The Return Of The Cork


The cork, once a disastrous low-quality bacteria breeding ground is making a comeback. The novelty and quality associated with the cork is once again in vogue, while the screw top -albeit convenient- has had its time at the top. Needless to say, there is a personal preference, and Rebecca talked to some of New Zealand’s top restaurants before catching up with Agberico Miranda from cork supplier A Winning Influence to find out more about the improved quality of corks.

James from SPQR said when screw tops first came out twenty years ago he had guests return the bottles saying ‘I don’t want wine with a screw top’, staying true to the cork. Andrew at The French Café says his guests understand that even the high quality wines are under screw top, because of the issue with cork- it can be difficult at the best of times. Dan at Scotch Bar in Blenheim says he would prefer wines under cork as compared screw top as it gives an improved sense of quality!

Rebecca Salmond Winemaker/Owner also met with Alberico Miranda from Hawkes Bay based cork supplier A Winning influence. Alberico is leading the way in New Zealand for corks, and is supplying New Zealand Winemakers at long last with corks we can feel confident in again.

Alberico, 15 years ago the cork industry was in a mess. What are you doing differently nowadays to make sure the quality of the corks is as free as it can be from cork taint? 

Well, I came to NZ 11 years ago and already I was producing my own corks in Portugal so the supply is consistent, and I know exactly where the corks are coming from. Only sourced from the top of the tree, never from the base of the tree and only top grade cork.

Technology and quality control standards have advanced greatly nowadays. We boil the corks twice, we rinse with fresh water and then we refrigerate the corks at the end so there is no potential mould growth. We also package very carefully and transport so there is no chance of contamination.

All corks undergo the Prime-cork treatment to remove as much undesirable characters and cork taint before it leaves Portugal.

After I receive an order from the wineries I work closely with in New Zealand I then go through the batches to double check organoleptically the corks for no incidence of taint, we are getting very good results and more and more winemakers are coming to me for top grade of cork.

Corks are making a comeback in New Zealand, why is that do you think?

The Chinese market has a huge part to play because it insisted and preferred the NZ wines under cork. Therefore the winemakers were still working with the cork and as the consistency got better they began to gain more confidence. Many winemakers still prefer the taste of wine bottled under cork and there are triangular statistical studies to prove this case, especially in ageing wines. Also there is a perception in many markets like Asia and America that the quality of wines is higher under cork than screw and that better margin can be obtained.

With more consistency in the cork many winemakers feel there are just as many or more incidences in faults through screw caps than cork, like the sleeve not sealing properly and oxidation of the wine. Some, and many organic produces like the natural nature of the cork. It also is a point of difference.

At Odyssey Wines, we bottle all the Iliad and Behave wines under cork, as well as the Odyssey Pinot Noir from Marlborough. The aromatic whites and Rose are under screw top as it is a convenience thing and the wines will invariably be drunk young.

So what does it come down to? I suppose personal preference, but it is definitely worth ageing wine under cork, let us know what you prefer. 



Getaway to Fiji -A Q+A With Victoria Wines

Rebecca Salmond talked to Kate, daughter of Liam the founder of Victoria Wines in Fiji to find out what is exciting her about the direction of Victoria Wines, and what Victoria Wines does up in Fiji…

How did Victoria Wines Start?

20 years ago VW was established by Liam to service the restaurant and bars around Fiji. Its still the only dedicated wine importer and distributor here. We taste everything we import and have always maintained stringent controls on temperature etc so the wine is always in perfect condition. 

You mentioned you are working closely with Fiji Tourism what’s happening there?

There is an impressive evolution in Fiji these days whereby the Top Resorts are very committed and focused on offering fine dining experiences with world class cuisine. Victoria Wines sponsors a Food and wine event in Denerau where the top chefs showcase their top dishes. Dishes have a local flair and it’s as fine as you will see anywhere. It is great to be working with these top resorts to help create the ultimate culinary experience. 

Where can you find Odyssey Wines in Fiji?

Vomo Island Resort, Laucala Island Resort, Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa, Hilton Fiji Beach Resort & Spa,and The Pearl Resort as well as at the Victoria Wines retail shops located in Nadi, Suva and the new store upstairs at Port Denerau.

The retail stores offer a huge selection of wines. The port Denerau store is very handy as it’s at the Port and gateway to the island resorts- a hidden gem in the marina!

Whish Odyssey Wine is your favourite at the moment?

I always love the Odyssey Rose. It’s fresh and light and I love it as an aperitif and then also with a salad or Tuna sashimi. A perfect drink for many occasions. The Iliad Chardonnay is always a favourite also and a wine many people already know about.

Vinaka Kate!


Catching up with Ponsonby Road Bistro

We talked to Sarah Conway Chef and Melissa Morrow front of house extroadinaire of Ponsonby Road Bistro about their new menu, their favourites wines and how to cook with wine at home. 

