Destiny Bay

Every now and then you come across a little Gem in the wine world and last night when I truly discovered the wines from Destiny Bay was one of those moments. A small group of wine lovers gathered at the Glengarry Tasting room for a weekly wine presentation and we were all keen to try a line up of the highly acclaimed Destiny Bay wines to see for ourselves. Mike Spratt entertained us with the wonderfull story behind this artisan producer and son Sean winemaker ran us through the line up. We started with the Destinae 06 and 07, then on to the Mystae 05, 06, 07 finishing with the top wine Magna Praemia 05,06 ,07 . The biggest line up of their wines tasted ever!

We were all blown away with the purity and delicateness of these wines. They truly lived up to the acclaim with the 06’s being my favourite. Thanks to the Destiny Bay Team for this exclusive opportunity to discover the story and explore your wines.

Sean and Mike Spratt


Taking good care of history

Heading down to Gisborne to judge at the Gisborne Wine Awards, my first stop off the plane was Matawhero. Kirsten Searle kindly collected me from the Airport and it was not long before the question I’d dreaded came up – ‘When was I last in Gisborne?’, you see, it was in fact my first time to Gisborne. Given it’s NZ’s third largest wine producing area, that’s somewhat of a disgrace.

Kirsten and Richard Searle took over Matawhero from Denis Irwin, somewhat of a local and NZ winemaking legend. I must admit wondering at the time what I would do if I was in their position, taking on a winery with such a reputation. It’s something that those joining me in Gisborne for the Wine Awards also pondered and a subject of much conversation. Denis Irwin made at Matawhero, one of the finest Gewurtztraminer, in it’s prime, it was legendary.

Kirsten took me for a fantastic tour of the property and through thier current releases. I’m delighted to report, there’s clear direction and I believe – in the right way. Rather than dwelling too much on the past, although you do get a clear sense of respect for it, Kirsten and Richard are aiming to showcase the very best that Gisborne as a region can produce. To do this they have partnered with some very smart Gisborne growers, many of whom’s wine I’ve sold for years but never met, including Peter Bryant and Paul Tietjen. It was a delight to meet them and take a tour around their vineyard sites.

Part of highlighting what Gisborne does best involves a fair amount of trial and they are well positioned for it in Gisborne. Riversun nursery is the pre-eminant nursery to the NZ wine industry, and at Matawhero they have had excellent success with some new clones of Pinot Gris.Plus and a wonderfully aromatic Chardonnay clone that they bottle as Chardonnay Musque – often used as a blending component in top Burgundian wines.

I had a delightful afternoon with Kirsten at Matawhero and an educational drive around the region, which set me up nicely for the full day of judging ahead.


Dida’s Website

Dida’s has its own website

With the 5 Locations and expanded offerings we have dedicated a whole new website to Dida’s.

My team have been working in the background collating all the menus and winelists and putting together a very comprehensive Cheese listing to present to you. And of course you can buy all the cheese delicacies online and have them delivered to your door.

There is so much to see so go get a coffee and enjoy browsing our new site and planning your next function, wine tasting or perhaps lunch.


Breakfast in Melbourne

Hardware society is still the best place for breakfast in Melbourne!

We dined there not once, but sticking to my goal of half new and hard tried and true we did venture a little further afield. Anyway back to hardware society, it’s great to see they have expanded their site (arrive too late on Saturday and you will still wait!)

We sat up at the new area by the bar, ready for breakfast I read the menu and thought I had the decision sorted, I then watched the brioche with lemon cured be prepared in front and it looked oh so good, but then the eggs were up and then another, what an efficient kitchen. All this left me unsure on my decision, my partner realizing breakfast could soon take all day hastened the waitress and poached eggs it was.

Next visit, a Aussie take on the french set breakfast and delightful it was.

A few days of culinary delights in Melbourne


Sashimi Cutler and Co style

The first night was new and also on my list of Must do (at some stage) and was a real delight. Cutler and Co is on Gertrude Street in Fitzroy and it one of the very talented Andrew OConnels restarants.


I had the Morcilla and duck to start with, it was sublime and went exceedingly well with the Portugese red we choose – from the wonderful 2007 vintage, predominately Touriga Nacional, it was rich, earthy and just perfect with my entree.

Main course was a gorgeous chichken dish. One look it was clear it was not just roasted the old school way. Along side we had a beautiful roasted pumpkin dish, but failed to see the point of the foam on top of the brussel sprouts. Foam aside it was an excellent meal, first class service and everything I had hoped it would be at Culter and Co.



Marlborough Vintage 2012

Marlborough Vintage 2012 at Wither Hills

After a relaxing Easter break with the family, I was excited to receive an invite from Wither Hills in Marlborough to taste their latest vintage and a selection of Pinot Noirs. It’s been a long time since I’ve experienced vintage, and I thought this was an opportunity not to be missed; especially as I’m born and raised on a vineyard.

On arrival in Blenheim, I knew I was in for a great day, when greeted by Wither Hills winemaker Ben Glover and his fellow winemakers Sally and Matt, along with an esteemed group of wine critics.

