WanderCurtis Wine

Wine tastings, corporate events, reviews and recommendations

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Nigel Greening of Felton Road in conversation

Ahead of our Felton Road tasting at Season Kitchen earlier this week owner and producer Nigel Greening shared his story and thoughts on past and current vintages.

Nigel recounts how he went from wine enthusiast to owner and producer of some of the worlds finest wines.

The million dollar question: the secret of Felton Road’s success:

Nigel’s thoughts on the 2014 vintage:

Built for the long haul some of Nigel’s favourite older vintages:

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Felton Road, Block 2 Chardonnay 2013, Cental Otago, New Zealand

RIMG0146 We were lucky enough to be served this last night by Nigel Greening himself at our

Wine dinner at Season Kitchen.

Matched brilliantly by Ben the chef from Hebden Bridge with a duo

of fresh Cornish Sardine and salted cod Brandade with sourdough.

A simply stunning wine , beautifully balanced long , crisp mineral with citrus and tangerine

Wish there was more of it !

If you’re lucky try Berry Bros

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Felton Road Wine Dinner with Nigel Greening – October 1st 2015

RIMG0143 RIMG0152


Ever dreamt of leaving the big City, moving to New Zealand and creating your perfect wine ?

Nigel did exactly this. A fellow  North Londoner, he  left his job in advertising and set up Felton Road wines.

Felton Road are generally regarded as producing some of the finest wines in the world. Their Pinot Noirs  rival the best from Burgundy.

Nigel entertained us with his enthusiasm and wicked sense of humour.

From Pedogenic limestone to playing jazz to the maturing wine a packed house of 35 were entertained until the early hours.

The wines danced and sung , the brilliant food at Season Kitchen perfectly played in tune.

Felton Road Dry Riesling

Starter :  Duo of Salted Cod Brandade with fresh Grilled Cornish Sardines and Sourdough bread

Felton Road Bannockburn Chardonnay

Felton Road Block 2 Chardonnay 

Main Course- :  Pan Fried Wood pigeon breast with berry reduction,Hispi cabbage and wild mushroom Polenta

Felton Road Bannockburn- 2014
Felton Road Cornish Point, 2014
Felton Road Calvert 2014

Dessert: Rosemary infused chocolate pot  Black Pepper Biscotti
Ben’s Rhubarb & Custard Donuts

Felton Road Block 1 Riesling  

Nigel is passionate about biodynamic viticulture and the wines purity and elegance reflected the minimal intervention.


Chef Ben talks to Kiran about Season’s philosophy and the amazing menu he has put together for the Felton Road tasting.


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New Zealand Wine Annual Tasting 2015

A tricky tasting with many wines appearing closed, a root day or are New Zealand’s maturing vines beginning to produce wines that behave just as capriciously in their youth as the best of the old world?

New Zealand undoubtedly produces some of the worlds premium wines and what makes this all the more extraordinary is that it does so from relatively young vines and in the context of a fair bit of climatic variation from year to year. At a tasting 18 months ago to celebrate 10 years of Craggy Range Te Muna pinot noir Steve Smith MW was confident that after a decade the vines were beginning to show their full character. So in theory the wines should just get better and better, no pressure then!

With 474 wines from 103 producers on show and only an hour and a half window I therefore thought the best thing to do was focus on a few old favourites to see how they were developing and what the current vintages are like.

Felton Road Central Otago

Felton Road Elms Chardonnay 2013.
Crisp citrus, ripe pear, lovely texture, this wine has substance but also great freshness & good length. Delicious & great value. (No oak but aged in old barrels to soften and round it out).

Felton Road Chardonnay Bannockburn 2013.
A captivating succession of citrus, lemon & lime, stoney mineral notes, a whiff of white flowers and just a hint of bakery and toast. Great complexity and length, at whole lot of wine for the price. (Again more Chablis than Cote d’Or with only 8% new wood).

Felton Road Block 2 Chardonnay 2013.
My notes read: ‘OMG this is fantastic!’ so it was pretty good. Again citrus, ripe green apples, a good lick of minerals, very intense at this stage with great balance and long lingering finish. Thrilling and with plenty of ageing potential. Grand Cru in terms of quality, Nigel Greening founder of Felton Road believes that whilst NZ pinots are already internationally recognised the Chardonnays are now ready to sit at the top table too.

Felton Road Pinot Noir Bannockburn 2013.
This wine strikes a great balance between forward tasty ripe fruit and a nice vegital backbone, finishing with lashings of spice and wood. Reliably delicious.

Felton Road Pinot Noir Cornish Point 2013.
True to this vineyard’s character this wine is spicy, seductive and forward. Ripe red fruits, cake spices and a lush mouth feel, nice long finish. I always wonder how this will age, having started out so delicious.

Felton Road Pinot Noir Calvert 2013.
Again the consistent character of this vineyard comes through, quite distinct from the Cornish Point, although the clones and vinification are exactly the same. More compact with great balance, clean fruit, perfume with a nice savoury core and great length. Fantastic. One to tuck away for a few years and great value when compared with premier cru Burgundy.

Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 3 2013.
A lovely delicate balance of confected strawberry, cinnamon spice, real depth and complexity & great freshness and length.

Felton Road Pinot Noir Block 5 2013.
This has an earthy, meaty nose with ripe black cherry, intense and primary, fuller bodied with a caressing mouth feel and just enough freshness to lift the very long finish. Amazing.

Craggy Range

Craggy Range Avery Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough. 2014
A great fresh gooseberry driven SB with a touch of elderflower and cracking acidity.

Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Martinborough.

This has more substance, stone fruit and a nice creaminess, but still all the crisp freshness that you would hope for, very satisfying.

Craggy Range Chardonnay Kidnappers Vineyard. Hawke’s Bay 2012.
Vibrant ripe citrus, touch of honey and a lovely saline whiff of the sea shore. Great balance and freshness, the tiny touch of oak very subtle.

Craggy Range Pinot Noir Te Muna Road vineyard, Martinborough. 2012.
This seemed a little closed down and I have noticed that although they start open and inviting MZ some PNs seem to close down and become more reticent after a couple of years. Red fruit and a vegital base, good balance and nice finish. This is normally a real crowd pleaser with pure fruit and a heady floral perfume as evidenced by our 10 year tasting finishing with the 2011 two years ago.

Craggy Range Pinot Noir Aroha Te Muna Road vineyard, Martinborough. 2011.
A selection from the finest parcels with some whole bunch fermentation. Quite primal with earthy, vegital with black cherries wood and smoke, you can almost taste the stalk tannin which may need a bit of time to fully integrate. Again quite closed but with plenty of substance.

Craggy Range Syrah Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay. 2011.
Black and white pepper, tight black fruit, quite austere at the moment , medium body with good balance, will hopefully fill out with time.

Craggy Range ‘ Le Sol’ Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay. 2011.
Again quite closed overall but clearly an intense wine with a deep core of black fruit, black pepper and toast. Great balance and long length.

Craggy Range ‘Sophia’ Gimblett Gravels, Hawke’s Bay. 2011.
Gorgeous polished nose, perfumed wood polish, ripe blackberries, medium body, fine tannins, silky mouth feel and good length. Delicious.


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Felton Road Bannockburn 2011

Lovely nose of cherries and burn’t toast. On the palate luscious fruit, with nice backbone, baked fruit pie and long spicey savoury notes. Totally delicious this will no doubt develop over time but it will be hard job not to polish off the whole case long before that!


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Best Pinot Noir of New Zealand – Suze restaurant, Mayfair

35 people attended this seated tasting in Mayfair. A great evening showing the best pinots in New Zealand based on Matthew Dukes 5-star pinot rating table. Nicola Greening of Felton Road presented Calvert and Cornish Point, Mike Herrick was over from New Zealand presenting Pipeclay and the Estate from Mount Difficulty and Abbie Moulton of Liberty wines showed Ata Rangi.

Venue Suze restaurant in Mayfair is owned by passionate, wine-loving Kiwis. Matching canapés were served with the wines.

Welcome wines:

  • Kumeu River Estate, 2007, Chardonnay, Auckland New Zealand.

This is a firm favourite of the WanderCurtis duo since I hit upon the 2006 vintage. At about £15 a bottle it is not strictly every day drinking but so reliably delicious and morish that it is hard to resist reaching for it after a long day at the office. The 2007 is fresh with wood and citrus notes on the nose. It is quite tight to begin with and really benefits from decanting for an hour or two. It is even better the next day if there is any left. The oak softens and leaves a very nicely balanced and persistent wine which sustains the interest.  Available from The Wine Society £16, Farr Vintners and Swig. (The Wine Society Exhibition NZ Chardonnay is produced by Kumeu River and is almost as good at £12.50).

  • Kumeu River Coddington Vineyard, 2007, Chardonnay, Auckland New Zealand.

Kumeu produce a number of single vineyard chardonnays which, when tasted side by side, show an impressive variety of styles from the taught and steely Hunting Hill to the complex and creamy Mates vineyard. The Coddington is at the luscious, buttery and toasty end of the spectrum. Again although there is again smoky wood on the nose to begin with. This wears off and is replaced by citrus and biscuit, on the palette creamy and buttery but balanced with mineral tones. Complex and delicious. Available from The Wine Society for£18, Farr Vintners £20.

Round 1:  Felton Road, Central Otago. (introduced by Nicola)

  • Felton Road, Calvert  Pinot Noir 2010.

On the nose tight with cherries and red fruits to begin with, on the palette again very closed and delicate however ten minutes in the glass brings a revelation. On the nose a huge range of spice, chocolate, liquorice scents rolling one after another and on the palette it broadens out and gains weight and complexity. Obviously very young, but a tremendous wine. Available from http://www.uncorked.co.uk £36.95.

  • Felton Road, Cornish Point Pinot Noir 2010.

On the nose more open, spicy and voluptuous and immediately approachable than the Calvert. The Cornish Point also develops in the glass, a savoury and tasty wine. Also needs time. Available from http://www.uncorked.co.uk £36.95.

