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An Introduction to Bordeaux-Style Wines in New Zealand
An Introduction to Bordeaux-Style Wines in New Zealand
France is pretty much the OG of wine, which is why you’re probably familiar with the name and reputation of Bordeaux even if you know next to nothing about vino. One of the oldest grape-growing regions in the world, Bordeaux produces highly coveted wines in the form of single-varietal versions or blends of the area’s signature grapes: cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, malbec, and petit verdot.
Bordeaux’s had such a huge influence on the wine world that even New Zealand, in its isolated spot halfway across the globe, grows Bordeaux varietals and crafts wines inspired by this legendary region. Here’s a quick introduction to Bordeaux-style wine in the land of the Kiwis!
Bordeaux Varietals in New Zealand
Bordeaux varietals need heat to ripen properly, which is why they’re grown predominantly on the North Island of New Zealand rather than the South. North Island regions such as Hawke’s Bay enjoy warmer growing seasons moderated by the influence of the ocean, mirroring the climate of Bordeaux (which gets that maritime influence from rivers) and enabling Kiwi winemakers to produce styles that resemble those from the great French region (concentrated and balanced, with bright fruitiness and freshness) as opposed to the bigger, bolder, more ripe-fruit-focused styles that come from über-hot regions like Australia.
The name of the game in New Zealand’s beautiful Hawke’s Bay? Sun! With a warmer climate, minimal rain, and a long growing season, Hawke’s Bay offers Bordeaux varietals a very happy home indeed — and because the sea laps the coast to the east, temperatures don’t veer too far into ‘hot’ territory (in fact, average temperatures hover in the same range as those in Bordeaux).
This means that the beautiful Bordeaux-style blends Hawke’s Bay winemakers produce exhibit that classic elegant balance between fresh fruit (red and dark), floral notes, and earthy undertones. Hawke’s Bay yields some truly stunning single-varietal examples of the Bordeaux grapes (with merlot being the most widely planted and the most common), but it’s best known for its deeply complex and flavourful blends.
Look out for reds from Trinity Hill — located in Hawke’s Bay’s Gimblett Gravels sub-region — a winery that produces award-winning blends made with varying percentages of the Bordeaux varietals. Their vegan-friendly beauty ‘The Gimblett,’ in particular, is dominated by cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, with smaller amounts of merlot, malbec, and petit verdot.
We’re also big fans of the good folks at Te Mata, a family-owned establishment dating back over a century that produces mouthwateringly tasty blends of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc — all from their vineyards in the Havelock Hills and Gimblett Gravels sub-regions of Hawke’s Bay.
Matakana is a charming little village less than an hour’s drive north of the bustling city of Auckland. It boasts a gorgeous cinema and an always-packed-to-the-gills Saturday farmers market — but as wine regions go, it’s tiny (we’re talking less than 70 hectares of vines).
Don’t let the size fool you, though: Matakana makes up for its small stature with big and beautiful Bordeaux blends, crafted in a temperate maritime climate much like that of Hawke’s Bay (although Matakana sees a bit more rainfall). Many of the wineries here sell their wines only on-premise or in local establishments, so your best bet for a taste of a Bordeaux-style bombshell from this area is to head out on the gorgeous Matakana Wine Trail.
Though it’s much better known for its world-class pinot noir, the slightly cooler-climate, low-rainfall Martinborough nevertheless generates some standout examples of Bordeaux-style wines. Plantings of cabernet sauvignon and merlot yield elegant, peppery wines that combine in blends for a more subtle overall style.
Ata Rangi is perhaps the best option for Bordeaux varietals in this region — but we’d also highly recommend getting your hands on either the 2010 or 2011 BDX from Terroir Wines. The 2010 features cabernet sauvignon and merlot while the 2011 adds cabernet franc to the mix!
The little gem that is Waiheke Island sits a short ferry ride off the coast of Auckland, and it’s got a hotter microclimate that makes it ideal for growing Bordeaux varietals. Cabernet sauvignon and merlot in particular thrive underneath the warmth of the Waiheke sun, but the three other Bordeaux grapes do just fine as well.
