WINENZ SUMMER 19/20 ISSUE – OUT NOW!




Tastings - Chardonnay






Scott House

Tucked away in the middle of Marlborough vineyards or behind tall windbreak hedges are some stylish houses like Allan and Cathy Scott’s. Charmian Smith discovers the family home of one of Marlborough’s wine pioneers.

A comfortable but gracious family home.

Opposite Allan Scott’s Twelve Trees restaurant and winery, hidden behind a large hedge is Allan and Cathy Scott’s large family home.

You approach through the vineyard then turn left along a drive flanked with plane trees, but intriguingly the house doesn’t come into view until you round another corner. Even then all you see is only a small part, a blank grey brick wall with a chimney on one side, an inviting pergola and neatly clipped low hedges leading to the front door in the centre, and garage and parking area on the other. At the far end of the blank wall - the billiard room and den are on the other side I learn later - are intriguing glimpses of more neatly clipped little hedges, another pergola and a profusion of white roses and agapanthus.

Back in the 1970s Allan Scott was one of a bunch of people setting out on a mission to grow grapes in Marlborough.

There was a real buzz that was probably about people recognising that we could make wine here and that it was of a high standard, he said.

He and Cathy, whose family had farmed in the region for generations, moved here in 1973 and he worked for Montana which was planting the region’s first vineyard.

The Scotts built their first house in the early 1970s, a modern, open plan home on their muller thurgau vineyard near Blenheim. However, they sold it in the early 1980s when they bought an eight hectare cherry orchard in Jackson’s Rd, next door to where Cloudy Bay was building its winery. They planted a sauvignon blanc vineyard and built their new family home there in 1985. In 1990 they started their own wine brand and built their own winery and cellar door across the road.

“Both Cathy and I love architecture and we love gardening and I guess we were a bit taken with the European style of housing - especially in the UK. We love classic lines and gables - they never really date,” Allan said.

Their architect was David Brocherie who is now based in Sydney. It took him out of his comfort zone to a certain extent but he was good to work with, Allan said.

Cathy loves the way the house flows from the formal end to the family space.

Intriguing glimpses as you approach the house.
Beyond the family room is a sitting area and pool.

The formal part of the house includes a large lounge opening onto the garden with a library/den behind, and a billiard room off that. From the lounge you walk through the formal dining room to the open-plan living area and kitchen, then outside to an sitting and barbecue area with the pool beyond.

The rooms along this side of the house open on to the garden. The original French doors in the lounge and family room have been replaced with bifold doors which open completely to let in the light and air and views of the extensive garden.

Immediately outside is a parterre of formal box hedges interspersed with terracotta tiles and gravel paths and a profusion of white and pale apricot roses. Bright red geraniums in urns add a splash of colour and here and there are seats among the neatly clipped hedges.

The effect of the spacious lawns beyond the mass of roses and box hedges, with a woodland in the background, is stunning. Here and there are small sculptures and urns to intrigue or draw the eye.

On one side of the lawn a pergola leads to a tennis court and beyond is an informal pool with a central fountain which extends into the woodland. A few ducks enjoy the water and a line of ducklings zooms away behind their mother.

However, the heat and the wind have taken their toll, and the lawn is brown because of the summer drought. The irrigation hadn’t been working properly while they were on holiday, Cathy explains apologetically.

She designed the garden. “I like things neat and tidy, that’s why it’s a more formal garden,” she said.

“I love trees,” adds Allan - “I love chopping them down. Some of them are starting to get quite dangerous but we replaced some of them. There’s a gum tree to come out.”

All round the perimeter is the hedge which is essential in windy Marlborough, even though it blocks the view of the hills from the garden. However, they can be seen from the upstairs windows.

Even though it’s extensive, the garden feels secluded and private. The Scotts have never opened it to the public, they keep it for the family and their own enjoyment, Allan says.

The full facade of the house is seen to advantage from the lawn. Built of grey brick with gables, chimneys and the neatly clipped box hedges, it is reminiscent of an English country house.

