Wednesday Wines – Episode 202 – A Sensational Zephyr Duo

I have known Ben Glover and his family for many years. He is exceedingly generous with his time and his wines, and he has become a constant fixture in the Kiwi wine world.

When I first met him, he was an assistant winemaker at Wither Hills; he now oversees a collection of stunning brands and is regarded as one of the finest palates in the land as well as being an authority on not only the finest wines in New Zealand but also those from further afield because he is such an extensive traveller and an unapologetic gastronome.  So, when I see him each year there is always so much to catch up on – wine styles, global markets, the state of the Kiwi wine business as well as his own takes on his much-loved wines. Ben has an uncommon skill in dissecting his work with brutal honesty, which has enabled him to create an ever-evolving portfolio of stunning wines. Here are two of his most recent brilliant releases.

2023 Zephyr, Organic Riesling, Marlborough (28.00 NZD)

This is a single vineyard, organic Riesling with 11% alcohol and a daring 11 g/L residual sugar, but you wouldn’t know it, or rather, you couldn’t guess either of these stats. The aromatics are sensational, and the flavour is nothing short of mesmerising.  This is a pointed, piercing and pithy wine, with supremely energetic fruit and a raspiness that is addictive.  The core is smooth, liquid and free flowing, but the exterior is like the finest emery board: teasing, fricative and mouth-watering.  It seems somewhat Clare Valley-like in its beguiling power-weight ratio and this is why the lightweight 11% alcohol seems near impossible and the apparent juiciness of the 11 g/L residual sugar seems cached in its core hidden behind hints of ginger and cunning florals.  Just under 3000 bottles were made, so when this wine arrives in the UK, you need to move like quicksilver to secure your stock!  18.5/20 (Drink now – 2028)

2022 Zephyr, Organic Chardonnay, Marlborough (32.00 NZD)

I was blown away when I tasted this wine.  Weighing in at a slender 13% alcohol, with a minimal oak imprint, this wine was as far removed from the Riesling as possible, even though I noted one common tasting note – ginger, but this time biscuits, so some oak must be hidden here.   What I found captivating about this wine was that it was a Kiwi outlier. Far from tasting like a Marlborough Chardonnay, it reminded me of the very first Pouilly-Fuissés I tasted back in the Eighties.  Mineral-soaked, crystalline, tender in its core, but also wild, floral, succulent and refined, with a demure nose and a gorgeous, silky palate, this is one of the finest, discreetly elegant Chardonnays of the year and, yes, I have already published this year’s Burgundy Report.  18.5/20 (Drink now – 2027)