The climate here resembles that of Matakana and Hawke’s Bay: warm days and lots of pleasant sunshine, with the moderating influence of the water to keep the heat from shooting into the stratosphere. Like in those other regions, this combination allows our five Bordeaux varietals to ripen completely without beginning to show the more concentrated (and sometimes overblown) fruit-forwardness evident in the same grapes from other, hotter regions.
Remarkable single-varietal versions of all but petit verdot can be found from Waiheke wineries, but one of the best-known (and a favourite of ours) is Man O’ War — a picturesque jewel that produces Bordeaux-style wines of distinct power and strength.
So there you have it: a quick introduction to Bordeaux in New Zealand!
Top 5 BYO Spots in Auckland
Nothing beats getting a good group of friends and heading out for a hearty dinner before a night out in Auckland city. Smashing back a great bottle of vino while eating some tasty food, it doesn’t get much better. Especially if you’ve got a big night out planned. These were some of my favourite BYO spots when I was living the good life in Grey Lynn.
The Mofo Guide to White Wine Varieties
With over 1000 white wine varieties in the world, it shouldn’t be any surprise that most people can only name three. We’re going to take a wild guess that it goes something like this: savvy b, chardonnay, and riesling. Hey, no judgement! But with exciting wines such as albariño, gewürztraminer and vermentino making their mark and the weather heating up, there’s no better time to explore the wonderful world of white wine than right now. Here are a few fun facts about some to get your white wine trivia back in form.
An Introduction to Blaufränkisch and Grüner Veltliner
There are certain wine varieties that you just have to pronounce with a foreign accent. I can’t imagine saying spätburgunder without a slight Germanic lilt to my voice and if I blurt out poulsard or trousseau without a discernible French swish, I feel incomplete and dirty. So with that in mind, I would like to summons your inner Arnold Schwarzenegger, circa ‘Terminator’, and say the following grape varieties - blaufränkisch and grüner veltliner. Both Arnie and these varieties hail from the same country, Austria, so you know it makes sense.
The Mofo Guide to Red Wine Varieties
There are literally hundreds of options when it comes to choosing a variety of red wine. So it’s easy to play it safe and stick to the classics like shiraz, pinot and cabernet sauvignon. But with a number of alternate varieties making Australia home - things like gamay, sangiovese and nebbiolo - it’s time to explore the delicious spectrum of red wine on our doorstep. Here are a few worth seeking out, to get you started.
Different Styles of Pinot Noir in New Zealand
New Zealand’s worldwide wine reputation is pretty much synonymous with sauvignon blanc — but what you might not know is that the little country in the middle of the Pacific produces some spectacular pinot noir as well. From the more famous regions of Marlborough and Central Otago to the lesser-known gems like Nelson and the Wairarapa, New Zealand boasts a microcosm of climates that allows for the creation of distinctly different styles of the ‘heartbreaker grape.’ Here’s what to expect in a pinot noir, depending on which region of Aotearoa it hails from!
Behind The Label: Betty's Game Rosé
We’re stoked to introduce you to Malin AKA Mali Mal, our talented new graphic designer (and Jurassic Park enthusiast) who was tasked with creating a unique wine label for our latest rosé, Betty’s Game.
5 Fun Facts About Cabernet
There are many reasons why cabernet sauvignon (aka the ‘King of Grapes’) is one of the most popular grapes, with 290,000 hectares planted globally. Cabernet doesn’t follow trends. It’s serious, age-worthy and consistent. Wine regions globally are synonymous with its unwavering excellence - think Bordeaux, Margaret River, Argentina, Coonawarra…
A Guide to Italian Wine Regions: Tuscany
I can think of a few wine regions that, once I cast my eyes over a picture of them, immediately make me want to pay them a visit. Down this neck of the woods Margaret River, Tasmania and Central Otago are undeniably spectacular, as is the Mosel in Germany, Burgundy in France and Piemonte in Italy. Perhaps none have a more magnetic appeal than Tuscany… medieval hilltop towns, that magical light playing over the vineyards and olive groves, hearty Italian food and perhaps lazing on the terracotta tiles around the pool at your villa sipping a Chianti or Vernacchia.
