Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

All Hail the Kiwi Queen

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

All Hail the Kiwi Queen

Article excerpt

Byline: By Helen Savage

Every fortnight, for at least 10 years (or so it seems to me), John Partridge has reminded everyone within earshot that Jane Hunter is the best winemaker on the planet.

John, a stalwart of my wine classes, can be a hard man to please, but when he went to visit Jane at her winery in Marlborough, on the South Island of New Zealand, he was bowled over by the quality of her wine and by the care she takes to make it.

Jane, the queen of New Zealand wine, visited Newcastle last week and treated John and a goodly number of other lucky souls to her latest wines, including some to accompany a special dinner at Jesmond Dene House.

The visits were organised by local merchant Michael Jobling, who has been importing her fabulous wines for about 16 years and has become a good friend too.

Jane Hunter set up her vineyard and winery with her husband Ernie in 1983. Although she had a distinguished background in viticulture and wine making, learned in her native Australia, the Hunters' first wines were made on a shoestring or, more exactly, with the aid of borrowed cider-making equipment.

Success came quickly and a host of awards, but so did tragedy when Ernie, still in his thirties, was killed in an accident. Jane poured all her energy in the business and won through to receive an OBE in 1993 for services to the wine industry.

She has been one of the main forces in putting Marlborough on the map, and has helped to establish its reputation as one of the truly great wine regions of the world. Hunter's has grown over the years, but Ernie's dream of making wine of quality, not quantity has never been compromised.

Although Jane is best known in the UK for her Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, both among the very best Marlborough offers, she grows a wider variety of grapes including Chardonnay (also available from Michael Jobling), Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Merlot and Pinot Gris.

"It staggers me," she admits, "that Riesling and Gewurztraminer haven't sold in Britain. …

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