I've always liked the word convivial, which is defined by Webster's Dictionary as "relating to, occupied with, or fond of feasting, drinking, and good company". And here is where we will share all things related to feasting, drinking and good company - with a little travel thrown in for good measure. Consider it our "at the table" section where you can find food and wine pairings, recipes, restaurant reviews, travel tips, and more. And once we get started we hope that you'll share your table - photos, friends, travels, and wine pairings with recipes. Welcome to our table, please make yourselves comfortable.
Summer just screams out for cool, refreshing white wines and possibly a little chilled Gamay. So we are offering every bottle of white wine in our store for 25 percent off, and just because we love it slightly chilled, we'll also include the same discount for every bottle of Gamay from Easthope Family.
Now is your opportunity to discover the other white wines of New Zealand- Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling!
And because it's warm outside, we'll include an upgrade to termprature controlled shipping when you choose UPS Ground shipping. It will take a bit more time (two to three weeks) but your wine will be sent via temperature controlled truck and/or locally with ice packs. We want to make sure those lovely aromatic whites are protected in transit so we've upgraded every shipment.
Summer is Sizzling but your wines will be cool and comfy with temperature controlled shipping including ice packs! We are offering upgraded Temperature Controlled Shipping with all UPS Ground shipments through August 31st.
How it works: wines are loaded once a week on a temperature controlled truck and sent to a regional warehouse. Once they reach the warehouse, your order is packed with ice for the final journey to your door. This process may take 2-3 weeks for shipment, but the wines will stay cool and comfy - so it's worth the wait!
In all seriousness, we hope everyone is staying safe and healthy at home. These are strange days indeed and some of us need a little wine (or a Gin & Tonic) to help get us through these troubling times. We didn't want to take advantage of a pandemic, but see that other retailers are doing the same in order to lift some spirits by raising a glass.
Now thorugh the end of April, we are offering 25% off every bottle in the store. Take this opportunity to try some wines you might never have tried before - a Gamay from New Zealand, a Chardonnay fermented in an egg, a Pinot Noir from someplace called Waitaki - now is your chance!
Stay safe and drink sensibly. Be well. Cheers!
Ever since Jen Parr with VALLI Wines was named 2020 New Zealand Winemaker of the year, we've been thinking of a way to celebrate Jen in a special way. We thought of Jen-uary but it was a little late to celebrate a month at the end of the month, so we decided to celebrate Jen in Feb with VALLIntines for everyone!
To celebrate Jen Parr and all things VALLIntines, we are offering complimentary ground shipping on all purchases of six or more bottles of VALLI Wines during the entire month of February. Limited quantities are available, so buy some VALLI Wines now so you'll be sure to have them ready to go to celebrate all things Jen and VALLIntines all month long.
You could even put together your own VALLIntines sample pack - one of each of the four Pinot Noirs from Central Otago combined with one each of Riesling and Pinot Gris. We'll be offering tasting notes next week on the comparisons of the four areas where Jen makes the wines for VALLI - Bannockburn, Bendigo, Gibston and Waitaki. Taste them side-by-side and learn about Otago wines from the south island of New Zealand.
The new year brings perspective and new focus for all of us. Each new year allows each of us the opportunity to view things in their true nature and relative importance, as well as to learn from the previous year and create new focus.
We started 2019 as a new wine boutique wine company offering unique wines from small family-owned producers in an exceptional part of the world, New Zealand. We must admit that this past year has been a huge learning curve and we are grateful to people who have shared their knowledge, experience and insights.
With all we have learned, we’ve neglected to notice that our customers, whether it be a Master of Wine or a new wine consumer, also want to learn and be educated, especially when it comes to New Zealand Wine. So, this year we resolve to do more to share more about the wines, the people and especially the place that makes these wines so special.
In the coming weeks, we’ll share more stories about the wines in our portfolio, the way we enjoy them and the people that make them. You’ll hear more about New Zealand travels, food and wines from sources we’ve discovered and can’t wait to share as well as our own original writings. And we’ll ask you to share too by giving you the opportunity to discuss your travel adventures, your enjoyment of New Zealand wine and food. Stories to share and compare, to communicate and build a community.
The French have a phrase, “joie de vivre” or zest for life. This year we vow to share our passion for vines and wines. And we hope you will enjoy it and share your experiences as well. Cheers!