Behind The Wine: Adam Foster of Syrahmi
From country Victoria to Rhone Valley and back, we recently caught up with Adam Foster to chat about his impressive journey to becoming the respected winemaker he is today. Food led him to wine, wine to winemaking and extensive vintage work with some of the world’s best. Now firmly planted (vineyard included) amongst the granite boulders of Tooborac in Southern Heathcote, we’re excited to discuss the future with Adam. We’re perhaps even more excited about the soon-to-be-released Collaboration nebbiolo rosé that we’ve created with him, Betty’s Game!
The Ultimate Guide to Aussie Shiraz
Here’s a little task. It’ll only take a moment and I’d be interested to hear your opinion. What would you consider to be Australia’s most famous grape variety?
A Weekend Guide to Hawke‘s Bay
Can’t find accommodation in Napier? No worries. Everywhere in Hawke’s Bay is within fairly easy driving distance.
Behind The Wine: Dylan McMahon of Seville Estate
Seville Estate, what can we say? One of the founding wineries of the Yarra Valley, Halliday Winery of the Year 2019 and an impressive, newly renovated site which is home to award-winning wines. We were stoked to catch up with winemaker Dylan McMahon after his recent win at the Halliday Wine Awards and ask a few questions about the history of Seville Estate, his personal journey in wine and what the future holds. Dylan’s story is one of both passion and precision, along with a deep appreciation of the site with which he works and the winemaking community in the Yarra, that both supports and inspires him. The only thing that we didn’t get a chance to delve into was Dylan’s side-hustle as the bass player in winemaker supergroup Harvest Goon. But hey, we’ll leave that for another time...
Classic Food and Wine Pairings Throughout History
When the concept of food and wine pairing is brought up some of us run and hide, others seek to rise to the challenge, while most of us will stick to the classics—those pairings that have been tried and tested for centuries before us. There is no harm in that, when something works so perfectly like a glass of Sauternes with foie gras, why mess with a classic. Some of the grandest events and dinner parties in our history have exhibited these thoughtful pairings. They are called classics for a reason, and I’m going to prove it to you…
How To Choose The Right Wine For You
A “no bowties and no BS” beginner’s guide to choosing the right bottle of wine for you.
How To Pair Your Food and Wine Like a Pro
One of life’s greatest pleasures is enjoying tasty food with an equally delicious bottle of wine, but getting it right is much easier than you think; here’s how, with three simple tips:
The Mofo Guide To Rosé
It’s ok, I’m not afraid to say it. It’s not that big a deal. I don’t care what people will think of me. I love rosé.
Funky Wine Words
Imagine a dinner party where you can entertain your friends and confound your enemies with an assault of glorious wine words. The ability to describe a wine with the effortless grace and street cred of Kendrick Lamar may only be a dream to some, but with a bit of groundwork, we’ll have you on the right track in no time at all. It’s time to spice up your wine vocab - take your vinous lexicon to the next level.
A Guide to Italian Wine Regions: Piemonte
In the not so distant future, we’ll first take a deep-dive into Barolo, its townships and the differences in the wines that come from them. We’ll perhaps have a chat about the traditionalist vs modernist debate and we’ll cover some producers to look out for. Until then, stay thirsty my friends.
Wine Jedi Mind Tricks
Despite all its good intentions, wine can be hard. It’s wines own fault of course. It tends to throw up barriers and make itself seem more complicated than it should be. All snooty and poncy looking with strange language, implied required knowledge and weird rituals. It is after all a beverage, one that should be a social lubricant. One whose raison d’être is solely to be delicious. That’s it. We humans tend to make things more complicated than they really need to be.
The Perfect Match: Chardonnay and Cheese
Chardonnay and cheese. Chardonnay is a natural match for so many styles of cheese, because there are so many faces of chardonnay. From the racy unoaked melon-mouths to the oak-slathered butter bombs, let’s explore. And let’s not be afraid. Chardonnay can be confusing, with so many unfamiliar terms (Whole bunch? Wild ferment? Barrel size, cooper, toast level, new or old… or maybe stainless steel or even concrete egg? Malolactic fermen-WHAT? Sulphur or no sulphur. Fine lees, gross lees, lees stirring). Holy moly. That would be a panoply of things even if ‘panoply’ wasn’t my word of the week. Let’s keep it simple, because it doesn’t have to be that hard.
