The Negociants Fine Wine Tour 2016

The Negociants Fine Wine Tour 2016

Left Conatiner

This annual event was held in June this year with 35 people travelling on tour to show some of the best examples of Australia and New Zealand wines currently available.  The tour started in Auckland on Monday 20th June at The Royal NZ Yacht Squadron where we had a record turn-out of trade.  We then took the tasting to Tauranga on Tuesday 21st June where the venue was The Trinity Wharf.  This was the very first time we had run this event in Tauranga and we were all very pleased at the number of trade who registered and travelled quite some distance to attend, as well as the wonderful consumer crowd that turned up in the evening after paying a small fee to also taste the range of wines on offer.  On Wednesday 22nd June, we were in Wellington at The InterContinental Hotel, where we also had a strong trade turn-out and where we had a very busy consumer session in the evening with some of the people attending having been to this tasting regularly over the past several years.  In Christchurch at The George Hotel on Thursday 23rd September, we were in a beautiful heated marquee and The George who have run this event for us in Christchurch for many years again assisted us to run a wonderful event that everyone attending thoroughly enjoyed.

There were six Australian wineries who were on this year’s tour: 

Brokenwood – presented by Senior Winemaker, Stuart Hordern

Henschke presented by Winemaker, Johann Henschke and his wife Angela, Henschke Ambassador

Jim Barry presented by Sam Barry, Commercial Manager and tour larrikin

Langmeil presented by Global Sales Manager, Emma Shaw

Vasse Felixpresented by Scott Baker, Market Development Manager

Yalumbapresented by Winemaker, Andy La Nauze


From New Zealand there were 20 wineries and also Antipodes water:

Alpha Domus - presented by Winemaker, Barry Riwai

Auntsfield - presented by Winemaker, Luc Cowley 

Black Barn presented by Winemaker, Dave McKee 

Deltapresented by Winemakers, Matt Thomson & Heather Stewart  

Dry Riverpresented by Winemaker, Wilco Lam

Fromm presented by Adam Balasoglou, Winemaker, Sales & Marketing

Greywacke presented by Richard Ellis, Winemaker, Sales & Marketing  

Huiapresented by Morven McAuley, Sales & Marketing

Joiypresented by Gatlin Avery, Ambassador for Joiy  

Misha’s Vineyardpresented by Andy & Misha Wilkinson, Proprietors, Sales & Marketing 

Mt Beautifulpresented by CEO, Robert Watkins in Auckland, Fin Grieve, Vineyard Manager in Tauranga and Wellington, along with Erin Harrison, Business Operations & Development Manager who also presented in Christchurch

Nautilus presented by Winemaker, Clive Jones and Brand Manager, Claudia Yanez

Opawa presented by Winemaker, Brett Bermingham

Palliser presented by Winemaker, Allan Johnson and Sales Manager, Sandy Moore

Rippon presented by Pete Eastwood, Commercial Manager  

Saint Clairpresented by Sarina Ibbotson, Sales & Marketing in Auckland and Tauranga with Winemakers, Stewart Maclennan in Wellington, Kyle Thompson & Chloe Gabrielsen in Christchurch  

Two Paddockspresented by Jacqui Murphy, General Manager & Jenny Blance, Administration & Sales Assistant  

Urlarpresented by Winemaker, Carol Bunn and Proprietor, Angus Thompson

Vinoptima presented by Winemaker and Proprietor, Nick Nobilo  

Waipara Springspresented by Winemaker, Scott Berry 


Antipodes Waterpresented by Dave Nicholas, Global Sales & Marketing Manager  

216 wines were available for tasting throughout this event in the general tasting. 

Raymond Chan who attended the Wellington leg of the event also reviewed some of the wines on his wine blog.

Trade Masterclass Tastings

Negociants also organised up to four masterclass tastings which ran during the event. These were free for trade to attend and a great opportunity to increase wine knowledge. Each masterclass is led by a panel of winemakers who present and discuss the topic and plenty of questions from the participants is encouraged. 

