jamie goode's wine blog

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Wellington is an easy sort of city to hang around in for a few days. It’s big enough to have all you’d need, but compact enough to get around easily by foot. The waterfront makes it easy to navigate – as long as you have an idea where it is, you’d find it hard to get lost. I’ve enjoyed my short stay here a lot.

Last night was the Pinot Noir 2010 gala dinner, which was a grand old affair. I was sitting next to Nick Stock on a table at the front. Nick got picked on by one of the comedy duo the Topp Twins (topptwins.com) who worked the crowd wonderfully. They had the minister for health, Tony Ryall, on stage – he seemed a good sport as he was humiliated by them mercilessly, but he clearly has a great sense of humour. There were also a couple of singers performing, who are likely very famous in NZ, and I should really know their names, but I don’t (one was Elizabeth Marvely).

Laugh of the night was reserved for Richard Riddiford, who presented one of the awards for champions of New Zealand Pinot Noir (Felton Road got one; Ata Rangi the other – both very popular choices). Riddiford, in his usual dry style, referred to something as being difficult (precisely what I can’t remember). ‘It’s as difficult as a 70 year old having sex: it’s like putting an oyster into a parking meter.’

Oz Clarke also did a perfectly judged speech where he urged New Zealand not to go down the same road as Germany and Australia, by cheapening the image of its wines in the UK by selling bulk Sauvignon at £4.99. If New Zealand Sauvignon becomes cheap (the ‘savvalanch’) then its Pinot Noirs won’t be taken seriously.

Considering how many people were attending, the food was brilliant. The wines were good, too, and many people had brought special bottles along with them. Mike Weersing, Blair Walter and Nick Mills all popped round to Nick and I to give us pours of some interesting bottles that they’d brought.

Before the end, we were milling around, socializing. The highlight of this trip has been meeting so many great people. Wine is about places; it’s also about people. As well as the winegrowers, I’ve met many fellow writers and commentators for the first time, and they are a great bunch of people.

While my colleagues with more stamina headed off to Havana. I bottled it and caught a good night's sleep. Enough is enough. A great conference.



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