Strat Canning, the ebullient maker of Margrain Vineyard wines for the last 18 years, reminds us how lucky we are to have Martinborough on our doorstep, says Grant Archibald

Wordsmith and winemaker

strat 006 smallA swage of pith-cut­ting acid­ity is the first bat­ter up to the plate and is fol­lowed closely by a finely honed team of all stars which pack a com­bined punch like a mer­cen­ary All Black Centre in a heavy-weight box­ing bout.” (Mar­grain Chen­in Blanc)

It’s not your typ­ic­al wine descrip­tion, but Strat Can­ning is not your typ­ic­al wine­maker. Strat is well known for his turn of phrase. Who wouldn’t be a tiny bit temp­ted by a Riesling that “has a com­plex side made up of Carib­bean white spice and some­thing remin­is­cent of a mouse’s foot­print in the corner of an old shed” (Mar­grain Proprietor’s Selec­tion Riesling) or a Chardon­nay in which “the soft oak influ­ence can be felt rather than tasted and melds with the argy bargy char­ac­ters of bar­rel fer­ment­a­tion to give a mis­chiev­ous com­plex­ity that feels a little like get­ting dirty in the rain” (Mar­grain Chardonnay)?

Hav­ing just com­pleted his 19th vin­tage at Mar­grain, Strat is no starry-eyed new­comer. His wines reflect the care­ful guid­ance of a wine­maker who knows his terroir and gets the best from his vines each vin­tage (Strat also doubles as head vit­i­cul­tur­al­ist at Mar­grain). Pinot Noir rep­res­ents the major­ity of plant­ing at Mar­grain and the icon wine of the oper­a­tion is undoubtedly the Home Block Pinot Noir. The 2010 vin­tage, which recently claimed Sil­ver at the Lon­don Inter­na­tion­al Wine Fair, is typ­ic­ally classy with lovely savoury char­ac­ter­ist­ics superbly integ­rated with dark red fruit and fine tan­nins. As Strat describes the wine: “The res­ult will leave your sub­con­scious weak at the knees and your inner god­dess lick­ing her fin­gers like pork riblets!”

The Home Block Pinot Noir has been a firm favour­ite on the Wel­ling­ton wine scene for many years, and the team at the winery hope a fresh pri­cing strategy will intro­duce the brand to a new audi­ence. At around $40 a bottle, the wine com­pares favour­ably with oth­er icon­ic Mar­tin­bor­ough labels.


Where to buy in Wellington

Liquor stores: Moore Wilson’s, Centre City Wines and Spir­its, Liquor King Petone


On wine lists: Wine Loft, Petone Beach Café, The Grand Steakhouse

For more of Strat Canning’s winemaker’s notes, go to



May Recommendation




Mar­grain 2013 Chen­in Blanc

Chen­in Blanc is anoth­er vari­ety Can­ning is pas­sion­ate about, and the Mar­grain Chen­in Blanc has attained a cult fol­low­ing over the years. This fam­ous grape of the Loire Val­ley is grown from 35-year-old vines Mar­grain acquired from Mar­tin­bor­ough pion­eer Stan Chi­fney. Bal­ance is the key with this wine. The crisp acid­ity is bal­anced with a mod­er­ate level of resid­ual sug­ar to cre­ate an off-dry style. This is bril­liant sum­mer wine burst­ing with zesty green apple fla­vours, good min­er­al­ity with a lovely long hon­eyed fin­ish. Lus­cious! $30





You must be logged in to post a comment Login