Please don’t say anything unless it’s worth saying!

This is a spot of advice (unrequested so feel free to ignore) for all wine companies (and to any other company) that pumps out endless, dull ‘media releases’.

My reason for writing this as follows: I receive quite a number of media releases from various wine companies over the period of a week. Usually they are conveying news of an award, accolade or milestone – fair enough. The problem comes when I get several a week from the same company…it’s like the boy who cried wolf!

In fact, one particular company sends out so many that I now delete them without opening them. That must be the worst thing that can happen…what if they have something IMPORTANT to say? I’ll miss it because I have received so much drivel that I will just expect the next one to be equally as drivelous (new word).

The fact a new wine is released is great – but is it newsworthy? For some wines, yes – certainly (think Grange etc) but not all of them. In addition – if the release only contains winemaker quotes as opposed to (or as well as) independent quotes – it just reads as self promotion rather than anything that’s ‘news’.

Media releases should contain newsworthy stuff – interesting content that has people excited and talking. A quote from Hubspot’s blog by Hannah Fleishman says it all, “Reporters often hold the key to national coverage, but they get flooded daily with various announcements and have to cater to their audience first and foremost, not your business’ best interests.”

And here’s another plea. Please include the title of the media release in the subject line – then recipients know if it is something they should open. ‘New from…’ and ‘Please find attached a media release from …’ with no clue as to what it’s about is not very helpful. Thanks!

Here’s a link to Hannah’s blog and some great advice for writing top-notch media releases in today’s mega-fast world http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/press-release-template-ht

Thanks for indulging me!

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20 big, hairy questions to define your wine brand (in no particular order)

Yes, you should be able to answer them all. If you can’t please set yourself some homework.

1. Describe what your company does. What is your core business? Keep it to the point!

2. Explain your wine brand in two sentences (think elevator speech and leave out ‘quality’ as it’s a given).

3. What is your brand’s tagline? (I think ‘made in the vineyard’ is taken)

4. What are the brand’s core values?

5. Does your imagery, label and logo reflect these core values?

6. What gap in the market does your wine brand fill?

7. Do you have a business vision and goals? How does your brand dovetail that vision and contribute to achieving those goals?

8. What is your brand’s competitive point of difference (and I mean ‘difference’ – don’t say ‘quality’ – it’s a given. ‘Boutique family-owned’ isn’t exactly different either).

9. Describe your target customer(s). What do they do, what car do they drive, how do they spend their leisure time?

10. Why should your brand appeal to this group of people?

11. Why should someone purchase your wine over someone else’s (think elevator speech – you have a minute to answer this, not a week)

12. How are you communicating this?

13. Imagine your wine brand were a person, describe their personality. Would this personality appeal to your target customers?

14. Who are your competitor wine producers and which brands? Why do you see them as competition? What can you learn from them?

15. What do you want people to think when they see your wine?

16. What do you want your company to be known for in the wine industry?

17. Is your website up to date? All the time? (This is the number one bug-bear of wine writers and smacks of ‘I can’t be bothered’ which is not a good vibe…) Does it accurately reflect your brand and its values?

18. How does your brand engage people?

19. Does your sales team e.g. your distributor and all other stake-holders perceive your brand in the same way you do?

20. Describe your marketing communications plan and include social media (one post a day on Facebook does not a marketing communications plan make).

How did you get on? Know the what, why, where, who and how of your wine brand? Plenty more questions available!

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Christmas gift crisis? Over it?

Hopefully if you are reading this, it means you have Christmas locked down – presents sorted, decorations up, food planned and camp site booked. Congratulations! For those of us still trying to get it together, it becomes more stressful with every day that passes. Here are some last minute ideas that offer great value and require minimum ‘shopping’…

A magazine subscription – check out www.isubscribe.co.nz, www.mags4gifts.co.nz or www.magshop.co.nz and treat someone to the gift that lasts all year. As well as great local publications, consider National Geographic, Time Magazine or other global titles. Then you can just nip out to get the current issue, wrap it up and pop it under the tree with a card saying their gift is a 12-month subscription.

An SOS pack. Someone you know not organised in the event of an emergency? Why not pay a visit to Bunnings or Mitre Ten and grab a torch, batteries, first aid kit and the likes, topped off by a few tins from the supermarket (and a tin opener!).

Food is another option. While many of us hate the supermarket at the best of times, Christmas is even worse. However, with a dose of optimism, determination and patience, you’d be surprised at what gifts you can tick off the list.

