Buongiorno, bonjour and “g’day”! (don't you like how they're all the same thing? ~ who knew Australian vernacular was so cosmopolitan???).

Also, "a good day to you, sir/maam" for our American pals, "Ni Hao" to China, and "Здравствуй" to our Russian comrades, "etcetera etcetera and so forth"... (for Yul Brynner).

It’s your old pal Kit (Christof) Fennessy here. I've been writing this blog with your help for ten years, and there's over a hundred and fifty recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours on.

Want to know more about me? Friend me on facebook, follow me on twitter, or even look up my New Yorker cartoons on instagram! NB; different platforms not all food related)

A big thank you, as always, to my sponsors at Blue Vapours (use them for all your design and advertising needs - we are waiting for your call!).

Now, what's on the bill of fare today?

Monday, March 29, 2010

South Island New Zealand - food and the Marlborough Region wines

Gidday! And Kia Ora to a new blog. We've just returned from a whirlwind trip around the wineries of New Zealand, or should I say the Seth Island of New Zuland... or should I even say "South Kiwi"? (More than one person asked me "which part of Aussie are you from?" - I kid you not). My poor liver! Our trip was for a higher purpose, however, with the imminent launch of our new wine iPhone app and the pursuit of new business partnerships (please take note ATO!).

The Marlborough region is famous for its Sauvignon Blancs worldwide, and why not? The terroir is ideal; gravelly, minerally soil that makes the roots dig deep, a climate with warm days and cool nights - a veritable micro climate perfect for the sav blanc varietal. 85% of grapes grown and wine made come from the sauvignon blanc grape. But what else do they grow? And what are the wineries like? Well, you'll be glad to know the answers are all here. AND I take you on another video tour...

The cooler climes of the southern island suit themselves to cooler grapes. Varieties you can typically find include pinot gris, pinot noir, and chardonnay; all of which grow well in addition to the sauvignon blancs which are so omnipresent you begin to worry about genetic diversity on the planet. Some of the smaller wineries are turning their hands to white blends, one of which I enjoyed called a Torru - in the French style of just chucking in what you have to hand and making the best job of it you can.

New Zealand isn't quite as big on the BIG reds. The southern island doesn't suit shiraz grapes. Shiraz is grown on the North island, but for some bizarre reason they call their shiraz wines "syrrah". Someone told me there was a slightly different wine making process between shiraz and syrrah, but when I tried to pin them down on just what made it different, they were highly evasive. I think it might just be the country. After all, they also call milk bars "dairies" and cricket "crucket". And I never spotted a merlot.

To come with me on a bicycle tour around Blenheim, visit:


Wineries visited include:

Wither Hills
Villa Maria Estate
Isabel Estate
Te Whare Ra
Mahi Wine
River Farm Wines

and the bike tour organised through

Wine Tours by Bike

A couple of quick other notes.

I was distraught to find out I missed out on one of the great lobster eating experiences in life while there. Lobsters are prevalent on the west coast of the south island, around the whale watching town of Kaikoura. But when I asked about the price for lobster at lunch, I was disappointed to find out it would be $100! Forget it. But driving north along the wild coast (that looked a little like Scotland - heath and no one around), we passed a number of cute looking lobster caravans at 100 km/h. Man, I nearly cried when I found out what I'd missed. The most famous of these is called "Nin's Bin" (as opposed to Binh Minh). They take lobsters off the sea floor that day, and boil them in a drum. Take a bottle of chardonnay, a jar of mayonnaise, get them to cut the lobster in half for you and eat it on the sand dunes. A snip but still not sure how much you pay - $20? Sniff! Do it for me!!

A fantastic restaurant we visited on the East coast just out of Hokitika (or should that be Hock a tiki?) was called the Stations Inn which has alpacas and fine dining (NB no alpaca on the menu). The photos on the site are atrocious, but it was actually very good.


Last but not least, a quick note of apology. One of our readers recently took their friends out to Binh Minh based on my last food review, and before they walked in the door their guests turned up their noses and walked down the street to a more celubrious looking establishment. For this I apologise; but I did warn you it was cheap and cheerful! No more "hasty tasty" reviews from me, I promise.

Till next time we meet, ciaou for now and bon apetit!

Kit ///

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