The Reds Are Coming: New Zealand wines: Time magazine

With 463 wineries producing 119 million liters annually, New Zealand wines have come a long way since the first Sauvignon Blanc was harvested in Marlborough a mere 30 years ago. Mild, fruity whites are what the country is most associated with, but the long-held perception that New Zealand’s terroir isn’t suited to reds has finally been overcome by a number of wineries producing world-class Pinot Noir. The silt-loam soils of New Zealand yield a Pinot Noir somewhere between the robust Australian reds beloved of influential American critic Robert Parker and the more complex Bordeaux wines.

Some Kiwi wineries have even taken on the Australian stranglehold on Shiraz, or Syrah as it’s sometimes called. In the Hawke’s Bay area of New Zealand’s North Island, Craggy Range has produced some wonderful Merlots and Syrahs that were launched in the U.S. to much acclaim last year. On the South Island, other wineries are winning plaudits for their reds.

CHARD FARM Established in 1987, Chard Farm, tel: (64-3) 442 6110, is one of the oldest wineries in the Central Otago region, and its Finla Mor Pinot Noir 2002 is one of the best we have tasted. Fragrant and full bodied, it has a warm, generous palate with concentrated fruit flavors and a long finish. Order it online, for $23 a bottle, at

MT. DIFFICULTY This producer, along with neighbors like Amisfield and Carrick, is part of a group of small but acclaimed Bannockburn wineries, situated about 45 minutes outside Queenstown. Mt. Difficulty, tel: (64-3) 445 3445, is particularly known for its single-vineyard wines, and offers samples in a café with dramatic views of the area’s old gold mines. Its award-winning Pinot Noirs are listed at

PEGASUS BAY An hour outside Christchurch, this well-known Waipara winery, tel: (64-3) 314 6869, is owned and run by the Donaldson family. “Seven family members still talking to each other,” jokes younger son Ed Donaldson, who looks after sales and presides over the tasting room. Pegasus Bay’s Pinot Noir 2002 won a maximum five stars from Australia’s Winestate magazine, and a “highly recommended” rating from the U.K.’s Decanter. Read more at

NEUDORF VINEYARDS Established on slopes overlooking the Moutere Valley in 1978, Neudorf Vineyards, tel: (64-3) 543 2643, is fast winning a reputation for its excellent rosé and Pinot Noir alongside its staple Chardonnay. Neudorf’s Pinot Pack — comprising half a dozen of its very fine 2002 and 2003 bottlings — costs $175 and can be ordered online from


Whey They Go: New Zealand. For Time magazine

If you think New Zealand cheese means processed cheddar slices, be prepared for a surprise. The country has seen a mini boom in artisanal cheeses in recent years, with producers taking advantage of a pristine environment and prime, grass-fed dairy cattle to create cheeses that would be at home in any gourmet emporium. Dutch-style cheeses like edam and gouda have been particularly successful. According to Sarah Aspinwall, owner of the award-winning Canterbury Cheesemongers in Christchurch, cheesemakers in New Zealand now produce “the best Dutch-style cheeses outside of Holland.” There are many other varieties being made besides, and while skeptics might raise an eyebrow, you should taste for yourself before deciding. Many of these new cheeses are available abroad and can be ordered over the Internet. Our favorites:

KAPITI Renowned for sumptuous ice creams in flavors such as gingernut or feijoa (a native fruit that tastes like pineapple), this dairy company also produces a wide range of cheeses. Their washed-rind Port Nicholson, smoked cheddar and camembert are excellent; other cheeses are infused with herbs, pepper, garlic and other spices, all of which make them useful additions in cooking. You can even find out what wines to pair them with at

WHITESTONE CHEESE This South Island company produces some excellent sheep’s milk and organic cheeses. Their feta—made from both sheep’s and cow’s milk—is smooth in texture but tangy on the tongue, and is available soaked in oil. They also make pressed farmhouse and airedale cheeses. See

PUHOI CHEESE This small company makes some exquisite double-cream brie and salty feta. Their distinctive blue cheeses come in a mild version for beginners and—for aficionados—a sharper, stronger, crumbly blue-veined variety called Kaha Blue. They also make two flavored feta cheeses—basil and pesto, and garlic and cumin—both of which make food seasonings. Recipes are available at

FONTERRA Okay, this may be a multinational giant, but at least it’s collectively owned—by no less than 13,000 New Zealand farmers—and produces some distinctively Kiwi cheeses. Try the taupo (produced with extra-creaminess to satisfy the Japanese market); the egmont (somewhere between Gouda and Cheddar, semi-hard and rindless, with a smooth body and nutty flavor); or the colby (a washed-curd, rindless cheese). Read more at


The Oil Boom: Time magazine. June 24, 2005

New Zealand’s olive-oil industry is barely 20 years old, but since the first olive trees were experimentally planted in the country in 1985, the number of olive growers there has soared to more than 500. The reason? Olives are very easy to cultivate in New Zealand’s temperate climate, particularly in the Marlborough region, where the same weather that is favorable for wine production also results in beautifully rich, fruity olive oils. New Zealand growers have planted olive varieties from all over the world, including Israeli barnea (the most common), French picholine, Greek koroneiki, and Italian frantoio, leccino, pendolino and moraiolo olives. See how they’ve fared, with this roundup of our favorite New Zealand oils:

BLUMENFELD The late Gideon Blumenfeld, an Israeli horticulturist and scientist, is often referred to as the godfather of New Zealand’s olive-oil industry. Lured to New Zealand by his Kiwi wife, Triska, he settled in the Wairau Valley after researching the climate and soil, and planted his first commercial crop in 1986. Today, the Blumenfeld brand is New Zealand’s biggest olive-oil producer. Order its award-winning oils at

TASMAN BAY This company, in New Zealand’s sunny Nelson region, produces both a cultivar and a frantoio-leccino blend. Both won gold at the Los Angeles County Fair in 2004. Marketed under the name Elovi within New Zealand, these delicious oils are exported to the U.S. and Japan—and you can also have them shipped to your front door. Go to

ATHENA Named after the Greek goddess credited by mythology with planting the first olive tree, Athena is located in the heart of the tranquil Waipara Valley, an hour north of Christchurch. Owner Helen Clausen gives tours of the farm, but restive visitors seem more interested in the tasting than the talking—and with good reason. Athena’s first-pressed, extra-virgin oil is as green and viscous as a fruit nectar, and quite exquisite. Flavored oils (including lemon and pepper) are also available. International shipments can be arranged at

MOUTERE GROVE This producer is known for its organic, single-estate olive oils—and its Tuscan blend has won prestigious international olive-oil awards in 2001, 2004 and this year. The company specializes in Italian olives and was recently honored with inclusion in the authoritative book Best Olive Oil Buys Around the World by Judy Ridgway—a critic who is to the world of olives what Robert Parker is to wine. Derived from fairly young plantings, Moutere Grove’s oils can exhibit annual variations—grassy one year, lemony the next. Taste for yourself, by ordering from