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Administrative note: November's editions
Greetings from Australia, where I'm spending this week as a judge at the Sydney International Wine Competition in the scenic (but rainy) Blue Mountains. That's why The 30 Second Wine Advisor is in text form only this week and may be arriving in your mailbox later than usual. Please note also that I may not be able to respond quickly to E-mail, and I will not be able to accommodate administrative requests - including address changes, unsubscribe requests and the like - until I return home at the end of the month. I appreciate your patience.

30 Second Wine Tasting Tip:
Seeing New Zealand in red

Red wine? From New Zealand? Like a lot of other wine writers, I've casually helped pass along the conventional wisdom that this beautiful country's excellent vineyards do best with whites. And in fact, my notes on a recent short visit here are full of raves on Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays, Rieslings and Pinot Gris.

But the greatest vinous excitement of this visit comes not from these anticipated results but from the pleasure of discovering that New Zealand is producing excellent reds as well. And while Pinot Noir may be its star, no wine lover should overlook what's happening here with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and even the relatively obscure Pinotage.

If you're lucky enough to visit New Zealand and want to spend a little time exploring the wine country, I would recomment making the one-hour flight from Auckland, the largest city and usual port of entry (which reminds me a bit of Seattle), to Wellington, the capital (which reminds me more than a little of a tiny version of San Francisco).

From Wellington, it's easy to visit the Martinborough wine region - and, with a little more driving, Hawke's Bay - as well as taking a 30-minute commuter flight over a narrow strait to Blenheim on the South Island, which is right in the middle of the Marlborough region, most noted for sought-after Sauvignon Blancs like Cloudy Bay but increasingly getting to be known for outstanding Pinot Noir as well.

Further afield is Central Otago, well down the South Island and requiring a bit of effort to reach (but an effort that's worth it for serious fanciers of Pinot). Alternatively, if you simply can't get away from the Auckland area on a brief visit, you can still console yourself with visits to a number of wineries within easy reach of the city, including Kumeu River, one of Auckland's oldest vineyards, and tiny but lovely Kerr Farm Vineyard, where Jaison Kerr makes a lovely Pinotage that's a surprisingly good match with spicy fruitcake.

If a trip to New Zealand doesn't seem likely for you any time soon, you can still explore the land through its wines; although the smaller vineyards and limited-production wines are hard to find, such winery names as Cloudy Bay, Grove Mill, Villa Maria, Palliser, Isabel Estate, and quite a few more are widely distributed. Don't miss them ... and don't overlook those reds.

I'll be publishing my New Zealand and Australia tasting notes on Wine Lovers' Page before long; meanwhile, if you would like to see a large photo of the Martinborough wine region (suitable for use as computer-screen "wallpeper"), shot from the top of a hill on the Escarpment winery estate, see

If you have a comment on this week's article, feel free send me E-mail at I regret that the growing circulation of the "Wine Advisor" makes it difficult for me to reply individually to every note, and my travels this month will also limit my ability to respond; but I'll answer as many as I can; and please be assured that all your input helps me do a better job of writing about wine.

We hope you'll invite your wine-loving friends to register for their own free weekly copy at

30 Second Tasting Notes:
Top-notch New Zealand Pinot
Grove Mill 1999 Marlborough Pinot Noir
Dark garnet. Lovely dried-cherry aromas with earth and gamey notes. Flavors follow the nose, balanced and complex; a delight. Grove Mill's wines, produced by affable wine maker Dave Pearce, are available in the U.S. and Britain, although it may be a few weeks or months before this new release makes it to retail stores. This excellent wine gives a sample of what can be done with Pinot in Marlborough - and based on barrel samples, the 2000 vintage may be even better.

Favorite Wine Link:
(New Zealand) Wine of the Week
If you want to keep up with New Zealand wines regularly, there's no better place to do it than the Wine of the Week page,, the region's top independent wine site. It's run by my friend Sue Courtney, who with her husband Neil was my generous host during my visit.

30 Second Advertising Partner:
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Buy Wine Online

30 Second Administrivia
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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

More time for wine?
You don't need to wait for Mondays to read about wine! Drop in any time on Robin Garr's Wine Lovers' Page, where we add new tasting notes several times each week and frequently expand our selection of wine-appreciation articles, tips and tutorials.

If you'd like to talk about wine online with fellow wine enthusiasts around the world, we'd be delighted to have you join the interactive, international forums in our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group.

Vol. 2, No. 43, Nov. 13, 2000

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