Spotlight On Our Producers: Whanau Imports
Anthony Allport | Founder & Atlantic/Central Sales | Whanau Imports (New Zealand)
How Did You Get Into the Field of Wine?
Wine has always been a passion. Starting at age 13, I worked for a wine business in Australia helping to carry cases of wine out to cars in the parking lot. Closer to college age, I spent 10 years working as general manager for an importer and exporter of duty free fine, which helped me learn a lot about the industry. After training in Europe with LVMH and their wine brands, I decided I wanted to return to Australia and work with smaller wineries. I set out on my own 10 years ago with a focus on New Zealand producers, moving to New York City and more recently relocating to the Midwest.
Can You Tell Us About Whanau Imports’ Portfolio?
We represent 12 small, family-owned wineries and brands. Our intention is to keep an eye out for what’s new. It’s easy to pigeonhole New Zealand into Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, but there is so much more to discover. We aim to elevate the profile of Sauvignon Blanc’s from other regions across New Zealand, as well as other quality varietals.
What Should Customers and Consumers Know About New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc?
We have 6-7 styles of Sauvignon Blanc that are vastly different from the commercial or commodity-style offerings from Marlborough. Ours are less fruit driven and exude elegance with a savory, textured sense of place. You can taste the regional terroir.
We are also interested in natural wines from New Zealand that carry stability and don’t vary too much from bottle to bottle. We know it’s important for consumers to have a general idea of what they can expect.
What Are Some of the Other Varietals You’re Introducing From New Zealand?
We are focusing on regions outside of Marlborough and unexpected varietals. We are working with producers like Decibel who make a beautiful Malbec. I believe they’re one of only two that are present in the U.S. right now. Many are familiar with Argentinian Malbec which can be heavier – this is on the other end of the spectrum. There’s a wow factor that people love to discover when they taste New Zealand Malbecs.
We also expect Chardonnay from the Hawkes Bay region to be the next big thing from New Zealand along with Pinot Noir. Both are quite sophisticated.
Do You Recommend Enjoying New Zealand Wines With Food or On Their Own?
Our wines are grown in a cool climate, which makes them soft, elegant and savory. These wines pair well with food, opposed to others grown in warmer climates that can become too overpowering.
What do You Wish People Knew More About When it Comes to New Zealand Wines?
Over the past year, consumers have reached for much of what they know. It’s time for the gates to open and enjoy the discovery of tasting again. The wines that set the tone for New Zealand are usually mass produced and there are many small, family-owned winemakers who put thought and energy into what they’re creating to pair with chef driven food.