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Advintage Blog

  • Breaking the Monotony 101

    You may love mushrooms on toast but we’re pretty sure that you don’t want to have mushrooms on toast every night for dinner. You may love roast duck. Your heart may skip a beat if you see it on a restaurant menu… but we are sure that you don’t want roast duck for dinner every night either.

    We think about wine the same way. The idea of drinking the same wine style all the time is absurd to us. It would be like having mushrooms on toast every night.  And let’s face it - eating mushrooms on toast every night would be patently weird.


    As wine drinkers we crave variety. We love trying something new. We choose different wines to match the time of day; the time of year; our moods; who we are with; what we’re eating (if we’re eating...), and a host of other parameters that make us want to open one particular bottle of wine ahead of another.

    Going through this process is half the fun for us. There are no hard and fast rules and there are certainly no rights and wrongs. The only wrong is not chancing your arm and trying something new every now and then.

    So if you haven’t ventured out into uncharted wine territory for a while there is no better time to start than now.


    So try something new. The joys of Viognier, Semillon, Gruner Veltliner,  Arneis, Albarino, Pinot Blanc, Verdehlo, Montepulciano, Tempranillo, Malbec, Fiano,  Sangiovese await you. And your old mates Riesling and Gewürztraminer probably deserve a chance to reacquaint themselves too.


    Who knows?  You might even like them!  But one thing’s for sure - you won’t know if you don’t put them through their paces.


    Here are some current favourites:


    Domaines Schlumberger Les Abbes Pinot Blanc 2013

    Domaines Schlumberger Les Abbes Pinot Blanc 2013

    http://www.advintage.co.nz/domaines-schlumberger-les-abbes-pinot-blanc-2013 Super classic Pinot Blanc from one of the great Alsace producers. Dry, but with a gorgeous, lightly honeyed characters on the mid-palate, this is delicious, interesting wine that Pinot Gris lovers will immediately identify with.








    One Off Albarino 2015

    One Off Albarino 2015


    Very popular in its natural habitat of Spain and Portugal this dry white wine is increasingly being seen around the world as New World producers discover its tangy charms.  Match this crisp summer white with some fresh shellfish or a tomato salad and watch the magic unfold.

  • Rediscovering Riesling

    Whoever was responsible for the smear campaign that made Riesling uncool needs to be taught a lesson. Along with the Anything But Chardonnay terrorists, the anti-Riesling brigade have dragged an unsuspecting New Zealand wine public along on their poisoned crusade to discredit one of the world’s finest and most important white wine varietals.

    It’s time to refocus. And it’s time to rediscover the beauty of Riesling.

    One of the great things about Riesling is that it comes in so many styles. It can be bone dry and austere. It can be off dry and tangy. It can be proudly medium and fruity. And it can be sweet, concentrated, and syrupy.

    At Advintage we love every one of those styles. And there’s the rub. Almost everyone does. Riesling is a complete crowd pleaser. If you give your friends a glass of good medium-dry New Zealand Riesling without saying what it is, chances are they’ll love it. But offer a crowd a choice of Riesling or, say, Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling is going to be a distant second in the popularity stakes.

    This is another disconcerting example of fashion overriding quality. The general standard of New Zealand Riesling is consistently high and in a different league from the overpriced mediocrity bottled by many of our Pinot Gris producers.

    By international standards New Zealand Riesling is a bargain with some of our finest examples offering remarkable value. Rieslings from Palliser Estate, Pegasus Bay, Millton Vineyards and Forrest Estate are worth searching out if you want to see some magic but there are countless others that over deliver in the value stakes.

    And it ages well. Drier examples have considerable cellar potential but most of the commercial medium dry styles are best within 3 years of vintage. Aged Riesling often gets an aromatic petroleum or lanoline character that sounds awful but tastes delicious. Secondary flavours of lemon honey can also emerge over time and few wine geeks would argue that Riesling is one of the most exciting and responsive white wines to cellar.

