Last night was fun. It was the official opening of the new Brancott Estate Heritage Centre, which has recently been completed. The centre has been built on a small hill overlooking the historic Brancott Vineyard, where Marlborough’s first Sauvignon Blanc grapes were planted in 1975. This is an ideal location with superb views, and the centre itself fits into the surrounding environment pretty sympathetically. There’s a 40 seat restaurant here as well as a cellar door facility.
It was great that Prime Minister John Key was present to open the Centre, and he spoke really well. A relaxed, gifted communicator, Mr Key seems to get the wine industry and its importance to New Zealand’s image abroad.
So when you are asked, ‘would you like to meet the prime minister?’ there’s only one answer. Both Oz Clarke and I had a chance to chat with him, which was very exciting. One of the great things about New Zealand is this refreshing accessibility of politicians. We are media, so we were asked by his people whether this was on the record or off the record. I opted for the latter (otherwise his assistant would have had to stand next to us to record the conversation in case of any misquoting). Mr Key was really charming and easy to chat with.
After the reception, we had a nice dinner at Hotel D’Urville. Wine highlights were the Triple Bank Awatere Valley Pinot Noir 2010 (an NZ domestic product, fresh, bright and quite elegant) and the Church Road Cuve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Hawkes Bay (fresh berry fruits with some spice and grip – a really drinkable Hawkes Bay red), as well as the unctuously fruity Brancott Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (a new wine).