I’d like to think that my near permanent thirst for wine is somehow matched by my equally persistent thirst for more knowledge about it. I am, as a result, wont to indulge in research at every opportunity – you know, the kind of research that involves drinking the stuff.
So, when I was invited recently to not only sample a selection of wines from Cloudy Bay, but to meet their viticulturist Siobán Harnett, I was hardly going to say no. The fact that this invitation also involved eating in Michelin-starred Guilbaud’s again was, er, a bonus – admittedly one that you might actually sell your granny for. None of your fried dandelions on the menu here, no sirree. Instead a range of delicate and impressive eats, designed to complement the ever elegant liquids of Cloudy Bay.
On the Guilbaud's Cloudy Bay lunch menu:
Stewed Basque Pepper Terrine, Croustillant of Dublin Bay Prawns (yeah, I had to look it up too - they're crispy, in other words), Fillet of Charolais Beef, Rhubarb Cheese Cake (with an eminently edible candy-striped white chocolate surround)
Suffice to say that I was ruddy-cheeked by the time I departed.
That’ll happen when you (a) spend a few hours in a room with some 200 wines from 37 different New Zealand winemakers and (b) have yet to learn the necessary art of spitting. I’m feeling woozy just thinking about it.
The event was yesterday’s annual New Zealand wine trade tasting presented by New Zealand winegrowers and ably organised by Jean Smullen. The tasting room was filled with wine buyers and restaurateurs and people whose job it is to write about wine and, er, me (there will be no prizes for spotting the odd one out, sorry!).
Wine, check, glasses, check, off we go...
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“It’s nearly midnight”.
Myself and KD were skirting close to that cinderella time of night, when it was best to leave before turning into something less than beautiful. We had spent the previous several hours at a lovely New Zealand wine tasting arranged by the good folks at Curious Wines. Guiding us through our suppage was Joyce Austin of New Zealand Boutique Wines, as we worked our way through 11 wines and played guess-the-grape and describe-that-taste (with, it has to be said, mixed success – frankly I blame the chili I had for dinner). We were very diligent about drinking everything that was poured for us, though, to the point of there being much giddiness at our table. Luckily, though my recall might be hazy, my notes tell me that the two which most appealed to my palate that evening were a 2008 reisling and 2006 pinotage, both from the Muddy Water winery. My wine horizons, I feel, continue to expand.
It's like this - you swirl the wine, then keep a firm grip of your glass lest anyone try to make off with it