SOHO’s Havana judged #1 Pinot Noir in NZ

24 May 2017

SOHO’s Black Collection Havana Pinot Noir 2015 has won not just a Gold Medal at the International Wine Challenge (IWC, London), but also the Trophy for Best Marlborough Pinot Noir and the highly coveted Trophy for Best New Zealand Pinot Noir, taking Havana’s total medal tally to an incredible 5 Gold Medals and 2 Trophies for this vintage alone. The IWC is accepted as the world’s finest and most meticulously judged wine competition.

“We are absolutely thrilled, especially as these grapes are from my father’s vineyard in Marlborough. With SOHO I have created a very non-traditional wine brand, uniquely with a real marketing focus on the consumer. I have always said wine is about the end user and that is certainly the essence of SOHO. Even though we challenge the traditional norms, we have the greatest respect for the winemaking process and ultimately put our heart and soul into bringing you the best wine we possibly can. This award is true recognition of that” says Rachael Carter, Managing Director of SOHO Wines.


SOHO’s innovation keeps spark alive

28 February 2016

Lunch with Amber Hatton from Soho Wines starts with a glass of a wine that is selling like hot you-know-whats at that long standing food and drinks institution, SPQR, on Auckland’s Ponsonby Road.

The wine we are drinking is Soho Pinot Gris. It’s good. Bright, fresh and youthful; dry, full bodied and fruity. It’s easy to like. And, according to Hatton, it’s even easier to sell.

The wine we have come to talk about is worlds apart.

Meet Betty. She is also white. She cruises in with less than 10% alcohol. She is bright, crisp and fresh; light bodied, medium dry and – cue the hesitation – made from Riesling. This puts her in one of the toughest wine categories to sell in New Zealand today.

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly why Riesling makes people hesitate in New Zealand when it sells with far more ease in Australia. But it does.

The irony is that Riesling has tradition- ally been the raw ingredient in many of the great classic white wines of the world, which frequently contain less than 10% ABV – the light, crisp whites of the Mosel in Germany are the apex of this style. They could be the role model for the type of high quality wines that New Zealand’s cool maritime climate does so well.

Instead, we are in the midst of a lower alcohol wine movement (‘lifestyle’ wines, as named by New Zealand Winegrowers), which unfortunately seems to imply that many producers can harvest any old white grape far too early and then cool ferment it (to preserve any aromatic flavours, which appear to be few because many of these wines taste unripe). They can then bottle it, slap on the words ‘lower alcohol’ and there we have it. Unripe, sharply acidic, often insipid white wines, which do not represent the grapes they are made from nor do they provide an enjoyable glass of wine.

Fortunately, there are exceptions. Forrest Estate’s The Doctors’ Riesling was the first of what could be many outstanding lower alcohol wines – it has flavour, balance and lightness. It even ages impeccably well; but that’s not the point.

The production of lower alcohol wines is generally directed at having something tasty to consume now. This is why the Soho winemaking team created a lower alcohol wine with a difference – Betty.





Her flavours are not compromised by reducing her alcoholic content because the grapes were harvested when ripe, which is obvious in her intense flavours. These are balanced by her light body. The high acidity is crisp but it is balanced by retaining some residual sugar so that the acidity does not seem sharp. And the wine doesn’t taste ‘sweet’. It tastes fruity, succulent and refreshing. Within a month of release, Betty had already won medals at wine competitions, which supports the theory that lower alcohol Riesling can taste drop dead delicious – when made well.

Many of the greatest Rieslings in the world today contain lower alcohol and higher aromatic flavours because they walk a tightrope of high acid-high sugar (natural grape sugars, that is). And they taste effortlessly well balanced, while delivering significantly less alcohol.

The latest statistics from New Zealand Winegrowers tell us that in 2014 there were 2046 vineyards in this country; 9% of their land was devoted to Pinot Gris and 3% to Riesling. Eleven years ago, there was double the number of Riesling vines as there were of Pinot Gris. One is a classic; the other one makes a popular, easy to ‘get’ wine.


Article by Joelle Thomson, Drinksbiz, February/March 2016 issue

SOHO Rosé triumphant

14 October 2015

WC-RoseSOHO’s White Collection Pinot Noir Rosé 2015 has won the trophy and the only gold medal for a Rosé at the International Aromatic Wine Competition.

Find out more about this wine here.


Zabeel features in Air New Zealand’s Kia Ora magazine

18 May 2015


Bob Campbell has included SOHO’s Blue Blood Zabeel in his wine review of Waiheke’s premium reds in the April issue of the Kia Ora magazine. Bob Campbell says the Zabeel is “a very impressive wine that promises to age very well indeed, although it is surprisingly accessible now.”


11 March 2015

201211211458560_ESWA_Logo_RGB_120nThe medal results of the 2015 Easter Show Wine Awards have been released. Of 1,222 wines entered for judging, there were ONLY  88 (7.20%) gold medals awarded & only 3 Rose’s, including SOHO Westwood Rose 2014 from our Waiheke vineyard!  No. 2 Gold already for this season, with a Gold at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards and 5 stars by Yvonne Lorkin as well as 5 stars by Sam Kim of Wine Orbit.