Wednesday, 12 September 2012

New Zealand with Mimi Avery

New Zealand’s wine history goes back a long way, vineyards were established in Hawkes Bay by Te Mata in 1896 and Corbans planted in Auckland in 1902. But it was not until the late 70’s early 80’s that small quantities of New Zealand wines were found their way to the UK. Montana planted in Marlborough in 1973 and by the 80’s were wining awards with wines where there was volume enough to export properly.

Our links to the New Zealand wine industry were forged when Mr Corban, then working at McWilliams in Australia, suggested to Dad that he extend his trip to Australia, in 1965, to New Zealand and visit the family vineyards in Auckland. It was on this trip that the passion for New Zealand wines started. In the early 70’s we imported a couple of NZ wines but it was not until 1979 that it became a commercial success.

The 1978 Cellar book article in the New Zealand Herald, written when Dad was Chief Judge for the first time at the National New Zealand wine competition, has J.C.Graham saying ‘This year’s chief Judge, John Avery, of the famous Bristol wine firm… the job is lightened when working with a man like John Avery, who holds the hard to-earn British title of Master of Wine. With life long insights into wine lore and practices, he also helped to fend off fatigue with his ready wit.’ (See full article)

My Passion for wine was really ignited on a round the world trip post University, funded by my year out as a Student Civil Engineer, I did work experience with Allan Scott and his family in Blenheim Marlborough, and developed a love for Sauvignon Blanc (unlike my father) but also Riesling, Allan always has a soft spot for his delicious aromatics.

In 1997 we were one of two companies that bought the first pallet of Felton Road Pinot Noir (1995) from Christopher Fielden, and have since had to take 2 bottles back so that Nigel Greening had a full Library set.

The first of our 2012 New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are on the water,  they are our customer favourites such as Invivo and Sunshine Bay,  and there will be new offerings too. There have been varied reports about the harvest across New Zealand. After wide spread issues with fruit set in Marlborough the harvest there is down by 23% on 2011. “...lighter than average crops in this significantly cooler than average year proved to be the key.

Vineyards with strong healthy canopy were able to take advantage of the sunnier warmer weather when it did eventually arrive” says Hamish Clark, St Clair’s senior winemaker. However Otago had a bigger harvest than 11, with Chris Keys of Gibbston Valley saying “we are happy with the 2012 quality. Smaller bunches have given welcome intensity, and flavours are excellent.”

Generally North Island had a better vintage than South and volumes are up on last year with no new plantings. Even with an 18% volume reduction overall this is still the 4th largest vintage ever, similar in size to 2010, source New Zealand Wine vintage summary.

Whilst waiting for the 2012 to arrive, I would suggest drinking the Waihopai Sauvignon Blanc 2010 that I took on holiday, to cornwall, last week. It was delicious, it went with both our al fresco lunches and the shell fish at dinner, a great all rounder.

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