    Here are a couple of absolute classics that deserve your attention.


    Millton Opou Riesling 2013

    Millton Opou Riesling 2013http://www.advintage.co.nz/white-wine/millton-opou-riesling-2013

    • Off dry and plush this is a Gisborne classic that delivers a spicy mouthful of tangy honey limes.
    • Divine wine from a top flight producer.






    Waimea Classic Riesling 2014

    Waimea Classic Riesling 2014


    • Super consistent Nelson wine from a producer that has a real affinity for Riesling.
    • Zesty wine in the modern off-dry style with fresh acidity rounding out the upfront fruit sweetness.
    • Wonderful as an aperitif on a hot summer’s evening.
  • Orange is the New Black

    The fashion aspect of wine knows no bounds and the industry is seemingly in a constant state of reinvention as producers try new varieties, new wine styles and new wine-making techniques to woo customers and give the wine writing community something fresh to write about.

    Despite being a centuries old process, Orange wine is the latest cab off the rank. This ancient wine-making style is, in very broad terms, all about treating white wine like red wine – with fermentation and maturation of the wine done on the crushed grape skins. (Typically white wine production involves crushing the grapes and running off the juice as soon as possible for separate fermentation).

    By leaving the skins to macerate with the white wine juice the wine takes on tannin and extra colour. The colour is often orange tinged hence the name ‘Orange wine’.

    Tasting white wines with high tannin content can be a bit confronting to the uninitiated. They often taste like black tea blended with dry wine so the trick for the New World winemakers is to balance that situation so the fruit competent shines through loud and clear.

    Here’s a cracker.

    Rod McDonald One Off ‘Rhymes with Orange’ Pinot Gris 2015

    http://www.advintage.co.nz/one-off-orange-wine-2015One Off Rose 2015

    The One Off Rhymes with Orange Pinot Gris was created by allowing Pinot Gris grapes to naturally ferment before it was rested on its skins for 9 months. On the palate, it’s a typical orange wine - bone dry but balanced with some sweet up front fruits. The finish is dry and quite tannic. It will be best enjoyed served lightly chilled and with food to match the firm nature of the tannins

  • Te Mata Estate Coleraine 2014

    Te Mata Estate Coleraine 2014

    Earlier this week I had the opportunity to taste the wines of Te Mata Estate with winemaker Peter Cowley. I was principally there to look at Coleraine 2014 and talk through the wine prior to its release next month but Pete walked me through most of the current range. What an impressive line it was. In these days of inventive winemaking it was lovely to see classic representations of the key Hawkes Bay varieties. And while all the wines looked vibrant and bright they avoided the heavy hand in the winery that, in my mind, can make some wines obviously clever but inherently unattractive.

    Zara Viognier 2014 and Cape Crest Sauvignon Banc 2014 looked wonderful in the whites , while the 2014 Estate and Bullnose Syrahs were both drinking well in the reds. But Coleraine was always going to be the star of the show.

    Following on from the phenomenal success of Coleraine 2013 was always going to be a hurdle for Te Mata Estate. The interest and demand for that vintage was unprecedented and managing subsequent releases after ‘the vintage of a lifetime’ needed to be carefully managed.

    Te Mata Estate do not need to worry. They have another tiger by the tail. Coleraine 2014 is a glorious example of Hawkes Bay winemaking. It’s a ripe and seamless wine that seems more forward and generous than the 2013 – and it is certainly drinking better in its youth. Interestingly, I found it more immediately attractive than Awatea 2014 – perhaps because the Coleraine had only a touch of that tangy tobacco character that is deliberately more prominent in its sibling.

    Regardless, I preferred Coleraine 2014 to the 2013. In my mind it is easily the most ‘accessible’ Coleraine to date. While remaining understated, it has a generosity that elevates the overall experience and feels a little more in keeping with where the wine buying public sees premium Hawkes Bay red wines these days. Bravo.

