Time to take a look back on 2017. Quite a year. I’ll do this in chunks, beginning with January to mid-March.
After a quiet early January it was off to New Zealand for three weeks. I began with a couple of days in Hawke’s Bay, and this picture shows Syrah in the Gimblett Gravels region: this is one of Craggy Range’s vineyards.
This is me with Craggy Range winemaker Matt Stafford, after a range tasting. Picture credit: Hannah Burns.
This is the view from the Te Mata Peak in Hawke’s Bay: a wonderful place
Then on to Central Otago, which is always a beautiful place to visit. This is a dramatically situated vineyard in Gibbston.
This is looking across Lake Dunstan from Bendigo, towards the Pisa subregion on the other side. The lake is hidden.
The famous view from Rippon in Wanaka.
In Marlborough we had a Pinot Noir safari, exploring the best sites in the region for the Pinot: the southern valleys and the Awatere. Marlborough is making some very impressive Pinot Noir these days, but it’s been hiding a bit in the shadow of Sauvignon.
Mel Brown, Clive Dougall, Kat Wiggins and Bree Boskov, at the Churton vineyard at the end of the Pinot safari.
In Wellington for Pinot Palooza. Here I’m chatting to Yealands senior winemaker Natalie Christensen. We’ve had lots of subsequent chats, too!
At the Pinot Palooza: Hannah Burns of Craggy Range and Rudi Bauer, Central Otago winemaker
Pinot 2017 in Wellington was epic. Lots of good people, too. Here’s Dean Shaw (Central Otago winemaker – he’s responsible for a lot of Central wines) and Andrea Frost, the talented Australian wine writer.
And here’s too cool for school Theo Coles (winemaker in North Canterbury) and Rebecca Goodall (UK sommelier).
In the Waipara I took part in the Forage North Canterbury event. It was brilliant. Participants split into teams and then went foraging, and a group of chefs then made a stunning multi course menu from the foraged food. Follow the link for a video of the day.
We also had an aromatics symposium in Nelson. This is James Millton (winegrower in Gisborne), Melanie Brown (of the NZ Wine Cellar in London) and Peter McCombie (co-chair of the IWC and consultant).
A wine flight took us over four different regions on the way to Hawke’s Bay. This is Marlborough, with the town of Blenheim in the distance.
In the Hawke’s Bay: here I’m with Steve Smith.
After New Zealand it was off to the Mornington Peninsular in Australia for the Pinot celebration. This is a region that really excels with Pinot Noir, as well as Chardonnay.
This is the view at Yabby Lake, one of the top producers in the region.
And this is a new close-spaced vineyard at 10 Minutes x Tractor, who are making some superb wines. They’ve just hired Sandro Mosele from Kooyong, so things are looking very promising for them.
At the celebration, pictured here: Paul Pujol (Prophets Rock, Central Otago) and wine writers Jane Skilton, Joe Czerwinski and Huon Hooke.
Also in February, a trip to Vancouver for the Vancouver International Wine Festival. Harbour Air, operating out of Vancouver, is the world’s largest float plane operation.
Then it was off to Elgin, in South Africa, for some vintage. I spent a day each with four wineries, getting stuck in. This is loading the press with Riesling at Iona.
This is filling a basket press at Almenkerk
These are good-looking Sauvignon Blanc grapes waiting to be harvested at Elgin Ridge
Digging out an egg at Elgin Ridge
Sorting Pinot Noir, Paul Cluver
There will be a noble Riesling in 2017 at Cluver
Also in March, I visited Greece to speak at the Oenorama conference, and taste a lot of very good wines
This is Giannis Siganos, whose shop, Mr Auster, has an amazing selection of wines from Greece and elsewhere. Giannos showed me round the fair and pointed out some of the most interesting producers. There’s a lot of good wine being made in Greece.