Zoe Ladyman from Akarua Visits Specialist Cellars

Specialist Cellars sits down with Zoe Ladyman of Akarua wines to talk all things wine in our “down in the cellar” series.

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

You know I love great writers about wine, writers who write really emotively and expressively about wine. My ex boss, Tim Stock of Vinous, Famous Nick Stock’s brother, well I used to work with Tim and he writes so passionately, and speaks so beautifully about wine. When he starts up about wine you see the twinkle in his eyes, and his whole body lights up with gusto and passion. Marcus Ellis is another one that writes beautifully about wine, I fell in love with Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, in my formative learning days working as a sommelier in London. They write in an inspiring way, very warm and intelligently, erudite, yet warmly, they are amazing.

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

I think there is a future in NZ for different grape varieties, bizarrely Gruner Veltliner is growing beautifully in Central Otago, Duncan at Mt Edward is growing some wonderful Gruner, and the Burn Cottage guys have their Gruner Riesling blend which is intoxicating and beguiling and wonderful. It’s funny cause just being at ProWein, it was all about Sav, and of course, ya know Sauvignon Blanc being such a little grape put New Zealand on the Map, and it’s taken the world by storm and suddenly NZ is a wine growing region. But some markets are saturated by it and have ridden the Sav wave. And some markets are still inspired by it still, and are desperate for it still, and need to ride that wave and love it, and once we’re all done (We won’t ever be done really) but I think it will make room for more varietals coming in, and I think some unusual varietals from the Old World will start to take centre stage. I think we have some cool climate spots in the NZ, and some warm climate spots and we could get quite creative with what we can offer. Wouldn’t it be nice to see some more Gamay too? Pinot Noir does so well, Pinot Noir is Gamays sister, we should see more of it.

Are there are trends in Central Otago that you are inspired about, or are there trends happening in Central Otago that people should keep an eye out for?

Well what I’m loving to see is the evolution of Central Otago. It’s such a young region, and we planted vines there in the mid 90s, some of the oldest vines in the region, it’s so young but the evolution has been steep. We burst onto the scenes showcasing the beautiful power, and colour and intensity and structure that Central does really easily. But what’s exciting to see now is how we reign that power in, and produce something elegant and refined but still with that classic Central black spiced flavours, and wild thyme top of the mountain kinda notes. Also with the new wave of wineries that are coming in, the ones that are planted in the mid 2000s, 15 years later, we can see which areas have done best. There is more research, and the combination of the soil & being able to match our clones more to our site and take more notice of what out sites need, more so than in the 90s, more than what was known and more than what was available. Akarua is replanting a lot and we can target our soil to our microclimates and our patches. So it’s the evolution of the style that is really thrilling.

What’s an Aussie wine region you’re really excited about?

There is massive attention in Adelaide Hills and the basket ranges, the innovation of those guys so much experimental winemaking coming through, and there is an energy, and youthfulness and dynamism, of that region and I think it’s turning the Australian wine region on its head. The natural wine movement happening in the basket ranges has really made the Aussie wine industry questions itself, and it has certainly caused some fights, there have been some falling out and some shit slinging, but I think it’s okay to question things. And I think it’s okay to push the boundaries. And talking about the Aussie wine regions and with the question of the natural wine movement a lot of people are going “Well are you saying my wine is not natural? Because this is how I see it”. And it sounds like a revolution to me, and in any revolution there is going to be bloodshed, however we all pop out of the other end enlightened, and and have a better understanding of each wave.

You are drinking something from the Akarua range, what are you drinking, what are you eating, what are you listening to and who are you enjoying it with?

Akarua created for the first time, from 2018 Vintage, and hopefully coming your way, a Pinot Noir Nouveau, we call it ‘Pinot Rouge’. Early release, like deliciously juicy, deliberately unstructured, highly desirable. Andrew, our Winemaker and I were doing this wine together and we blended it together, and it just begs to be chilled! So I’m drinking that, I’m listening to Nick Murphy, formerly known as Chet Faker and I’m drinking it with my husband Nick. And we’re probably eating Tapas at a hidden away tapas bar in San Sebastian.

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