Wines of the week… the uncertainty of life and wine

Wine is a sort of paradox in our society, says Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, in the opening lines of the new film, A Seat at the Table, which launches this week in Auckland at the 2019 NZ International Film Festival.

“It teaches us patience in a world that goes faster and faster and in which the immediate and the urgent are law. It teaches us conviviality in a world of violence and brutality and last, but not least, in a world which knows everything, where everything is known, everything computerised, it teaches us about uncertainty.

It reminds us that life is always an uncertainty.

A question without answer.

Wine is the only product in today’s world with this wonderful uncertainty…”

A Seat at the Table was co directed and produced by David Nash and Simon Mark-Brown, New Zealanders who wanted to tell the stores of New Zealand’s fast rise to prominence in the world of wine.  I have reviewed it for The Spinoff website and am looking forward to seeing it on the big screen when it arrives in Wellington in early August as part of this year’s NZ International Film Festival.

In the meantime, here are three top wines of the week, each of which deserves a glass at the table.

Bargain buy

2016 Saint Clair Cabernet Merlot Malbec $24.99

This is the best value Gimblett Gravels red out of the top 12 of the 2016 vintage.

It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon at 66.7%, Merlot at 20% and Malbec at 13.3%, each of which was fermented separately following four days pre-ferment maceration to extract colour from the grape skins. The wines were each innoculated with winemaking yeasts and hand plunged up to four times daily (depending on the variety).

The three varieties were then blended and aged in 33% new French oak and some older French oak for 11 months. The outcome is a full bodied, fresh and accessibly fruit driven red at an impressively modest price for the high quality and great drinkability. This drinks well now and can definitely age for up to 10 years.

Treat of the week

2016 Misha’s Vineyard Lyric Riesling $28

The world’s southernmost wine region does Riesling spectacularly well and in a range of styles, as this rarely seen, small production dry 2016 Misha’s Vineyard Lyric Riesling shows.

The production of this wine is small and in 2016 there were 208 cases (12 packs per case, we’re talking) made. The residual sugar  is 4.5 grams per litre, which puts it firmly in the dry category, no matter which country’s dry scale a winemaker is aspiring to. It was made with 100% estate grown fruit from a single vineyard in Bendigo at 228 to 315 metres altitude – dry, windy and warm with cool nights to preserve Riesling’s refreshing acidity. The grapes were cropped on average six tonnes to the hectare and clones used were GM239 (48% of the wine), GM110 (36%) and GM198-19 (16%). It contains 13.5% ABV and pH 2.83.

Winemaker Olly Masters suggests it can age for up to and possibly beyond six years. With three years of age already, I would suggest that it seems to have at least another extremely tasty five years ahead, if not even longer.

A great white wine from the deep south.

Reaching for the stars

2017 Mt Beautiful Pinot Noir $31.99

Pinot Noir and North Canterbury are a match made you know where. Winemaker Sam Weaver has great grapes to work with, thanks to the region’s consistent weather; namely, its long growing season. Canterbury’s long hot summers turn into long dry autumns with cool nights, which allow Pinot to retain its refreshing zingy acidity and gradually develop a flavoursome red and dark fruit spectrum. Mt Beautiful was founded by David Teece, who also produces Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.

A very good Pinot  Noir from one of this country’s most high quality wine regions – and one of its most underrated ones.

* The 2013 Mt Beautiful 10 Barrels Pinot Noir is the rare and rarely made top red from this North Canterbury winery. It’s a super powerful wine made in small quantities and, as its name implies, from a selection of the best wines as tasted in barrel. Quantities are limited. Only made in certain years.

More details at