The New Traditional: Orange and Pet-Nat Wines, and Gluten-Free Beers

Orange Wines

Normally with white wine, the juice is immediately pressed from the grapes and the skins discarded. They can, though, be made in exactly the same way as red wines, keeping the juice in contact with the skins. This is how orange wines are made. Their origin lies in the classic wines of Georgia, and in Italy’s Fruili region, where fermentation and extended maceration on the skins creates a unique character. Orange wines acquire a deep hue and have a phenolic grip to them, with additional tannins derived from the skin contact. They often exhibit a dry, austere nature, and tend to partner very well with food.

We recommend:


Pet-Nat Wines

Short for pétillant-naturel, aka méthode ancestrale. A traditional method of making sparkling wine that is, in fact, the world’s most ancient. The wine is bottled before the primary fermentation is finished, delivering a lower pressure, lightly sparkling wine in the pétillant style. The wine is finished without the addition of secondary yeasts or sugars. Pét-nat wines can manifest as cloudy, unfiltered and capped with a crown seal, and they can be white, rosé or red in colour. They are a rare item in New Zealand, and don’t have a particularly long shelf life. Tip: do not leave them in the boot of your car in the heat of summer.

We recommend:

Andrew Hedley

Gluten-Free Beers

Wine, sherry, port and cider are all made from fruit and don’t contain gluten, while gin, brandy, rum and tequila are made from gluten-free ingredients. There is debate as to whether a tiny amount remains in vodka, bourbon and whisky, however, most research concludes that any gluten is removed through the extensive distillation process. If unsure, select vodka made from potatoes, corn or grapes and avoid single-distilled spirits and those made from wheat, barley or rye. All beers are produced using varying quantities of barley or wheat malt. Those claiming ‘gluten removed’ require investigation. So we did.

We recommend:


Read more from our March Wineletter here

The New Traditional: Natural, Low/Non-Sulphite, and Vegan-Friendly Wines

Natural Wines

Natural wines are more difficult to define, and are not certificated in the way biodynamic wines, for example, are. They are farmed organically or biodynamically, hand-harvested and ‘transformed’ without the addition or removal of anything in the cellar. No additives or processing aids are used, and intervention in the naturally occurring fermentation process is kept to a minimum. Neither fining nor filtration are employed. The result is a wine full of naturally occurring microbiology. Essentially, it’s about using what one was given, with the wine evolving naturally to be whatever it will be.

We recommend:

Escarpment, Photo Credit Raymond Chan

Low/Non-Sulphite Wines

In NZ, the presence of sulphur dioxide is required to be noted on the label. Sulphur is produced naturally from the grapes through the fermentation process, so all wines will contain a certain amount. The other way you’ll encounter sulphur is in its addition as a preservative, used to inhibit oxidation and microbial spoilage. The amount used varies, and therein lies the difference: between those who adhere to the formulaic approach and those who do everything they can to reduce their sulphur content. Some wines have no sulphur added at all, the Seresin and Araucano wines below being prime examples.

We recommend:

Hacienda Araucano

Vegan Friendly Wines

The reason not all wines are vegan- or vegetarian-friendly is down to the way a wine is clarified (i.e. made clear and bright) via a process called ‘fining’. Young wines naturally contain proteins, tartrates, tannins and phenolics. These are in no way harmful, and most wines will eventually self-clarify. However, to hasten the process, many winemakers use fining agents. The most commonly used are casein (milk protein), albumen (egg white), gelatin (animal protein) and isinglass (fish bladder protein). When it comes to assessing what’s in there, it’s worth noting the label is generally not going to be of much assistance.

We recommend:


Read more from our March Wineletter here

The New Traditional: Organic and Biodynamic Wines

These days, out on the borders, some people like to build walls. It’s all part of a trending push to adopt a more conservative, inward-looking stance, and it’s often self-serving in nature. You might think that this has little to do with your bottle of wine, but you’d be wrong. There are individuals out there who are bucking the status quo and questioning the sometimes rigid behaviours associated with today’s wine production. As with other human endeavours, this doesn’t always go down well.

This is particularly true in some of the European countries, where appellation, and its protection, can, in some minds, be everything. Hence, some very good wines there that travel a less frequented path (biodynamic wines, natural or unfined wines, for instance) can cop a wall’s worth of rejection as they are ‘cast into exile’ by those policing the regulations. The result? These wines are unable to state their provenance as they fall outside strict guidelines around what constitutes an appellation. But they do it anyway.

The irony is, of course, that in many instances, these hardy souls are in fact turning back towards older, now discarded traditions and questioning the original reasoning behind their abandonment. Or, sometimes, they are just heading off Stage Left to see what’s over there. While logic dictates that this can only be healthy, it is also perceived as threatening in some quarters. The line between craftsmanship and creativity can be a hazy one, expecially when it comes down to definitions.

However, many of us are excited about what’s happening out around the edges. After all, for things to flower and progress, experimentation and rejuvenation is what it’s all about. And so, this issue casts a light on those viticulturalists and winemakers shedding some of the more insidious aspects of the wine industry as it corporatizes itself, as they go in search of greener, more meaningful ways of doing things. These wines and their creators are forging new paths, often into old, forsaken territories, and we should be encouraged by their energy, their initiative and their sheer audacity, to cheer them on.

