Master of Wine Bob Campbell on his favourite drops and upcoming wine festival Winetopia

Master of Wine Bob Campbell on his favourite drops and upcoming wine festival Winetopia

Before sharing his expertise at Winetopia in July, Master of Wine Bob Campbell sat down with What's Hot New Zealand to talk favourite fizz, top shelf wines and the best budget drops.

Can you tell us about a lesser-known wine region that’s captured your heart? Waitaki. It's a small, wonderfully scenic region on the border of Otago and Canterbury, and it’s capable of producing great wines given the right vintage conditions.

What interesting things are coming out of the big-hitting regions this year? Expect top Chardonnay and Syrah from Hawke's Bay, intensely flavoured Sauvignon from Marlborough and high quality Pinot Noir from Otago.

How much do you need to spend for a bottle of New Zealand méthode traditionelle that goes toe-to-toe with a French Champagne? The fantastic No. 1 Family Estate Assemblé NV goes for just over $30

Does a méthode have to be made with the traditional three grape varieties or is there room to mix it up? I really don’t think so. The traditional French Champagne blend is Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, but my favourite fizz is 100% Chardonnay.

What other varieties make for a good bottle of bubbles? I like German Sekt made from Riesling although there are not many local examples. Chenin Blanc is another strong contender.

‘Pinot Gris-Viognier-Riesling-Gewürztraminer’ is both a mouthful and a hard sell. How can we get past the hurdle of naming and marketing lesser-known but delicious grape blends in New Zealand? Don't declare the grape varieties and give it a catchy brand name – there are a few wineries in New Zealand who do this really well. The wine must also be delicious to succeed.

What’s your favourite up-and-coming wine variety being produced in New Zealand? Albariño. It’s a Spanish white aromatic grape that is already producing some great wines here. Most of the plantings are in Gisborne, and some Albariños are coming out of Hawkes Bay, Marlborough and North Canterbury.

Are there any varieties you’d consider a failed experiment in New Zealand? Arneis, Grüner Veltliner and Viognier are struggling a bit, which is a pity because there are some good examples if you are willing to sniff them out.

Can you name one budget wine and one top shelf wine you’re loving at the moment? Budget is the 2019 Akarua Rua Pinot Noir which goes for around $23, and a great top shelf is the 2018 Radburnd Chardonnay.

What’s a 2020 wine that’s worth cellaring for a few years? 2020 Craggy Range Le Sol Syrah. I've only tasted a tank sample as the bottles aren’t on the market yet, but it is magnificent.

You’re only allowed to drink one wine for the rest of your life – what is it? 1985 Mugnier Musigny – the best wine I have ever tasted.

What’s one thing people probably don’t know about the wine industry? It has a very strong sense of camaraderie.

What’s the most common misconception about wine? It all improves with age. Many wines are best when they’re young and only certain styles cellar well.

What are you looking forward to at Winetopia 2021? Meeting new wine enthusiasts.

You’ll be joined at Winetopia by Master of Wine Emma Jenkins– what’s it like working with her? Great! She is very bright, has a great sense of humour and loves wine as much as I do. Read What's Hot New Zealand's Q&A with Emma Jenkins here.

Do you have favourite wine-drinking music? Cool jazz.

What’s the best advice your mum ever gave you? Don't become a chartered accountant. I did.

One day I’ll… Taste a 1947 Cheval Blanc.


TSB Arena Wellington Friday 21 - Saturday 22 May

Shed 10 Auckland Friday 18 - Saturday 19 June

Air Force Museum of New Zealand Christchurch Friday 9 - Saturday 10 July

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