For our first stop, Rex the Viticulturist took us through the Pinot Noir vines, where we witnessed the grapes being tenderly picked by hand. He explained Wither Hills dedication to organic wine growing practices, while we tasted the Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs in the shade of a tree in the corner of the Benmorven Vineyard.

The idea behind the tastings here was to enable us to experience the difference between Wither Hills two main southern valleys sites that grow Pinot grapes, Taylors River and Benmorven.

The fresh 2011s were showcased along with a special sample that was partially fermented in Oak giving it a lovely toasted character. This is used to blend back into the final blends.

In 2007 they bottled very small quantities from these vineyards; but the 2008 “Single Vineyard” Pinot Noirs are being made available commercially and will be on sale this year. I found the 2008 Taylor River to be a full and dark coloured wine, with layers of sweet and youthful red cherry, a great structure, fine tannins and dark fruit finish, while the Benmorven demonstrated even darker wild fruits characters; a soft chalky tannic structure and a classic long lasting finish on the palate. These two wines are definetly worth trying together and were well matched to the mussels, whitebait and lamb dishes served to us by resident chef, Dave Anderson.

After, it was off to the winery to observe all the action. The grapes that were cooled down from a previous days picking were being processed through the most amazing mechanical sorter I’ve ever seen. Through lightening fast photo technology it fires pneumatic shots of air to seperate out shrivelled berries and debris, before being placed in fermenters, and then off to barrels to slumber, it was simply amazing

The late afternoon tasting provided an opportunity to try a selection of some of the older Pinot Noirs and experience the aging potential across the years. This was very enlightening, proving that Marlborough Pinots do stand the test of time. We all had our favourites from the lineup of ’99 ’01 ’03 ’05 ’07, with mine being the chunky dark 2005 which had an intensity I remember well from its youth.

The evening was spent in the depths of the barrel room, tasting the vintages from even numbered years and from magnums, wonderfully matched with a meal of smoked eel and venison from chef Dave Anderson and his team.

Wither Hills has been dedicated to producing great Pinot Noir from the beginning and have consistently attained the highest in quality.They are well deserving of a place in everyone’s cellar.

The Marlborough trip was not over yet, I still had two days to get amongst it, and I will fill you in on my next posts.


Glengarry Wine Dinners

Gisselbrecht Night

Join us for one of the many winemaker dinners we host at Glengarry and Dida’s, here is one we held for Claude Gisselbrecht. Visit the Tasting page on our site for one coming up soon.

From Alsace we have been importing the wines from Willy Giseelbrecht for many years. Many of you will have tried the Pinot Gris a benchmark wine that many Kiwi winemakers aspire to replicate. But this small artisan wine making family are reknown more for their Riesling of which they make 15 variants from the vineyards they own. Pinot Blanc as well is a very important variety for them and of course Gewurztraminer from which they make a delicious dessert wine “vendages tardives”.

Claude Gisselbrecht was so kind to visit us and show off these wines to the team at Glengarry and host a wonderful dinner where Dida’s Chefs Conal and his team prepared matching courses.

These small winemakers dinners are great fun and a chance to meet the people behind the wines. Claude told us of his family roots and the challenges they face in making wine in France today. Here are a few shots of the night. Be sure to try his wines soon you will be delighted for sure, exceptional wines. Enjoy.


An impressive return to the top Echelon

On my second day at Vin Expo in 2011, the day started with a tasting at the Jaboulet stand. Jaboulet is a wonderful old company located in Tain l’Hermitage in the Northern Rhône (also home to Valrohna chocolate) it was started in the 19th Century by Antoine Jaboulet. Over the years, the family expanded and it became Paul Jaboulet Aîné. In 2005 Jaboulet was sold, vineyards, stock and the whole property to the Frey Family owners of Chateau La Lagune in Bordeaux. From 2005 on, there’s been much change at Jaboulet – all for the best. As I started tasting the 2009 wines, I was delighted to see a return to glory for this property; the quality has been increasing steadily for a number of years and with these 2009 wines has moved another giant step forward. Here’s some of my thoughts and notes on a few of the wines from the 2009 vintage.

Jaboulet’s Thalabert site is the oldest of the Jaboulet vineyards, being owned by Jaboulet since 1834, the vine age is between 40 and 50 years. The 2009 Thalabert is made from 100% Syrah and is quite simply put – impressive! The fruit for this must have been super ripe, when I initially looked at this wine, I must admit to being a little concerned that the ripeness would lead to more of an Australian richness on the palate. A little concerned, but excited by what the nose promised, I proceeded to taste, great stuff – it was nothing like an Australian Shiraz and every bit great Rhône Syrah. This is a balanced wine, full of spice and pepper, exceptional fruit and weight, all bound together with some inky notes, hints of oak and an overriding softness.

Jaboulet La Petit Chapelle 2009 is a hidden little gem. It comes from the same vines used to produce La Chapelle, there are 7 different parcels in total and each are made separately in the winery. They are then rigorously tasted and the best are bottled as La Chapelle, the balance become La Petit Chapelle. The palate was impressive, more acidity than the Thalabert, that wonderful spice, delicate notes an incredibly long finish and so much balance. La Petit Chapelle makes is 70% of the production from the parcels that come off the vineyards for La Chapelle.

