Let’s talk about wine

After my last blog I received a request for an article (!), this time on New Zealand wines, as the issue has not been raised to date.

To prepare for the article we have had to undertake some ‘extensive’ research, which frankly hasn’t been that much of a hardship, but I have to confess to some bias in our research. Neither Sally nor I really drink white wine which is actually a bit unfortunate as we have spent the last two weeks in the Marlborough area, home to arguably the best Sauvignon Blanc wines in the world but which is pretty disappointing in terms of its red wines. What reds there are tend to be Pinot Noirs, which to our taste are merely white wines with blusher, although having said that we did try a wonderful Pinot from a small vineyard in Waiheke which certainly passed muster. As you can tell this is a pretty ignorant wine review!

So dominant is Sav Blanc in the New Zealand wine oeuvre – 85% of all wine exported is Sauvignon Blanc, 90% of which comes from Marlborough – it is difficult in the UK to find other styles of good value New Zealand wines, especially reds. Fortunately for us though we are in New Zealand and not in the UK, so have been able to do something practical to address this deficit on behalf of all of you!

To cut to the chase – we like Hawke’s Bay wines and in particular their Syrah for which the region is particularly suited given its long hours of sunshine and gravely soils which reflect the sun’s rays back onto the fruit. The wines are full bodied with a peppery taste. The Hawke’s Bay area though produces a vast array of different wines to suit all tastes.

Did I also mention we have grown fond of Cabernet Franc?

Unlike the Marlborough region where a lot of the growers are producing grapes as part of a collective, the vineyards in the Hawkes Bay area are largely independent and the volumes produced under a particular label are therefore a lot smaller. Despite being New Zealand’s second largest wine producing area (and the oldest with the first wines being produced in 1851 compared to the Marlborough region which interestingly didn’t really produce much of anything before the 1990s) very little of it finds its way into the UK’s main distribution channels We have though had some success in the past finding New Zealand reds in places like Majestic Wine Warehouse (other quality distribution outlets are also available!). Most of the time however you will only find these wines on the wine lists of posh restaurants and priced somewhat further up the price chain from the house wine I fear!

Our wine adventures (which let me assure you are conducted by bike to allow for any accidental over consumption en route) are not yet complete and in particular we are open to becoming lovers of wines from the Central Otago area on South Island – but we won’t get there for another few weeks.

Well that’s about it on wines – I told you this was a pretty ignorant review – but here are a few more travel pictures thrown in for good measure as I know some of you appreciate images rather than words.

Thanks for your comments on previous blogs by the way! I have had to upgrade the security on the site as we were starting to attract some rather more ‘exotic’ followers but I hope that won’t affect your access.

Kenepuru Head, Marlborough
Some wait for the train at Picton – picture taken on 16 January!
Whites Bay near Blenheim
A crowded overnight camping spot (getting down with the, mainly German, yoof)

7 Comments on “Let’s talk about wine”

  1. Well my interest was sparked when I read “We have been asked to write an article” until I saw it was on wine! As a non wine drinker I couldn’t get too enthusiastic:) However, more importantly, you are having a great adventure and Sally seems to be enjoying life by the sea. Perhaps she will get her fill and you can then move to Oxford? (I think not).

    Richard, as a white wine drinker, was getting bored with the selection of white wines that he had been drinking over the years until I discovered Pinot Gris in Aldi, Freeman’s Bay, Gisborne at a bewildering silly price of under £6. Other supermarkets only sell NZ wine with price tags nearer a tenner. So Richard is more than happy for now, but I think he will need to re-visit NZ to try some different wines in the future.

    I have been looking at camper vans as it definitely seems like a very practical way to see more of the country (NZ, not the UK) and you can cook up a stir fry on your little stove, I assume, lessening the need to eat out all the time. We will be quizzing you on your return about the pros and cons of this part of your experience and whether it makes travelling more relaxing and/or stressful finding somewhere to stop for the night etc.

    We are off to Singapore on 15th and very much hope Chris and Maggie will be joining us there, if only for a couple of days, as Chris has commitments there to fulfil. This would definitely be a bonus for the trip as I prepare for the heat and humidity.

    Sending you our love and looking forward to the next non-wine inspired article.

    1. Getting around, finding camping sites, ‘dump’ stations etc couldn’t be easier. There is a great app called CamperMate which covers both NZ and Australia and is the most important travel tool we have. It works off line too so you don’t need to worry about internet access

  2. sally looks so relaxed overlooking gorgeous scenery/water/2nd to last photo.. someone has to do this I would imagine!

  3. More exotic posters even than those of us who have been commenting over the past few weeks? How is that possible?

    For many years I thought of New Zealand as a white wine place, certainly from the point of view of wines we import in the UK…

    …but for the last 10-15 years I have been pleasantly surprised by some of the reds, especially some of the Syrah wines we can get here in Blighty. Don’t be put off automatically by Pinot Noir – some of the Kiwi ones are surprisingly robust – although some are very light indeed, as you say.

    I shall point “Sir” Nigel Godfrey to your posting, Ian. He is an old friend of mine from school who migrated to New Zealand a long time ago. Nigel knows a heck of a lot about Kiwi wines and might have some useful comments for you.

    “Sir” Nigel was awarded his mythical knighthood by his former schoolmates for services to the beauty pageant industry, so he might bring some exotic comment posters along with him.

    Strangely, while trawling my January 1989 diary, I came across your name in there – along with the names of several of your then colleagues – I shall send you a link once I have written something up about that week – it might raise a smile.

    So glad to see that you two are having such a good time.

    1. A blast from the past indeed! So glad you have learned to spell my surname correctly since then – a mark of true friendship methinks 😊

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