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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





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