Fresh buds in springtime and recommended drinking

August 2, 2021

PHIL PARKER gets a spring in his step and puckers up his palate for a new batch of fine New Zealand wines.

The shortest day is now behind us and we’re heading manfully towards spring. Yay.

Again, it has been a mild winter and we’ve seldom been down to single-digit temperatures – in Auckland, anyway.

As a physio student back in mid-1970s Auckland, I vividly recall crunching my way across white frosted grass on my way up the hill to the school in Grafton in my flared plaid pants, green wool jacket and tan suede boots. My Parnell student flat bedroom had a broken windowpane, which I patched with cardboard and Sellotape – to little avail.


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I do love those clear, crisp, frosty mornings, where you can almost smell the cold in the outside air in the mornings and layer up against the cold, and then be rewarded with a blue-skied sunny day.

Anyway, here’s to magnolias and tulips and fresh buds on the grapevines!

Bohemian ‘The Composer’ Gewürztraminer Alsace, France 2018 $21.99
Classic Alsatian gewürzt. Medium sweet and 12 percent alcohol. Lush and spicy with musky Turkish Delight, marmalade, dried pear and a tangy finish. Bargain. Fab with a cheese board, pork dishes and mildly spicy Asian foods. Available Fine O Wines, Little India.

Greystone Nor’wester North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2018 $19.99
Still a youngster at three years old. Bright and light-bodied, with savoury umami soy and a hint of smoke. Cherry and dark berry fruit, with medium tannins on the finish. Match with rich ratatouille or slow-cooked beef casserole. Available: Caros,

Pegasus Bay North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2011 $40.00
Wow. Pinot perfection. Gorgeous wine from north Canterbury. Soft and seductive, with ripe black cherry, spiced plum, soft tannins, mocha and savoury mushroom umami. Goes with your best duck dish or eggplant masterpiece. Available:

Pegasus Bay North Canterbury Aged Release Prima Donna Pinot Noir 2010 $115
Gracefully aged and very savoury, with hints of black cherry and a hint of tawny port. Complex and soft with roasted mushroom, cigar box and dark chocolate. Match with venison or robust tomato-based winter dishes. Available:

Pegasus Bay North Canterbury ‘Maestro’ Merlot Cabernet Malbec 2016 $49.99
Another fab, ripe and full-bodied red from the Waipara Valley. There is so much hype about North Island ‘hot climate’ reds, yet the South Island can produce some stunningly good reds in a good year. Big bold and juicy. This is a fruity red, with flavours of Christmas cake, spiced plums and blackberries. Match with beef, lamb or bold tomato-based vege dishes.  Available:,

Soljans Barrique Reserve Kumeu Pinotage 2019 $32
Spicy aromas. A medium-bodied wine with soft tannins and typical pinotage smoky/tar flavours. Black currant, plum and fruit cake. Soft and silky. Great with lamb or spicy tomato pasta. Available:

No 1 Family Estate Assemblé Non-Vintage $33
The very latest release of Daniel Le Brun’s flagship methode. 22 Ct gold colour, fine beaded bubbles. A good whiff of CO2 and a hint of yeasty brioche on the nose. Mouth-filling and rich flavours of pear, crisp apple and stone fruit, with a dry mineral tangy finish. A traditional blend of chardonnay, pinot noir (and pinot meuniere 60/35/5) with a minimum 18 months lees (on yeast) aging. Available: Widely.


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Originally a physiotherapist, Phil's fascination with the fermented grape juice led to the launch of his wine tour company Auckland Fine Wine & Food Tours at the turn of the century. A seasoned and well-respected wine writer, Phil's oenophilia led to the publication of his wine region guide to New Zealand, The Mad Keen Wine Buff's Road Trip (Random House).

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