New Zealand AMA with buyer Sarah Knowles MW

I am delighted that you enjoy a range of Pinots, we value long term relationships and love the wines we stock, but I know that I am spoilt for choice. Hopefully as sales increase I will be able to widen the current range, but we have listed pinots from Rippon and Neudorf in the past and I always see their new vintages. I am also in touch with the winemaker at Escarpment and love the wines, but am just watching to see what happens now that they have been bought by Torbreck and I am in touch with the guys at Aurum to see what we may be able to do when they are a little bigger.

Michael Seresin and his UK agents kept us up to date with all the changes that have been going on, and interestingly it shouldn’t affect our range too much at all…

It all sounded a little more dramatic in the news then in reality – as they have only sold the “home” vineyard site and winery building. Michael is retaining the brand, has a long term rental agreement on space in the winery and has full ownership of another vineyard – Raupo – which is where the majority of his pinots are from. So our supply of Exhibition Pinot will continue from the same vines and each year we will continue to look at the range including wines such as Leah, Rachel and Sun and Moon to decide vintage by vintage if we want to ship them.

However the changes do mean that there may be an opportunity to list some new wines from the new team once they get going with the grapes and winery they now own… watch this space…

As I have mentioned in a couple of answers to these questions – I am a huge New Zealand Syrah fan, so I am delighted that you are too. Each year we tend to work with, as a minimum Te Mata, Trinity Hills, Craggy Range and Mission Estate – due to list spaces and warehouse picking bays they are often on rotation – but I promise that they are all given time through the year.

Finally, I am delighted you love the wines from Kumeu River – I couldn’t agree more. :slight_smile:

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I always wanted to try and have been chasing Judge Rock in Central otago for the opportunity. I have tried and enjoyed Austrian examples, which are more accessible to me.

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Waiheke often crops up, but as you may know, many of the producers are very small operations that focus on cellar door tourist activity generated by their proximity to Auckland. The one or two larger estates, I seem to find, often struggle to export at a price that offer real value when compared to other wines from New Zealand because they are used to selling at full retail prices on premise… However I have my eye on a few, and retry every year, so we may feature wines from this sub region soon.

Thanks for the tips in Waipara/Canterbury – I have tried wines from both, and I fall back on the “spoilt for choice” line – which really rings true with New Zealand, what I really need is for more members to buy more of our current premium NZ range (especially the reds) so that I can push the budget to buy more…!

Thanks for all your help.

Given the dominance of Marlborough – with over 2/3rds of New Zealand’s vines, really all other regions can be seen as discovery!

However I love some of the aromatic whites coming out of Nelson and hope to list more going forward, the pinots from Martinborough continue to get better and better, and now sub regions of Central Otago are really starting to show their unique characters – bannockburn vs Bendigo for example show totally different flavours (try Felton Road vs Prophets Rock)! :smiley:

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Its a complicated issue, working out the carbon footprint of a bottle of wine but it is a hot topic! A lot of the study goes into the purchase of dry goods and where they are from,
foe example shipping barrels or where screw caps are made…!
Water use - in the vineyard but also in the winey is under huge scrutiny too…
It starts to get very detailed very quickly but there are some great winemakers who really care - and in the process of understanding it more, they are making reductions to become more truly sustainable!

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I have mentioned already my love of New Zealand Chardonnay, Riesling and Syrah. I also adore the pinots, so here are a few of my favourites….

Chardonnays

A full bodied style, with some great oak, for a steal, perfect roast chicken wine.

I had this at my wedding! Love it.

Syrah

A good step into this unique spicy style.

One of the best vintages ever in Hawke’s bay and a super producer.

Riesling

Germanic off dry style with bright New Zealand pure fruit expression.

Opulent and complex – don’t think, just try it!

Pinot (an everyday and one showcasing each major region!)

Perfect with slow cooked lamb on a Sunday…

A real fine wine challenging people’s perception of new world fine wines…

Perfectly ready and utterly delicious velvet-y pinot

One of the best pinots from Marlborough from some of the best winemakers and viticulturists I have ever met.