Nevertheless, it’s easy to live in and has been a real family home, Cathy says.

“Everybody’s grown up here, it’s home to them. They still come here even now they are middle-aged. They still treat it like home even though they’ve all got their own homes.”

Doing it by the Numbers

Paul Taggart takes a look at a fancy, new piece of kit that could make wine judges obsolete.

The tasting team at WineNZ is a great bunch of guys – but when we take a lunch break at the EIT café they hoover up the food as if they haven’t eaten for a week.

So when I caught up with a boffin in Christchurch who has access to a remarkable new machine at AgResearch that performs a type of metabolomics where thousands of molecules are measured after undergoing vaporisation in an electric current, giving information about a wide range of characteristics based on molecular composition, I thought I could be on to something. Imagine if I could replace the guys with a computer.

The machine in question is a Waters REIMS (rapid evaporative ionisation mass spectrometer), that has been designed around real time analysis of metabolites in tissue samples.

It can gather information about a sample’s origin (provenance), genotype, ripeness, quality and vigour/health. And it can do it in seconds, with no messy spitting.

The remarkable piece of kit has all sorts of potential uses. It was developed to detect the difference between cancerous cells and healthy tissue during surgery, and in the food industry it has been successfully put through its paces determining the origin of meat and reliably establishing species of fish used in restaurants (detecting red cod being sold as blue cod, for example). But as far as I’m aware, this is the first time the British machine has been used in a bid to reduce the costs of a magazine’s wine tasting bill.

So, based on the entrants for several recent WineNZ tastings, we sent 20 Sauvignon Blanc, 30 Pinot Gris and 27 Pinot Noir samples to AgResearch in Lincoln, where they started pouring them in to the REIMS to get a detailed molecular fingerprint for each wine.

This is serious stuff and the work was carried out under the supervision of Dr Neil Pattinson, who has had chief executive and board positions with a number of medical and scientific startups in Christchurch and Wellington, as well as having a small Canterbury winery. Dr Alastair Ross and Ines Weissenbacher from AgResearch ran the instrument and did the expert analysis. Alongside WineNZ’s desire to ‘value engineer’ its modus operandi, there were more serious experiments, involving a group of non-professional wine tasters, to determine which specific elements in wine pull the pleasure triggers with consumers.

The Waters REIMS. Could this be the future of wine tasting?

My personal interest was around pinot noir regionality – which cannot reliably be determined by wine tasters, however skilled or experienced they are. If you ever read a review twittering on about a Central Otago wine’s distinctive characteristics, the reviewer more than likely knew what the wine was before tasting it, so they had a prompt to talk about schist and merino wool influence, or a hint of soot from the Earnslaw’s funnel. It is utter BS. I’m not saying Central Otago pinot isn’t great – much of it is spectacular, but so is the best of Marlborough, Nelson, North Canterbury and Wairarapa, and they aren’t really different in style.

However, this is where the REIMS machine hits its straps. The machine can tell Central Otago from North Canterbury, with Marlborough identified as sitting somewhere between those two extremes. However, it is not a strong distinction, as even between Central Otago and North Canterbury only minor differences were found (only approx. 20 compounds out of 3000 were different between them).

With pinot gris, regional differences were stronger. For example, Central Otago and North Canterbury were clearly differentiated with over 60 molecules found to be different. Central Otago was also separated from Nelson and Marlborough, with the latter two regions virtually indistinguishable. Interestingly, with sauvignon blanc, REIMS couldn’t pick up differences between Nelson, North Canterbury or Marlborough.

But does it have a commercial use? Potentially it could pick up mis-labelling or fraud, but that isn’t a serious issue in this country – and with drinkable pinot noir coming out of most of our regions, the risk of a Hawke’s Bay pinot noir being labelled as a product of Bannockburn is pretty unlikely. WineNZ tasting team member Barry Riwai has taken part in a couple of informal experiments during our tastings over the years, attempting to pick regionality in the wines he has been judging. While he had no great success with pinot noir, he was a lot sharper with sauvignon blanc – certainly differentiating Marlborough wines from other New Zealand regions and even sucessfully picking out sub-regions within Marlborough.