    We will be announcing our Coleraine 2014 pre-release pricing later this month. Please contact the office if you wish to register your interest.


  • Forecast for Summer Remains Gris

    Whoever kicked off the PR campaign for Pinot Gris in New Zealand was a genius. Seemingly overnight this lightly flavoured, feminine wine leapt from total obscurity to mainstream success. Given that much of the Pinot Gris produced in New Zealand when the boom started was insipid and uninteresting this was a remarkable piece of marketing. But suddenly Pinot Gris was omnipresent. It was on every wine commentator’s lips and in every wine drinker’s glass.

    Almost a decade later the growth of Pinot Gris seemingly knows no bounds. Sales for us at Advintage are rapidly closing in on our Sauvignon Blanc category, but in our view Pinot Gris remains a value for money minefield. Too many releases simply lack varietal character. They are missing that delicate, delectable, tangy pear flavour that defines the best examples and we are too often disappointed with Pinot Gris samples sent to us for evaluation. Indeed, many examples don’t really taste like anything other than, well… generic white wine, and that’s not good enough at any price point.

    The good news is that you can trust us to kiss the frogs on your behalf. Here are a couple of proven winners that burst with varietal charm.

    Waimea Pinot Gris 2015


    Delicious, off dry Nelson Pinot Gris in the modern style. Juicy and generous with a citrus finish, this is a friendly crowd pleaser that is serious enough to impress your dinner party guests.

    Waimea Pinot Gris 2015 Waimea Pinot Gris 2015










    Saint Clair Premium Pinot Gris 2014


    Just a touch off dry and refreshingly tangy, this well priced wine is none the less quite a rich style that oozes with juicy characters of citrus, pear and apple.

    Saint Clair Premium Pinot Gris 2014 Saint Clair Premium Pinot Gris 2014
  • The not so new wines of Leveret Estate

    Earlier this year Japanese owned Lion New Zealand purchased the Morton Estate brand from John Coney – the owner of The Wine Portfolio.

    Though the sale included The Stone Creek Vineyard in Marlborough, Lion’s purchase was primarily to acquire the  Morton Estate brand name so they could expand it’s domestic and international distribution. The vast majority of The Wine Portfolio’s assets and vineyards remain with Coney who is still making a significant amount of wine  and forging new paths with new brands.

    One of the star performers of the Wine Portfolio has historically been Morton Estate Brut -  one of New Zealand’s most reliable and trusted bubbles. That brand is now with Lion New Zealand but Coney has continued to make sparkling wine from the same Hawkes Bay vineyards and with the same production facilities that once produced Morton Estate Brut. That brand is called Leveret Estate and we think he still has an out and out winner on his hands.

    We love this new Leveret Estate branding and the quality of the wine remains a triumph.  We expect it be become the default choice for  discerning choice for Kiwis looking  for New Zealand Methode Traditionelle at a competitive price point. It’s that good.

    It’s worth pointing out that New Zealand Methodes in the Under $20 bracket are few and far between  - a pity when New Zealanders are one of the world’s largest per capita  consumers of sparkling wine.  Production costs with sparkling wine are high and we applaud Coney for keeping his retail prices down so Kiwis can enjoy a quality glass of bubbles at a reasonable price.

    There are two Leveret options available at this point. Both come  highly recommended.

    Leveret Estate IQ Brut Methode Traditionelle NV


    Quality Methode with lovely toasty brioche characters on the nose and loads of bright citrus, cashew and stonefruits on the palate. An out and out winner.

    Leveret Estate Mimi Methode Traditionelle NV


    Softly weighted, Pinot Noir dominant Methode that has a very slightly sweeter profile than the IQ Brut but is still a sure fire crowd pleaser. Perfect wine for girls night out and branded accordingly.

  • Champagne on Ice

    Last summer the sparkling wine category changed for the better when a new player hit town.

    Moët Ice Impérial became a worldwide sensation as the first Champagne that was specifically produced to be enjoyed over ice.

