New Zealand and Biodynamics

Two new tastings lined-up for September and October 2021 after a short summer break in August.

Thursdays 9th & 16th September

NEW ZEALAND – BEYOND SAUVIGNON BLANC

Sauvignon Blanc has become the hero grape for New Zealand. The vibrant, fruity and explosive style of Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc – memorably described as smelling like ‘Cat’s pee on a gooseberry bush,’ by Oz Clarke – has won legions of fans. However, we will explore how the New Zealand story really has moved on, to explore different styles, varieties and regions.

Marlborough is responsible for 77% of the entire wine output on New Zealand, and Sauvignon Blanc accounts for over 70% of New Zealand’s production, so both are massively important. But winemakers have long understood the need to diversify and we’ll focus on that. We’ll kick off with a ‘new style’ Sauvignon Blanc from North Canterbury, organic, fermented in French oak, with wild yeasts – more white Bordeaux than classic Marlborough style.

There has always been fabulous Chardonnay in Marlborough, and we’ll taste one of them from a cracking vintage, plus an absolutely beautiful Riesling. Demonstrating Marlborough’s genuine diversity, we’ll round off our tour with a Lagrein – a red variety from the far north of Italy, and one of the ‘alternative’ varieties showing huge promise.

We’ll also visit two of the North Island’s hottest spots: Hawke’s Bay and Martinborough. From here we’ll taste two Pinots: a ripe and beautifully balanced Pinot Gris, and a Pinot Noir, arguably New Zealand’s leading red variety, but with huge potential still.

Thursdays 7th & 14th October

EXPLORING BIODYNAMIC WINES

The subject of biodynamic wines is highly controversial. A system of organic farming, it was first proposed by Austrian philosopher and social reformer, Rudolf Steiner, who married organic farming to esoteric concepts that some find hard to accept. The most famous is the use of dung-filled cow horns to be buried in the vineyard in the autumn.

In biodynamics, work in the vineyard and winery is also dictated by phases of the moon and zodiac constellations. Along with those mystical aspects of the system, some people express deep scepticism about biodynamics, and yet, many of the world’s greatest wine estates are now fully biodynamic, from Romanée-Conti to Château d’Yquem.

In this tasting I will explain the history and the processes involved in following the biodynamic regime, while we taste six examples. We kick of in the Pfalz in Germany and Alsace in France, two regions with a high number of biodynamic followers and some of the system’s most passionate advocates. Still in Europe, we’ll have a gorgeous wine from Galicia in northwest Spain; not an Albariño, but a red wine made from the Sousón variety. From Slovenia comes a classic Ribolla from one of the country’s best and most dynamic estates, while Italy – another stronghold of biodynamics – is represented by a barrel-aged red blend from Tuscany. Finally, crossing to Chile, their pioneering biodynamic estate provides a sumptuous red to complete our line-up.