New Zealand

Q&A with Fintan du Fresne, Winemaker at Chamisal Vineyards

As the son of well-known New Zealand wine journalist Fintan du Fresne grew up with an appreciation for the wine industry. Originally from the southern end of New Zealand’s North Island, he graduated from Victoria University with a degree in geology and set about exploring the relationship between geology and how it affects terroir in wines. He became winemaker at the historic Chamisal property (the first vineyard planted in the Edna Valley, located in San Luis Obispo County) in 2006, where the focus is on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Describe your winemaking philosophy.

My philosophy is that there is no right way or wrong way to make wine. I’ve worked for enough different wineries in different parts of the world to have seen the same thing done in totally different ways. One winemaker will tell you “you can’t do it that way” while another winemaker is having complete success doing it “that way.” My job is not to make MY favorite wines or wines in the style that I like.  My job is to make wines that our consumers love. Too many winemakers are making wine for other winemakers. However, I do believe in the concept of Terroir. A vineyard is going to produce a certain style of wine and that is not something I can change. I can help steer it in a certain direction, but that is all I can do. If Mother Nature is a raging river, a wine is like a kayak on that river. All I can do is steer it through the rapids.

Crisp and Refreshing Summer White Wines by Broadbent, Dr. Loosen, and Spy Valley

Wines to Go Buy This Week: Crisp and Refreshing Summer White Wines by Broadbent, Dr. Loosen, and Spy Valley

The dog days of August are upon us and we have but a few weeks remaining before hot summer nights give way to crisp autumn leaves. This summer has been brutally hot for most of the US -though not too bad here in San Francisco, though September tends to be our hot month, if "hot" and "San Francisco" can actually be used in the same sentence- and I've had the great pleasure of discovering some fantastic white wines that are both tasty and refreshing for those hot nights. So before summer ends, here are three white wines to go buy this week:

Broadbent Vinho VerdeBroadbent Vinho Verde - Vinho Verde is a staple of Portuguese culture. Translated it means "Green Wine" which refers to its youthful freshness. It's a low-alcohol, light, crisp, and slightly effervescent wine that is about as close to perfection as a summer wine can be. Broadbent makes a fantastic Vinho Verde and at about $9 a bottle, it's worth buying a case to serve at your Labor Day picnic. Your guests will love it. About $9. Buy Broadbent Vinho Verde 

Q&A with Nicholas Buck, Te Mata Estate

Te Mata EstateEstablished in 1896, Te Mata Estate remains family owned, producing internationally recognized wines exclusively from its Hawkes Bay vineyards.  Under the direction of John Buck, Te Mata Estate has, over nearly thirty years, produced a stunning array of red and white wines. Te Mata Estate has also developed a unique single vineyard from which it produces its Woodthorpe wines.

IntoWine recently caught up with Te Mata Estate to discuss wine and thoughts on current trends in the wine industry.

What prompted you to pursue winemaking as a career? 

I was born into wine, grew up in it, and was exposed to too many wonderful wines at an impressionable age.  I’ve since been unable to consider any other career.

Marlborough: New Zealand's Flagship Wine Region

If you mention New Zealand wine in conversation, most people will assume you mean sauvignon blanc, and with good reason.  New Zealand sauvignon blancs are considered to be the world's best by many wine experts.  And, if you are looking for the best of New Zealand's sauvignon blancs, you will inevitably end up in Marlborough.

Hawke's Bay: New Zealand's Oldest Wine Region

Hawke's Bay, the oldest wine region in New Zealand, is known for its top-quality red wines and chardonnays.  In fact, 30 percent of all chardonnay grapes grown in New Zealand are planted in the Hawke's Bay wine region.

Best New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

IntoWine.com asked a panel of wine experts for their recommendation for the best New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc:

New Zealand took the wine world by storm with its intensely flavored Sauvignon Blancs starting in the 1980s. Sauv Blanc is still the most widely planted grape in Kiwi Country, by a long shot, and there are numerous great examples. My favorite NZ Sauv Blanc from recent vintages is the 2012 Loveblock, the first vintage from Kim and Erica Crawford’s new label. They were the team behind the hugely successful Kim Crawford label, which they sold to Vincor International in 2003 for $8.6 million. The Loveblock is a complex, structured Sauvignon Blanc, with notes of ripe lime, smoke and sweet green chili. You can find it for an average of $18 at U.S. retailers.

Another favorite producer is the justly famous Cloudy Bay, which makes both a delicious, balanced, unoaked version, as well as a Sauv Blanc that is reminiscent of a white Bordeaux from a ripe year—the Te Koko, which spends 18 months in French oak. One more great one is the intensely flavored Saint Clair Family Estate Selection. Richard Jennings, IntoWine.com Featured Contributor and the Founder RJonWine.com.

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