Vino Italiano - An Italian Primer
“I was saying this afternoon that I don’t want to be that wanker who bangs on about how much he loves Barolo now. But I am, I am that guy. And I’m OK with it, I f*cking love the stuff. Especially when paired with lamb cutlets, chocolate birthday cake and the finest of company on a Sunday afternoon.”
Secrets to the ultimate winter warmer
This should be fun and not overthought (don’t mull it over too much), so I’m going to keep this simple, so you don’t have to keep looking at your iPad. After all, you’re over eighteen if you’re trying this, so I reckon you’ve got this.
A Journey Into Spanish Wine
I was going to attempt to share everything there is to know about every Spanish wine, but the internet just isn’t big enough. And then all of that thinking about Spain and wine made me hungry and so I just decided to curate my dream Spanish long lunch instead. Honestly, what is wine without food?
Bookmark this: 8 must-read wine books
If you’re like me, and you found yourself gallivanting around local wine bars, open rooftops and beer gardens this summer, then I can assure you, you’re not alone. During your escapades you may have even found yourself frolicking around wine country every weekend, but now as the weather cools down, as do your adventures; but your passion for all things wine don’t have to. As the temperature drops, swap the platters in the sun for a bubble bath, a glass of red (or two) and some leisurely reading on your favourite hobby - wine!
Magnificent Mendoza Malbec - A Primer
We all need to take a card from the Argentines and drink more malbec, eat more steak and live our best life. Cheers, mofos!
What’s so good about aged wine, anyway?
So what is so good about old wine? What do we expect from it, and why do we think it’s necessarily better than young wine?
Tannins | Wine Buzzwords
Put simply, a tannin is a compound found in the skins and seeds of grapes (you’ll also find it in bark, wood, leaves, tea, dark chocolate and nuts), and you’d know them from two familiar scenarios: that drying feeling you get in your mouth from wine, and the crust that sometimes remains on an old bottle of red.
Orange Wine | Wine Buzzwords
It’s likely you’ve come across orange wines by now. Most of the cool wine bars will feature a couple on their lists and retailers are finding more shelf space for them as we look for an alternative to whites or rosé. They’re equally loved and despised. Purists will say it’s a faulty abomination, while others are excited by the fact they challenge convention and expectations. We reckon the best way to find out if you like a style is to taste as much of it as you can, so before you head off into the rooftop wine bar wilderness, here’s some info to get you started.
Sonoma County: Your new favourite wine region
With the US in our sights, we’re chucking on our figurative backpacks and heading off to Sonoma County.
A Day In Marlborough
Spending a few days visiting wineries in Marlborough was, as far as ‘work goes’, one of the better weeks I’ve had on the job.I tagged along on a buying trip, which translates to meeting a lot of winemakers, which translates to talking a lot about wine, tasting a lot of wine and exploring vineyards. Dream job? Pretty much.
Blind Drunking: JD vs John, Marlborough
The scene was Marlborough, a morning at Grove Mill estate to be precise. The boys were surrounded by lush purple hills and the scattered remains of empty sauvignon blanc tasting glasses. Between them sat one mystery bottle of wine. The battle was on.
A Savvy B Journey Through Marlborough
There is no wine more divisive than sauvignon blanc amongst the team here at Vinomofo. We love to hate it at Mofo HQ, and our CEOs proudly wear t-shirts with ‘Death Before Sauvignon Blanc’ printed on them.
60 Seconds with Pip Goodwin
Pip Goodwin is the CEO of Palliser Estate, a legendary Kiwi vino outfit working out of beautiful Martinborough. Besides being a bona fide lady boss, she’s also got a tonne of winemaking experience under her belt dating all the way back to a trip to Burgundy. So watch out, mofos, we’ve got the real deal here.
Marlborough is synonymous with sauvignon blanc. As a brand, it has been one of the great success stories of the modern wine world and there’s no sign of it slowing down. It accounts for 86% of New Zealand’s wine exports and really, they just can’t get enough of it.
Would You Like To Taste The Wine Sir?