How about a few goodies that your friend or family member wouldn’t usually treat themselves to? Chutneys and pickles, good quality pasta and sauce, special olive oil, mustards etc, or if you know they love Asian foods, make up a hamper with noodles and good soy sauce, a few ‘Home Gourmet’ sachets, some wasabi or even a DIY sushi kit or how about Indian (don’t forget the spices – cumin, coriander seeds, garam masala etc) and Italian is easy as well – pasta, pesto, Italian olive oil, maybe sun-dried tomatoes, grissini bread sticks and more (just make sure the pasta you choose really is made in Italy!)

Another idea easily available from the supermarket is a pamper pack. Hand cream, body lotion, bubble bath, magazines, puzzle book, pen, chocolate, some nice savoury nibbles and a bottle of wine for example. You can buy a packet of tissue paper and a gift bag while you are there – scrumple up the tissue and place some in the bottom of the bag, then add a few of the items, a bit more scrumpled tissue etc etc and there you go – even wrapped!

Got an abundance of lemons? Not always practical for those still on the go, but making lemon curd or offering a jar of homemade preserved lemons is a great gift. Heere’s Jo Seager’s lemon curd recipe http://www.radionz.co.nz/collections/recipes/thick-lemon-curd and Ruth Pretty’s one for preserved lemons is here http://www.ruthpretty.co.nz/recipes.aspx/Jams-Marmalades-Preserves/preserved-lemons You can buy some snazzy fabric either for the fabric shop or a charity shop – even a cool clothing item – and cut it into rounds for the tops of the jars. Hand-made tags are a nice touch too. This also applies if you have an abundance of any fruit or veg – zucchini pickle is a good one, raspberry jam, even buy a bag of pickling onions and pickle them yourself!

Thinking of the garden, if you have green or greenish fingers, you might have some seedlings doing well. A few of these into a pot makes a nice gift. I have also taken cuttings of things like Vietnamese mint with great success. Again, these are gifts that just keep on going! Or…jump online to Kings Seeds http://www.kingsseeds.co.nz/ or Italian Seeds Pronto http://www.italianseedspronto.co.nz/ and order some packets for your gardening buddies. So inexpensive and really thoughtful. Could even accompany them with the latest edition of NZ Gardener.

What about giving an experience? You could book a special trip as a surprise – or give a voucher for one. For those living in Marlborough, what about a trip into the Sounds with the Cougar Line? Visit www.cougarline.co.nz for details – even a trip to Bay of Many Coves for lunch is only $89 all inclusive! Think what your local area has to offer – bound to be something!

If you are still snookered, baffled, confused or just fed up with the whole commercialisation – head to the World Vision website and their Smiles ‘gifts that saves lives’. So much to choose from and every one of them benefitting children and families who really need help. Oh and the feel good factor is priceless.

 

 

 

 

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‘Giesen, Johanneshof and Villa Maria dominate 2013 Marlborough Wine Show awards’.

Family companies dominated the awards at the 2013 Marlborough Wine Show celebration dinner held in Blenheim on Saturday night with Giesen, Johanneshof Cellars and Villa Maria winning nine of the 14 awards presented.

In addition to 12 class trophies, there were two new awards – The Marlborough Wine Show Award for Vineyard Excellence which was presented jointly to Ara Wines and Villa Maria for their Seddon Vineyard and the Marlborough Museum Legacy Award which was presented to Johanneshof Cellars for their Gewurztraminer, vintages 2006, 2010 and 2012.

Johanneshof joint winemakers, Warwick Foley and Edel Everling said, “The Johanneshof team is elated to receive not only the Trophy for Champion Gewurztraminer but also the inaugural Marlborough Museum Legacy Award. In the 24 years since Johanneshof was established, we have always strived to produce wines of great harmony that not only evolve and unravel over time, but ultimately have the strength to be enjoyed for many years.” Warwick concludes, “We are thrilled to be recognised for producing such wines.”

Marcel Giesen, Director and Chief Winemaker of Giesen Wines said, “We are delighted with the three trophies for ‘The Fuder’ wines. “ He explains, “The idea was to showcase single vineyard sites in Marlborough and use 1,000 litre German oak barrels (‘Fuders’) to prove that a number of styles are possible with outstanding Marlborough fruit – both Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.”

Villa Maria Senior Marlborough Winemaker Jeremy McKenzie commented on the significance of a Riesling winning the top spot: “It’s often to the despair of winemakers that Riesling seems to be the poor cousin of Sauvignon Blanc; it’s a great varietal that I’d love to see more people enjoying. We’re absolutely stoked with the four trophies from the competition,” he said.

The Marlborough Wine Show was established in 2011 to showcase the sub-regions and style diversity of wines from the province.

