Published NZME Regional Newspapers Sat 13 Jun 2015

I’ve said before in this very paper, that I’m a sucker for a good wine festival; and coming up over the next few weeks are two real goodies.  The first is just days away on June 14th, so if you’re anywhere near Auckland I suggest you scuttle down to The Imperial Building at 7 Fort  Lane for the 3rd Annual NZ Boutique Wine Festival.  Not only will you be able to mix and mingle with brains behind twenty two of the best little brands you never heard of, you’ll also get to enjoy their wines and even absorb some valuable nuggets of knowledge at workshops presented by wine writer Jo Burzynska and Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas.  The Imperial Building is a quirky collection of some of the most unique and well-located heritage spaces in the heart of Auckland. Built between 1886 and 1911, the original Imperial Buildings at 44 Queen St, together with other buildings on the site, have undergone a $12 million revitalization, making it the perfect festival space, packed with character. Kicking off at 11.30am, all tickets to the event include festival glass, event programme and a free taste on entry.  Door sales are $49 and extra tickets for the VIP lunch; dinner and specialist tastings can be purchased via


Marlborough hosts first organic and biodynamic wine event in July

Anyone remotely interested in the progression of Organic & Biodynamic Winegrowing should get on their bike, boat, segway, skateboard, canoe, go-kart or your kids rip-stick and wiggle their way down to New Zealand’s first major Organic and Biodynamic Winegrowing conference. Held from July 8-10 at the Marlborough Convention Centre, its poised to mark a coming-of-age for the organic and biodynamic wine movement in New Zealand.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in the wine industry or just an enthusiastic amateur; you’re bound to learn bucketloads about how this growing movement is gearing up for the future.

Organised by Organic Winegrowers NZ, the 3-day event will bring together world leaders in organic and biodynamic grape growing, winemaking and wine business to exchange ideas with New Zealand’s wine industry.

Over 90 kiwi companies are now involved in certified organic grape and wine production. Themed “Below, Above and Beyond,” the Conference will encompass how organic wine begins in the vineyard; how it transforms in the winery; and how it travels out into the wider world to be enjoyed.  International speakers include:

  • Philippe Armenier, a French winemaker and vineyard consultant who has pioneered biodynamic viticulture internationally;
  • UK-based Monty Waldin, author of many books on organic and biodynamic wine;
  • Graeme Sait, a leader in the field of health, nutrition, soils and biological agriculture;
  • Australian wine writer and wine judge Max Allen.

Practical presentations will range from nitrogen management to water use to biological disease control. Panels on natural yeasts and wild ferments are expected to foster fizzing debate and discussion amongst winemakers. Branding, marketing, and consumer appeal will get a good look, with wine journalists and business leaders also presenting.

Of course the event will also be bursting at the seams with organic wine tastings featuring wines from here and overseas, plus there’ll be a mouthwatering Organic Feast by award-winning chef Bevan Smith of Riverstone Kitchen in Oamaru.

Registrations are now open on


Alpha Domus First Solo Chardonnay 2013 $26 ★★★★Alpha Domus First-Solo-Chardonnay-Bottle

A waft of grilled pineapple and peach is what immediately impressed me with this wine, and the fact that it boasts tight acidity, delicious toasty spice notes, loads of citrus and has a zesty, clean finish was all a lovely bonus really.  Superb with a steaming bowl of creamy smoked chicken pasta.

Richmond Plains Nelson Chardonnay 2014 $25 ★★★½

The team at Richmond Plains has been quietly bottling rather lovely, fully certified organic, biodynamically produced wines for ages – and this is a darn drinkable example. Expect apple, peach stone and citrus flavours followed by a dry, mineral-rich, palate-cleansing finish.


Burn Cottage Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013 $60 ★★★★½

True to their biodynamic philosophies, Ted Lemon and Clair Mulholland conduct all their winemaking work in accordance with lunar and celestial rhythms.  They use naturally-occurring, wild yeasts, minimize their sulphur use and avoid using additives or filters.  If you want a definition of complexity, this pinot has it in spades.  If you can imagine freshly-turned earth, soft smoke and spice notes, cocoa and cherry and berries in a bottle then this is it.  The tannins are velvety-smooth, a reflection of their supremely gentle handling of the wine.  Lovely.