Published NZME Regional Newspapers Sat 31 Oct 2015


Every now and again I’m asked to take visitors to Hawke’s Bay on wine tours and I enjoy these for reasons aplenty.  The first is that I’ll leap at any opportunity to show off the spectacular place where I was born, raised and live to anyone.  Any time. The   The second is that taking people on wine tours gives me a great excuse to get away from the office, away from my desk and out into the wide world of where it all happens, and by that I mean the cellar doors.  One little wine tasting oasis that I always try to call into is Sileni Estate on Maraekakaho Road, in the middle of the Bridge Pa Winegrowing district – because yes, the wines are quality, but it’s how they run their cellar door that really spins my wheels.   Anne Boustead has been the cellar door manager for aeons and she and her team are brilliant at making you feel immediately welcome no matter how busy they are.  I can’t stress how important it is to be acknowledged as soon as you walk in the door – I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve felt so bored and ignored at cellar doors around the country’s wine regions because no one has said “Hi guys, great to see you!  I’m just working through this group – but here’s a wee something to sip while you wait and I’ll be with you in a tick”.  But you’ll never have that issue at Sileni.  They know the wines intimately; they’ve always entertaining and most importantly – are great educators.  So it’s no surprise to me to hear they claimed their fourth Cellar Door of the Year title at the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards held on October 20.  “We’re utterly thrilled with the win” said Anne. “We have a great team here at our cellar door and everyone loves their job. When you love your product and you love what you do, you can’t help but provide a great experience”.

It topped off an impressive evening for Sileni, who also took home the Trophy for ‘Champion Pinot Noir’ for their 2014 Exceptional Vintage Pinot Noir.


Ti Point ‘Tess’ White Merlot 2015 $15-$20 ★★★★

If you keep a couple of bottles of this in the fridge over your average spring weekend, you’ll find there’ll be no shortage of people knocking on your door armed with cheese and crackers and wanting desperately to be your friend.  Crafted from merlot grown in Matakana and named after the youngest daughter of winemaker Tracy Mason, this pale, ballet-shoe pink drink has ripe, round raspberry, watermelon and spicy berry notes.  I like the smooth, creamy texture and concentrated fruit fullness on the finish.  Very pretty wine indeed.

Bladen Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2015 $25 ★★★★

Brand new and bursting with all manner of spicy ginger and lychee-laden loveliness, this great little gewürztraminer is definitely on my ‘new favourites’ list.  It’s quite high in alcohol (14.5%) so expect a touch of warmth in the mid-palate, but it works with the crisp, mineral notes, tangy peach and pear flavours and juicy length of flavour.  It’ll only get better over the coming year or two also.

Quartz Reef Central Otago Methode Traditionnelle 2010 $40 ★★★★

Produced organically and biodynamically by Rudi Bauer down in Bendigo, this southern star has soft, smoky, flinty aromas and a rich, nutty, marshmallow-like texture in the mid palate.  Very precise and cleansing it is too.


Spring is a weird season.  The weather just has no clue what its doing for the first few weeks anyway.  Frosty mornings can turn to dusty-hot, windy days, which morph into overcast, misty evenings and things can go royally up the Khyber if you’re not careful to pack sunscreen or a cardigan, or – a decent bottle of wine to smooth over anything unpredictable…

Rod McDonald ‘One Off’ Hawke’s Bay Malbec 2014 $31 ★★★★

If you’re someone who gets weak at the knees when they see a beautiful colour, then strap yourself into your support-hose because this wine has the most gorgeous garnet, ruby hue.  It also boasts tobacco leaf, dried herbs, cocoa, blueberry and a gentle meaty character in the mid-palate.  The tannins are dusty, clinging and have just the right amount of ‘chew’ to make it a match for something savoury and slow-cooked.

Brightwater Vineyards Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2015 $20 ★★★½

Gary and Valley Neale know a thing or three about growing tasty, aromatic white wines in sunny Nelson.  This sauvignon is saturated with ripe limes, passionfruit, peach and tangy red capsicum flavours and a (classic for Nelson) round, fleshy, ultra-easy mouthfeel.  It’s ultra-friendly, approachable and darn easy to drink.

Wild South Marlborough Pinot Noir 2014 $18 ★★★

This super-soft, lightly structured pinot has berries-and-cream characters on the nose alongside a sniff of smoke, sweet cherry and a hint of plum.  If you’re looking for a beginners guide to pinot noir (or even to red wine) then this could be just the thing to swing you.  Available in supermarkets.