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A TOAST to Monkey Bay

New Zealand’s largest-selling wine in the U.S. clicks at Woodland Hill’s TOAST Restaurant

Monkey Bay’s 2004 Chardonnay is a sexy, lean blonde; creamy, with racy acidity, virtually unwooded (the subtle wood is for texture, not flavor). Hints of lemongrass, melon and peach round out this fresh wine.

Alistair McIntosh, Group Senior Winemaker for New Zealand’s Nobilo and Monkey Bay labels, with Toast restaurant proprietor Stacy Moyer

TOAST was named for all the right reasons: the clinking of glasses for celebration, the delightful nuances from wine barrels or even the expression of a minor “buzz.”

The Woodland Hills, CA restaurant owner, Stacy Moyer, is a welcoming host, whose modesty for his comfort food is evident when he describes the fare as somewhere “between high end dining and fast food.”

What we love about Toast – and Stacy – is the easy-going atmosphere, the friendly wait staff, and the approachable and facile navigability of his wine list.

Toast is a perfect home for Monkey Bay.

“Seriously Good Wine”
Since 2003, Alistair McIntosh – Group Senior Winemaker for the Nobilo label – has been ascribing creative energy towards Monkey Bay, a New Zealand brand developed for the U.S. market.

With its first 2004 release, Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc has been sold as a crisp, refreshing white. “New Zealand wine at this price point - $9.99 – is hard to find,” McIntosh points out. “Monkey Bay’s Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc profile, at the tropical side of the spectrum, works great in this part of the country,” he stated, referring to the western U.S.

“Its acidity is soft, and you really want to drink more than one glass. You’re not getting that intense grassy character often associated with New Zealand Sauv Blanc with this wine.”

There’s no doubt that Sauvignon Blanc has transformed Marlborough in the past 25 years, “and the area and its wines have grown exponentially since,” McIntosh added. But despite the ever-increasing number of wines being exported to the States, according to McIntosh, the top-two selling New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are Monkey Bay and Nobilo.

Where is Monkey Bay?
While there have been no documented sightings of monkeys in New Zealand, Monkey Bay is located within the larger – and now renowned Cloudy Bay – off the coast of Marlborough, on New Zealand’s South Island.

Describe the Flavor Profile of Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc!
This is New Zealand’s example of elegance: from its zesty tropical notes of pineapple and kiwi to its fresh cut grass and floral notes. The balance of intense fruit, freshness and length lend it charm and it is a fine mate for food.

Monkey Bay 2005 Sauvignon Blanc pairs with Toast’s Southwest Cobb salad. The wine’s snappy acidity softens the bite of the sassy barbeque ranch dressing.

How does the Monkey on the label symbolize New Zealand?
*The monkey’s color – jade – is a ubiquitous gem found throughout New Zealand. The Maori people, indigenous to the islands, fashioned their weapons from jade.

*The silver that runs through the monkey depicts traditional Maori carvings, used in canoes, on wooden spears, home decorations and tattoos for face and body.

*The monkey’s tail represents a “Koru,” the growing tip of the country’s native fern. Also a national symbol, it is used by Air New Zealand and in the Maori’s native tongue, it means “peace.”

From the East Coast of New Zealand’s North Island – Hawkes Bay – Monkey Bay’s 2005 Rosé overflows with fresh berry flavor. A cherry nose and a blueberry finish designates its fruity punch, but the prom-dress pink wine also possesses an elegant, off-dry finish and a balanced acidity. A blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Pinotage, 10% Malbec and 5% Pinot Noir, the vines enjoy a maritime climate, rooted in sandy loam soils.


THE TASTING PANEL Magazine is the nation's fastest-growing and most widely read trade publication for the alcoholic beverage industry. We have a readership of 90,000+ beverage industry insiders, including mixologists and bartenders, hotel F&B personnel, restaurateurs and wine directors, wine and spirits producers, suppliers, importers, distributors and retailers.

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We have an international network of experienced editors and writers who cover all aspects of the beverage trade, with a focus on today's most happening brands and the people who produce and use them.  Our stable of writers and photographers can and do cover stories across the country and abroad.

Do you accept freelance pitches?

We are not accepting freelance pitches at this time. However, if you are an experienced wine and/or spirits writer and have an interest in being assigned stories, you may send an email query and published writing samples to and you may be considered for upcoming assignments in your area of expertise or geographic locale, depending on our editorial needs.

How can I have my spirits brand or wine reviewed or otherwise featured in THE TASTING PANEL?

We accept samples year-round for consideration for possible review in both Meridith May's "Publisher's Picks" column and Anthony Dias Blue's "Blue Reviews" column. Please see our Sample Submission Guidelines.

If you are interested in having your brand covered in a custom feature story, contact our VP of Marketing and Advertising, Bill Brandel (

Do you host visiting spirits producers and winemakers?

We do often meet with winemakers visiting the Los Angeles area and taste with them in the tasting room in our offices in Encino. Please contact Meridith May ( to make arrangements.

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