NZ (6) Gisborne and Hawkes Bay
Wellington Airport has free wifi access. How cool is that? I've been unable to blog for the last few days because I haven't had any internet access, but aside from that, I've hardly had a spare moment. So while I've got time (approximately 20 minutes until the next flight) and internet access, I'll try to give a brief update.
Leaving Marlborough on a gloriously sunny morning, I got on a tiny, tiny plane for a quick hop across to Wellington (the smaller the plane, the more fun flying is, I reckon) over the Cook Strait. I then flew to Napier, where I picked my hire car up, before heading off to Gisborne to see James Millton.
James had warned me that the 200 km journey was a tricky one, with winding roads, tight bends and lots of ups and downs. The 2.5 hour drive required a lot of concentration, but it was worth it, because the short time I spent at Millton was one of the best vineyard visits I've ever made. James runs his 28 hectares biodynamically, but this shouldn't be allowed to overshadow the fact that the wines he makes are quite brilliant, with a distinctive old world elegance and character.
We tasted, visited some vineyards, dug up some cows' horns, and I even got up at 0545 to see BD501 being mixed and sprayed. James and Annie were very hospitable, and I even had a chance to hit some golf balls and dip my toes in the Pacific (although not at the same time). James is pictured above with his special preparation stirring device.
Then it was back along the perilous highway 2 to Napier, the heart of the Hawkes Bay wine region. I arrived at the Craggy Range winery on the Gimblett Gravels (they also have a Cellar Door overlooked by the Te Mata Peak, where I was staying for a couple of nights in the vineyard cottage, which is a beautiful place to stay).
I tasted through the astonishingly good range of 06 reds, soon to be released Pinots, mind-blowing Syrahs and delightfully poised Rieslings. Craggy is on fire. That evening I crashed dinner with the board of Pinot Noir 2010, who were meeting at Craggy that day. Yesterday began with breakfast with Steve Smith, followed by a full day of appointments: Esk Valley, Sacred Hill, CJ Pask, Stonecroft and Trinity Hill. After the last appointment we had a beer and a glass of wine, before Warren Gibson invited me over to his beautiful rural home for dinner. The drive home proved a bit of a hit or miss affair (a combination of an inaccurate map, a tricky journey, darkness, and the fact that Hawkes Bay is a really easy region to get lost in), but I made it intact.
Today I'm off to Waipara, before heading off home from Christchurch tomorrow. This potted summary is a woefully inadequate, on the fly account, for which I apologise: as usual, the report in full will appear on the main site.