A Central Otago winner

Ben Toombs, an 
Ben Toombs, an assistant winemaker at Peregrine Wines, recently won the 2020 Tonnellerie de Mercurey New Zealand Young Winemaker award.
The Tonnellerie de Mercurey New Zealand Young Winemaker 2020 final was recently held at EIT in Hawke’s Bay and congratulations to Ben Toombs - assistant winemaker at Peregrine Wines - who in winning the title became the first winemaker from Central Otago to do so.

Ben won the opportunity to represent Otago last year, but was unable to compete as he was selected for the Central Otago-Burgundy exchange programme. He’s come back strongly to win the crown this year.

Contestants faced an advance presentation identifying the wine consumer(s) of the future and how New Zealand will maintain its competitive edge, followed by a series of essays, lab work, CAPEX budget proposals, interviews and wine judging before giving a speech at the awards dinner touting their region as the place to visit this summer.

Included in his prize package is a travel grant to visit the Tonnellerie de Mercurey cooperage in Burgundy (in better times), an associate judging spot at the New World Wine Awards and the opportunity to review wines for Drinks Biz magazine.

Blind chicken

The eagerly contested Blind Chicken wine options competition recently saw yours truly line up alongside a group of wine lovers ready to sniff, slurp and spit their way through a selection of wines.

Per tradition, last year’s winner, Paul Templar, had the honour of hosting, selecting a range of wines that criss-crossed the world, while remaining identifiably true to their grape variety, style and region.

Things were close at the end of the whites, but past winner David Tasker was on fire in the second half, taking a well-deserved victory with an unassailable 37pts.

Brendon Woodford and Julie Clark shared second spot on 33pts with yours truly, Jules Radich and Ricky Collins on 32pts.

David gets to hold the Blind Chicken Trophy for the year and plan next year’s event.

2015 Quartz Reef
Methode Traditionelle
Blanc de Blancs 
Price: $79
Rating: Excellent to 
Super toastiness, smoke, 
warm baguette, lemon 
zest; white flowers and 
soft cheese with time. 
Deliciously creamy 
palate, power yet 
lightness, a raft of 
citrus coursing 
through this giving 
this a juicy, lip-
smacking quality. 
Warm bread smeared 
with a little honey. 
Racy finish, the 
flavours hanging in the 
mouth wonderfully. Smart stuff.
2019 Scout
pinot noir 
Price: $36
Rating: Excellent
Savoury umami notes, dried 
strawberry, fruit jube, tilled 
earth, wild herb with time. A 
refreshing crunchiness to 
the mouthfeel, with bright 
acidity and fine tannins. 
Savoury notes to the 
forefront again, the fruit 
a backdrop to the 
complex palate, the long 
finish having a grainy 
edge. An elegant style 
rather than a bruiser 
showing real pinosity.
2019 Rockburn
Central Otago
pinot noir 
Price: $49.99
Rating: Outstanding
Perfume, herbs, tamarillo, 
bonfire marshmallows.  A 
swelling richness to the 
palate, offering lovely 
juiciness, an almost sappy 
quality with complexity 
and interest that captures 
your attention. The 
palate dances between 
the fruit, herb and 
savoury notes with 
freshness and 
brightness to the fore. 
Already superbly 
balanced, drinking well 
now, yet potential too.

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