The complete list of trophies and awards is as follows:

 

Winemakers’ Association of Marlborough trophy for Champion Sparkling Wine

Hawkesbridge Marlborough Methode Traditionnelle 2009

 

WineWorks trophy for Champion Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Wither Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013

 

WineWorks trophy for Champion Sauvignon Blanc 2012

The Fuder Single Vineyard Selection: Matthews Lane Sauvignon Blanc 2012

 

WineWorks trophy for Champion Sauvignon Blanc Emerging Style

The Fuder Single Vineyard Selection: Matthews Lane Sauvignon Blanc 2012

 

Ormond Nurseries Ltd trophy for Champion Chardonnay 2013 – 2012

Mount Riley 17 Valley Chardonnay 2012

 

Ormond Nurseries Ltd trophy for Champion Chardonnay 2011

The Fuder Single Vineyard Selection: Clayvin Chardonnay 2011

 

TNL Freighting trophy for Champion Pinot Gris

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Seddon Vineyard Pinot Gris 2013

 

New Zealand King Salmon trophy for Champion Riesling 2013 – 2012

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Dry Riesling 2013

 

New Zealand King Salmon trophy for Champion Riesling 2011 and Older

Spring Creek Estate Marlborough Riesling 2011

 

Mantissa Corporation trophy for Champion Gewurztraminer

Johanneshof Cellars Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2012

 

The Honey Company Limited trophy for Champion Sweet Wine

Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2012

 

Classic Oak Products trophy for Champion Pinot Noir 2013 – 2012

Lawson’s Dry Hills The Pioneer Pinot Noir 2012

 

O-I New Zealand Champion Wine of the Show

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Dry Riesling 2013

 

The Marlborough Museum Legacy Award

Johanneshof Cellars vintages 2006, 2010, 2012

 

The Marlborough Wine Show Award for Vineyard Excellence

Jointly awarded to Ara Wines and Villa Maris for their Seddon Vineyard.

 

MWS 2012

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2013 Marlborough Wine Show Trophy and Award Winners announced 9 November 2013

Winemakers’ Association of Marlborough
Champion Sparkling Wine
Hawkesbridge Marlborough Methode Traditionnelle 2009

WineWorks
Champion Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Wither Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013

WineWorks
Champion Sauvignon Blanc 2012
The Fuder Single Vineyard Selection: Matthews Lane Sauvignon Blanc 2012

WineWorks
Champion Sauvignon Blanc Emerging Style
The Fuder Single Vineyard Selection: Matthews Lane Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Ormond Nurseries Ltd
Champion Chardonnay 2013 – 2012
Mount Riley 17 Valley Chardonnay 2012

Ormond Nurseries Ltd
Champion Chardonnay 2011
The Fuder Single Vineyard Selection: Clayvin Chardonnay 2011

TNL Freighting
Champion Pinot Gris
Villa Maria Single Vineyard Seddon Vineyard Pinot Gris 2013

New Zealand King Salmon
Champion Riesling 2013 – 2012
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Dry Riesling 2013

New Zealand King Salmon
Champion Riesling 2011 and Older
Spring Creek Estate Marlborough Riesling 2011

Mantissa Corporation
Champion Gewurztraminer
Johanneshof Cellars Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2012
The Honey Company Limited
Champion Sweet Wine
Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Classic Oak Products
Champion Pinot Noir 2013 – 2012
Lawson’s Dry Hills The Pioneer Pinot Noir 2012

O-I New Zealand Champion Wine of the Show - Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marlborough Dry Riesling 2013

The Marlborough Museum Legacy Award
Johanneshof Cellars vintages 2006, 2010, 2012

The Marlborough Wine Show Award for Vineyard Excellence
Jointly awarded to Ara Vineyard and Villa Maria Seddon VIneyard

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Zeffer…more than a passing breeze

Well it’s not all about wine this time, there’s a touch of cider too. And not just any cider. I was delighted to receive a bottle of each of the Zeffer’s Brewing Company’s offerings – apple, pear and ‘Slack Ma Girdle’ (yes, I did write that correctly – more on SMG in a minute).

Based in Matakana, Zeffer pride themselves on cider made from 100% New Zealand fruit and with absolutely no added sugar. And boy does it taste good. I class myself as a bit of a cider aficionado as I love the stuff – if it’s good. And there’s nothing better on a hot summer’s evening than a glass of chilled, dry, crisp apple or pear cider.

Confected flavours in any drink are awful, but adding tons of sugar simply removes the ability to taste any of the base product – the fruit – which is surely what many ciders are or should be about. I was hugely surprised to learn about the sugar content in many ‘ciders’. Take the Swedish Rekorderlig for an example – not only does it contain over 12 teaspoons of sugar per 500ml serving, it doesn’t even contain any apple! How it can be called a cider? I have no idea. What a shame this import is giving people such a false impression of true cider.