This year’s themes were: 

Pinot Gris is loved by the masses but often scorned by the ‘experts’. Can this grape make more than just a beverage wine? We take a look at a number of aged examples and discuss the merits of this popular variety with the relevant winemakers. Moderator Andrew Parkinson comments:

“So it turns out that the trade has a quiet respect for Pinot Gris and after tasting through a range of quality aged examples that respect became a bit louder. Good Pinot Gris does age gracefully but the point made across the panel was that only ‘good’ Pinot Gris should be held back. There is a lot of ‘beverage’ Pinot Gris in the market giving the grape a sour name and the press is not helping by focussing their vitriol on these wines alone and not giving praise where it is deserved. The media needs to be more balanced in their reporting of this grape and its wines. The public is on side and the trade sees its worth. Media - give Pinot Gris a chance!

Wine, Water & Palate perception – a look at just how delicate our palate sense is. Moderator Morven McAuley comments:

“Mineral water is a regular feature on the restaurant table. It plays a supporting but nonetheless vital role when it comes to catering to the diner’s needs for refreshment and cleansing the palate for food and wine. But what do we really know about how the mineralty of water affects the palate?  Does it even have any flavour or make any impact? It turns out it does. This masterclass around wine, water and palate perception was designed to showcase how different mineral waters taste and where that taste comes from. Subsequently, if we can taste a flavour in water due to minute traces of dissolved minerals then how does that impact the palate and consequently, how we enjoy our wine? At both Auckland and Wellington trade sessions, we sat with Sommeliers, Winemakers, Masters of Wine, Restaurateurs and Retailers alike to taste and talk about what they experienced. Turns out that water high in calcium isn’t such a great water for Bordeaux style wines. The fruit disappears, the wine becomes linear and there is a distinct, almost oxidised taste left on the palate. When it comes to the most commonly sold wine, our national grape, Sauvignon Blanc, any water high in sodium dilutes the very essence of what makes a quintessential NZ Sauvignon Blanc great and it becomes bland, dull and lacking the vibrancy we know and love from this variety. 

Everyone has their own opinions – that’s what is great about the world of fine wine and beautiful food but based on the discussion from this masterclass, the supporting act deserves a little  more time in the spotlight.

Antipodes Water Company would like to acknowledge, Rebecca Smidt of Cazador, Clive Jones of Nautilus Estate and Stephen Wong, Master of Wine for taking the time to join in on these classes.”

Sweeties – an exploration of the range of different varietals used in the making of sweet wines including the opportunity to taste some iconic European examples alongside some great NZ sweet wines.  Moderator Martin McManus comments:

“The great thing about sweet wines is that there are very few people who don’t enjoy them! There’s nothing quite like that velvety, honeyed, apricot sensation when you take that first sip of a sweet wine. Yet, the category is often an after-thought, typically an infrequent selection at the end of a meal. Whilst the ‘sweeties’ master class discussed the varietals, the wine making techniques and tried to define what makes a great sweet wine we also debated how to reinvigorate the category. Whilst sweet wine is mostly matched with a dessert or cheese at the end of a meal, we explored and discussed other food matching options, especially earlier in the meal. Some thoughts…how about with dry cured ham as a starter, with prawns in a Thai sauce or even roast poultry! For a degustation meal perhaps a sweetie can be a surprising food matching element early on? One thing is for sure, we all agreed that we should definitely drink sweet wine more often, there’s nothing quite like it!”

Food & Wine matching – we take “a cheese” and ask out panel to bring and pour its perfect match. The floor will vote the winner. An interesting look at the impact of food on the flavour of wine. Moderator Andrew Parkinson comments:

“Aged Gouda was the medium used at this most fascinating exploration of people’s palates, the chemistry behind food and wine matching and the competitive nature of winemakers. Two sherries, a Marlborough Syrah and a couple of Aussie reds were the panel’s chosen matches and each winemaker fought for food and wine glory. Topics ranged from fats and proteins and their ability to tame bold wines to whether or not a wine that overpowers the food is a better result than a food that overpowers the wine… Aussie Cabernet was the winner on the day,  tipping a gentle nod to those in the bold wine/meeker food camp. A special mention must go to Sam Barry from Jim Barry wines whose ability to carry the same piece of cheese through two sets of airport security and three masterclass tastings became a thing of legend!”

The 2017 tour will take place week commencing 24th July 2017 with venues yet to be confirmed. This is a free event for trade customers, so make sure you get your invitation or contact us at Negociants to enquire. We also run an evening consumer event for the general public to be able to purchase a ticket and taste the superb range of wines on offer. More information will be on the website in due course.