The Kaikoura earthquake on Monday, 14th of November had me thinking that there’d be smashed and toppled tanks all over Marlborough and North Canterbury, and with word coming from Foley Family wines that serious damage had been done to their storage tanks at their Grove Mill winery, things weren’t looking flash.  Photos of enormous stacks of boxes of wine having slid off winery pallets and shelves, smashing on the ground all over the region began to flood my facebook feed and I began to feel sick thinking how easily there could have been a serious injury or a death in a winery had that quake occurred during the working day.  Had it occurred during the intense 24/7 constant shift of harvest doesn’t bear thinking about.


Just over the Hunderlee Hills from the epicentre is the sleepy hamlet of Cheviot where Mt Beautiful Wines is located.  They were jolted awake bigtime, Yet Erin Harrison, their Business Operations Manager told me they lost just one single bottle from their cellar door in the middle of town, “Which was just unbelievable” she laughed.  “So we’ve opened the cellar door again despite there being zero traffic coming through town”.  However, their newly built winery, just a few minutes north of Cheviot in Spotswood didn’t escape so lightly, suffering major damage to two 40,000ltr tanks.  “Thankfully, we were able to save the wine inside” she shrugs, “so things are good”.


Yealands sustained some damage and wine loss during the quake, but was quickly able to ensure the safety of employees and recommence full operations at the winery in Seddon and they’re aiming to not miss an order. “We do have repair work to do prior to vintage” says owner Peter Yealands, “but our winery building performed exactly as it should under the circumstances and the team are focused on returning the winery to its original state.  We are extremely grateful for the support we have received from the public, our customers and suppliers.”  Sadly Peter’s father Keith, a member of the original SAS who fought in WW2, and the inspiration for Peter’s focus on sustainability (“always leave more wood in the shed for the generation to come”) passed away on November 17th, adding to the sense of loss for the Yealands team.


Mon Cheval Waipara Valley Riesling 2014 $25 4 stars

Whoever said owning racehorses was a great way to lose money, clearly weren’t fortunate enough to own ‘Under Cover Lover’, the champion racehorse who made her owners enough cash to start their dream of developing their dream of creating a tiny vineyard in Waipara’s Weka Pass.  Tiny amounts of riesling are grown and this vintage, crafted by CP Lin, is dry and lime-laden and edged with honeysuckle and beeswax.  It’s a lovely, very approachable dry riesling.

Peregrine Central Otago Pinot Noir Rose 2016 $27 (4 stars)

100% organic pinot noir in all its glory is exactly what you get with this southern stunner.  Such a pretty, ballet-shoe pink colour, aromas of just-ripe raspberry, watermelon and fleshed out with soft, creamy, roast stonefruit notes to round out the finish.  Great length of flavour too.


Some days you just want to get your gris on.  I love the pear, quince and nashi notes in this sexy summertime white…

Haha Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris 2016 $13.99 (3.5 stars)

Highly scented and precise on the nose, fresh-cut pear, poached quince and powdery, talc-like characters leap from the glass.  It’s also a very full, generous gris, soaking the palate with pipfruit, honeysuckle and spice.  Don’t chill this down too much or you’ll stifle all those fruit layers.  Sip with bacon-wrapped dates as a nibbly treat.

Cottier Estate Gladstone Pinot Gris 2013 $17.50 (5 stars)

The rocky old Ruamahanga River in Gladstone nourishes Cottier Estate’s vineyards and helps them create classically full, generous pinot gris like this.  Pinot gris that’s packed with pear, ripe juicy rose apple, nashi and a squeak of quince all crash across the tastebuds in this beautifully balanced aromatic white. Fat and sassy on the palate, dry on the finish, but extremely satisfying and lengthy. I love it. Especially with caramelised onion, blue cheese and rocket pizza

Ka Tahi East Coast Pinot Gris 2015 $19.99 (3.5 stars)

Worried that you’re going to get something sweet and boring?  For years I was too, but today Kiwi winemakers are super-skilled at creating clean, lean, deliciously dry and delicately fragrant pinot gris and these are the styles I love to look out for.  This is a new brand crafted by Rod McDonald’s team at his Thames Street winery from fruit grown along the east coast of the North Island, and it’s delish with nutty, hard cheeses like gruyere…

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