A rough idea of the meaning of certain words often used when talking or reading about New Zealand wines (phew!)

Here’s a simple, ‘at a glance’, rough idea to the meaning of words often used in context with New Zealand wine.

  • Aroma- The smell of a wine, also referred to as the “nose” or “bouquet” of the wine.
  • Balance– How the acid, fruit flavours, sweetness, tannins and alcohol are in relation to each other. They should all work in together to give a wine that is ‘balanced’ (sweetness and acidity is important in sweeter style white wines, and tannin and fruit in red wines).
  • Barrique - The French word for a 224 litre oak barrel
  • Battonage – the French term for stirring a wine while on its lees (see ‘Lees’ below) following fermentation.
  • Biodynamic– ‘Biodynamic’ is a method of organic grape-growing (or farming) originally developed by Rudolf Steiner that employs what is described as “a holistic understanding of agricultural processes”. It treats soil fertility and plant growth as ecologically interrelated tasks, emphasizing spiritual and mystical perspectives. It also references phase of the moon.
  • Body - The impression of weight or fullness on the palate – how a wine feels in the mouth and how powerful the flavours and alcohol or tannins are. The bigger the impression, the more likely a wine is to be referred to as ‘full-bodied’ such as an Australian Shiraz for example, as opposed to a ‘light-bodied’ wine which may be something like a Pinot Grigio from Italy.
  • Botrytis – A special type of fungus that attacks grapes if the conditions are right and these are then used to make very sweet wines. The fungus pierces the skin of the grape allowing the water content to evaporate and the sugars to concentrate. There is too much sugar for the yeast to convert so the remaining ‘residual sugar’ is very high. In New Zealand, the best grape varieties for this type of sweet wine are Riesling and Semillon. Botrytis is only desired when making these wines and can be a real problem in other grape varieties, particularly in damp and humid conditions.
  • Brix- A measurement of the sugar content in grapes. The level of brix indicates the degree of the grapes’ ripeness (sugar level) which helps to determine when to pick. It also therefore indicates the potential alcohol content of the finished wine.
  • Clone- Vines originating from a single, individual plant chosen for its specific attributes i.e. clonal selection. Clones can be chosen for diseases resistance, vigour, flavour and various other elements.
  • Corked– A wine that has been spoiled by the cork used to seal the bottle. Caused by a chemical called trichloroanisole, or TCA, which is found in the bark of the cork oak tree and is virtually impossible to eradicate.
  • Dry – A wine that has been fermented until all (or almost all) of the available sugars in the grape have been converted to alcohol. Dry wines are usually those that are under 5 grams per litre of ‘residual’ sugar (i.e. sugar left once fermentation has been stopped).
  • Fermentation- The process of yeast converting the available sugar (from the ripeness of the grapes) into alcohol with the by-product of carbon dioxide.
  • Filtration - The process of straining out solid particles in wine with various types of filters. Not always carried out depending on the desired wine style.
  • Fining – Fining is carried out to improve the clarity of a wine. It is traditionally done using egg white, bentonite (a very fine, absorbent clay) or isinglass (swim bladder of sturgeon).
  • Late Harvest- Wine made from grapes picked later than normal and therefore at higher sugar levels. The yeast cannot convert all the sugar to alcohol as there is too much, so the resulting wines are sweet.
  • Lees – this is the spent yeast cells that fall to the bottom of the tank during fermentation. Some wines are kept ‘on lees’ for a while to contribute to texture, weight and therefore the body of the wine before being racked off them. Chardonnay can sometimes be a good example of this.
  • Length- The amount of time the flavour of a wine lasts in your mouth, ine the wine has been swallowed.  Top quality wines are often talked about as ‘having great length’.
  • Mouth-feel - Describes the texture or physical sensation of the wine in the mouth such as silky or chewy (for big tannic wines perhaps), oily, weighty etc.
  • Oenology- The science and study of winemaking.
  • Oxidised- Wine that has been spoilt through exposure to oxygen over a prolonged period. Can become musty or ‘Sherry-like’ and often tinged brown.
  • Palate – the wine once it’s in the mouth. How it tastes and feels.
  • Phenolics/Phenols - Chemical compounds derived from skins, seeds, and stems.  Phenols include tannin, pigments and flavour compounds with the sensation of dryness or sometimes coarseness on the finish of a wine.
  • Racking – moving a wine off its lees into another vessel e.g. racking from tank to barrel.
  • Reserve – a term widely used to suggest a wine of more superior quality, however there is no regulation over its use so it pays to know the producer and how they apply it to their particular wines.
  • Single vineyard – a wine made from grapes grown only on one particular vineyard.
  • Structure - The backbone of the wine and balance of elements such as acid, tannin, alcohol, and body as it relates to a wine’s texture and mouthfeel.  A white wine with low acidity might be referred to as ‘lacking in structure’ while a tannic red wine may be thought of as with a ‘firm structure’.
  • Tannins- Compounds that contribute to a red wine’s structure, mouth-feel, and astringency often resulting in a dry sensation in the mouth and ‘furry teeth’.  Tannin is a natural compound derived from grape skins, seeds and stems; the more contact the juice has with these elements, the more tannic the wine will be.  Tannin is often considered the “backbone” of a wine and might make a young wine less approachable, it is vital in the aging process.
  • Terroir – A French term often adopted in other winemaking countries, referring to the environment in which a given grape variety grows.  It encompasses the soil, climate, vineyard aspect and viticultural practices. Great wine is said to reflect its ‘terroir’ or sense of place.
  • Triage – the process of sorting through freshly-picked grapes usually using a special ‘triage table’. The grapes are tipped out of bins on to the conveyor belt and hand-sorted.
  • Varietal – a specific grape variety.
  • Vintage – the year the grapes were picked to make a particular wine
  • Yeast- Microorganisms that produce the enzymes that convert sugar to alcohol.  Yeast is necessary for the fermentation of grape juice into wine. It can either be cultured (use of a known strain for its particular attributes) or ‘wild/indigenous’ which means natural yeast from the vineyard and winery.

 

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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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