Occasionally, if I happen to be in Auckland, and it happens to be a slow news week, I’ll be asked to scoot over to the TV3 building with a couple of bottles of something tasty and talk about them with Paul Henry live on his show.  The Paul Henry Show is a dual-purpose telly and radio gig, so I make sure I’m good and close to the microphone so that I can sniff and slurp really loudly.  This is solely for the benefit of the radio listeners for whom sound effects are everything.  One thing Mr Henry is extremely good at, apart from having the most excellent ‘so what?’ face in the business, is his skill in briefing me on the kind of wine chat he wants to have.  All too often I’m asked to front up at some event and “just talk about anything” or “tell us about some nice wines for the weekend” and I’m left thinking where do I start?  Whereas Mr Henry will say to his producers, (who will then pass the message on to me), things like “I want to know what I should be drinking now that it’s Autumn” or “How much is too much to pay for a bottle of wine?” or “”what should I be drinking in my extra hour of daylight? A sort of a spring wines thing, like two of the best to enjoy in these (slightly) warmer evenings…” Now that’s a brief I can sink my teeth into.

One should always use this extra hour of daylight wisely, especially when it involves noodling around on the deck before dinner.  ‘Noodling’ has many meanings, one being the technique used to catch giant catfish using your bare hands as bait, another is the actual practice of making noodles.  However the most important and relevant definition of ‘noodling’ is that it represents the halfway point between ‘lurking’ and ‘faffing’ around.  This occurs usually while you’re deciding what you’re going to have for dinner and who’s going to cook it.  So it’s important that you consume quality wine during this crucial time…


Kalex Bendigo Terrace Central Otago Riesling 2014 $32 ★★★★½

Wow! Lime alert! This southern star smashes through the palate with green apple and quartz-powder, minerally mouthfeel that lingers long and will send your saliva glands into overload.  Dry and bony, but packed with character – here’s a wine that’ll work

Astrolabe Province Marlborough Chardonnay 2015 $26 ★★★★

Although it might confound you to understand how someone could chuck in a scintillating study path in the physiology of seaweed (phaeophycology in case you’re curious) to embark on a career in wine – that’s exactly what Simon Waghorn did. Thank heaven because we wouldn’t have this tangy, grapefruit pith, peach stone and toasty, textural slightly creamy chardonnay that has Energiser Bunny persistence of flavour. www.caros.co.nz

Here are three super sips from one of Central Otago’s most visited wineries – and there’s not a pinot noir to be seen…

Peregrine Central Otago Sauvignon Blanc 2016 $27 ★★★½

Anyone thinking central otago was simply pinot noir country clearly hasn’t had the pleasure of sipping their sauvignon. Softer in style, with basil, peach and lemongrass characters that wash across the palate with the most subtle hit of white pepper and fresh passionfruit. Softly fruited and refreshing, this little gem from Gibbston will leave a tickle on your tongue and have you hurtling down to the local chip shop for salty fillets of  fishy fabulousness. www.peregrinewines.co.nz

Peregrine Central Otago Chardonnay 2015 $37 ★★★★½

I love that old-school, buttered crumpet and classic golden queen peach and grapefruity goodness in this chardonnay. Here’s an example of how you merge fresh fruit from across the tropical, citrus and stonefruit spectrum, with finely tuned French oak and a burst of buttery bliss. Nadine Cross is the winemaker at Peregrine and her skills make me weak at the knees.  Not weak enough however, that I can’t stand at the stove and pan sear a salmon fillet to match. www.peregrinewines.co.nz

Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Gris 2015 $27 ★★★★

Great dry pinot gris isn’t the easiest thing to find here in NZ, yet Nadine Cross and her team at Peregrine have nailed it. The unusual thing here, is that while its dry, this wine (sourced from their vineyards in Bendigo and Pisa) also has a rich, creamy character from 3 months sitting on its yeast lees. It’s got gorgeous nutmeg and nectarine stone flavours, lifted minerality and excellent length. Sip with a slab of pistachio and pork terrine.