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JOHN ROZENTALS tastes some New Zealand wines that survived covid-19.

February 27, 2021 Beverage No Comments

In 2020, with covid-19 looming on the horizon and harvest fast approaching, the New Zealand wine industry held its breath.

Preparations for a nationwide lockdown meant there was a very serious risk that harvest would not be allowed to go ahead.

The inability to pick grapes would have meant no 2020 vintage produced, affecting wine production and retail for several years to come.

Rather than cross their fingers, the Giesen team sprang into action and were among the first to take drastic action to protect its workers and preserve the chance of a successful harvest.

This included separating the team into night and day shift teams, each with their own winemaking staff, and going above and beyond to ensure their safety.

Many of the teams were moved into hotels and accommodation away from home a full week before the nationwide lockdown was announced, with staff banding together to ensure Giesen could still deliver on harvest goals.

This, coupled with the industry’s classification as essential business, meant that harvest proceeded under unprecedented safety standards including rigorous physical distancing measures and significant additional work.

Workers overcame the challenges of running completely separate day and night shift teams, developing brand new processes, and in many cases being isolated from friends and family as well.


Giesen 2020 Sauvignon Blanc: A wonderful expression of typical New Zealand sauvignon blanc, with emphasis squarely on ripe, fresh gooseberry-like fruit. Some residual sweetness in a popular style. Inexorably drawn to Thai dishes such as green curry.

Giesen 2020 Uncharted Sauvignon Blanc: This very different sauvignon blanc, a dry white which spent three to four months on yeast lees for to build a beautiful mouth-feel, to back maturation in oak. Uncharted ok. Match with smoked trout and herby new potatoes.


Giesen 2018 The August Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc: Dry and flinty with rich, ripe tropical notes and layers of toasty almond and brioche flavours. Its a tribute August Giesen’s legacy which is inextricably tied to the Giesen story. Complex and a match for quite rich cuisine.

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