The Wine Countdown

June 7th, 2014

The time has come. Our departure from New Zealand – land of oceans, mountains and delicious wine – is imminent. And for the last month or so, we’ve been eyeing our substantial wine stash with growing concern.

You know there is imbalance in your life when you are tracking your departure date by ‘number of bottles left to drink’ as opposed to ‘number of days’. (I write this while enjoying a delicious Kirkpatrick  2011 Pinot Gris from Gisborne…purely in the interests of keeping on top of our ‘to drink’ quota).

To do list: #1 deal with wine backlog

To do list: #1 deal with wine backlog

But, I have to say, we were pretty much on-track until my father came to stay. I had of course reckoned with us enjoying a goodly number of bottles in his eminent company. I had however overlooked his propensity to wine-taste and wine-buy with an alacrity which I can only suppose is genetic.

As long as number of days outnumbered number of bottles, I figured we stood in relatively good stead.

Visitors were due to come and stay, and say goodbyes, so we knew there would be many an opportunity to enjoy our spoils. However, I found myself tallying bottles gifted vs bottles drunk per visit…measuring each convivial evening not only by laughs enjoyed but by number of bottles depleted.

And as our departure date approaches, I fear we have not done enough. But I refuse to be defeated.

Joking aside, we have truly made the most of New Zealand in so many varied ways – and especially in terms of its fantastic viticultural offerings.

Stunning Chard Farm winery in Otago's Gibbston Valley near Queenstown

Stunning Chard Farm winery in Otago’s Gibbston Valley near Queenstown

We tasted at an indecent number of wineries; sampling wines with true diligence and duty to the cause. We bought wine for Christmas, for New Year, for festivals we don’t even CELEBRATE. We collected free T-shirts, tea towels and signed up to newsletters – which we received and read earnestly, even as our hearts broke, knowing we’d be leaving before we would need to order a new case.

We explored Otago’s Pinot Noir, the Chardonnays of Gisborne, wondered at the Pinot Gris (from so many places), delighted in Marlborough’s rich offerings and explored the previously unchartered (for us) territory of Northland (Marsden Estate and Ake Ake were our favourites).

Vines in the famous Marlborough wine growing area

Vines and views in the famous Marlborough wine growing area

We have revelled in No 1 Estate’s fizzy – which rivals the best of French champers – and have tickled our tastebuds with the relatively unusual (for NZ) imports of Grüner Veltliner (Alana, Martinborough; St Clair, Marlborough) and Gamay Noir (Te Mata, Hawke’s Bay). We have delighted in classic Sauvingon Blanc and been intrigued by alternative interpretations of the grape (the more ‘mature’ Hunter’s 2007 SB and also the Amisfield SB from Otago). We have probably damaged our livers a little. We have learnt more about viticulture and rejoiced in the aesthetics of Otago’s vines in all their autumnal glory. We have savoured with friends, paired with food and accompanied the best of views with the tastiest of beverages.

Vines at Chard Farm in Otago's Gibbston Valley

Grapes hanging from the vines at Chard Farm in Otago’s Gibbston Valley

And these were a few of our favourite wine tastings (to be sung in the style of Julie Andrews): Chard Farm (Gibbston Vallley, Otago) – worth it for the sensational driveway and views…oh, and the amazing Pinot Noir; Peregrine (also Gibbston Valley); Te Mata (just outside Napier, Hawke’s Bay) – not just for the bank-breaking Coleraine which is among NZ’s finest reds, but also the eminently affordable Gamay Noir and a host of other delicious treats; Ata Rangi and Alana (Martinborough); Spy Valley and Forrest Estate (Marlborough)…oh we could go on!

Tasting wine at Feast Gisborne's annual vino-romp

Tasting wine at Feast Gisborne’s annual vino-romp

We will undoubtedly miss New Zealand wine, though not nearly as much as the glorious land and the wonderful people.

And for those friends and family who fear we may have spent a disproportionate amount of our time in New Zealand supping wine…I can only say that we share your concerns. And that we have enjoyed every flipping moment. Your very good health!





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