I'd like to start this column with a pun. It's one of a collection of puns that won comedian David Kearse (a "Kearse" on humanity as he calls himself) the Rubber Chicken award for Britain's Top Pun Artist at Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival held last month.
It goes "Marvin Gaye kept a sheep in my vineyard. He'd herd it through the grapevine". Which I like, because it's wine-related and wine puns are hard to come by.
However members of the medical fraternity may prefer his other ditty: "I was at hospital last week. I asked the nurse if I could do my own stitches, she said 'suture self'."
Mead me in the bar
Mark Atkin of Bemrose Estate has just released his new Red Mead and new premium reserve honey mead called Excaliber. The Red Mead ($22) is a blend of honey, boysenberry and plum wine that's designed to sip as a sweet, spicy, velvety-smooth autumn afternoon treat. The Excaliber ($27) is based on Atkin's wintermeade recipe of blending manuka and other native honeys and then aging the wine in toasted French oak barrels.
They're both unique honey wines that pair beautifully with strong cheeses, dried figs and charcuterie.
When hearing news that entries are being called for the second annual New Zealand Organic Wine Awards, it got me thinking about Kiwi pioneers of all things natural when it comes to crafting wine.
Names which immediately spring to mind are Richmond Plains and Woollaston Estates in Nelson, the team at Turanga Creek in Auckland, Angus Thomson at Urlar in the Wairarapa, Kim and Erica Crawford at Loveblock, the Seresin Estate and Te Whare Ra families in Marlborough, Rudi Bauer and his exceptional wines from Quartz Reef in Central Otago, Geoff and Nicola Wright and of course, James and Annie Millton, Gisborne-based pioneers of organic, biodynamic viticulture.
SIPS OF THE WEEK
Millton Les Arbres Clos de Ste Anne Gisborne Viognier 2013, $60
Make no mistake; this is a wine you must try before you die. If you're looking for the epitome of what can be achieved with viognier in this country then this is it. Deeply golden in the glass, this viognier socks you with the nostalgic scent of polishing wax, grilled apricot, jasmine, lambswool and musk. On the palate it is silky, luxuriously textured, studded with exotic spices and dried citrus peel and finishing with delicious warmth and complexity. Glorious. www.millton.co.nz
Tatty Bogler Central Otago Pinot Noir 2013, $35
It may be named after a scruffy Scottish scarecrow, but this pinot is pure class. Fresh, clean and showing nice lines of red fruit, cocoa and spice on the nose, the palate is followed by a long juicy finish.
Very nice indeed and destined for more good things. www.forrest.co.nz
Killarabbit Double IPA 330ml (7.2 per cent), $7
Brewed on site by Bannockburn-based winery Terra Sancta and fermented in aged pinot noir barrels, this brilliant brew is dry-hopped with Pacific gem and Nelson sauvin hops for extra-squeaky bitterness. It's then left unfiltered and bottle-conditioned. Packed with tropical tanginess, herbaceous, resin-like loveliness in every sip, there's a big, biscuity-malt mouthfeel and a cleansing, smooth finish. Love it!