Invitation to AMA: New Zealand wines with Sarah Knowles MW [20th July]

It’s about time for another AMA - and this time we’re talking all things New Zealand!

Friday 20th July, 1-2pm: New Zealand wine AMA with buyer Sarah Knowles MW

Sarah’s been our New Zealand buyer extraordinaire since she joined us in 2014 and she’s also the brains (and palate!) behind our Australia, North America and Champagne ranges. Here she is judging lots of lovely New Zealand wines during her recent trip - you can read all about it on Travels in Wine:

I think our current New Zealand offer shows just how much diversity there is - even those (like me) that aren’t sold on sauvignon are really spoilt for choice. It includes:

  • Summer sauvignons that show exactly why NZ sauvignon blanc is so loved
  • Aromatic whites like pinot gris and riesling
  • Gorgeous chardonnay
  • Some very fine pinot noir
  • New Zealand’s take on syrah, and merlot-cabernet blends
  • A special Craggy Range spotlight

So what would you like to know about New Zealand wine?

Send us your questions by replying to this topic. Sarah will then join us live for an hour from 1pm on Friday 20th July and answer the questions we’ve already received plus as many follow-up/‘live’ questions as possible.

Click here to see what happened during the last two AMAs with The Showroom’s Marjorie Cropp and our Burgundy and South America buyer Toby.

:point_down::point_down: Looking forward to seeing your questions appear below…! :point_down::point_down:


Are there any particular vinification or viticultural techniques that are currently being pioneered in NZ? Aside from turbo-charged SauvBlc and Pinot, what grapes are showing distinct characteristics that are only being seen in NZ?

Thanks Sarah!

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If you (Sarah) were planting a vineyard in New Zealand today, what would you plant, where (assuming it is possible) and why?

  1. Can NZ Syrah continue to improve in quality and complexity and produce wines that really compete amongst the best in the world in the next 10 - 20 years?

Can i ask a US question as well? The californian market, particularly outside of Napa/sonoma, has a lot of small producers, selling small run cuvees to the domestic market via club/subscription models and from the cellar door. Is this sustainable and does it mean it is effectively impossible for these wines to be exported economically?

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Appreciate you will need to generalise, but in your opinion what are the key differences in style of PN between Martinborough, Marlborough and Otago? Are there any up and coming areas we should be looking at?

And if you have time, a very specific question. I’d greatly appreciate an opinion on drinking windows (or at least how long to hold):

Man O’ War Dreadnought Syrah 2013
Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir 2015
Dry River Craighall Vineyard Riesling 2016

Thank you!


Fashions come and go in the mass market wine world (e.g. heavily oaked new world chardonnays) - do you see any evidence for that with the ubiquitous NZ Sauvignon Blanc? And if so, do you see local producers reacting?

Are Sauvignon Blanc plantings still rising in NZ, or do you see an increase in other varietals?

Thank you!

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Will we ever see a NZ St Laurent on the list?


Question: where did the idea of a dry vs. sweet taste originate from? Always puzzled me that one.

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You’ve got one bottle (currently available or soon to be) of NZ pinot noir to convince me it’s worth shipping from the furthest corner of the globe rather than just across the channel. What is it?

Same question but not PN, any colour or style. Go!


Last chance to get your questions in for this, everyone! :smiley:

So here goes with a few queries on the New Zealand range at TWS.

Having visited NZ in 2016 I got a good general view of the wine scene, although my 3 weeks were mainly on general tourism, it is a lovely place.

  1. TWS Pinot Noir range seems to be stuck. There are a few great producers and areas that aren’t covered well. With such a young and changing wine scene, should TWS be offering more range? As well as Rippon, Neudorf and Escarpment, I was impressed by Aurum as an example and they are not imported at all, what a great boost to have them.

  2. What will happen with the society and Seresin now it has been sold? I’ve enjoyed their wine but also enjoyed Zephyr Family wines who’s son Ben has purchased the vines. Do you have any insight into their plans or TWS vis their wines?

  3. Syrah, there’s been a lots of press about this being the next new thing, could we have a bit more range? Te Mata is great across the range, but how about some gimlets gravel wines?

  4. Whites, you can’t go wrong with Kumeu River. Well done.


Any chance of seeing some of the wines from Waiheke Island. And what about the Waipara/Canterbury region where Ostler (Waitaki) and Pegasus Bay are doing great things.

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Question - what are the new up and coming sub regions being discovered?

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Aside from the ubiquitous sauvignon blanc, what type of wines do you think NZ really excels at? As someone who hasn’t really explored NZ wines much, could you point to 2 or 3 that you would recommend as a good introduction to what the country can offer?


SO excited for our AMA with Sarah this lunchtime! Thanks so much for all your questions. - they really are fantastic and Sarah’s looking forward to discussing them with you.

We’ll be going live at 1pm - look out for a new ‘LIVE’ topic soon!


Speaking of ubiquitous SB … Who does the Marlborough style REALLY well? And who is doing something DIFFERENT with the grape?

Much obliged. When it’s good, it’s good.

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