Emma Jenkins is a wine writer, education, and New Zealand’s ninth Master of Wine. She was a founding member of the Wine Writers of New Zealand group, is a wine columnist for The Australian Women’s Weekly, editor of The Independent Wine Monthly (with Jane Skilton) and freelances for many more publications. In short, she’s a total NZ wine LEGEND.
We spent a few minutes with her talking all things wine and GAME OF RHONES.
What’s your wine story?
Fascinated by the fact wines all tasted different as a teenager drinking my parents’ wine, kept that as a hobby during an Otago Uni science degree (sample tasting note from the Robbie Burns Wine Club era: “smells nice”) and got a pre-postgrad uni job in a wine shop which derailed the science career. MW study was a great way to keep learning about wine, passed in 2011 and have kept on writing, judging, teaching and drinking.
What are three things you need to know about New Zealand Syrah?
- There’s very little of it! Still only 430ha, and that’s been fairly static for a while.
- (Most of it) is very smart indeed – the NZ climate is well suited to producing perfumed, elegant and juicy wines that with the right care and attention can deliver interesting layers and proper personality.
- You don’t need to buy the wines in ego-heavy bottles to get a good one.
What are three things you need to know about Hawkes Bay Syrah in particular?
- Ripening window is probably better (or at least more reliably) suited to the region than Bordeaux varieties.
- The winemakers get cross if you tell them you can smell white pepper as apparently black pepper is much sexier.
- The region makes REALLY good examples and there are some very clever people there making it.
G, S or M?
S&M. Obvs. Ha ha.
Actually, all of them, whether single or blended. Why would you ever want to limit yourself?
Whats the one thing to keep in mind when matching Rhone varietals to food?
Don’t be a wanker with it. Drink great wine you love with great food you love. Though it’s helpful not to be vegan.
What would be your (battle) plan on approaching a tasting of over 100 Rhone style wines?
What do you drink when no one is watching?
Asti! Love it.
What would be your top six producers to try at Game of Rhones?
Babich Wines Ltd – great value
Craggy Range – good vineyards
M.Chapoutier & Delas – good reference point
Trinity Hill – clever and lovely people
Henschke – just beautiful wines (and people)
Shaw + Smith – substance beneath the style