Wed 03 Sep 2014

A Buying Trip to Marlborough


I am currently on my first buying trip Down Under with The Wine Society.

Traffic in Marlborough

Traffic in Marlborough

Marlborough lived up to its great reputation, with added sheep! I had two full days here, seeing 12 producers spanning long-term Society favourites to new suppliers.

Brent Marris with his Three Terraces Sauvignon Blanc, produced exclusively for The Society.

Brent Marris with his Three Terraces Sauvignon Blanc, produced exclusively for The Society.

All in all I managed to taste the new 2014 sauvignons from Greywacke, Seresin, Villa Maria, Brent Marris‘s Three Terraces, te Pa, Dog Point, Framinghams, Isabel, Lawsons, Wither Hills, Mahi and last, but by no means least, Hunter’s.

Everyone is describing 2014 as the vintage of two halves: those who picked before the rains (harvesting healthy concentrated grapes) and those who didn’t (who got left with dilute swollen fruit). I am delighted to assure you that all of our producers worked hard this vintage to pick early and carefully craft some wonderful 2014s. What’s more, I hope the photos from our travels – a menagerie of farm animals and talented winemakers – dispel any ideas of very large corporate wineries. We really are working with the cream of the crop.

The 2014 sauvignons that I tried had great purity, typical concentration, and fresh acidity. I also had the opportunity to work with a number of winemakers to blend our own unique wines which I hope you will enjoy next year!



...and working horses, at Seresin.

…and working horses, at Seresin.

I can’t write this blog post without quickly mentioning the unsung heroes of the tastings though: chardonnay and pinot noir. Without a doubt these made up some of the best wines I tried over the two days.

The 2013 and 2014 Marlborough chardonnays were tasting wonderfully, rich in apple and citrus flavours, integrated and balanced oak notes, and plenty of cut lemon acidity. We’ll definitely be stocking a few more in 2015.

Dog Point's Ivan and Matt Sutherland

Dog Point’s Ivan and Matt Sutherland

Dixie, the winery dog at Greywacke

Dixie, the winery dog at Greywacke

The pinots also really shone. Elegant, tightly grained with opulent red berry fruit perfume, the 2013s were showing well.

Head of buying Tim Sykes (left) with the team at Hunter's

Head of buying Tim Sykes (left) with the team at Hunter’s

Roll on Central Otago and then on to Oz!

Sarah Knowles
Society Buyer for New Zealand


  1. Tim Stockings says:

    I have just returned from my first trip to NZ (like Sarah) as part of an international delegation & our work host made a real effort to expose us to local wines that she had specifically researched for us. They were fabulous so I’m looking forward to the next offer form the Society.

  2. John Farrant says:

    I have read the article with great interest. I will be visiting New Zealand in January 2015. Have arranged for two days in the Marlborough area specifically to visit some of the wineries in the area of which I have been a loyal customer for years. Greywacke, Dog Point, Hunters etc. are amongst my favourites.
    It would obviously be helpful to have some form of introduction or reference from the Society that I could use as a preliminary.
    Could you please advise me on the best way to proceed

  3. David Nichol says:

    Will there be any more NZ dry Rieslings on the Wine Society list in future?

    • Sarah Knowles says:

      Hi David, I am delighted that you are interested in additional dry rieslings from New Zealand, I really rate these wines too, and so will look to diversify this category as interest grows.

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