Sometimes we come across extraordinary people, living their passion, following a dream or just doing something absolutely great with wine. Cellar Maison have a strong connection with New Zealand – director, Andrew Speer is from the beautiful wine region of Nelson, bordering the widely known Marlborough region. When we heard that someone had opened a specialist wine shop in London selling the best NZ wine – we naturally wanted to know more!
Meet the lovely Mel Brown, the creative driver of The New Zealand Cellar, London’s very own Kiwi wine boutique, bar and online store.
Hear Melanie’s fascinating story, along with some NZ wine tips, plus more about their events and consultancy services for restaurants and bars, as well as for home owners setting up their own cellar.
Mel, where are you from in NZ?
I grew up in Auckland, but spent 5 years in Christchurch completing a Chef Apprenticeship before moving to London.
How did your interest in wine develop?
Slowly and very late on, after moving to front of house at The Providores (London’s most iconic Kiwi restaurant) I was completely in awe of the wine offering and this ignited my passion. I studied my WSET soon was living and breathing all things NZ wine.
What brought you to London – and eventually inspired you to start your New Zealand wine business?
I was on my OE, ready to learn and discover new cultures and cities. Initially it was all about the food, but before long my love of wine was introduced and I was quickly eating and drinking my way through Europe. Whilst working at The Providores I became increasingly aware of the lack of platforms in which you could buy NZ wine. I wanted customers to enjoy these wines at affordable prices, I wanted to support the vineyards and producers that work tirelessly, by creating an exciting and specialist platform that was able to convey the integrity of the stories and wines within it.
How has The New Zealand Cellar been received by Brits?
Amazingly! It seems the Brits go crazy for NZ wine. With the highest average bottle price of any other country in the world, the Brits certainly know NZ’s reputation for quality wine is a given.
You sell wine online, and now also in your Brixton store – What sort of experience do you like to give customers coming in person to shop for wine?
For me it’s always about awakening the senses, encouraging customers to look past Sauvignon (not that we don’t love it) but showcasing that NZ can produce an array of styles and varietals that aren’t currently in the spotlight. Its about creating a relaxed, informal and approachable way to enjoy wine, but also offering education and fun.
What are your thoughts on New Zealand wine compared with wines being produced in Europe?
Stylistically they are very different, NZ is such a young and dynamic wine producing country with bright fresh examples, whilst Europe is capable of producing some extremely elegant developed wines of elegance and poise. Each has its own place, and can be enjoyed with so many different foods.
Can you please give us some inside info?
Watch out for NZ Chardonnay, linear, driven and so delicious.
What are a couple of your favourite wines to drink now?
I’m in love with the North Canterbury region right now, these wines are amazing:
Have you some good recommendations for wine to cellar?
Good Pinot Noir from NZ is ageing gracefully, I’ve definitely got a collection in my cellar!
Do you have a favourite New Zealand wine and food combination that is available to UK readers?
Yes, check out Peter Gordon’s page in our Cellar Press!
Are you able to assist with curating a New Zealand section of a private wine cellar or collection?
We offer many tasting and cellaring services. These are bespoke and are quoted to your individual needs. ~We work with clients to determine their exacting requirements. A lot of the time we end up hosting corporate events and private tastings as a result of working with people in their personal cellars. This is definitely one of the most rewarding tasks, particularly when you can see the impact this makes by allowing these producers to be recognised.
What services do you offer to bars or restaurants wishing to have high quality selection of New Zealand wine on their lists?
We also offer a consultancy service, and can happily advise on a NZ wine element of any list. We work closely with many distributors and producers throughout London and can provide an intelligent and thoughtful offering.
Many thanks from Cellar Maison to Mel for her generous tips and information. Hope you too get the chance to visit The New Zealand Cellar and enjoy Mel’s friendly advice and expertise.
www.cellarmaison.com – Bespoke Wine Cellars for the Home, Bar or Restaurant.