John Saker is a writer and author based in Wellington. He’s the wine writer for Cuisine NZ magazine, wine columnist for Fairfax newspapers and Your Weekend, and has written a book: How To Drink A Glass of Wine, Pinot Noir: The New Zealand Story and Vinacular.
Facing a battle as epic as GAME OF RHONES requires strategy: We asked John for his Rhone tips and tricks, and a bit of background, too.
What’s your wine story, in brief?
I began to get serious with wine when I lived in France in the late 1970s, playing basketball professionally. My French teammates saw it as their duty to act as wine tutors. I began to write about wine 20 years ago and currently write for Cuisine magazine and Fairfax newspapers.
What are three things you need to know about New Zealand Syrah?
- It’s not Aussie shiraz
- As with sauvignon blanc, there’s a natural synergy between this archipelago and the variety
- It’s surprising how good it can be across several different regions.
What are three things you need to know about Hawkes Bay Syrah in particular?
- At its best, it offers spectacular aromatics
- Molten tannins
- There should be more planted
G, S or M?
S really does the business. Without it, it’s reduced to ‘bu_ine__’
What’s the one thing to keep in mind when matching Rhone varietals to food?
Slow food is where it’s at
What would be your (battle) plan on approaching a tasting of over 100 Rhone style wines?
A full stomach and dental insurance
What do you drink when no one is watching?
Mauresque (pastis and almond cordial)
What’s your Game of Rhones producer hitlist?
Easthope Family Winegrowers
M.Chapoutier & Delas
Shaw + Smith