It has to be said these REIMS experiments were on a small scale and a lot more work would be required to see where this might go, but the pinot noir results were interesting. However, I reckon the human judges still have their noses ahead as far as sauvignon blanc goes.
And I’m glad about that – wheeling a REIMS through the EIT campus for a coffee and sandwich wouldn’t be much fun, and I’m sure the conversation over lunch wouldn’t be as good as it currently is.

As far as a genuine commercial purpose for the machine – Dr Pattinson thinks that finger-printing flavour preference profiles of consumers could be the direction most worthy of exploration.
After initial scepticism that it might be a wee bit Big Brother being labelled, let us say, an F19 because I like Greywacke pinot noir, Clearview chardonnay and Black Barn sangiovese montepulciano, I came round to seeing the sense behind the idea.

For example, one of the pleasures of my job is to sample quite a few of the top wines after each of the WineNZ tastings. Most of the time these wines are spectacular. Occasionally though I’ll have a glass of a five-star winner – often pinot gris or riesling – and it doesn’t ring my bell at all. The wines are technically perfect and varietal, but don’t suit me. This is probably one of the main reasons riesling doesn’t have the following it deserves, because it has a range of styles, and sweetness, so it can be a lottery picking a bottle. But if I had been run through the REIMS programme and had my taste profile established – let us stick with me being an F19 for a few minutes – then I could pick up a bottle of Clearview Three Rows and confidently expect to see F19 as the “Taste Spectrum figure” on the back label.

More importantly if there were two rieslings on a restaurant menu and one was a C12 and the other was an F17, I’d know the second one was pretty close to my marker.

It might seem a little far fetched, but the work currently being done in Canterbury could see it become a reality.

Some might say it would take the mystery and romance out of wine. However, it could also prevent people spending $40 on a bottle they don’t like.

Only the most boring of souls would fastidiously stick to their number. When they felt like living on the edge, an F19 could ramp it up and try an F21, or even kick over the tracers and drop down in to the Es.
At this stage the boffins are still doing the groundwork, and who knows where this might go.

Anyone who wants their own REIMS machine – they’re north of $800,000, plus you need someone brainy to run it. I’m thinking I’ll stick with Simon, Barry, Matt,Ant and Dave.

Midas Touch

The WineNZ tastings are set up so the result can only be influenced by what’s in the glass. It is impossible for those of us involved to have favourites - wines that might do a little better than they otherwise would because we know the owner of the winery, or who the winemaker is.

And that’s exactly the way it should be. However, when the great reveal takes place after the scores are in and the stars have been awarded, it is always nice to see some of the good guys of the industry end up on top.

It happened at our winter chardonnay tasting when the EIT stewards pulled back the metaphorical curtain to let the judges see which of the line-up of wines was their pick. There on top of the pile was Greywacke.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the person behind Greywacke —Kevin Judd — for a recent issue of WineNZ, and he’s an impressive guy.

For those who are unfamiliar with the New Zealand wine scene, Kevin was the founding winemaker at Cloudy Bay and his wine was one of the driving forces that created the Marlborough sauvignon blanc phenomenon. He then established Greywacke about a decade ago and his success has been phenomenal, with every variety he touches turning to gold. Kevin has entered WineNZ tastings only a handful of times, yet he has had a top sauvignon blanc (of course), the country’s best pinot noir (with a Marlborough wine) and now the best chardonnay for the second time.

Kevin Judd – top winemaker.
Picture: Jamie Goode.

It is a result that would be statistically near impossible if the judges were not utterly consistent and the wines were not spectacular. Kevin’s 2013 chardonnay was top in 2016 and now his 2015 is top wine.

