One of my favourite things to do on weekend afternoons is to plonk down in front of the TV with my husband, open a bottle of wine or a tasty craft beer and settle in to watch fishing shows.
We've enjoyed the same routine for years and we thought we had it under control, but since getting Sky TV a couple of weeks ago our viewing hours have got out of hand. We subscribed in order to watch my wine show, Thirsty Work, on FoodTV, but with a plethora of channels to choose from, every waking hour offers televised watery wildness. We can't help ourselves.
Deadliest Catch, When Fish Attack, River Monsters, Shark Invasion, Bering Sea Gold, People of the Sea, Somali Pirate Takedown, Whale Wars and Swamp Loggers - they're like a drug, we get itchy for more, we forget to wash and feed our children and we snap at each other during the ad-breaks.
It's time for an intervention. So this week, my husband is away on a proper fishing trip in Taupo with his mates and I'm going cold turkey, focusing instead on trawling the internet to see what's going on in the world of wine this week.
Only in America would you find a burger bar offering wine milkshakes. Based in LA, The Counter burger chain has added three vanilla icecream-based flavours to their beverage list. The Pinot Noir shake also features cherries and chocolate, the Sweet Peach includes sweet wine and peach nectar, while the Mimosa uses sparkling wine and orange juice. Apparently the wine helps to cut through the sweetness of the shake and, though they taste milkshake-ish to start, the drink tails off with a distinct wine finish. Ick, pass me a bucket.
190-YEAR-OLD VINEYARD CLASSED AS A HISTORIC MONUMENT
Back in the late 19th century, an epidemic of phylloxera (a sap-sucking louse) laid waste to vineyards across all of France and the greater continent.
However, one tiny surviving vineyard in the Gers region of southwest France has become the first living thing to be classified as an historic monument. Believed to be about 190 years old and owned by the Pedebernade family, the vineyard has 20 different varieties in the ground including red grapes "tannat" and "fer servadou". But it has seven unknown grape varieties as well, which have been named Pedebernade 1 to 7 in homage to the eight generations of the family who have cared for the vines over the years. Jean-Pascal Pedebernade (45) is managing the vineyard and, despite handing over the reins 20 years ago, his father Rene (85) can't stay away.
The family have plans to open the vineyard to the public and a special commemorative wine could be on the cards to celebrate their monumental achievement.
Not being a huge spirits drinker, I'm usually guilty of sticking to my tried-and-true favourites. But after tasting the flavoursome and incredibly pretty Gabriel Boudier Saffron Gin (700ml 40 per cent abv $60) my eyes have been well and truly opened.
Fashioned from a recipe containing juniper, coriander, lemon, orange peel, angelica seeds, iris, fennel and saffron, this delightful mandarin-hued gin is one of the loveliest things I've experienced. Smooth, warm and deliciously silky, it's lovely on its own or with a splash of good tonic and a slice of orange. Gabriel Boudier is a micro-distiller located in France's Dijon region and the bottle has a hint of Moulin Rouge about it. For stockists email email@example.com
PINOT GRIS PERFECTION
MAHI WARD FARM MARLBOROUGH PINOT GRIS 2011, $29
Hands down this is one of the stand-out pinot gris of the year for me. Gorgeous white peach, poached pear and quince conserve aromas lead to a palate layered with delicious nutty, mineral notes, lemony loveliness and a lingering, textural finish. Elegant, multi-faceted and an absolute joy to drink, I love it! www.mahiwine.co.nz
DOMAIN ROAD CENTRAL OTAGO PINOT GRIS 2011, $27
Another favourite. It has an exotic combination of nashi pear, quince, soft spices and tongue-tingling acidity. Beautifully balanced in the mouth, there's a silky, cleansing character and it has a lingering mineral-driven finish. Gorgeous. www.domainroad.co.nz
LAKE FORSYTH BANKS PENINSULA PINOT GRIS 2009, $32
I really like the Forsyth Banks Peninsula Pinot Gris. It manages that delicious balance between dry and mineral notes on the nose and palate and achieving rich, white peach and quince flavours in the mouth. There's a lovely creamy layer of complexity which adds depth and dimension to this clean, refreshingly textured wine. Clearly some real care and attention to detail has gone into the production from this Cantabrian pinot gris specialist. Great stuff. www.lakeforsythvineyard.co.nz
URLAR GLADSTONE PINOT GRIS 2010, $28
Finally, one more favourite is the Urlar Gladstone Pinot Gris 2010 because it's packed with juicy quince, grilled pear and peach notes which wash across the palate with fresh, mineral-driven freshness and finishes with a lean, lengthy elegance. Organically and biodynamically produced and very pretty indeed. www.urlar.co.nz
AND SOMETHING EXTRA ...
CHAMPAGNE J. DE TELMONT GRANDE RESERVE BRUT, $49
This little sparkler from Damery near Epernay in France has quite a chunky bead, not the teeny tiny bubbles you'd expect in champagne, but the gorgeous aromas and flavours more than make up for that. Bright white gold colour, aromas of buttered croissant and roasted almonds and a smooth, creamy, yeasty mouthfeel and a zip of lemony freshness on the finish. www.epicureanwines.co.nz
AMISFIELD RKV RESERVE CENTRAL OTAGO PINOT NOIR 2007, $95
When Amisfield winemaker Dr Stephanie Lambert decides to take a superlative batch of fruit grown on their lean, bony, loessial Rocky Knoll Vineyard to create a wine that she feels is a cut above the rest, then you should take notice.
The new RKV has been created to celebrate Amisfield's 10th harvest and has incredible wild strawberry, cherry, wild thyme and black tea aromas and an incredibly smooth, succulent mouthfeel. It is elegant, statuesque and built to last - but it's also silky and slippery enough to enjoy now. ensational and worth every cent. www.amisfield.co.nz