Strong coffee, wind and wine, wine, wine

March 7, 2022
2 mins read

Witchdoctor’s wine guru PHIL PARKER travels to Wellington for a lashing of wind and Martinborough for a tasty drop or two.

Grabbing a chance to get away under the orange traffic light, we flew south ASAP to Wellington and Martinborough for five nights in mid-January. Miss 19 is now firmly entrenched in central Wellington and was working in a café as a holiday job before her studies resumed.


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It was our first Christmas without her, so it was a good opportunity to catch up with her as well as other family in the Capital city. Two things struck us about Wellington: strong winds and strong coffee. A flat white in the capital is more like an industrial-strength double shot with a hint of milk. I had been used to the wind as a youngster growing up there, and the cool breeze was a welcome change from the stifling Auckland heat. Our fourth and fifth nights were spent in Martinborough – charming as ever and boasting great food and wine.

Anyway, here’s a selection of some great NZ wines, including three from Martinborough.

Bohemian ‘The Dancer’ Hawke’s Bay Rosé 2019 $26
Dry, crisp and mineral in the Provence rosé style. Cranberry, red berry fruit and red fruit compote, and a nudge of citrus, with a clean and tangy finale. Match with summer salads, chicken and white fish.
Available: Four Candles Food Market,

Bohemian ‘The Poet’ Hawke’s Bay Pinot Gris 2019 $26
Dry and tangy with apple juice, clover honey, stone fruit and a hint of lychee. Crisp and refreshing finish. A great pairing with poached, herbed mussels.

De La Terre Hawke’s Bay Arneis 2020 $37.50
A standout wine. Grapes sourced from the limestone terraces of De La Terre’s Hill Country Estate in Hawke’s Bay. Rich and unctuous at 15% alcohol.  Grassy herbaceous flavours with G&T, quinine, nectarine and a hint of clover honey. Match with rich, creamy seafood or chicken.
Available: Dhall & Nash

De La Terre Hawke’s Bay Tannat 2018 $45
Tannat is a French red grape from the south-western Madiran region. Rich, dark and spicy with medium tannins. Plums and black cherry with good length. Laced with a hint of peppery spice and fruitcake, this one’s a definite keeper. A match for spiced roast duck, mushroom and truffle dishes.
Available: Fine Wine Delivery Co.

Dry River Martinborough Pinot Noir 2019 $99
From a premium NZ pinot noir producer, this is a stunning example. Soft tannins and a silky, seamless palate of spiced cherry, poached tamarillo and blackcurrant, with earthy truffle and mushroom. Seared steak, spicy lamb or moussaka would be good matches.
Available: Caro’s

Dry River ‘The Twelve Spies’ Martinborough 2020 $65
This wine is a red blend: tempranillo 40%, pinot noir 35%, and syrah 25%. Big bold and luscious with lots of potential for cellaring. Spiced plum, black cherry, cassis and liquorice all wrapped up in firm, persistent tannins. Match with hearty beef dishes or spicy ratatouille.

Dry River Lovat Martinborough Syrah 2019 $71
Big, soft and plush with lashings of black pepper, plum, spice and cassis with medium tannins. Again, very drinkable now but a keeper for 5 years or more. Sadly, this is the second to last vintage of syrah from Dry River following their decision to concentrate more on pinot noir and chardonnay. Great with lamb or spicy tomato pasta.
Available: Caro’s



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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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