There are a lot of decisions when making wine, sometimes compromises are made, sometimes not. Clearly with Greywacke, compromises are never made. Ever.

The judges for the chardonnay tasting all thought this wine was bonzer. Barry, possibly the most excitable of the trio when it comes to chardonnay, said “I love it, I love it”.

Simon said, “I want to recognize this wine for its excellence.” Earlier he had said New Zealand’s top chardonnays are now among the best in the world, so as the highest scoring of Kiwi chardonnays, this is really up there – and at a spectacularly good price. Goodness knows what you’d pay for a wine of this quality if it came out of Burgundy.

Matt said it was plush, with perfect fruit weight.

So there we have it – a wine made by a genius, whose assistant winemaker is a sheepdog. He doesn’t have his own winery buildings, doesn’t have many of his own vines, but produces one of the best chardonnays in the world.

But isn’t that the magic of the wine business? There are billionaires who have bought wineries in this country, along with many millionaires, but money can’t buy the success achieved by a winemaker with the Midas touch.

While Greywacke was top wine, it was a 2015 vintage, which had matured delightfully. The top 2018 wine, however, was snapping at Kevin Judd’s heels and should be recognized for its quality, and also its potential. The wine in question is the Jules Taylor OTQ (On the quiet). It is a reductive style and was the equal of the Greywacke with one of the judges. Chief winemaker is Jules Taylor, who is assisted by her husband George. They’re clearly doing a lot of things right with their chardonnay, as well as their sauvignon blanc, which has had a great reputation for the past 18 years.

Interestingly, three of the four five-star wines are from Marlborough, with one being from Hawke’s Bay. Get your act together Gisborne – isn’t chardonnay supposed to be your thing? It’s one thing having promotional events to tell people how good your chardonnay is – it is another proving it by entering professional tastings and collecting five stars.

And that’s exactly the way it should be. However, when the great reveal takes place after the scores are in and the stars have been awarded, it is always nice to see some of the good guys of the industry end up on top.

Mendoza chardonnay grapes that are used to produce Greywacke wine.

It happened at our winter chardonnay tasting when the EIT stewards pulled back the metaphorical curtain to let the judges see which of the line-up of wines was their pick. There on top of the pile was Greywacke.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the person behind Greywacke —Kevin Judd — for a recent issue of WineNZ, and he’s an impressive guy.

For those who are unfamiliar with the New Zealand wine scene, Kevin was the founding winemaker at Cloudy Bay and his wine was one of the driving forces that created the Marlborough sauvignon blanc phenomenon. He then established  Greywacke about a decade ago and his success has been phenomenal, with every variety he touches turning to gold. Kevin has entered WineNZ tastings only a handful of times, yet he has had a top sauvignon blanc (of course), the country’s best pinot noir (with a Marlborough wine) and now the best chardonnay for the second time.

It is a result that would be statistically near impossible if the judges were not utterly consistent and the wines were not spectacular. Kevin’s 2013 chardonnay was top in 2016 and now his 2015 is top wine.

There are a lot of decisions when making wine, sometimes compromises are made, sometimes not. Clearly with Greywacke, compromises are never made. Ever.

The judges for the chardonnay tasting all thought this wine was bonzer. Barry, possibly the most excitable of the trio when it comes to chardonnay, said “I love it, I love it”.

Simon said, “I want to recognize this wine for its excellence.” Earlier he had said New Zealand’s top chardonnays are now among the best in the world, so as the highest scoring of Kiwi chardonnays, this is really up there – and at a spectacularly good price. Goodness knows what you’d pay for a wine of this quality if it came out of Burgundy.

Matt said it was plush, with perfect fruit weight.

So there we have it – a wine made by a genius, whose assistant winemaker is a sheepdog. He doesn’t have his own winery buildings, doesn’t have many of his own vines, but produces one of the best chardonnays in the world.

But isn’t that the magic of the wine business? There are billionaires who have bought wineries in this country, along with many millionaires, but money can’t buy the success achieved by a winemaker with the Midas touch. 

