Yvonne Lorkin wine column for week beginning Sat July 7 2018

Back in 2015 when I was filming my tv show Thirsty Work, we shot a story on New Zealand’s Poutama Cuisine Cluster, a collective of 30 award-winning food and beverage producers. What made them unique was that all the producers were Maori owned and operated. Amongst them they could cater for everything you could possibly need: seafood, meat, honey, nuts, dairy produce, herbs and spices and, dear readers, fantastic wine and beer. They’d use their collective energies to attract and introduce food and beverage buyers from here and abroad to their products. Was it a successful initiative or not? I don’t know. But I do know that some of the wine producers this week announced the formation of “Tuku”, the first ever Māori winemakers collective, designed to work along the same vein. “It’s a collective of like-minded people who think that we can achieve more with our business and our chosen careers by working together than by working individually,” said Tuku Māori Winemakers Collective chairman, Steve Bird.

The group came together after members realised it would be more cost-effective to collaborate when showcasing their wines overseas and at New Zealand events, and that they could share ideas and help each other. The five wine companies are te Pā Family Vineyards, Tiki Wine & Vineyards, Bird Wines, Kuru Kuru Wines, and Ostler Wine, family companies that all whakapapa back to specific waka. From Tauranga Takitimu Waka and Rotorua-Te Arawa Waka in the north, to Ngati Awa, Ngai Tahu and Ngati Tuwharetoa in the south.

They are all artisan, sustainability-focused winemakers that share common values, such as a sense of whānau and a connection and understanding of the land. “Plus we also all like to have a bit of fun, we all love wine, we’ve all been in the game for a long time, so we know each other very well and pretty much know where all the bones are buried” laughs Bird.

Each group contributes something different to the collective – te Pā Wines have owned and farmed the same piece of land for 800 years, while Jeff Sinnott from Ostler was “one of the most technically competent winemakers” in New Zealand, Steve Bird has a long history in winemaking and wine marketing and Hayden Johnston of Kuru Kuru Wines has experience distributing wines in the UK. I think this talent pool puts them in a strong position to take on the wine world…

Ostler Lakeside Vines Waitaki Valley Pinot Gris 2017 $29.99 (4.5 stars)
Jeff Sinnott is the winemaker at Ostler, and together with his brother-in-law Jim Jerram, they’ve snaffled fruit from Jeff’s father Paul Sinnot’s vineyard on the banks of Lake Waitaki to create a luscious, quince and apple-saturated gris that zings with freshness and roars with life. The vineyard sits on land once named ‘Lemon Springs.’ Lemon Springs? According to 82 year old Paul, it turns out there were no springs and definitely no lemons, but clearly the dirt was great for grapes. Delicious stuff.

Maui Marlborough Pinot Gris 2017 $14.99 (3.5 stars)
Crafted by the team at Tiki Wines, this tight, slender, delicately dry pinot gris has subtle white peach, apple, yellow plum and white pepper aromas. Flavour-wise, expect a flash of dried herbs, a hint of honeysuckle and peach, followed by racy acidity and a round, powdery, textural finish. A good quaffer if you err on the dry side of the stairs wine-wise.


Delibori Pinot Grigio delle Venezie 2016 $19.95 (4 stars)
Pinot gris Italian-style, is what we’ve got here and dang is it delicious! Delicate, fresh and frisky, it bursts with apple, lemon and fresh-cut pear notes combine with a hint of seabreeze and crushed shells on the finish. Mineral and white pepper characters make this a winner with seasoned sardines on toast.

Tahbilk One Million Cuttings South Australian Chardonnay 2016 $18 (3 stars)
This is a new brand to hit our shores from one of Australia’s iconic brands. If you’re looking for a tangy, lemony, grapefruity chardonnay with creamy, nutty and soft melon and guava flavours, then this will fit. It’s a touch broad, but fruity enough to give you a tropical kick for everyday quaffing.

Van Asch Pyro Central Otago Syrah 2009 $40 (3.5 stars)
Nine years on from harvest and this wine is a freak of nature for two reasons. The first being that it’s syrah grown in one of the southernmost winegrowing regions in the world (highly unusual) and when a fire ripped through the winery not long after vintage, just a couple of barrels of syrah were saved. Thusly ‘Pyro’ was born. Henry van Asch is the co-founder of AJ Hackett Bungy and in 1993, decided to leap into the world of wine by planting grapes in Gibbston. His syrah is earthy, edged with pepper and iodine notes and layered with blueberry and leather. Drink now.

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Thirsty Work is now into its 4th series with episodes available to watch on demand https://www.threenow.co.nz/shows/thirsty-work/130042
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