Pask’s got the Power!

New life is being injected into the 30 year old CJ Pask brand with the addition of pinot noir from Martinborough and aromatics from Marlborough in a move that has made General Manager and Winemaker Kate Radburnd very happy. “I first met ex-top dressing pilot Chris Pask when he supplied grapes to me during my time as winemaker at Vidal Estate in Hastings” says Kate.  “He literally started making wine as a hobby in the little shed on his vineyard, which was planted in 1981” she adds.

Pask’s first wine, a 1985 Cabernet Sauvignon, was awarded a 5 star rating in Cuisine magazine, as was his1986.  That’s when he decided to get a bit more serious about the wine business and asked Kate to come on board.  “It was a great way to start with what I thought was going to be this tiny company where I’d be able to manage the vineyard, the winemaking and the whole shebang”.  The winery now has grown dramatically, it’s almost ten times the size it was 21 years ago and if you’ve ever visited, it’s basically a factory.  “It was never designed to be doing the throughput we’re doing now.  We’ve added bits on over the years and we’re in the throes of adding on again.  So it’s not pretty – but it’s functional!” Kate laughs,  “Our vineyards are 5 minutes from the winery at Gimblett Rd and apart from our staff; our vineyards are our greatest assets.  We are concentrating on chardonnay and then the reds both Bordeaux varieties and Syrah”.  Pask’s first vintage of Syrah was in 2000 “and even after 13 vintages I feel we’re still newcomers to it” Kate shrugs.  “What I love about syrah is it has a gracefulness to its fruit and lovely length of flavour”.

Kate and her team are also experts at producing fantastic bubbles.  The stunning 2007 CJ Pask Methode Traditionnelle has spent about 4 years on yeast lees and it’s light and toasty with some lovely acidity and texture but you’d be forgiven for having never seen it before. “We really just sell it direct from the winery, and it’s a real labour of love because everything is done by hand” says Kate “we only make about 150 cases a year and to be honest I think we drink more than we sell!  We just like to have it, something on hand to celebrate with”. One interesting thing about this bubbly is it’s sealed not with the traditional cork, cage and foil, but with a crown seal instead.  “We’re not using cork at all now which is good but you don’t get the same pop”.

Treats for Under $25

New Zealand’s most consumer-oriented wine competition has recently wrapped, the results are out and I doubt if even Valerie Adams would have the upper body strength to haul away the record number of medals awarded.  1008 wines were entered in this years New World Wine Awards which dictate that each wine must retail for under $25 and have at least 500 cases available – making the winners both affordable and available.  13 of the top judges in the country then awarded a record 56 gold, 130 silver and 412 bronze medals – and those medals don’t come easy believe me.  The judging is as rigourous as any other show in the country.   This competition is open to wines from across the globe however this year three New Zealand wines took the top honours and here they are:

Champion Red = Mud House Pinot Noir 2010

Champion White = Wild Rock Pania Chardonnay 2010

Champion Bubbles = Brancott Estate Sparkling Rosé

All the awards winners are distributed and promoted in the 141 New World supermarkets around the country and there is a booklet showcasing the Top 50 out now.  Despite requiring a 500 case minimum amount, the top award winners have sold out in as little as 10 days some years – so my advice is to get in quick – particularly if you have spring weddings or Christmas functions coming up because these wines represent fantastic value for money.

Craggy Range Joins with the Rothschild’s

So moving about as far away from the bargain bin as you could possibly imagine, the Peabody family, owners of Craggy Range Winery have announced a strategic partnership with Benjamin de Rothschild and his family to create high quality Marlborough sauvignon blanc and pinot noir under the brand ‘Rimapere’.  Meaning ‘Five Arrows’ in maori, the brand represents the five branches of the Rothschild family, arguably the most famous winemaking family in world.

In announcing the partnership in a press release, Terry Peabody said “We are delighted to develop an association with such a revered wine family and look forward to a long and prosperous relationship. It is also a significant endorsement of the reputation of New Zealand, and the Marlborough region to have attracted such a distinguished wine family. We look forward to Rimapere becoming one of the region’s most prestigious wine brands in the years to come.”

So how are they going to do it?  Turns out Benjamin de Rothschild has also announced the purchase of a 26 hectare vineyard on Rapaura Road, in the heart of Marlborough’s iconic “golden mile”, home to some of the regions greatest wines. “This spectacular vineyard will become the home of the Rimapere brand, and represents my family’s long term commitment to our partnership and expanding our prestigious international wine portfolio.” Expect to see the first wine, the 2012 Rimapere Sauvignon Blanc around the traps over the next couple of weeks.


CJ Pask Declaration Syrah 2010 $50 ★★★★½


An intensely aromatic example which oozes fruitwood smoke, cracked pepper, rose and violet notes and an underlying earthy character.  The tannins have grip and sinew and sit alongside a solid seam of oak, fresh acidity and together create a long, warming finish.  It’s elegant, understated and has good tension which indicates that it has many years of great drinking ahead of it.

Old Mout Passionfruit & Cider 1.25ltr $11

I really like this new release cider because it’s not too sweet.  Loads of alcoholic beverages containing passionfruit tend to be overblown and sickly – but this cider and passionfruit combination is superb.  It’s clean and tangy with a hint of spritz and citrus.  There’s a very pure passionfruit flavour which is nicely balanced with the apple cider note and I reckon this will be an absolute hit come summer.  For stockists in your area vist

Invercargill Brewery Pitch Black Imperial Stout 9% 330ml $8

If you’re a fan of their 4.5% Pitch Black stout then you’ll no doubt be crowing “Amazeballs!” from the rooftops when you try this re-worked, double strength version.  They’ve doubled the original recipe and halved the water which meant the mash got stuck and then after the ferment they threw it into Central Otago pinot noir barrels for three months.  The result has seductive marmite, roasted hazelnuts and fresh, dark cocoa, prune and treacle notes – stunning stuff.   “This is very much Pitch Black for beer geeks” says brewer Steve Nally “it’s outside the realms of everyday – having been designed to be sipped, savoured and possibly even cellared” he adds.

Hunter’s MiruMiru 2008 Reserve $34 ★★★★★

This is special stuff indeed, and is hands down one of the best local bubblies I’ve tasted all year so it was no surprise to learn it was just awarded a Gold medal at the New Zealand International Wine Show, the largest wine competition in the country.  Miru miru actually means ‘bubbles’ in maori, and Hunters have produced a sparkler that smells like steaming hot croissants filled with crushed arrowroot biscuits and lemon zest.  It has a deliciously dry, rich, mouthfilling, nutty character and fantastic length of flavour.