Good Grapes


Dore and I woke up to a very nice continental breakfast at our B&B, where we met up with the rest of the guests. There was a couple from Colorado who had been in Abel Tasman for a few days on a kayaking trip, and another couple that had just flown in from London. The couple from London looked surprisingly chipper, considering their 12 hour time change. Yikes.

After breakfast, we got cleaned up and headed out to a fantastic farmer’s market that we’d heard about from both the tourist brochures and and from our hosts. The market was really awesome, and we ended up finding gifts for several of our family members while we were there. (Just a few gifts to go now, and we’ve got all of our family members covered!)

We watched the time as we walked along the many stalls, and a little before noon we headed over to the YHA youth hostel next to the market to meet up with a wine tour we’d scheduled the day before. The van pulled up a few minutes later, and we were off on our grand wine adventure.

The tour was much like the wine tours I’ve been on previously, with a few notable differences. First, the organization of the tour was very well managed. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about the area wineries, and obviously knew the staff at the vineyards quite well. He actually did most of the pouring, bringing bottles of wine out to our tables and presenting the wines to us.

Second, the tastings were a bit smaller than we were used to. On the one hand, that meant that we were not completely buzzed by the end of the trip, and were still able to tell a decent wine from vinegar. But on the other hand we weren’t completely buzzed by the end of the trip and were still able to tell decent wine from vinegar, if you know what I mean. One thing they did that was a bit odd was that they limited the number of tastings that you could have, but if you had two people together they would pour one wine in one glass, and another in the second, and then each person could taste a bit of each. It sounds good in theory — you get to taste more wines — but in practice it felt like we were getting even smaller tastings. I didn’t really get enough to feel like I got to know each wine, and I think our buying showed it. We only bought two bottles of wine during the trip.

Third, the selection of wines was a bit different than I was used to. New Zealand wines are dominated by the whites. I think about two thirds of our testings were of white wines, with reds being somewhat an afterthought. The reds also tasted a bit watery and thin to me, with little of the bold, dry spiciness I was used to in California reds. The whites, on the whole, were quite nice. But I found myself not really noticing much difference from one to another after a while. I’m usually more into red wines, which may have made some difference, but it seemed that the New Zealand whites were dominated by very light, fruity wines that, while being quite drinkable, did not have much to distinguish one from another.

That being said, there was one unique varietal that Dore and I did really like (and ended up buying a bottle of). It was called a “blanc du noir,” and was a white wine made from pinot noir grapes (which are almost always used to make red wine). It actually ended up having the faintest bit of blush coloring to it, but was definitely not a rosé. It came from the Richmond Plains winery, which is one of only a handful of certified organic wineries in all of New Zealand.

On the tour we met a really fun couple named Murray and Rachel (I’m sorry if I’ve misspelled their names!) that were both originally from the north island. They were both around our age, and were really just good fun people. Dore and I had a blast talking to them about everything from wine to cooking to why the toilets in New Zealand have two buttons for flushing. (Murray politely explained that they were for “half” and “full” flushes, to which Dore immediately responded, “Oh, you mean for number one and number two!” Yeah, the tasting pours weren’t that small.)

Despite our… ahem… openness, Murray and Rachel invited us to go to dinner with them, to which we delightedly accepted. After the tour wrapped up, Dore and I went back to the B&B and got cleaned up, then took a quick nap before walking to their hotel to grab dinner. We had a really great meal and talked for several hours. We were really reluctant to end the evening, but we needed to get home, as we had to get moving early to make our ferry crossing the next day. We swapped email addressed with them, however, and I feel that we’ll be keeping in touch.

We walked back through the town, which was quite a bit more lively than the night before. Our B&B was on the other side of the bar and nightlife scene of Nelson, which was going pretty strong as we passed, I think in part because of the Easter holiday. As we walked home a group of girls celebrating the occasion leaned out of a car window as they passed and yelled to us, “Wooh! Happy Easter!” I’ve personally never been hung over on Easter. I don’t know how that would feel, but somehow I think “Happy Easter” wouldn’t quite describe it. I wish those girls the best of luck.

Categories: Blogroll, New Zealand Trip 2010 Tags:
  1. Ian
    April 9th, 2010 at 10:26 | #1

    Then he took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me, for this is the last time you’ll be seeing these.”

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