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Wineseeker Blog

Monday, 27 November 2017 - 10:15am by Michael Hutton

On Saturday evening we had the great pleasure to host Winemaker Wilco Lam from Dry River. As exciting as it is to taste wines from Martinborough's most prestigious winery, it is even better when old vintages are on show. 

Dry River is a true icon of the New Zealand wine world - one of the very first to plant vines in Martinborough in 1979 by Dr Neil McCullum, Dry River has always held a fanatical level of detail in both the vineyard and the winery. The wines are made in tiny volumes, a total production of around 2,500 cases spread across a wide range of grape varieties. While undoubtedly most famous for their Pinot Noir, over the years Dry River has planted Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Syrah, and even a tiny amount of Tempranillo.

Monday, 6 November 2017 - 5:30pm by Michael Hutton

If you don't believe that climate change exists, you might want to stop reading about now.

According to NASA, the earth's climate has changed dramatically through history, in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat. The end of the last ice age about 7,000 years ago marks the beginning of the modern era and human civilisation... including perhaps the most obvious important form of civilised society - growing grapes and making wine!  The climate is definitely changing, that part of the science is well settled - the causes for us on an individual basis are somewhat academic (even though some 97% of scientists in the field agree that humans are a major cause of it) and I won't address that here.

Friday, 27 October 2017 - 2:00pm by Katie Hutton

With Jarrett returning from his travels across Europe, an unexpected surprise from his luggage sprang a bottle of English wine - my first taste ever from Britania.

As far as climates go, one wouldn't normally consider England ideally placed for making wine. A bit cold, a bit wet and a bit windy. Wait, did we just describe England or Champagne or Chablis?  The other consideration is that the ridge of limestone soils that reach from Northern Burgundy across Northern France finishes in Southern England (the other big white wall outside of Game of Thrones, and perhaps even more famous... Dover?).  Sunshine hours and 'growing degree days' are key measures to determine suitability for agriculture including grape vines. In this department Kent still lags behind the cool Champagne region by about 10%, so the wines are never going to be especially opulent, high in sugar/alcohol. The Guinevere clocks in at just 11.5% alcohol, so I'm expecting a leaner style of wine.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017 - 4:45pm by Michael Hutton

Those in the 'wine industry' in Wellington, or indeed New Zealand will know the name Raymond Chan. One of the tireless independent wine reviewers, wine critic, judge and flag bearer for the fine wine industry for 30 years.

This week sees Raymond taking the 2017 Sir George Fistonich Medal - awarded once a year honouring just one individual for outstanding contribution to the NZ wine industry.  Incidentally, if the name Fistonich doesn't ring a bell, he founded NZ wine giant Villa Maria in 1961.  This is a very prestigious award, boasting previous winners like Kevin Judd, Michael Cooper and Bob Campbell.  A huge congratulations - we're stoked for you Raymond! 

Monday, 9 October 2017 - 11:45am by Michael Hutton

Sometimes we just need an excuse to open up some really top shelf wines, the kind of wines that are treasured around the world and with unfortunate price tags to match.

Our most recent tasting event features the wines of Burgundy – a famous French wine region that lays claim to the spiritual home of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It is also synonymous with the concept of “Terroir” … the idea that a wine is the product of the environment that it comes from – especially the macro-climate, micro-climate and the soils that the grapes are grown in.  With 100 different appellations and 400 different recognised the Burgundians have the individuality of specific influences on a wine down to a fine art.  It’s frustrating to find the duality of Burgundy – on one hand the simplicity… after all there are just two grapes to worry about for fine wine in Burgundy – but on the other hand maddening in its complexity.

Saturday, 9 September 2017 - 1:45pm by Michael Hutton

As the 2017 growing season draws to a close in Europe we can start to draw a line under 2017. How is it going to stack up compared to other recent vintages? "Vintage" in the wine world is a term used to describe the time of harvest for grapes. With a handful of exceptions for grapes grown in the tropics this happens just once a year, in Autumn where the grapes reach the ideal level of ripeness for picking. After harvest comes the sorting of the fruit, crushing, fermenting and aging before the wine is bottled and ready for release.  The year on the bottle denotes the year of the harvest, rather than the year of bottling. The same vintage of different wines are released at different times depending on how long they spend maturing in tank, barrel, or bottle before ready to reach the hands, cellars, and bellies of the consumer. A fresh young Sav might be ready just six months after picking, whereas a barrel-aged Chardonnay may not be released for another year or more.

Friday, 30 June 2017 - 9:30pm by Michael Hutton

Leaving Bordeaux takes us South towards the Mediterranean, to break up the drive we stop for a night on the outskirts of Toulouse in the South-West before continuing through to the Provençal charms of the South. Even from the high speed Autoroutes we can see the dramatic change in countryside. The vines and woods of Bordeaux evolve through wide open fields of wheat, sunflowers, olives and lavender to the dramatic but spartan hillsides of Provence covered in oak, pines, wild herbs and scrub that can endure the dry heat and thin rocky soils. The roads a Wellington street planner would be proud of, barely 1.5 cars wide and windy with no centre lines and plenty of blind corners.

Thursday, 22 June 2017 - 2:30am by Michael Hutton

Vinexpo is a spectacular global wine show, started in France in 1981, now expanded across the globe including in Tokyo and New York. Last year I went to the Hong Kong version, but Bordeaux is home base, with a custom built Exhibition Centre on the Northern side of the city. Thousands of wine buyers, journalists and importers converge to sip, slurp, and spit the latest vintages on offer over four days.

The 'Parc des Expositions' has rolled out the red carpet, literally in this case. Alot of it too, as the floor area amounts to 80,000 square meters, stuffed to the gills with trade stands designed to woo both potential and existing clients.  In addition there are dozens of masterclasses to showcase wine styles, new regions, and highlight issues facing the wine world like climate change.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017 - 10:45pm by Michael Hutton

Our journey in Bordeaux continues with more visits to wine growers across the region, and it is gratifying to meet the people and touch the soils that produce many of the wines that we import into New Zealand. After our trip to the southern part of Bordeaux we follow it up with visits to Margaux, Ladaux and St Emilion.  2017 so far, one might say it is a tale of 'Fire and Ice'...Conditions here are very hot, with June temeperature records being broken for much of Europe. It has been  an extreme 37-38 degrees, which is an oven temperature as far as a Wellington boy like me is concerned, especially as our apartment has no airconitioning and the outside temperature doesn't dip below 30 until after midnight.

Saturday, 17 June 2017 - 9:00pm by Michael Hutton

As we prepare to bid farewell to the Loire, we will turn from the idyllic country villages towards the major commercial centre of Bordeaux. We leave a piece of our hearts behind,  I feel that everyone who travels to this part of the world falls in love with these tiny villages, small stone homes packed between tiny but immaculate streets, beautiful gardens tucked behind discrete gates and stone walls, boutique shopfronts sometimes sporting unlikely combinations, like this one (photo below) that doubles as a wine merchant and a bicycle hire. 

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