So tell me a little bit about the history of Ponsonby Road Bistro… How long have you been open and what do you think you bring to the area? 

PBR has been going for 7 years. We pride ourselves in our warm reliable service and love it that we can welcome back so many regulars. It’s a bistro, so it has that kiss-on-the-cheek type of cosy environment. Its important that we can offer a constantly changing menu so that even if you eat here three times a week you can always get something fresh and delicious. We work constantly on the wine and food menus.

What are some highlights over the last five years for PRB?

Gaining a Culinary Hat and maintaining it since our first year with Cuisine, we are 1 of 12 restaurants to do so. We are also consistently in Metro’s top 50.

Your menu is a perfect balance between wholesome food and fine dining. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Ethos is very much extension of our personalities.  Generosity of flavour, size and warmth of spirit and welcomeness are important to us. It is also very healthy, Sarah has studied Natural Nutrition and many of the dishes will feature pulses and be gluten free. We use rice flours as well, so if you feel great after dining here this is one of the reasons why. We also travel extensively and make sure we read all the time.

Your menu changes every three weeks, what can we expect to see on leading into summer? Any stand out dishes?

Cerviche and the Margarita Pizza with raw cherry tomatoes of various bright colours and buffalo mozzarella.

 What is your favourite dish on the menu right now?

The Manti, it is back due to popular demand!

 Your wine list is often commended, how do you get a list like this?

Like the food list, we constantly work on the wine list.  We work to find delicious wines at a reasonable price which can be a challenge. Hand on my heart, there is nothing on this list unless we love it! Its like on the food menu and runs parallel with it; it needs to be global, interesting, and quirky. Melissa also loves blended wines.

You stock both our Chardonnay ‘Iliad” and our Pinot Noir ‘Behave’, and they have been on your wine list for a long time! What is it that you think your customers like about Odyssey Wines?

We have had Odyssey Wines on the list since we started! We have some staples which we just cant remove, they are benchmark wines just like with the food, the Southern Clams are a signature dish, and our Cream brûlée too! We love the Odyssey wines, they are local, the quality is consistent, and it is nice to deal with Rebecca the winemaker, they sit well price wise they age well.

What is the perfect dish at PRB to match with our Chardonnay? 

Odyssey Reserve Iliad Chardonnay and the Southern Clams with shallots, thyme, garlic with a splash of Odyssey Chardonnay and cream and grilled sourdough.

And how about the Pinot Noir?

Pinot Noir, the duck confit with crab apple jelly and duck rosemary toasties and a bitter leaf salad, divine!

PRB food is rich in flavour. What would you say are you top tip for cooking with wine at home?

Cook with the same wine which you are serving. If you don’t cook for long, the flavours will still come out in the food. The rich flavour also comes down to our Suppliers. Over time and without preconception we have ended up with suppliers who are organic or biodynamic. Its like a thread of contacts who all are inter-connected in some way – the silver threads in life that bind it all together.

There is very much an energy heart and soul at PRB!


Odyssey Wines Online Store

Here at Odyssey Wines we are big on quality and collaboration, that’s why we use organic systems in our vineyards, employ quality and skilled local workers and businesses to help with our endeavours, and ensure we sell our wine to you in quality marketplaces and restaurants.

Our wine is available for purchase from fine wine stores in many of NZ’s big towns. But, if you live out of the way of these areas, fancy yourself a bit of an online shopper, or love a deal, we bring you our new and improved online shop.

The shop features all of our wines, from ‘Behave’ through to special limited releases, and our core Odyssey range. With the new online store, we offer deals and specials on our wine as well as providing you a range of information, reviews and tasting notes to ensure you are purchasing the perfect bottle to match your, or your loved ones, taste. For those customers who enjoy keeping their cellar full, we also have the Wine Club. Save 15% on all bottles by signing up, and receive three shipments of Odyssey Wines per year in either a dozen or half a dozen quantity. You can sign up here.

Our website has also been updated, too. It features an easy-to-use interface to make your online shopping experience less stressful. Our new blog segment features interviews with local restaurants, chefs, friends and industry insiders to provide you with plenty of knowledge about Odyssey Wines and the New Zealand wine and food industry. Also keep an eye out for a range of interesting articles about wine, storage, matching and tasting from Odyssey Wines award winning head winemaker and owner Rebecca Salmond. Give us a follow on Facebook and instagram to stay up to date and get a behind the scenes glimpse into Odyssey Wines, or stay up to date by signing up to our newsletter.

To celebrate the launch of our new website, we are offering a 6 + 1 dirty half dozen deal. Buy any six bottles on the online store in the month of November, and we will send you a seventh bottle for free!*

(we choose the seventh bottle!