It was hard to leave Queenstown. After an epic few days, I was very tired, so on Monday morning I sat outside, had a bowl of teriyaki noodles and drank a diet coke, before heading to the airport to fly to Christchurch. It was time for the summer of Riesling to begin.
We started off, though, with a brilliant tasting of Waipara Valley wines. (It used to be just Waipara, now it is Waipara Valley, and there are moves afoot to change the name of the appellation to the North Canterbury wine region, which would make sense because it would then include star wineries currently in North Canterbury, but outside the Waipara Valley).
The tasting was held in a brilliant venue: the Iron Ridge Quarry in Amberley. It belongs to Raymond Herber, a well known sculptor, and it used to be the Amberley Lime Works. He purchased the property and has transformed it from bare earth/rock to a really pretty sculpture park. He’s also made a large metal grapevine (pictured in the top photo) that’s going to end up on the side of the main road and promote the Waipara Valley wine region.
We tasted through the wines, and then had dinner. It was a lovely relaxed affair, and I really liked many of the wines – especially the aromatics and the Pinot Noirs (we didn’t taste any Riesling, this was to follow). Waipara is a small-ish, somewhat underrated region that is capable of greatness.