Richard Painter from Te Awa Left Field Wines Talks with Specialist Cellars

Mel Brown sits down with Richard Painter from Te Awa Left Field Wines to discuss all things wine in our “Down In The Cellar” series.

Who do you admire most in the world of wine and why?

Sir George Fistonich. He is so passionate about quality, sustainability, and independence. He is a real visionary.

Someone else who inspires me from their ideas is David Phinney. The label designs work on his ‘Orin Swift’ range are next level, and his ‘Locations’ range turns the idea of Terroir on its head, and delivers consumer lead wines from multiple regions within a range of countries.

What George and David have in common is that they are innovators and their ideas are constantly evolving. Tradition holds back the wine industry to some extent.

What wine variety are you most excited about for its future in NZ?

Albariño. It grows so well in New Zealand and makes beautiful expressive wines with broad consumer appeal.

Have you had a “wine moment” ? Like a specific point in time where you knew you wanted to work in the wine industry?

I was managing a bar in Dunedin and went along to a tasting of Central Otago Pinot Noir. The winemaker gave us three sub regional wines, explained what they should taste like, and asked us to guess which sub region each wine was from. I got all three right and it clicked for me how important Geography was in winemaking (I have a degree in Geography) and I realised I wanted to pursue it as a career.

What are your 5 favourite wines available at The New Zealand Cellar?

In no particular order:

  • Trinity Hill Tempranillo
  • Dog Point Chardonnay
  • Neudorf Moutere Albariño
  • Craggy Range Sophia Red Blend
  • Kumeu River Matés Chardonnay

Is there a specific wine region you benchmark your wines against?

No not really. We make such a diverse range of wines that would be grown in a really diverse range of regions around the world so it is impossible to name one region. Just have faith in your own region/s and try and make the most delicious wine possible.

What is your biggest learning curve you’ve met working in the industry?

Regardless of what you want to do, and how much you planning you undertake, ultimately nature dictates so much of what you do. But that is what makes wine so special and unique.

Have you tasted many Australian Wines and if so which region are you most excited for?

I’ll confess I don’t drink a huge amount of Australian wine. Some of the wines coming from the cooler Victoria regions such as Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley and Shiraz from the Mornington Peninsula really impress me.

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