When you meet Claire and Mike Allen and sit at their kitchen table, gazing out upon the stunning beauty of the surrounding Wairau Valley all covered with vines, and peer beyond to the silhouettes of lofty mountains bathed in rarefied air, you cannot help but understand how wine is made at Huia and why it tastes so pure and natural. In addition to the supreme terroir at Huia and the sustainable viticultural practices that are away of life at the Allen's budding wine estate, Claire and Mike also bring some of the finest winemaking credentials to their small domain along Rapaura Road in Blenheim on New Zealand's picturesque South Island. They have the distinguished honor of being one of the few husband and wife teams to have studied at Roseworthy in South Australia, one of the world's most prestigious schools of oenology. Moreover, they both helped establish the renowned and now legendary Cloudy Bay Estate, before establishing Huia in 1996. Each has also completed an extended stage in Champagne where they worked at Veuve Clicquot and Taittinger, respectively, in order to master the art of producing top-notch bubbly. When it comes to making expressive, individually styled white, red, and sparkling wines that exhibit flavor as well as panache, no one knows how to do it better than Claire and Mike Allen. The Huia estate is strung along a series of low hills and terraced slopes that were once an old riverbed. From the rock and mineral rich soil of this domain flows a plethora of award winning wines, most notably Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir and one of New Zealand's finest Champagne Method Brut sparkling wines. All of Huia's wines receive the spa treatment, meaning the grapes are hand harvested and receive kid glove treatment from start to finish. Yields are kept extremely low in order to allow each of the estate's varietals to garner the maximum amount of flavor and finesse to impart to the resulting wines. Huia also uses Seguin Moreau French barrels and puncheons for aging its wines, which impart flavor, depth, and an added dimension of age worthiness, without smothering the wines in the flavor of oak. All this adds up to excellence at Huia.