Jaboulet La Chapelle 2009 is the jewel in the range. It now represents 30% of the production off Chapelle. Looking back at my notes now from tasting this and I really need to find a new set of superlatives, it’s hard when tasting wines this good, I’ve used most of the right words for La Petit Chapelle and Thalabert, so now how to describe a wine that just stands heads and shoulders above both of them. This is a return to glory for this outstanding Northern Rhône producer and this vineyard site. I would expect this will be very well sought after and a must for collectors.

We’ll also be importing the Crozes Hermitage Raymond Roure – this vineyard site was added to the Jaboulet properties in 1996, it is a 3.5ha vineyard site, with vine age between 40 – 60 years and produces completely different style to the Thalabert, I always enjoy the bright forward fruit of the Crozes Hermitage Raymond Roure, in comparison to Thalabert, is a lot more fresh and youthful in its outlook.

Jaboulet 2009 wines will be in stock early March 2012, well worth searching out.

Gisborne 2012 Update

I was chatting to Kirstin Searle from Matawhero Wines about the 2012 Harvest and she has kindly sent me this report through.

Here are her thoughts on the vintage so far and some pics of the vineyard taken on Friday.

“As I look out the window today and see some glorious sunshine over the vineyard, it is a good time to reflect on how the season has gone so far. 2012 promises much but as grapegrowers we know that the season is not over until all the fruit is in the truck and on its way to the winery. The next few weeks will be crucial in determining the overall vintage quality. The Spring of 2011 provided ideal conditions for both flowering and fruit set. Early warm winds were particularly strong this vintage. The bunch numbers in the vineyard were about average across the board, meaning a relatively minimal amount of shoot and bunch thinning was required for yield management early in the growing season. The bunches this year have also a more consistent berry size, so fingers crossed this should lead to a nice even ripeness across all the fruit.

At the time of writing this we have been experiencing unseasonably high amount of rainfall and humidity. Great for the water tanks but certainly testing our viticultural practices! The nets are now on so all we can do is wait and hope the rain has come early this year and the weather gods will keep the sun shining well into March and April. “

Kirsten Searle
Matawhero Wines
189 Riverpoint Road





Winemaker’s Dinner at Dida’s Victoria Park

The week started in style with a magnificent six course degustation menu at Dida’s Victoria Park. Whilst you don’t need a reason for such luxury to start the week, we had Matt Dicey – Winemaker for Mt Difficulty in town to host the event. The meal was prepared by Dida’s Head Chef, Vincent Marshall and matched with older vintages from the Mt Difficulty range.

Over the years I’ve had some of the best food and wine matches at Dida’s (also some big misses), we give our team the freedom to create menu’s that they think will work, it’s great for creativity. So when introducing the night, I’m always conscious to invite those attending to join us on the adventure, exploring what could be a match made in heaven. As we concluded the evening, one of the many guests who enjoyed this meal, pointed out to our Head Chef, that I had given them a caviet at the beginning – something I clearly had not needed to do, as throughout this meal, every single course matched the wines with perfection.

After a palate refreshing glass of Daniel le Brun on arrival, we started with menu with the Mt Difficulty Target Gully Riesling 2009, when the 2009 was released, Mt Difficulty had started on the path of releasing a richer, sweeter style, but had not developed it into the sweet low alcohol style that the 2011 is. With 3 years bottle age, the wine was at a lovely point in it’s evolution. This was matched with Marlin carpaccio, a hint of truffle, melon and mint salsa. The salsa had just the right amount of chilli and the match was an perfect place to start.

Next up was Mt Difficulty Chardonnay 2008, a rich style, Matt describes it well as ‘funky’ – there’s a lot going on in the glass! It is quite a compelling style, in fact so loved by one of the guests, he stood up, mid dinner and purchased all the stock we had (including older vintages). This was matched with an Almond crusted goats cheese, serrano and beetroot coulis. Beetroot does not normally match all that well with wine, so with some interest we tasted. Vinnie had added just the right amount of raspberry to the beetroot to make the match work so well.

The last of the white wines for the night was the Mt Difficulty Central Otago Pinot Gris 2011, I’d not tried the current vintage recently and was delighted with the style and direction Matt described. Definitely more towards Alsace, a hint of residual and a nice weighty finish. This was matched with the Snapper ceviche, mandarin and witlof.

Finally we were onto the red wines, first up was the Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir 2010, I had tasted this wine recently at home and unusually tried it in the wrong glass and was at the time feeling more like a Spanish wine. My faith in this wine was restored, the team at Didas had off course, opened the wine and let it breath, poured it into a Riedel Pinot Noir glass (the Oregan Pinot Noir glass) and served it at the perfect temperature. This was matched with Venison fillet, a gorgonzola croquette and a fig reduction. All well matched, the fig reduction was sublime.

For the last course, we were served five spice duck crepe with a lovely tart pimento and roast tomato salsa. The wines alongside were the Target Gully Pinot Noir 2003 and 2009, both stunning wines, I just wish there was some 2003 to buy.

All in all, a great night, wonderful wines, company and of course the food.