Here is a tale of two visionaries

Here is a tale of two visionaries
23rd June 2015 admin


I first met John in 1965 when he returned to New Zealand from the London Wine Trade to partner Graham Kerr the ‘Galloping Gourmet’ *, in a venture promoting the virtues of New Zealand Food and Wine. He was at least two decades ahead of his time! Needless to say it all went sour, and he turned his efforts to other things. In 1978 he and his accountant mate Michael Morris bought “Te Mata”, the oldest vineyard in the Hawkes Bay, in those days the pre-eminent region in a fledgling industry.

John and Michael teamed up with a young winemaker Peter Cowley who has proved his worth year in year out; and is now a legend in New Zealand. They make wines with complexity, but also in the refined manner of the European greats.

In 1989 I hosted a lunch in Auckland around the launch of one of my books, and served Elston. A prominent food and wine writer, forgetting that I had been in the Kiwi hospitality industry for six years before hitting London in 1972, said “I am amazed you know this wine”. I paraphrased Winston Churchill on Pol Roger Champagne – “I am easily satisfied with the best”. The 2009 vintage is a marvellous concentration of lime and apple flavours with great finesse. “It is without doubt the finest New Zealand Chardonnay” says the iconic Australian wine write James Halliday. Quite!

Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with a tiny splash of Petit Verdot. This affordable Te Mata has a lovely rounded style with easy-going tendencies.

COLERAINE 2009 £85.00
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Cabernet Franc
This is the business! Arguably New Zealand’s finest Red wine; a marvellous brooding plethora of blackcurrants, chocolate and some liquorice in the background. It is amazing wine that flaunts its charms when both young and mature. I recently opened my last bottle of the first ever vintage, the 1983, and it was a knockout. Similarly I have also equally enjoyed a bottle of this recent harvest.

I hate quoting bloody Parker, but he quite rightly gives this an almighty 95/100, and Hugh Johnson recently rated it as a “beauty that could easily pass for a Bordeaux Cru Classé. “ John likes putting it up blind against Lynch Bages, Mouton Rothschild et al, with amazing results – so it is great value!


And here we have a totally different guy. He was born in the South of France, and despite his father being an acclaimed vigneron, somehow ended up doing a Masters degree in quality control at Leeds University. Then, if this wasn’t enough punishment, he went on to practice his expertise at the Nissan car plant on Tyneside.

Needless to say, the weather – presumably amongst a few other things, got him down and he scuttled back to Montpellier University’s renowned school of oenology. Another degree! He then worked for a local negociant and started his own business in 1996.

Jancis Robinson describes his wines in “The Financial Times” as “value with a strong regional accent.”

Marvellous intense flavours of honeysuckle and dried apricots. “To me this tastes like baby Condrieu” says Jancis …..And have you see the price of that stuff these days? This terrific wine is often available by the Glass and Carafe.

SYRAH-GRENACHE 2009 £22.50
The estate is a shrine to the classic Rhone styles. The 70% Grenache flaunts juicy ripe cherry fruits with considerable depth.

All of these wines are on the list to encourage you to experiment. We don’t buy from the big guys. What we don’t ship ourselves, we source from impeccable producers …..So Enjoy!

*Contrary to the perceived opinion of 22nd Century “Masterchef” viewers, television’s first international television chef, and still one of the best, was not an Antipodean. He is Sussex born and bred from an hotelier background. Whilst in the RAF catering corps he was transferred to New Zealand in the sixties. A television producer admired his expertise when heroically doing a cookery exhibition in the pits of the South Island where most locals only knew about flat beer and grey lamb, and created a television series around him. Within a matter of years he was too big for NZ and was onto Sydney. Then America followed – and the programmes were beamed across the Atlantic to Blighty. A great guy who was a delight to have to odd glass or three with!

Prices subject to change