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Wow, there are more Kiwi St Laurent’s out there than I realised! I’ll look out for it on my travels.

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Thanks so much for these amazing replies, Sarah!! :smiley: I can’t believe the detail you’ve gone into.

I have a less clever question - what’s been your most memorable wine moment when visiting New Zealand?

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New Zealand has some of the most stunning vineyard sites I have ever seen, but I really had to pinch myself when I was tasting a new vintage sample of our Exhibition Central Otago Pinot Noir - made by the hugely talented Paul at Prophets Rock - over looking his steep vineyards that fall right down to the mirror like reflective lake - I vividly remember getting goose bumps!
I even got to stay over up there and watch the sun set - so peaceful, with the perfect wine, simple food, and talented friends.
I am so lucky where wine takes me

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Sounds amazing, Sarah! Out of this world, in fact…
Thanks for taking the time to reply so clearly and with so much detail! I don’t know much about NZ wines, being an Old World stick-in-the-mud, but you certainly made me want to experiment a bit outside of my comfort zone!

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Thanks for your answers. I really understand the space on the list issue. But from a geeky :nerd_face: bit of view, more choice of the finer things please.

On Seresin, I’ll watch this space. I’m hoping to try some Zephyr wine tonight. at the sun Dedham. The mark 111 SB looks interesting.

I realised now that I haven’t tried the trinity hill gimlets so will order some next time.

Have you tried Burn Cottage. That another that impressed.

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Also a less clever question but obviously the actual flight over to New Zealand is quite long and so some refreshment is probably welcome but do you bother with the wine available on the plane considering you’ll be having relatively superior wine when you land? Also do you find the long flight has any affect on your senses that mean wines don’t taste or smell as you’d expect?

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Hi Russ,
I just googled the Sun at Dedham and the wine list looks great! Spotted they also have the Pinot which might be worth a try, although Toms Block Pinot is also a firm favourite of mine.
Have a great dinner, a good start to the weekend!
Sarah

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This sounds INCREDIBLE. If you have a photo you can dig out and share later, please do!

Thanks everyone for your questions - Sarah’s just replying to @catherine’s one now but I think that’s all we’ve got time for today! Thank you to Sarah for such a wonderfully enlightening AMA - there have been a few bottles added to my wish list…

Look out for another AMA coming soon!

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The flight is long, I have done it a lot in most classes and I always have a drink!
I am a big fan of a G+T which is always a safe option for me everywhere (except the USA - often terrible v sweet tonic)
But yes, I also have the wine (regardless of quality - although on long haul is often really quite good) and then a whisky or port as well (I like to get my moneys worth)!
I also think that a mini port is often the under valued secret of long haul flights and trying to get a few hours kip!

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Thanks @Sarah and @laura - I do think these Buyer AMAs are such wonderful insights for members

I am particularly keen to explore NZ Syrah myself, so am happy with the suggestions (Shame it is a bit early (even for me) to try opening anything to quench that thirst :wink: )

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Yes and they have Moutere both red and white. Wish it was simple to choose.

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Thanks @Sarah, really enjoyed reading through your posts!

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Oh my days what a fantastic response thank you @Sarah

It’s really interesting that lighter wines are being pursued. I think that the new world countries seem very responsive to market demand so it’s intriguing that this is the way. I was fortunate to be involved with a yeast study with Sauvignon Blanc looking at various strains used on the same vineyard and was impressed with the results just from a change of yeast.

I’d be very interested to see how the new fashionable varietals fair. I have actually had the Wither Hills Syrah, it was like having an actual glass of pepper…wonderful stuff. My non-wine friends were blown away by it. great value at around a tenner!

I certainly look forward to seeing the next round of purchases from NZ! :slight_smile:

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Wonderful response @Sarah. Understand issues with Waiheke wines. When we were there, we visited Mudbrick. Tasted their £75 a bottle ‘Velvet’. It was like tasting an en primeur Bordeaux. I asked if they had anything a bit more mature and they said, No we sell out every year very quickly. I note their 2014 from the cellar door now £175 !
We loved Osidian and their people

Many thanks
Will try to increase my NZ orders
Chris

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