Golden harvest of Autumn wines

April 22, 2024
2 mins read

PHIL PARKER sits back and sips and cogitates while our wine producers toil to get the best of the annual grape harvest.

As I write, the Aotearoa/New Zealand grape harvest is underway. The vines are a wee bit grumpy after the storms and floods of 2023, and in the Auckland region they are grudgingly producing good quality fruit, but generally smaller crops just to make a hissy statement about ‘weather events’ and bad treatment by Mother Nature.

Today I was in the Kumeu wine region, where chardonnay had just been picked and crushed, and was happily fermenting in French oak barrels and bubbling away through vapour locks at Kumeu River winery. The day before, I was in Matakana where Heron’s Flight had a crop of gorgeous Sangiovese grapes looking voluptuous and ripe and ready for harvest.

In short, it looks like a good vintage but with smaller volumes being produced.

Anyway, there’s a diverse lineup of wines this month from the Bay Of Islands, the Hawkes Bay, and further afield in California, Spain and Italy.

Twenty Acres Chardonnay Clarksburg California 2021 $34
Big ‘n’ bold California-style chardonnay from Bogle Family Vineyards. Bursting with vanilla, toasty oak, butterscotch, gingernut, roast peach, bourbon and ripe mandarin. Very lengthy, dry resiny finish. If you’re a fan of the big, buttery, oaky USA chardonnays, then this one ticks all the boxes.
Available: Dhall & Nash

144 Islands Marnie Manon Bay of Islands NZ 2023 $45
From the  Far North, an elegant blend of classic Rhone Valley white grapes: Marsanne, Rousanne, Vermentino, viognier and muscat à petit grains. Dry, elegant, crisp and floral. With jasmine, honeysuckle, beeswax, and frangipane tart.
Available: Dhall & Nash

Pares Balta Indegena Blanc Penedes Spain (organic) 2022 $42
100% Garnacha (AKA grenache) grown organically and biodynamically in vineyards in the Penedès. Bone dry, lean and crisp, with tannic grip and spice from ageing in a mixture of new and old French barrels. Gooseberry, green bell pepper and herbal thyme.
Available: Dhall & Nash

De La Terre Syrah Hawkes Bay 2021  $39
Grunty and savoury at 14% ABV. Flavours of black cherry, black currant, dark berry fruits, black olive, dark chocolate, leather and Cuban cigar. Very much on the spicy/savoury spectrum rather than dark and fruity. Available: Dhall & Nash

Pelissero Dolcetto d’Alba Munfrina Italy DOC 2019 $35
Ripe and generous. 13% ABV but hits the palate like a heftier number. A big wine with grippy tannins but matched with black cherry, cassis, acidity and a typical hint of bitterness on the back palate. The name derives from the old owner, a lady from Monferrato, who laboriously and diligently worked the land.
Available: Dhall & Nash

Pares Balta Indegena Penedes Spain (organic) 2022 $42
Very approachable. Again 100% Garnacha, but this time as a true red wine that has fermented on the skins for a number of weeks rather than the ‘blanc’ as above which was directly pressed at harvest. Floral hints of potpourri on the nose. Dark chocolate, cassis, baking spices, blackberry fruits. Medium tannins and a long, dry finish.

Available: Dhall & Nash



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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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