Burgundian Wairapa

It was interesting hearing Jancis Robinson, in New Zealand for Pinot Noir 2017, talk to John Campbell on Radio NZ after the event. She described Waipara pinot noirs as ‘grunty’ and the most Burgundian of all the New Zealand wine regions. Amongst all the connotations that ‘Burgundy’ conjures up, one means ‘age worthy’ to me. And so I chose an age-worthy Waipara pinot noir to feature in my February 2017 Urban and Country column on cellaring wine. Continue reading

Johanneshof at Millwater

I dined at Millwater Bistro & Bar in early February after the incredible wine list lured me there and jumping out and seducing me was vintage 2008 Blanc de Blancs bubbles from Johanneshof Cellars in Marlborough. Johanneshof Blanc de Blancs 2008
How could I resist as Johanneshof has a special place in my vinous memory not only for the fabulous day with Warwick and Rachel one Easter when we passed through Marlborough on holiday but also for their stunning gewurztraminer. Continue reading

Quenching Tohu Pinot Rosé 2016

Tohu Pinot Rose 2016A late evening walk at Shakespear Regional Park – one of Auckland’s fantastic network of regional parks – had us strolling through the wetlands to the Waterfall Gully bush track that 15 minutes later emerged in a paddock, after which some considerable deep breathing (for me) had us arriving at the lookout – the highest point on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. Then a leisurely saunter down the hill to Okoromai Bay when our picnic awaited. My contribution ‘Pork Char Sue’ and a chilled bottle of Tohu Pinot Rose 2016 from the Nelson wine growing region. Continue reading

Te Mania Rosé and chilli prawns

The exploration of summer pinks continues with Te Mania Nelson Pinot Noir Rosé 2016 – certified organic, suitable for vegans, 12.5% alcohol, $21.99 RRP. temaniawines.co.nz.

Te Mania Rose 2016The bouquet of this light cherry-red hued rosé tantalised me as I was taking the photo, like a bowl of summer berries wafting out of the glass as I played around with the position of the bottle and the glass on my sloping concrete patio – but later, with my nose right into the glass the aromas are more earthy and savoury – like you expect mainstream pinot to be – plus a bit of rhubarb possibly. Continue reading

Creative solution for grapevine prunings

A striking monolith-like structure stands tall and proud as the centrepiece of Waiheke Island’s ‘Headland Sculpture on the Gulf’ walk, #hSOTG 2017. Made from grapevine prunings from Waiheke Island’s vineyards, it’s a creation by environmental artist Chris Booth who name is rather more synonymous with stupendous sculptures in stone. Of Booth’s works winelovers may recognise ‘Wairau Strata’ that stands on a river terrace in Marlborough above the entrance to Seresin Estate however probably better known in New Zealand is his iconic stone ‘Gateway’ arch in Auckland at the Victoria Street entrance to Albert Park and his tribute to the Rainbow Warrior at Matauri Bay in Northland. Check out his website chrisbooth.co.nz for these and many many more.

It was a surprise to see a Chris Booth sculpture created from grapevines, and very pleasing for a winelover like me. ‘What a wonderfully creative solution to the disposal of grapevine prunings,’ I thought. Continue reading

Richmond Plains ‘blanc’ and nectarines

Apart from a chilled glass of wine there’s nothing more deliciously refreshing in the middle of summer nectarines than juicy, fresh-off-the-tree stone fruit and to me it seems the stone fruit is more abundant this year. Perhaps it is because for the last few weeks the fruit has been prolific at the farmers markets I’ve been to, and the produce stores have created tempting displays right by the entrance to woo you not only with the sight of these glorious beauties but also the smell. Inhale deeply and swoon. Mmmm-mmm. Some days there are even yummy samples of the most pristine fruit to taste and yes, you know you just have to buy. Continue reading

Al Brown meets Main Divide

I used to love lamb backstrap with pinot noir, the backstrap such an easy and tender cut that now seems to only appear in a fancy packet with a fancy price to match. Now I wander the meat department looking for quick pinot inspiration – or any inspiration – but often all I see is a display of blank canvas raw meat cuts crying out for cheffy embellishments. I am not a chef; I wouldn’t even describe myself as a cook. I cook meat as a necessity to get my protein quota. It gets boring. Continue reading

Corn and cracker chardonnay

Sweetcorn. Ah. One of the delights of a New Zealand summer. Roadside stalls, farmers markets and produce stores tempt with just picked produce although the days of ’5 for $1′ seem to have past.

I usually pop an un-husked ear of corn in the microwave, cook 4 to 8 minutes depending on the size, peel back the leaves my eager fingers staccatoing in response to the heat. I remove the leaves and the silk, drizzle with butter, season with salt and pepper and eat.

microwaved sweetcorn

But this summer I was introduced to a yummy sweetcorn salad – a sunny bowl of golden kernels with a creamy dressing. “Based on a Nici Wickes recipe with mayo, parmesan, lemon and a whisper of chilli,”  the salad maker said.

When it comes to matching wine with sweetcorn my first choice is chardonnay and not surprisingly one was ready and waiting – Domain Road’s chardonnay from Central Otago Continue reading

Ruapehu in summer and Matawhero Rosé

There’s nothing like an exhilarating day on Mt Ruapehu in the summer holidays to stimulate the thirst buds. You can ride the Rangatira (first) and Waterfall (second) chairlifts to Knoll Ridge café and toboggans can be hired to sled on the snow for the younger (and possibly older) who dare.

View of the upper slopes of Mt Ruapehu from Hut Flat

This combined with a walk down the Rock Garden, a walk on the Whakapapanui track and a spot of bird watching – although trying to capture on camera New Zealand’s smallest bird, the swift moving titipounamu (rifleman), will have to wait for another day. I did see the rare whio (blue duck) that graces our $10 bill, and an extra bonus was the sighting of the one ‘white’ blue – exciting to see.

Returning to Ohakune the wine was chilled and waiting. Rosé of course. Tonight the Matawhero Single Vineyard Pinot Rosé 2016 from Gisborne. Continue reading