Round 2: Martinborough Ata Rangi wines (introduced by Abbie)

  • Ata Rangi, Martinborough Pinot Noir, 2009.

On the nose tight and a bit closed, cherries and a bit of smoke on the palette. Very young with plenty of acid and some tannin, a big wine but in its infancy.  In this primal state, a bit hard to judge and rather unfair in comparison to the forward Te Terra. Available from Bordeaux Index for £372 per case or £31 per bottle.

  • Martinborough Vineyard, Te Terra 2010.

On the nose, fruity and spicy, on the palette plums, savoury notes, tasty and quaffable and ready to drink already. Available from Majestic at £12.99 for 2+ bottles.

Round 3: Mount Difficulty, Central Otago
(introduced by Michael Herrick of Mount Difficulty and Helena Westcombe of Ellis of Richmond)

  • Mount Difficulty Estate, 2008.

On the nose delicate fruit, volatile floral scents, still quite compact, a nice mix of freshness, fruit and some savoury notes in the mouth. The Central Otago wines seem to be a bit crisper and more tightly wound than the two Martinborough wines tasted so far. The Estate blended from six different vineyards slowly evolves in the glass and sustains one’s interest seemingly confirming Mike’s recommendation to keep 6-7 years. Available from Waitrose for£23.74. and http://www.nzhouseofwine.co.uk for £19.95.

  • Mount Difficulty Pipe Clay Terrace, 2007.

A single vineyard wine only made good years, this is a darker, bigger wine, with a nice complex nose of earth, dark fruit and spicy tobacco notes, more fruit core and earthy flavours on the palette with some obvious tannin.  Also wine follow as it ages. Available from http://www.nzhouseofwine.co.uk for £40.45.

Round 4:

  • Ata Rangi, McCrone Vineyard Pinot Noir, Central Otago 2008.

Rather closed nose, red fruit, and floral scents, crisp acidity and tight structure in the mouth, overall bright fruit opening up a bit in time with some savoury flavours. Compact and long couldn’t be more of a contrast to the Henri Gouges Burgundy! Available from http://www.harrogatefinewinecompany.com for £44.99.

  • Henri Gouges, Nuits St Georges, Villages 2008, Burgundy.

The nose dominated by dirty, savoury scents, nappies, lamb chops, compost etc.  In the mouth these notes again, but underscored by ripe fruits. This wine elicited differing opinions and was a huge contrast with the NZ pinots. Available: Justerini & Brooks £330/case. 2009 vintage http://www.lhkfinewines.com en primueur £240/case In Bond.


The New Zealand wines lived up to their reputation of offering clean crisp bright fruit and minerals. However it was great to see that a number promise to develop and offer that much sought after pinot noir experience of fragrant fruit contrasting with barnyard characteristics. Mike Herrick described this nicely as a walk through his grandmother’s rose garden with the scent of the flowers mingled with that of the compost and earth below.

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Pinots of Central Otago New Zealand wine tasting trip – December 2010

I can’t imagine a more beautiful place in the world to have a vineyard – just awesome. Steep mountain ranges, valley floors, gorges, glacial waters of the Kawarau river, a fusion of light and landforms.

Aaron, Kiwi wine lover and psychologist and I started on our quest for the finest pinot in Central Otago at Bald Hills in Cromwell. Owner Blair Hunt showed us his lovely collection, after a long day on the road from earhquake hit Christchurch, via lunch at Riverside Kitchen.

The newly opened wine trail bike route in the Gibbston valley provided the ideal oppurtunity to explore Perigrine wines and Amisfield. More examples of superbly made beautiful, fruit filled sensuous pinots.

Alan-BradyDay 3 was the highlight. We met Alan Brady, who planted the first vines in the Gibbston valley over 30 years ago and was the instigator for the wine boom here. After the initial embarrassment of not having his recently released book ‘Pinot Central’ but the one by John Saker, we were treated to a delightful tour. First of Gibbston Valley Winery then Mount Edward, followed by lunch in the sun. Surprised myself by ordering a rosé. Not normally much of a fan, these are 100% pinot and just delicious, with the most vibrant floral nose and supremely balanced palate that I am at last a convert to these rather unpopular numbers.

Alan is a true gent, humble for a man who has achieved so much here. He also rang ahead for us to arrange a tour of Rippon Valley wines in Wanaka the following day.

Off then to Felton Road and unfortunately just missed much talked about charismatic owner Nigel Greening. However had a tour and tried the wines.

The Holy Grail was found after four days of searching and 20,000km with four flight changes. All had been worth it. The passion/organic/biodynamic/terroir all came through to deliver a palatal treat – a real assault on the senses – wines gushing with fruit, flowers and complexity and something unquantifiable. The sense that a perfect harmony was present – bottled beauty!

jane-dochertyWhile Block 3 was particularly good, we loved them all. Well done to Felton Road, and after this nothing really mattered (except Man Utd seeing off Arsenal the following day!) We still had some stamina, and well worth it too as Jane Docherty from Carrick was a great hostess to the fine wines of Carrick.

A great trip and now have the ammunition for a “Best of Kiwi Pinot” WanderCurtis tasting in the early summer!