NWWA – Meet the Judges: Simon Nunns

Consulting Winemaker Simon Nunns has been a senior judge in all the major New Zealand wine shows and is a highly sought-after educator and speaker. Simon also features regularly as a judging panellist for Cuisine magazine and has a passion for alternative grape varieties. He has worked vintages in both the United States and France, in the regions of Oregon, Bordeaux and Burgundy, and was the head winemaker at Coopers Creek Vineyard in Auckland for over 20 years. Simon was awarded the inaugural Jason Winter Memorial Prize for academic achievement while completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology from Lincoln University.

How old were you when you had your first wine ‘moment’?

“It was in 1987, I was 20 years old. My girlfriend and I had gone away for our first ‘dirty weekend’. We travelled from Palmerston North to Hawkes Bay and Gisborne. I reluctantly agreed to visit some wineries. I was overwhelmed by wine’s diversity and history. I immediately decided I wanted to be a winemaker. I didn’t know what winemakers did, but I wanted to be one.”

What does your own wine cellar look like and what is your most recent addition?

“Normally about 35 dozen. Latest additions were collected - 2012 Champagne Philipponnat Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut and 2014 Giesen Marlborough Pinot Noir ‘Clayvin Vineyard’.”

In the last 12 months, which grape have you drunk the most of?


In the last 12 months, what’s the most exciting region you’ve discovered or re-discovered?

“I’m currently enjoying the huge diversity that Champagne has to offer. Most people simply drink name brands, without stopping to think about smaller, and, less well known houses.”

What has been your most memorable wine and food moment?

“It was unheralded. I was in Sydney for work and had a chance to catch up with some chums. I had bought some very ripe fleur de maquis, and we ate in on fresh bread and drank 1992 Taylors Quinta de Vargellas. It was an astounding match!”

Wine styles continue to fluctuate. Where do you think the wine-style pendulum is swinging?

“I’d like to think that, here in New Zealand, customers will seek out what we call ‘Alternate Varieties’ – that is, anything beyond what we currently consider to be ‘mainstream’. Albariño is a perfect example.”

What do you enjoy most about judging at the NWWA?

“Lots of things! It is very professionally run, and so it is a pleasure to be involved with people who are so good at their job. I have been nourished by the wine industry, and, so, it is great to be able to pass on that nourishment to others – new judges, associate judges, and, ultimately, New World customers. It’s a great chance to get a snapshot of the current range of wines. It’s a great chance to catch up with chums – we love a chat, a few wines and a tasty meal!”