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Unreserved Wine Talk

237 EpisodesProduced by Natalie MacLeanWebsite

The Unreserved Wine Talk podcast features candid conversations with the most fascinating people in the wine world. Your host, award-winning journalist Natalie MacLean, dives into how it feels to compete in the nerve-wracking World's Best Sommelier Competition, the shadowy underground of wine forgery… read more


112: New Zealand Wine's Sacred Soils with Left Field's Richard Painter

How does the unique geography and climate of Hawke's Bay and Gimlet Gravels in New Zealand create wines unlike any others? How does New Zealand Syrah differ from those from other regions? Why do many winemakers seem to have a special love for Chardonnay?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I'm chatting with Richard Painter, Winemaker for Te Awa Single Estate and Left Field wines.

You can find the wines we discussed at


  • How does the geography of Gimblett Gravels impact the wines you get from Te Awa Wines?
  • Which foods would make a good match for you to pair with the lighter style of Left Field Chardonnay?
  • What prominent notes will you experience with Left Field Chardonnay?
  • Which delicious pairings should you try with Left Field Sauvignon Blanc?
  • What's the fascinating story behind the unique illustrations you'll find on Left Field wine labels?
  • How does Chardonnay lend itself to the wide stylistic variations available to you?
  • What particular style can you expect from Left Field Chardonnay versus Te Awa Estate Chardonnay?
  • Why are goat cheese and Sauvignon Blanc a pairing a perfect pairing you should try?
  • What unique characteristics will you find in Left Field Rosé?
  • Should you cellar your Rosé?
  • What differences will you taste between a New Zealand versus Australian Syrah?
  • What can you expect from a Left Field Pinot Noir and Left Field Merlot?
  • Why would you find that wine is a natural progression after studying geography?


Key Takeaways
  • I admire Richard’s love of geography and soil: it’s so fundamental to understanding and loving wine.
  • This week, I’m trying his suggested pairing of fried snapper with lemon and a zesty cool-climate Chardonnay.
  • He observed that Chardonnay is often considered a winemaker’s wine since it can express so many staples and variations depending on the winemaker’s decisions, and of course, the terroir.


About Richard Painter

Richard studied a Bachelor of Science majoring in Geography at Otago. Whilst living in Dunedin, he spent four years managing the legendary Bath St. Nightclub. During this stint in hospitality, Richard began attending wine clubs and tastings. He soon realized that not only did he really enjoy drinking wine but also that the process of making wine was intrinsically linked to soil science and climatology and therefore appeared to be a practical application of what he studied in Physical Geography. This burgeoning interest in wine took him to Lincoln University in 2006, to complete a Graduate Diploma in Winemaking and Viticulture.

Richard started off his career in the wine industry working in vineyards in Central Otago, Canterbury and Nelson. During a year working at Neudorf Vineyard’s in Nelson, he discovered an interest in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and wanted to learn more about these wines. This led him to travel to Oregon to work for Owen Roe Winery and as fate would have it, ended up working in their facility in Washington State.

Again his curiosity with different varietals was piqued and he fell in love with making (and naturally drinking) bold red wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot blends and Syrah. This love of red wine is what brought Richard to Hawkes Bay as he wanted to work with fruit from the famous Gimblett Gravels sub-region.



To learn more about the resources mentioned in this episode, visit the

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