At Star Anise last night with Judy and Tim Finn (right).

“We were pioneers,“ declared Judy Finn from the Nelson winery Neudorf. “There was no wine industry in New Zealand at the time we started; we didn't know what would work.”

Judy and husband Tim were in Star Anise last night to introduce us to their stunning wines from the South Island . They started there in 1978 and, after 34 years, they still learn from each vintage and still enjoy the chase. You may read more about the vineyard and its people here

One of their top aims is to make wine of some substance. They believe that virtually anyone can make a big fruity wine, like making pop music. Drink it and forget it. But the Finns are always working not just for flavour but to give some more interesting layers that will draw you back for more.

They call it “the second glass appeal” and they certainly got that right in the first wine we tasted. Neudorf Sauvignon Blanc 2010 is a terrific example of their work, closer to the Loire than the New World, powerful and smooth, fruity, herby and memorable.

It was also a terrific match with our starter: Crispy Ham Hock with Beetroot Relish and Mustard Cress, itself maintaining the high standard already set by the Amuse Bouche of Cream of Cep and Truffle Oil.

And the Star Anise kitchen again hit the high spots with the next dish: Pan-Fried Halibut with Cockles and Samphire, Lemon & Herb Beurre Blanc. Neudorf Chardonnay 2009 was an excellent match.

The vineyard’s Chardonnay has been much praised over the past twenty years and indeed cool climate Chardonnays, such as this, have been credited with the grape’s revival after the excesses that turned many people off.

Complete and harmonious are the descriptors you’ll find on the site. Judy said that Chardonnay wines “reflect the winemaker”. Tim was rather modest about accepting the accolade but it is a lovely refreshing style and “you feel like another one”. That second glass appeal again!

Judy loves her Pinot Noir and we had the Neudorf Moutere Pinot Noir 2008, a beautiful subtle and elegant wine. While Judy was delighted that it had just received 92 points from the Wine Advocate, that didn't change her pretty low and earthily expressed opinion of wine guru Robert Parker.

Again, Star Anise had the match for the Pinot: Braised Chuck of Beef with Thyme, Parsley Puree, Horseradish Mash and Glazed Baby Carrots. The beef was so so tender and the whole plate was a perfect combination of flavours. Gorgeous.

It was a horrible day in Cork with the rain coming down but we did have a lovely evening thanks to Star Anise and Neudorf, a great combination. Great too to chat with John and Julie from Dillon’s in Timoleague and with Richie (and his bay moustache) from Blair’s Inn. And a big thanks too to Viginie and her team in the restaurant and to Conor and James Nicholson Wines (who distribute the Neudorf range in Ireland).