Q: "How do you think Central Otago compares to Pinots from elsewhere in NZ? What about elsewhere in the world?"
A: "Central Otago has the only semi-continental climate in NZ as well as a dramatic landscape which both contribute greatly to the character of our wines. More sunlight hours, generally dry weather, great diurnal range and highly engaged people all contribute to our identity. The wines range in style from playful to serious with the best examples showing refinement, energy and sense of place. I think the unique fruit purity with underlying structure is what sets us apart from other New World Pinots. The freedom from the confines of tradition and spirit of adventure sets Central Otago apart from Burgundy. For a country of 4.5 million people, New Zealand is lucky to have several small regions making great Pinot Noir. The wines from Central stand out to me because they tick all of the boxes: they are pleasurable, intellectual, and memorable." - Jen Parr, Valli Wines, Winemaker
Q: "What do you like about working with Pinot?"
A: "I think all of the descriptions of this variety have been said before: it is elusive, the heartbreak grape, etc. I believe people dedicated to growing and crafting Pinot Noir are true romantics. To love Pinot Noir is to cherish intrinsic beauty. The old adage “it’s what is on the inside that counts” is certainly true with Pinot. It is not the “supermodel” in the wine world. I believe its beauty is tarnished by polish and hidden by artifice. Internal beauty can be overlooked without genuine contemplation. Pinot Noir seems to attract adventurous and intellectual winemakers and I’m continually inspired and motivated by my peers." - Jen Parr, Valli Wines, Winemaker
Be sure to read the full article in Forbes Magazine.
The new Wine Spectator Insider has just been released and it includes excellent reviews for two wines from one of our supplier partners, Valli Vineyards from Central Otago. “The best examples of Pinot Noir reflect the character of where they came from. Pinot’s native home and ultimate reference point is Burgundy, but California, Oregon, Australia and New Zealand are now established as alternate sources of Pinot Noir greatness, yielding pure expressions of their respective terroirs. The selection here highlights some of the best styles from recent tastings….”
Pinot Noir Central Otago Bendigo Vineyard 2016
93 points | $59 | 25 cases imported | Red
Distinctly spicy, with sarsaparilla, clove and cedar notes that mingle with dense blackberry and blueberry flavors. The tannins are firm, the acidity fresh. Details of sandalwood and cigar box linger on the finish. Drink now through 2034. From New Zealand. – M.W.
Pinot Noir Central Otago Gibbston Vineyard 2016
92 points | $59 | 25 cases imported | Red
Shows presence and structure, with herbal and licorice notes setting up the framework for the dense and spicy blackberry and cherry flavors at the core. Fine-grained tannins and spicy black tea details fan out on the finish. Drink now through 2033. From New Zealand. – M.W.
Wine Spectator Insider May 22, 2019
There was a time in my life that I only drank Chardonnay. There was a time in my life that I drank anything but Chardonnay. And then I discovered white Burgundy, more specifically the wines of Puligny-Montrachet, home to the most expensive chardonnays produced on the planet. Which is a way of saying that it was a very expensive habit and one that I really can’t afford, even when I lived nearby. Part of the portfolio I used to manage included two of my favorite Chardonnays – Domaine Leflaive from Puligny-Montrachet and Kumeu River from New Zealand. I swear, when tasted blind, on some occasions I could not tell them apart.
One of the reasons I was excited to go to New Zealand was that one of my last visits would be at Kumeu River. Their Mate’s Vineyard Chardonnay had been one my favorite New Zealand Chardonnays. That is until I discovered two Chardonnays from Hawke’s Bay from the same vineyard, Skeetfield, that truly tasted like white Burgundy. Both Tony Bish and Rod Easthope produce stunning examples of Chardonnay off the same vineyard and, since they are both in the Mondiale Wines portfolio, I recently had the chance to taste them side by side. I highly recommend it.
When I arrived in New Zealand, the New Zealand Winemaker of the year awards were just about to be presented and Tony Bish was one of the six finalists. Tony was being recognized for both his work at Sacred Hill and his own Tony Bish Wines. Reading his background on the awards website made me very excited about meeting this skier turned winemaker turned legend. When I found out his winery was also a wine bar called Urban Winery, I was all the more intrigued and excited. Speaking with Tony and his wife Karryn a day or two after the awards ceremony, I was awash in their thrill of the awards ceremony, including Karen’s pictures with Sam Neill of Jurassic Park fame, owner of Two Paddocks and one of the funniest follows on Twitter.