    This category changing wine enjoyed immediate success as the summer of 2014 moved around the globe. Vinted in a demi-sec (sweeter) style, Moët Ice has slightly more tropical flavours than the standard Moët offering and can be served with sliced fruits to further blur the line between Champagne and cocktail. A large glass filled with Ice is the secret. This chilling process counters the wine’s normal temperature sweetness and delivers an off-dry, tangy Champagne that still retains the depth of flavour Champagne is known for - it’s delicious.

    The imitators were never going to be far behind and we have our own Ice sparkling causing a stir with the Advintage Faithful.

    Kriter ICE NV


    Again this wine is vinted in a classic demi-sec style but that extra sweetness dissipates when it is served in a large glass filled with ice. This well priced wine has quickly become a favourite with our bubbly buyers and has that elusive drinkability factor that we know is going to make it a star going forward. It’s always interesting suggesting this wine to clients. Most people are initially put off by the demi-sec label but once they have tried the wine as it is intended – poured over ice in a large glass they are quickly converted. Give it a go – you won’t be disappointed.

    Kriter ICE NV
  • Our Brands and Exclusive Labels

    One of the things we take great pride in at Advintage is our own brand and exclusive labels. They’re a huge part of our business. We always have a few of these offerings on the go and we take these wines very seriously. There are a number of ranges on offer:


    Six Fingers

    This range is all about good quality wines at an entry level price.

    Six Fingers - Sauvignon Blanc 2015

    Six Fingers Gimblett Road Merlot Cabernet Malbec

    We work with the same leading wineries each year to source the Six Fingers wines so our clients know and understand what they are getting.  These wines are always in stock. If you’re looking for everyday quaffers or party wines, you’re playing with a safe bet here.


    Big Villa and Big Villa Reserve

    Big Villa is an opportunistic brand that allows us to pounce on special parcels of wine that are surplus to winery requirements. Typically they’re one off parcels that are too good to blend away and our winery contacts are always offering us wines  for Big Villa release. Very few make the cut. There have been some wonderful Big Villa bargains over the years. The current crop are a prime example.

    Big Villa Chardonnay 2014

    Big Villa Merlot 2014

    Big Villa Reserve Merlot Malbec Cabernet Franc 2013


    Exclusive Imports and domestic labels

    This segment of our business is based around working with proven producers and importers selling sub brands, or specially made variants of their top selling wines for significantly less  than those wines are seen in the New Zealand market. It’s a simple model  that means our clients enjoy better wines from top producers for less cost. Here are some examples.

    Beach House Old School Chardonnay 2014

    Perrin Cotes du Ventoux 2014

    Trapiche Melodias Malbec 2015

    Of all the wines we have exclusive agencies for the one we are most proud of is:


    Champagne H. Garnier & Co.

    Champagne H Garnier & Co Brut NV

    Champagne H Garnier & Co Brut NV Magnum

    We have been selling Garnier for a few years now and it’s a juggernaut. As Sam Kim very accurately said it’s styled “for those who love richer Style Champagne.”  At $31.99 per bottle on a six pack buy it’s not just the cheapest Champagne in the New Zealand market it’s also one of the most user friendly. It’s become  a celebration staple for thousands of our clients and we constantly hear discerning Champagne fans signing it’s praises. Give it a go. You won’t be disappointed.

  • The rise and rise of Prosecco

    There seems no end to the rise of Prosecco. The famous sparkling wine of Italy has taken the world by storm and our sales are soaring as more and more of our clients discover the gentle charms of this delicate bubbly.

    Prosecco is primarily produced from the Glera grape but often has other varieties making up a small component of the blend. Unlike Champagne, which is produced using the Méthode Champenoise process, Prosecco is typically made with the Charmat method. This involves the wines second fermentation taking place in stainless steel tanks. This simple process is very cost effective making Prosecco less expensive than Méthode Champenoise sparkling wines. Most of the Prosecco DOC sold in new Zealand is either Spumante (fully sparkling) or, Frizzante (semi-sparkling). At Advintage we are fans of the Frizzante style. In our view, the lightly sparkling nature of these wines makes a charming departure from traditional bubblies and makes the experience more Prosecco-like.

