Paul’s Winter Wine Travels, Lesson One
Back in early March, it looked like we would have a slightly early and compressed harvest. So, when planning an overdue work journey, it seemed safe to take off towards the end of May. In a cool climate like Central Otago, that is a beginner’s mistake.
The season cooled off early with a little rain and snow, and the harvest extended out over five weeks. The quality was excellent, and we are very impressed with the young wines—vibrant, concentrated, and aromatic. However, the timing meant we pressed our last Pinot Noir, and I got on the plane to Australia the next day.
Australia was overdue for a visit since 2019, and it was amazing to see how the wines had both retained spots and moved into some fantastic restaurants. Our lovely importer, Franc About Wine, continues to connect our wines with great establishments. In the name of wine and food matching research, I made sure to visit some of the awesome venues listing Prophet’s Rock wines. Here are a few great spots to visit:
From Australia, I headed to London to work with our importer and take up the “winemaker in residence” role at the epic pub, The Red Lion and Sun in Highgate. Owner, Heath Ball (a Kiwi from Henderson) consistently wins top awards for his pub and his amazing wine list.
I also enjoyed catching up with restaurant legends Dave Strauss and Henry Harris at their new bistro, Bouchon Racine, sitting above their lovely pub, Three Compasses, in Farringdon.
On the way home I stopped in New York to help present a series of seminars for New Zealand Winegrowers up in the Catskills. My only knowledge of the area being that it’s the key historical location for both the movie Dirty Dancing and boxer Mike Tyson—either way, slightly nerve-wracking. The two-day wine programme was great and helped (I hope) show the great diversity of wines and style outside of what journalists and consumers typically run into at their local wine shop or supermarket in north America.
With limited time in NYC itself, I made a double pilgrimage to both the MOMA, and its incredible restaurant, The Modern, to catch up with the wine director and friend Arthur Hon. A nice part of their incredible wine list is the Featured Wine Selection / Wine Is Art, where wines are matched to artists and painting on display at the MOMA.
I very much enjoyed the trip and seeing the wines in-situ around the world. Four weeks after leaving the tail end of vintage in Central Otago, I was back to the calm of listening to white barrel ferments bubble and Pinot Noir quietly sleeping through winter. Next year, however, I will remember to adopt the motto of No Travel in May.