Tony is still a shareholder and consultant at Sacred Hill but since 2013 he has been focusing exclusively on Chardonnay and is producing his wines at the Urban Winery in Napier. Having his own winery has allowed him to experiment with concrete and wooden eggs including a 2,000-liter Taransaud Ovum. The Ovum is the beautiful wooden egg that graces the cover of our website. We will import just a few cases of the Zen Chardonnay, the first Chardonnay in the world made exclusively in an Ovum. While the Fat & Sassy Chardonnay is machine harvested, the grapes for the rest of his wines are handpicked and whole bunch pressed at Sacred Hill. The juice is then brought back to the Urban Winery where all but the Fat & Sassy are fermented in concrete eggs.
I’ll let the winemakers share in future blogs about their winemaking techniques and why they like to ferment in concrete and/or wooden eggs, but for me, in reviewing my tasting notes from my visit with Tony, I was struck by how much structure and mouthfeel was present in each wine made using eggs. Repeatedly, my notes say, “tastes like white Burgundy”. And then, after tasting the Skeetfield Chardonnay, I wrote my highest compliment yet – “investment level wine”, meaning I think the wine has an ability to gain or retain value, to become a collectible wine, just like some of the greatest white Burgundies. For me, that’s the highest compliment I can pay a wine and the man that made it.
During the planning phase of my first trip to New Zealand, Martin Cahnbley (Planet Wine) and I were discussing which wine regions I should visit. I said that I really wanted to go to Central Otago, Marlborough, and Martinborough. Martin insisted I add Hawke’s Bay to that list. He said there were some very small, very innovative winemakers there that I needed to visit. I was not happy with his suggestion.
New Zealand is an immensely beautiful country, but it’s also difficult to get around for someone like me who does not like driving on the other side of the road. And this was a road trip – five flights within New Zealand and driving myself from winery to winery. Including one harrowing drive from Wellington to Martinborough over a mountain in the rain while gripping the steering wheel so hard my hands ached. Visiting Hawke’s Bay would mean arriving on a Friday night and visiting wineries on a Saturday and Sunday. This was also in late January when most Kiwi’s are enjoying their last days of Summer holidays before school begins. I didn’t think it would work.
I didn’t want to go for other reasons too. In all my wine studies and tasting experiences, somehow, I got Hawke’s Bay and over-ripe Merlot burned into my brain. Just like we all have Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc seared into our palate memory, I had Hawke’s Bay and Merlot forever intertwined. I was insistent on not going. Martin was very insistent on my going. That’s when I said, “I am NOT going to f***ing Hawke’s Bay!” Martin laughed at me and my ignorance, told me to relax and he would set me up for visits with two people I just HAD to meet before I left New Zealand.
Martin set me up for an appointment on Saturday afternoon with Tony Bish, former winemaker at Sacred Hill winery, who now owned his own winery and wine bar, Urban Winery in Ahuriri in Napier. Tony is still a consultant and shareholder at Sacred Hill but left to focus on his true passion, Chardonnay. Tony told me that the idea for starting out on his own came while on a trip with Rod Easthope to South America to watch the All Blacks play. Rod had been the winemaker for Craggy Range and had come to a similar decision while on the same trip. During that trip, both had visited wineries using concrete eggs and both now use them in production. Martin had set me up for a Sunday morning visit to Easthope Family Winegrowers. If they were up for a Sunday morning visit, well then, I could do it too. A visit to Hawke’s Bay offered appointments with two well respected and internationally renowned winemakers who struck out on their own and used innovative winemaking technics. How could I resist?
I’ll write separate Blog posts about my visits with Tony and Rod in coming posts. I wanted to make this post about opportunities that come along that completely change your plans – and for the better. I had started out my trip to New Zealand not really being able to define Mondiale Wines and Martin had kept telling me I needed a vision and had to define it. Not until my last two visits of the entire trip, with these two amazing winemakers, having met their families and learned more about them did I find my vision. My perception about wines from Hawke’s Bay had completely changed and maybe I could help others discover that there are truly unique wines coming from visionary winemakers in a place that deserves discovery. As I sat outside with Rod to eat lunch just before catching my flight back to Auckland, I said “you know, I didn’t want to come here. Martin made me. I am so glad he did.”