    Either way our sales are racing. Pour a glass of chilled Prosecco on a summers day and watch your friends enjoy the delicate flavours – especially as an aperitif served with a deli-platter or simple hors d’oeuvres - or try it blended with peach syrup for a classic Bellini. Bellissimo ! Here are a couple of our best sellers for you to consider the next time bubbles are on your mind:


    Riondo Spago Prosecco Frizzante DOC

    Riondo Spago Prosecco Frizzante DOC Riondo Spago Prosecco Frizzante DOC


    Our #1 seller with a huge following amongst our clients . It has been voted as the #1 Prosecco in Italy and has picked up a 90/100 rating from Robert Parker. It's as near to perfect as Prosecco gets and is traditionally sealed with a cork and string (spago is Italian for string). Fantastic value.








    Canti Prosecco NV

    Canti Prosecco NV Canti Prosecco NV


    Delicious, just off dry Prosecco that comes complete with Cristal-esque cellophane wrap. It looks a million bucks on your table and delivers a quality Italian Sparkling wine experience. A perfect drink to set the mood - no matter what mood you're in.

  • Festive Champagne


    The Festive season is synonymous with sparkling wine and Champagne and it’s always a thrill for us to see Champagne flying out the door at this time of year.

    There is simply something magical about Champagne. Just opening a bottle changes the mood of a room and few things bring a party to life faster than glasses of perfectly chilled Champagne. It’s an occasion in itself and we love being part of the chain that makes that magic happen.

    Champagne is of course the real deal – sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France. It is produced using the Méthode Champenoise – a complex, time consuming process that is strictly governed under the rules of the Champagne appellation (which also govern the vineyards and grape varieties that Champagne can be produced from Those varieties are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay).

    The Méthode Champenoise process goes like this: After primary fermentation and bottling, a second alcoholic fermentation occurs in the bottle. This second fermentation is induced by adding yeast and sugar. During this time the Champagne bottle is sealed with a crown cap (the ones used on beer bottles). After aging, the bottle is manipulated, either manually or mechanically, in a process called riddling so that the lees (the dead yeast cells) settle in the neck of the bottle. After chilling the bottles, the neck is frozen, and the crown cap removed. The pressure in the bottle forces out the frozen lees, and the bottle is quickly corked to maintain the carbon dioxide in solution. A dosage (this is some wine from previous vintages blended with sugar into a syrup) is added to maintain the fill level within the bottle and, importantly, to adjust the sweetness of the finished wine. Sparkling wines outside Champagne may use the Méthode Champenoise on their labels but they cannot be called Champagne. And that’s part of the magic. It ensures Champagne retains its pedestal position. Vive le difference!

    Here are a couple of our favourites:


    Champagne H.Garnier and Co. Brut NV


    $31.99 on a six pack buy.

    Champagne H.Garnier and Co. Brut NV Champagne H.Garnier and Co. Brut NV

    We are immensely proud of Garnier – a Champagne that is exclusively available from Advintage in New Zealand. It’s extremely well priced; it delivers everything the bigger brands offer and it’s completely moreish. As Sam Kim wrote in his review it’s “For those who love richer style Champagne.”








    Champagne Louis Roederer Cristal Vintage 2006


    $299 per bottle.

    Champagne Louis Roederer Cristal Vintage 2006 Champagne Louis Roederer Cristal Vintage 2006

    Cristal is, deservedly, one of the worlds most acclaimed premium Champagnes. Richly weighted and powerful it is a tour de force style with unmatched persistence. The 2006 is Pinot Noir driven and especially weighty. Everyone should have a Cristal moment in their lives. Spoil yourself.

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