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Initially interested in a career in the culinary area, Liz attended a Cordon Bleu course in London and found herself drawn to wine, which quickly became her passion and her career. Having been at Glengarry for over 20 years, Liz travels abroad regularly, meeting with our fine wine suppliers in Europe, maintaining strong relationships first hand and ensuring a continued supply of the rarest and the best fine wine.
A couple of years ago, I went to Gisborne to judge at the Gisborne Wine Awards and jumped at the opportunity to visit a few days early and visit Matawhero. Greeted off the plane by Kirsten Searle, she quickly asked when was the last time I was in Gisborne. No option but to confess, it was my first time setting foot on Gisborne soil. Madness really, thankfully all behind me and I can assure you that the time I spent there, both with Kirsten and judging over three days, gave me a superb overview of the whole region and I’ve since been back a few times.
Matawhero is one of New Zealand’s older wineries, established in 1968 by Bill Irwin who, whilst slightly off centre in many things, describing him as colourful was an understatement. His legacy is long remembered, particularly for his Gewürztraminer.
Gisborne as a region has continued its fascination with varieties that are not the main stream (although, yes, they grow Sauvignon Blanc and very well, I must say). One of the reasons behind this is the access to new varietals and clones as Gisborne is home to New Zealand’s pre-eminent nursery, Riversun. The new generation heading up Matawhero are making good use of this knowledge and experience through their diverse range.
Matawhero was purchased in 2008 by Richard and Kirsten Searle, today’s custodians of Matawhero. With a background in the wine industry, when the opportunity came up to re-establish Matawhero, the Searle family jumped at the opportunity.
The viticulture at Matawhero is managed by Jeremy Hyland. With a background from Corbans, excellent training from Ivan Marinovich, Jeremy was Head Viticulturist at Kim Crawford Wines from 2004 to 2007, and now consults to Astrolabe, Jules Taylor, Eradus and Matawhero vineyards.
The excellent fruit cultivated with such care by Jeremy is then nurtured through the winery to produce the consistently good wines we’ve come to expect from Matawhero. The Matawhero Gisborne Chardonnay has quickly become a go-to Gisborne Chardonnay, consistent in style and quality year in year out. On the red side, it’s the Gisborne Merlot that sees customers coming back for a second bottle. My favourite, however, is the Church House Chenin Blanc. I must confess, I am a big fan of Chenin Blanc. There are not too many produced in NZ anymore – for those with good memories, you may recall the days of Collards Chenin Blanc. Gisborne is home to the two best Chenin producers – James Millton, of course, with his super range, and the Matawhero Church House Chenin Blanc.
Kirsten Searle is heading our way in August and will be hosting a Wine Club at our Takapuna store. Neatly enough, the focus of this wine club is going to be on Chenin Blanc. We’ve secured a vertical of Church House Chenin Blanc. Also at this tasting there will be an opportunity to try the yet-to-be-released Irwin Chardonnay. Due for release in September, this will be the first vintage of Matawhero’s new top tier Chardonnay. We can’t wait to try it.
Channel Magazine: Issue 79 August 2017