Zephyr: Marlborough gets interesting in the hands of Ben Glover

Website: https://zephyrwine.com/about.htm

Ben Glover made his reputation as a winemaker working for Brent Marris at Wither Hills, and later Mud House. This was to prove an ideal training ground for him to establish a family winemaking business under the name of Zephyr.

The Glover family were dairy farmers in Marlborough before they turned to winegrowing. They sold the business and quite a bit of land in 1985, and with the proceeds planted 30 hectares of vines in one of the most sought-after Marlborough subregions, Dillons Point. This, their home block, is tucked into the Wither Hills above the Wairau Lagoons. These used to flood regularly until the Wairau Diversion was cut in the 1950s, so they have deep silt loam soils. This is the source of most of the Zephyr wines. Ben and his wife Susie bought half of the vineyard from Ben’s parents and now farm this organically. The rest they lease.

The family also have another block, the Alice Mills block, in Rapaura, though not in the stony/bony part. This is a 28 hectare vineyard and the Zephyr Pinot Gris comes from here. Zephyr also purchase some Pinot Noir from the Rawhiri vineyard, which is on the southern clays and is better suited to Pinot than the fertile lower Wairau.

In 2018 Ben bought the Seresin winery, and with it a 3 hectare vineyard they have called the Brink. This is the oldest organic vineyard in Marlborough, planted in 1992. They have renamed this winery The Coterie, and as well as making their own wines there it is also a contract winery space.

The winery name comes from the Mark 3 Ford Zephyr that Ben owns, and one of the wines is named Mark III in homage to this classic car. I caught up with him over lunch in Hunan to taste through the latest releases.


Zephyr Pinot Gris 2022 Marlborough, New Zealand
This is from 15 year old vines in Rapaura. Very expressive with nice pear, apple and white peach characters with some freshness. Crisp and slightly spicy with nice texture and freshness. 92/100

Zephyr Riesling 2022 Marlborough, New Zealand
This comes from 1.5 hectares planted in 1996. 8 g/litre residual sugar, and high acidity. Lively, bright and taut with bracing lemony fruit finishing with lime oil notes. There’s some pithiness here with lovely clarity and purity. 93/100

Zephyr Riesling 2011 Marlborough, New Zealand
Intense, vivid and dry with just the tiniest hint of TDN. Lovely lemon and lime fruit with fine toasty notes and some crystalline detail. Purity and precision here. 93/100

Zephyr Sauvignon Blanc 2022 Marlborough, New Zealand
Sauvignon ‘doesn’t have to be beige,’ says Ben Glover. He’s right, and this is really good. He’s not looking to accentuate the thiol characters that Dillons Point is famous for, but uses neutral Champagne yeast, looking to get tomato leaf, fennel and aniseed notes in the mix. Taut, mineral nose with some reductive hints. So salty and intense, this is vibrant, pristine and crystalline with great detail, and some subtle tomato leaf and salad green notes complementing the citrus fruit. 93/100

Zephyr Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Marlborough, New Zealand
This was a real surprise. Lovely grapefruit, pear and passionfruit aromatics with some herbal greens. Pristine still, with freshness. Fresh and expressive with a touch of aniseed and lovely weight to the fruit. It has aged beautifully. 94/100

Zephyr Mk III 2022 Marlborough, New Zealand
First made in 2013, this is a different expression of Sauvignon: hand picked, oxidatively handled and fermented and matured in old barriques. Fine and expressive with a nice mineral twist, showing lovely mineral notes and a nice savoury twist. Lovely stuff. 93/100

Zephyr Chardonnay 2020 Marlborough, New Zealand
‘Chardonnay is a fantastic variety,’ says Ben Glover, who makes this from vines planted in 1996. It’s fine and spicy with subtle meal notes complementing the citrus fruit. Very expressive with nice acidity and such detail and precision. Not bold and exotic, but more Chablis-esque, but driven with high acidity. 93/100

Zephyr Gewurztraminer 2022 Marlborough, New Zealand
A really good example of this variety that stays fresh while delivering the rich flavours this grape is known for. Fresh rose petal and lychee notes with nice weight and balance, and good complexity. 92/100