While Greywacke was top wine, it was a 2015 vintage, which had matured delightfully. The top 2018 wine, however, was snapping at Kevin Judd’s heels and should be recognized for its quality, and also its potential. The wine in question is the Jules Taylor OTQ (On the quiet). It is a reductive style and was the equal of the Greywacke with one of the judges.  Chief winemaker is Jules Taylor, who is assisted by her husband George. They’re clearly doing a lot of things right with their chardonnay, as well as their sauvignon blanc, which has had a great reputation for the past 18 years.

Interestingly, three of the four five-star wines are from Marlborough, with one being from Hawke’s Bay. Get your act together Gisborne – isn’t chardonnay supposed to be your thing? It’s one thing having promotional events to tell people how good your chardonnay is – it is another proving it by entering professional tastings and collecting five stars.

A Dash of Lemon

My uncle took pride in his French ancestry, despite dilution by more than a dozen generations of English blood since the Huguenots fled the St Bartholomew’s Day massacres by French Catholics. Ironic, it might seem in hindsight, that he should have embraced the mechanised symbol of French Catholicism: the Citroën.

Andre Citroën, a Dutch Freemason who Frenchified his name (Citroen means “lemon”) with a diaresis, lost control of the company because of the development costs of the pioneering “Traction Avant”. When the Michelin family took over the bankrupt carmaker in 1934, Citroën became as Catholic as Peugeot was Calvinist. While latter produced cars that were well-made, conventional and unfussy, its counterpart seemed to reflect in its delightful weirdness the eccentricities of the Gallican church. It was said that if Citroën ever designed a house, the front door would be in the second storey with an escalator coming down from the roof.

But while many outside France saw Citroëns as suspiciously odd, the company’s fetish for reinvention provided a constant source of entertainment and comfort for Citroën devotees, and it was easy to see why the car would induce fierce brand devotion that extends to the relatively bland Eurocars of today’s PSA group.

The Flaminio Bertoni-designed Citroën DS (pronounced “Déesse”, meaning goddess) first appeared in 1955. It was a creature of such rare, sculpted beauty and engineering innovation that folk would stand and stare, spellbound, as it rose up on its hydro pneumatic suspension and glided away like some extraterrestrial craft.

And it was truly revolutionary. The body, with its faired rear wheels and domed floorpan, had a drag coefficient matched by few pre-1980s sedans, and its monocoque frame incorporated a crumple zone. The suspension, which consisted of four nitrogen-filled spheres atop columns of oil and a hydraulic pump that kept the car level regardless of the load, made for a ride many still consider the most comfortable of any car. It could retract a single wheel when a tyre needed changing, and, jacked up to its fullest height it could negotiate the most rutted of roads. (That suspension, in a more sophisticated form, is used in the latest McLaren 720s.) The DS had no brake pedal, just a rubber mushroom that acted as a hydraulic switch. It sported large rubber buffers fore and aft, and later models had a second pair of headlights that swivelled round bends with the steering wheel. The bonnet was the largest single-press piece of automotive sheet metal at the time.

My uncle, who flew in the Pacific war, must have found the DS’s aerodynamic lines irresistible. He owned a total of 35 Citroëns of various styles and sizes over the following 40 years. So perhaps inevitably, my father caught the Citroën bug from his brother, albeit very late in life, when he bought as his last car a 35-year-old red-and-grey DS23 Safari. He loved it, all of its 5.5 metres. Like a faded courtesan, more to be admired for what she was than rued for what had become of her, my father’s Citroën was a splendid thing. He shared its advancing decrepitude and indulged its foibles, not the least of them being that it was prone to rust. One of my brothers was driving it when the trim detached from the fibreglass roof and covered him like a giant caul. Exotic car ownership put marque loyalty to the test as those Citroëns aged, because of the cost of supporting the families of the few specialists who understood the complexities of the hydraulic suspension: a 10 cent valve took a whole day’s labour to replace.