“Would you like to taste the wine?”A seemingly innocuous question that strikes fear into the hearts of so many. Those seven words can tear down even the most robust foundations of self-confidence. You’re on the spot. All eyes turn expectantly to you, and you’re thinking… “Well I dunno, what am I supposed to say?”
A Primer to French Wine
For many of us, our connection with France hasn’t expanded much further than the ability to say “voulez-vous couchez avec moi, c’est soir?” either whispered at the back of French class or shouted on a booze-fuelled Contiki tour through Paris. We’re not known for our linguistic talents, but perhaps if we were introduced to French wine in high school our attention would’ve increased tenfold.
The Mofo Guide To Ordering Wine
There should be no more stress in choosing a wine than there is in choosing your meal. That being said, there’s nothing more horrific than having to choose between the pork belly and the salmon, and even then at least you know what you’re talking about.
Three Deadly Wine Cocktails To Get You Howling On Halloween
A scary twist on a Spanish classic, serve this classic summer punch in a pumpkin to keep you chilled – even in the depths of hell.
Bubble Trouble: International Champagne Day
October 20th is our favourite day on the calendar. Yes, it’s a Friday this year, but more importantly it marks not only International Champagne Day, but also Snoop Dogg’s birthday. And on this most holy of days, it’s only fair we take the advice of Snoop and drop, no, pop it like it’s hot. Or, if you’re living a bit further south, like it’s warming up at the very least.
White With One: When is sweet not sweet and dry still wet?
Because honestly, what the f*ck is off-dry?
Why is there chocolate in my wine?
Wine is awesome. The flavours, the textures, the layers, the weight, the heat, the twists and turns as it opens up inside your mouth and inside your mind. That is sexy stuff and I don’t care if it sounds wanky. It’s awesome. And it’s real, if you let it in. To really get it, you’ve got to understand compounds so strap yourself in because I’m gettin’ scientific on your ass (with a little help from Google).
Just chill: stop overthinking the perfect wine serving temperature
Stop overthinking the perfect wine temperature and forget the numbers. Enjoying your wine at its optimum temperature doesn’t have to be a science experiment. Once you have these simple habits under your belt, you won’t even have to think about temperature any more, you’ll just be enjoying your wine that much more.
What's The Point
Ever wondered what those shiny medals and points assigned to wines mean? Probably not, it’s pretty self-explanatory right - the more points the better the wine? Yes, points are allocated to wines based on qualitative measures but for the consumer the question remains, so what?
48 hours in Beechworth
After a truly boutique wine experience? Head to Beechworth. Here you’ll find some of the most humble and hardworking wine folk willing to show you first hand the heartache and joy involved in making small batches of incredible vino. It ain’t glamorous and you’ll have to book appointments to arrange tastings, but it’s worth it because this region is as real as it gets when it comes to soul-stirring wine.
Happy International Grenache Day
Happy Grenache Day! I bet you didn’t know that was a thing. Yep, apparently there’s a day for everything. There’s even a movement to get Fairy Bread Day up and running here in Australia. That’s a stretch, but we’re all for celebrating wine so Grenache Day is fine by us. So, on its special day you’re invited to grab a glass and raise a toast as we share with you a few things we love about grenache. It’s a bit like a 21st – complete with awkward speeches – but with better wine.
Fresh Kiwi Vino (other than pinot)
There’s no doubt that New Zealand is killing the pinot game. Spicy, fruity and undeniably delectable, ask any pinot fan about Kiwi juice and they’ll start raving. In fact, the pinot is so damn good it’s almost doing a disservice to the wine industry, because it’s way too easy to forget that New Zealand churns out some remarkable red wines other than pinot. And we’re gonna find ‘em.
The Rise of Rosé: A Hashtag Journey
It’s official: the pink drink has blown up worldwide. First it was the French, then the Spanish, and now the whole world is tickled pink over a refreshing glass of rosé. To give you an inkling as to popularity of this lil’ drinkling, these days the French actually consume more rosé than white wine. But what led to this meteoric rise in popularity?
Biodynamic Wine | Wine Buzzwords
Welcome to the next leg of our journey to make sense of vino vocabulary. Today, we’ll be tackling a term that’s shrouded in mystery and a fair bit of scepticism: biodynamic wine. Among the preferred poison of wipsters (aka wine hipsters), biodynamic vino is made using a philosophy that’s free of chemicals and tuned into the cosmic forces of the universe. But the question is, does it really make a difference to the juice in your glass? Well mofo, let’s look into a crystal ball and see.
