Reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Tipsy Norton mixes it up with a tasty drop

Bafta award-winning comedian Graham Norton can now add "chief winemaker" to his CV, after he created his own blend of New Zealand sauvignon blanc - which hits Kiwi stores today.

The wine was created during a two-hour blending and tasting session at a London hotel with Invivo winery's chief winemaker, Rob Cameron, and director, Tim Lightbourne.

The outcome is the 2015 vintage Graham Norton Blend, and in Norton's own tipsy words on a video promoting the wine: "It's that, that and that ... I hope you like it. I do right now, but then I've drunk a lot of wine so my judgment could be very cloudy.

"But in this moment I think this is delicious."

The new drop is a blend of grapes from three Marlborough vineyards, and Mr Lightbourne said despite the session's slurred finale, Norton had a very good palate and was picking up on some very subtle differences between six different grapes he was presented with.

"We tried to throw a bit of oak in there but he wasn't having any of that." And the taste? Mr Lightbourne said the wine was full bodied and tropical, but with a bit of zing - slightly different to other Marlborough sauvignon blancs from the winemaker.

"He's come up with a bloody good drop."

Last year Irish-born Norton, a shareholder of Kiwi winery Invivo, rolled up his trousers on The Graham Norton Show and stomped a barrel of sauv blanc grapes to create a limited-edition wine that sold out across the country.

The new wine will be available through Super Liquor stores from today and will head to Australia, Britain and Ireland later this year. It has a recommended retail price of $18.99.

Norton's proceeds from the wine will be donated to a British charity that helps to rehome dogs, DogsTrust, from which he adopted one of his own pooches, Madge.

In March, Invivo gained 430 new shareholders through crowdfunding platform Snowball Effect. Norton has a 0.8 per cent share in Invivo, while other well-known shareholders include New Zealand fashion label Zambesi's owners Neville and Elisabeth Findlay.

Through Snowball Effect, the company raised $2 million in capital - the maximum amount that can be gained through crowdfunding.

- NZ Herald

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