The old wagon did have a magic carpet ride once it stretched its legs, but getting there was like sitting in the cockpit of an amphibious aircraft that never quite succeeded in becoming airborne, with the attendant rattles and booms from the panels and folddown dickie seats.

From its trumpeted arrival to when all but a handful tended by deep-pocketed admirers had rusted back into the ground, or were repurposed as Japanese cutlery, the Citroën DS has been an extraordinary motoring phenomenon; a unique combination of exquisite design and exciting technical wizardry by a carmaker that refused to accept convention. Even so, to many people, its appeal has become even more incomprehensible down the years. One spring morning I had to take a load of broken concrete posts to the dump and filled up the back of the wagon – perhaps the ultimate indignity to the old lady, but who nevertheless rose to the occasion. On the way to the tip, we wheezed into a gas station to fill up. While I was waiting, a forecourt attendant walked up to the driver’s window and uttered six words that are forever seared into my memory: “Make it yourself, did you sir?”

Last Word

Bilge in Jam Jars

How hard can it be to make a decent cup of coffee? I was in a café the other day, and I had a cuppa that tasted like dirt and served in a jam jar. The last time I was sold such undrinkable coffee I took the cup back three times, finally offering to jump the counter and make it myself. I was given my money back.

Even so, New Zealanders can justifiably take a lot of pride in the fact that the quality of our coffee (mostly) is in line with our expectations. The downside, though, is that when travelling overseas our experience can be coloured by what passes for the local beverage.

Take France, a nation of chauvinistic gastronomes who sneer at the British and transatlantic diet, yet their coffee generally is little better than the stewed filter brews Americans serve in their “bottomless” cups.

Hunting down a decent double espresso in Paris is often a triumph of hope over experience. Stick with the hot chocolate and wait till Italy.

It’s the same in Germany where blockaded generations have had to improvise with found objects for coffee substitutes – ersatz (or “muckefuck” – it sounds bad and looks even worse) has lowered the bar to the point that several Germans I know seem to view an insistence on coffee brewed more recently than 24 hours before to be an eccentric extravagance. I once read a thesis comparing coffee served around the world that claimed that the standard of the drink was in inverse proportion to the percentage of GDP spent on defence. Buckets of instant coffee, made from caffeine-laden robusta beans, are an essential and cheap means of maintaining wakefulness in bored troops.

Russia and the US had the worst coffee, but Germany must have been an outlier, given its piking on Nato commitments).

We do have a reputation for being fussy with our coffee, and to thank for that was Robert Harris, who had a virtual monopoly on fresh-roasted espresso coffee sold from a nationwide café chain. When the firm was bought by Cerebos Greggs in 1990, I’m told, operations were centralised to cut costs, and former RH-trained roasters and technicians set up on their own, establishing a standard of competition in bean roasting and coffee dispensing that was second to none, and sometimes the pursuit of excellence pops up in the most unlikely places: one can get a great espresso in Benneydale.

Good coffee hinges on following a strict routine with the freshest ingredients and a properly-maintained machine. So there really isn’t any excuse for serving bilge in jam jars. Most of us don’t need the grief, but the remedy lies in customers taking the cup/jar back and politely requesting it be done again, properly.

Of course, adding to the satisfaction of a perfectly crafted espresso is the knowledge that we are also doing ourselves a power of good. In the past decade studies in a range of august medical journals have proclaimed the healthful benefits of coffee.

One of the more recent was a meta study in the European Journal of Epidemiology that confirmed a significantly decreased risk for coffee drinkers in most causes of death, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Which reminds me of an incident related by Joan Rivers, who was sick of being

pestered by an alternative health nut to try

a coffee enema. Finally she relented and,

she said, found the effects so marvellously invigorating that she just had to have another. “Of course I could never show my face in Starbucks again.”

Louis Pierard is a Hawke’s Bay-based writer and editor.

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