Wine war: Top critic’s review of Ekleipsis pinot noir leaves bad taste in mouth for Canterbury winemaker

A storm is brewing between a winemaker and a critic who lambasted a pinot noir product in a scathing “condescending, patronising and misogynistic” email.

North Canterbury winemaker Jess Mavromatis says international critic Jim Harre told her to “find a new hobby” after he tried the Ekleipsis pinot noir nouveau at a Dunedin restaurant on Saturday.

Harre said it was the “worst pinot noir he has tried in years”, that it was “disgusting” and they should “give up” in an email to the winemaker.

Mavromatis says it offered no constructive criticism and that it reeked of an “incredibly condescending, patronising and misogynistic” tone.

“I just thought, ‘are you kidding me’,” Mavromatis told Stuff.

“I would have been completely open to any kind of constructive criticism, but there’s nothing there, it’s more like a personal attack.”

Harre has been involved in the New World wine awards since 2008, with 2020 marking his 13th year as chair of the judging panel.

He has extensive experience judging in New Zealand, Australia, China, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In a statement provided by Foodstuffs, which owns New World, Harre said he no longer wished to continue dialogue with the winery after the stoush.

“To be clear, I haven’t reviewed the Ekleipsis pinot noir nouveau, I charge for my wine reviews and Ekleipsis have not reached out to me to provide any feedback in a professional capacity,” he said.

“I did, however, provide personal feedback to the winery based on a glass I purchased and was served at a restaurant on Saturday evening – unfortunately the wine was, in my opinion, undrinkable.

“The ‘Nouveau style’ 2018 wine they have produced may have worked as a young wine but two years on the wine I was served was deeply unpleasant.”

Mavromatis also hopes to put the matter to bed, saying she has said everything she wanted to.

Foodstuffs’ head of corporate affairs and CSR Antoinette Laird said Harre would continue to work with them in the future.

“We are aware of the personal feedback provided by Jim to Ekleipsis Wines,” Laird said.

“Jim is a respected wine judge who is deeply passionate about consumers enjoying good examples of different styles of good quality wine, and in this instance, as a customer, he felt the product fell short.

“Jim has worked with us for many years and will continue to do so.”

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