers Creek SV Gimblett Gravels Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2005
A deep crimson red with smoky toasted oak infusing into the red currant and black plum fruit with powerful tannins, leather, vanillin oak and underlying sweetness. A nuance of violet emerges with a touch of bitter chocolate on the long, succulent, savoury finish.

Coopers Creek SV 'The Clays' Huapai Malbec 2006
Incredibly deep purple coloured with crimson edges, this is a monster of a wine, yet still remarkably juicy and succulent once you get through the door. Savoury, leather, funky and earthy with grippy, rubbed fur tannins. There's incredible depth and purity with floral nuances to the finish.

Coopers Creek SV 'Chalk Ridge' Hawkes Bay Syrah 2006
Inky black red with exotic spices on the nose and spicy flavours. It's full of pepper, allspice, blackberry, boysenberry, and chocolate with cocoa-like tannins. It's a big wine with an opulence to the creamy texture and the finish is all black cherries, earth, spice and dried herbs.

Best match was the Syrah. It nicely complemented the anise spiciness of the cooking juices that had infused into the lamb and had a fruit sweetness that contrasted to the gaminess of the meat.  The Pinot Noir was too acidic, the Malbec was too earthy for the gamey flavours and the Cabernet Merlot was too leathery.

I like these 'drums' and I'll bet they were from new seasons lambs. Just $9.99 a kilo, so I'll be back to the supermarket later this week to see if they have more because a dish like this on a lazy and freezing cold Labour Weekend Saturday was so easy to prepare and pretty delish.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Oct 19th 2007

Frost bites hard in Marlborough

A hundred helicopters were buzzing around the skies in Marlborough's Wairau Valley last night as temperatures plummeted into the danger zone. Check out the video on the TVNZ website. Follow this link, then click on 'Related Video'.

There is more on frosts in my News Section.
10 Oct 2007: Frost Pot demand outstrips supply.
5 Oct 2007: Frost fighting helicopter hits powerpole.
27 Sep 2007: Spring Frost alerts.

Now the experts are saying to expect them until the end of next month.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Oct 18th 2007

New Vineyard Location: Paewhenua Island

So you're probably wonder where Paewhenua Island is, and you many be wondering how to pronounce it.
the island roadside signFirstly the location: Paewhenua Island is in Northland, in the Mangonui Harbour, but it is connected to the mainland by a causeway on one side, and a bridge on the other.  If you've travelled State Highway 10 north of the Bay of Islands to Coopers Beach, Karikari Peninsula and Cape Reinga, you've passed over Paewhenua Island. 
Secondly the pronunciation: Well, I am no Maori language expert, but loosely it can be pronounced as pie-fen-noo-ah (corrections welcomed).

Part of Paewhenua Island is being developed into luxury properties, but there is also 80 hectares of covenanted bush and open pastoral land, a wetlands and a 10-hectare vineyard.  The whites varieties grown on the vineyard are Viognier and Pinot Gris. After a setback with the weather in 2007, when the owners chose to write the crop off instead of picking inferior grapes, the first of the whites will hopefully be picked in 2008.   However the 2006 vintage saw a healthy harvest of Syrah. Karikari Estate took the grapes and Ben Dugdale made the wine. The result is the Silver Bay Northland Syrah 2006.

silver bay syrahSilver Bay Northland Syrah 2006 is a bright crimson red colour with a ruby hue and moderate depth. There's a lovely ripe, creamy, chocolate, vanilla and red fruit aroma and bright, fruity, sweet and savoury flavours. It's juicy with a savoury, leathery undercurrent to the nutty oak, macerated cherry fruit and an anise spiciness. Medium-bodied in style and just a little short, it has a bright, fruity charm with lots of user-friendly drink-now appeal.  I rate it solid bronze medal standard and at $19 a bottle with a screwcap closure, it definitely is a winner for the upcoming BBQ season.

Paewhenua Island also grows Tannat.  I had a sneak preview of a 2006 barrel sample when I visited Karikari Estate late last year.  It's going to be a stunner of a wine when it gets released.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Oct 17th 2007

Hawkes Bay Wine Show winners found

Award winning wines from the 2007 Hawkes Bay Wine Awards were announced last night.

Champion Wine of the Show is Gunn Estate Skeetfield Chardonnay 2006 with winemaker Denis Gunn named Champion Winemaker .

Reserve Champion Wine was awarded to Vidal Reserve Syrah 2006.

Nineteen gold medals were awarded in total and from these, the Trophy winning wines were selected.

In addition to the above, they were

Wild Rock Wine Company Merlot 2005
Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay 'The Gimblett' 2005
Trinity Hill Hawke's Bay Montepulciano 2006
Kim Crawford Te Awanga Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Morton Estate Private Reserve Viognier 2007

Full results can be found at

This is a regional show and wines entered must be made from at least 85% Hawkes Bay grown grapes.

Sue Courtney's blog of vinous ramblings
wine, food & other vinous topics from New Zealand
Oct 16th 2007

New Vineyard Profile: Boreham Wood

As the New Zealand vineyard area keeps growing, so do the number of new producers. Down in Marlborough, it's not surprising that many of them are from the more southern part of the region, the Awatere Valley and beyond.

One newbie is Boreham Wood Wines and although the vineyard was established in the Awatere Valley in 1998, I've come across the name only recently. So just who are they?

Searching "Boreham Wood" on Google returns many hits - most of them associated with a town in England, just north of London, and its soccer team. So it's not surprising to find out that Boreham Wood's owners, Peter and Jane Clark, are from England and they've named their vineyard after the town they have come from.

They have Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris growing in the vineyard, which son Simon, a Lincoln graduate, looks after. Sauvignon Blanc, with the first vintage in 2006, is all that they have produced under the Boreham Wood label so far.

Boreham Wood Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006 ($19.50) has stonefruit, melon, tropical fruit and cherimoya aromas and full-bodied, bright fruited flavours with a tingling of juicy grapefruit, an underpinning of herbs, a delicate muskiness and a softness to the fleshy finish - which lingers deliciously. It sets itself apart because it's quite stylistically different to the Wairau Valley savvies, and all the better for it. 13% alc.bwood07.jpg

Boreham Wood Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007 ($21.50) has just been released and on first impression, it is startlingly similar to the 2006 - it's only the herbaceous freshness and the brighter acidity that lets you know it is the youngest. Herbs and tomato stalk on the nose lead into a warm, fleshy palate with stonefruit, melon, zesty grapefruit-like citrus and a grassy finish. It's young and vibrant with lots of flavour and excellent length that lasts and lasts. If it develops like the 2006 has, it will be stunning. Just give it time.

Like many new wineries, Boreham Wood is focussing on website sales. Check out

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copyright Sue Courtney 2007