Zephyr Agent Natural New Zealand Wine 2022 Marlborough, New Zealand
This is an orange wine, first made in 2016 – a skin-fermented field blend of different varieties – and the two barrels sold straight away to his importer in Denmark. Over the last five years this has had 70-110 days on skins (the first iteration had just 30) and there are no added sulfites save for 25 ppm at bottling. Golden/orange in colour this is a really delicious, slightly wild wine with mandarin, pear and peach fruit complemented by the spicy phenolics of what tastes like Brettanomyces. Nice depth and focus. 92/100

Zephyr Pinot Noir 2022 Marlborough, New Zealand
Juicy and vivid with nice raspberry and red cherry fruit with supple bright fruit. Quite fresh and floral with nice brightness and a hint of seriousness on the finish. 91/100

Zephyr Pinot Noir 2014 Marlborough, New Zealand
Fresh and supple with raspberry and red cherry fruit. There’s some fine spice, too. Slightly tangy on the finish with lovely fruit, a hint of mint and some nice green hints. Supple and very fine. 93/100

Older notes from 2018

Zephyr Pinot Gris 2017 Marlborough, New Zealand
First vintage was 2016. This has lovely texture with just a hint of sweetness and nice pear and spice notes. There’s a touch of tangerine with a delicate spicy complexity and some real Pinot Gris personality. Nice weight. 89/100

Zephyr Riesling 2017 Marlborough, New Zealand
Lovely purity here: zippy and bright with direct citrussy fruit. Really nice acidity here with just a bit of sweetness (11 g/litre) balancing out the high acid. Linear and refreshing with lovely weight. Some pithiness on the finish. Distinctive. 89/100

Zephyr Gewurztraminer 2016 Marlborough, New Zealand
Didn’t do this in 2017: it never got off the vine. 2-3% add back of skin ferment down to 8 brix. Lovely texture here with a nice spiciness and some grape, rose petal and Turkish delight. Has a bit of grip under the smooth fruit. Really compelling with some sweetness on the finish. 91/100

Massey Dacta Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Marlborough, New Zealand
A separate brand, meant to be more fun and frivolous. Very fruity and expressive with sweet melon and citrus fruit, with a juicy, vibrant personality. Some appealing greenness. Quite exotic, with lots of appeal, 88/100

Zephyr Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Marlborough, New Zealand
Fresh and showing some nice restraint, with well integrated green notes and a mineral streak. There’s a lovely citrus core to this wine, and it has a savoury dimension. It’s not looking to be an exotic, tropical style, and it’s all the better for it. Very nice balance here. 90/100

Zephyr Chardonnay 2016 Marlborough, New Zealand
15% new oak, puncheons, hand-picked. Juicy, lively and focused with a nice spiciness and some grapefruit and white peach. Very fresh with nice supporting spiciness from the well integrated oak. Lovely and very drinkable, with some brininess on the finish. 90/100

Zephyr MKIII 2013 Marlborough, New Zealand
Alternative style of Sauvignon: hand picked from east/west rows, just the golden fruit on the northern side, with a view to losing the methoxypyrazine. Whole bunch pressed straight to barrel. Two barrels. Lovely intensity here with a slightly salty edge and some complex notes of nut and wax. There’s a lovely core of citrus fruit with real finesse and a lovely acid structure. There’s some fennel and straw, too. 93/100

Zephyr MKIII 2015 Marlborough, New Zealand
Three barrels. Concentrated and briny with lovely acidity. There’s a waxy, fennel complexity and a juicy lemony finish. Very expressive with a tangy finish. Give this a little time to settle down, and this should age really well. 92/100

Zephyr MKIII 2017 Marlborough, New Zealand
Five barrels. Delicate and fine with lovely citrus core and some nettle, fennel detail. It’s pure and linear, more about the texture than the fruit. Grown-up Sauvignon blanc with a nice salty, slightly mineral finish. Lovely balance. 92/100

Zephyr Pinot Noir 2016 Marlborough, New Zealand
Rawhiri vineyard. Some whole bunch. Juicy and lively with nice spicy framing. Has a lovely sour cherry edge and some savoury chalkiness, as well as supple berry fruits. Vibrant with some nice structure and well integrated greenness. Supple and balanced with elegance and drinkability, but also a bit of grunt. 92/100

Mr Glover Pinot Noir 2015 Central Otago, New Zealand
From Bendigo. Juicy and lively with a slightly savoury twist to the sweet but balanced cherry fruit, with some warmth, nice texture, and a grainy, savoury edge. There’s a richness to this, but it avoids being heavy or too dense: it’s still very drinkable. Supple and juicy. 92/100