Other New Zealand ciders seem to contain between 18g and 32g of sugar per 500ml serving – that’s between about four and a half and seven and a half teaspoons. Sweet huh? Zeffer’s apple cider, made from predominantly Sturmer Pippin and Cox Orange apple varieties, contains 6.8g/1.6 teaspoons and the pear variety, 5g/1.2 teaspoons. And the big difference is that these sugars are just those that have not fermented – in other words they are the natural fruit sugars – not stuff from a packet. That’s why these taste pure, clean and refreshing.

So back to Slack Ma Girdle. The name actually comes from a traditional cider apple, although this limited availability drink is made with a blend of up to 50 different cider apple varieties grown in family orchards around New Zealand. Golden amber, the smell is that of ripe, red-skinned apples with a hint of fresh straw. I could have been standing in one of the many cideries in Somerset when I first smelled this. It’s dry yet juicy and incredibly moreish – full-flavoured and satisfying.  Delicious as a reward after a long day’s gardening or enjoy with pork, aged cheddar or middle-eastern flavoured dishes.

 

 

 

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My Week in Wine

It would be fair to say that not a week of mine goes by without wine in some form or other – not necessarily drinking it, but often tasting or writing about it or organising something with it. This last week or two has been no different with a number of projects underway, however amongst the madness there has been time to enjoy a glass or two of some pretty neat wines. Funny that!

I happened to be in the Moutere area of Nelson last weekend and this gave me a chance to pop into Waimea Estate. These guys had just revamped and reopened their restaurant and cellar door which was very smart. However, I wasn’t there to eat so I jumped straight in to trying the wines.

Being the Riesling fanatic that I am, I started with the Waimea Classic Riesling 2013. With the word ‘Classic’ in the name, I was expecting something medium to medium sweet but I was pleasantly surprised as it was fairly dry, further exacerbated by a delicious citrusy acidity. Clean and polished, fruity yet tight and refreshing, this is a super example of medium-dry Riesling that really gets the mouth watering. Delicious as a 6pm pick-me-up at the end of the working day!

I then tried the Sauvignon Gris, also 2013. This is not a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, but a grape variety in its own right. It’s thought to be a mutation of Sauvignon Blanc though the grapes have quite a pinkish hue. Not as aromatic as Sauvignon Blanc, it is usually blended and its home is Bordeaux, although Chile is also taking this varietal fairly seriously.

Anyway – the Waimea Sauvignon Gris was quite flinty, with a firm acidity that had my eyes popping for a moment. However, as a wine with food, I think it’d be a great match with tomato-based dishes or a lemony seafood dish.

The 2011 Dolcetto was a treat. Not often found outside of Italy let alone in Nelson, New Zealand this perky, purple-coloured red wine is fresh and lively. Raspberries and cherries to the fore with a nice sweet, ripe character and plenty of chewy tannins. A great wine while young and perfect with your regular pizza/pasta numbers.

You can check out more from Waimea here http://www.waimeaestates.co.nz/

Another wine I came across last week was Ostler Lakeside Riesling 2012 from North Otago’s exciting Waitaki region. This was by all accounts, delicious. 12g/l of residual sugar (the fruit sugars left over once fermentation has stopped) means the wine is off dry to medium. The aromas were really pronounced and came up to meet my nose as I began swirling and sniffing. It was one of those very rare wines that I felt like capturing the scent and bottling it to wear as perfume. Floral yet spicy with a gorgeous mineral tone, lime zest and citrus flowers plus a hint of sherbet made it instantly appealing. The palate was sumptuous and layered – not easy for a dry-ish white wine. Deliciously moreish, the flavours are dynamic, refreshing and clean as a whistle. They last for ages too.  Lovely balance of fresh acidity – cripes – I really liked it! $30 from the website http://www.ostlerwine.co.nz

Dinner last night with two great friends – one of whom insisted on preparing and cooking the meal. He’d managed to get some veal and proceeded to make the classic Italian dish of veal cooked in butter with capers and white wine. Whilst I might have selected a white wine to accompany it, he brought along a Primitivo from Puglia – Italy’s ‘heel’ on country’s map. Not a perfect match, but a delicious dish and a lovely wine, the Masseria Altemura ‘Sasseo’ Primitivo ($20ish) is velvety and sweetly ripe with a hint of cherry chocolate and almost a savoury, beefy tang on the finish. Easy going and smooth and great value.

Am now looking ahead to next week…..!

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