New Zealand has long been synonymous with the words ‘natural’ and ‘pure’ and this translates to wine too. Given the reverence Kiwis winemakers have for the land, it’s no surprise there’s a relatively long history and commitment to natural wines and biodynamic, sustainable and organic winemaking practices.
Out of Auckland: Matakana
The weather wasn’t ideal for a day trip and the temptation to spend the afternoon tucked into a cosy corner of a Ponsonby wine bar was real. However, we’d already spent the last three days tucked into cosy corners of wine bars all over Auckland and there were teasers of sunshine, so we set out to see what adventures could be had within an hour of the city and Matakana ticked plenty of boxes – mainly the ones with wine written next to them.
VIDEO: 60 Seconds with Tim Preston, Mills Reef
We dropped by Mills Reef in Tauranga on a pretty bloody cold August day. We were, admittedly, quite hungover from the night before and collectively unenthused at the prospect of a day spent drinking more alcohol. That was until we tasted Tim Preston’s first class pinot noir.
Hip Hop and Wine: A History
Surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly if your rap level is expert, the hip hop scene actually has a well-rhymed history for pairing sneakers with syrah and bling with barrels. Forget those five fingers of Hennessy, what they love is getting around a good glass of vino. Thug life, wine life, same same.
48 hours in Waiheke Island (NZ)
Incredibly beautiful, insanely accessible and with a microclimate to rule them all, it’s no wonder Waiheke Island is one of New Zealand’s most favouritest wine regions. We spend 48 hours driving a ute and drinking vino (not at the same time and always with a designated driver, obvs) around the best of the idyll’s best.
It could be the best or the worst decision we’ve made here at Vinomofo, and we’re equal parts excited and terrified, but we’ve done it, and here it is.
Mofo Guide to Cellaring Wines
Why cellar wines? Because often they’re sold before they’re peaking. Cellaring a wine gives you the chance to drink it at its best. You deserve that chance, so read on!
What your favourite wine says about you
In an image driven world first impressions count, right? It’s why we agonise over an outfit that says “ideal candidate” at a job interview or cultivate a look we hope will turn heads (in a good way). What we look like and buy into says a lot about us; in my case the current ensemble of Melbourne crafted jeans and Jack Wills jumper screams mainstream preppy with a penchant for hipster denim. And it’s the same deal with wine.
Beyond the sauvalanche
New Zealand sauvignon blanc, I salute you! In just over three decades, this grape has risen from relative obscurity to become the world’s most ubiquitous wine. Marlborough, the epicentre of savvy’s fame, is the place that produces the particular style of vino that has taken the global wine palate by storm. And if our growing thirst is anything to go by, then the sauvalanche shows no signs of slowing.
Terroir | Wine Buzzwords
Take care of how you wield this word because it’s got a high wine w**ker score.
When should I decant a wine?
The definitively abridged guide to ageing and decanting wine – when, why, what and how long.
48 hours on the Mornington Peninsula
We know you Kiwis have some sweet regions on your own doorstep, but if you’re in Australia, you need to head to the Mornington Peninsula. Why? Because when it comes to weekends of pure indulgence, there are few destinations more appealing than the Peninsula.
Recipe of the Month : Fluffy Carrot Cupcakes with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
Introducing our latest recipe of the month, a sweet and decadent delight for those who enjoy the naughtier side of life. Simply add friends and a few bottles of Bisou Bisou Sparkling to party like a modern-day Marie Antoinette. Let them eat (cup)cake!
VIDEO: 60 Seconds with Dan Sims
Dan Sims is an Aussie sommelier legend. With a few profanities thrown in. King of Revel (formerly known as Bottle Shop Concepts), his wine ethos is simple - don’t overthink it. A mantra we particularly enjoy here at the ‘Fo. We also enjoy hitting the town, and the juice, at his first-class wine events - Game of Rhones and Pinot Palooza. Sound familiar? They will if you’re a vino hound. Revel (formerly known as Bottle Shop Concepts)