Organic Wines

Organic grape cultivation eschews the use of synthetic fungicides, herbicides, fertilizers and other artificial processes. The wines themselves are regulated through legislation that can vary from country to country. One of these certification challenges is derived from the USA, where wine and food are conflated under organic regulations. There, in order to protect various food products, the term ‘organic wine’ can’t be applied because of the sulphur present, resulting in the designation ‘made from organic grapes’. We encounter that in NZ when the producer labels both their domestic and exported product with the one label.

We recommend:


Biodynamic Wines

Biodynamic winemaking and viticulture draws its philosophy from the premise of Austrian philosopher, Rudolph Steiner, that the Earth (and thus the vineyard itself) is a living organism. In order to keep everything in balance, the rationale is that vinicultural practices need to be timed to coincide with the rhythms of the earth, a philosophy embracing the whole ecosystem, that requires environment, plants, animals and people to be in complete harmony. As with organics, there is a certification system, but it’s a global standard, known as Demeter and named for the Greek goddess of grain and fertility.

We recommend:

Read more from our March Wineletter here

Marlborough Pinot Noir Safari 2018

The Marlborough Pinot Safari is a collaboration event by 10 wineries in Marlborough whose focus is Pinot Noir. These winemakers and wineries all have very similar ethos and winemaking practices, whilst producing an array of differing styles of Pinot Noir. Marlborough is so well known for the Sauvignon Blanc produced in the area, and while all these wineries produce Sauvignon Blanc, their primary focus and for lack of a better word, passion, is Pinot Noir. The wineries involved in this event were Auntsfield, Churton, Dog Point Vineyard, Fromm Winery, Greywacke, Terravin, Nautilus Estate, Seresin, Spy Valley and Villa Maria Wines. The aim of the game is to show a different side of Marlborough Pinot Noir and how the sub regions can produce such different wines stylistically. Glengarry Wines‘ Hannah Beaumont writes about her experience.

Glengarry Wines Marlborough Pinot Safari 4

The Safari

Our day started at 9am with a glass of Seresin Moana Zero Dosage Methode at the top of Calrossie Vineyard which houses the vines for Terravin Pinot Noir. From here we all piled into the convoy of 4 wheel drive utes, and started our off road journey. Travelling first towards the Awatere Valley, through the back of vineyards, travelling down to the Nautilus Awatere River vineyard. This was stop number two for a wine tasting:

  • Terravin Pinot Noir 2012
  • Terravin Pinot Noir 2015
  • Villa Maria Taylors Pass Pinot Noir 2015
  • Nautilus Awatere Pinot Noir 2015

Glengarry Wines Marlborough Pinot Safari


After this we headed down to the Awatere River to have a good look at the riverbank, this put a great image to the words the winemakers were saying when talking about the soil type in the Awatere, the layers of loess (silty sediment) and deep free draining gravel.

Glengarry Wines Marlborough Pinot Safari

After this pit stop it was onwards towards the Wairau Valley, via the windy roads of Taylors Pass (you would not want to come across a logging truck on this road!) travelling through Fairhall to Auntsfield. Here we stopped again, greeted by Sammy the vineyard dog, ready for another wine tasting. Set up in the Auntsfield barn we were here to try another 3 wines:

  • Auntsfield SV Southern Valleys Pinot Noir 2015
  • Auntsfield Hawk Hill Pinot Noir 2015
  • Villa Maria SV ‘The Attorney’ Pinot Noir

Glengarry Wines Marlborough Pinot Safari


Carrying on from here, we travelled through Brancott Valley, passing through the Greywacke vineyards, and a quick pit stop at Clayvin vineyard. Clayvin vineyard was Marlborough’s first significant hillside vineyard, organically run, clay soils and 24 year old vines produce fruit with high concentration, structure and tannin. Now owned by Giesen wines and used by Te Whare Ra and Fromm also. Pressing on, we then went back roads through vineyards and ended up at the Dog Point property. Beautifully laid out and abundant with fruit trees and exotic foliage, vineyards littered around the property and well spaced out, they are all about the look and feel of the property, they’re not trying to cram in as much as possible. Here we stopped in at the Bell Tower for another tasting and lunch (shout out to The Burleigh and your incredible pies!) Wines were:

  • Greywacke Pinot Noir 2015
  • Greywacke Pinot Noir 2012
  • Dog Point Pinot Noir 2015
  • Dog Point Pinot Noir 2012
  • Fromm Pinot Noir Fromm Vineyard 2016

After leaving Dog Point we headed off in the direction of Spy Valley’s Outpost Vineyard. Making a quick stop at the famous Seresin vineyard site of Sun and Moon (I was massively fangirling by now) Rapou, Leah and Rachael, then on to Spy Valley to try some more wines:

What a treat.

Glengarry Wines Marlborough Pinot Safari

We rounded off the day by with the final leg of the journey, heading west, over the Omaka river and finishing off at Churton in the Waihopai Valley for our last tasting. Perched atop a slope overlooking a majority of the Churton vineyards (cleverly named after cuts of a cow), certified organic wines and biodynamically farmed.

Wines we tried here:

  • Fromm Clayvin Pinot Noir 2012
  • Fromm Clayvin Pinot Noir 2015
  • Churton Pinot Noir 2015
  • Churton Pinot Noir 2013

Glengarry Wines Marlborough Pinot Safari

The day was incredibly well thought out, educational and well integrated. It was like having a backstage pass to the Marlborough Pinot Noir scene. It was such an eye opener for me, and being someone who has always had a soft spot for Marlborough Pinot Noir, it was like a wine nerd’s dream day out. Go on, try some Marlborough Pinot!

Glengarry Wines Marlborough Pinot Safari