From Internet TV to First Glass in Auckland

11.56am, Wednesday 18th August, Auckland Airport, North Island, New Zealand
I’ve made sure that I got out to the airport with lots of time spare – the flight to Melbourne doesn’t go until 3 this afternoon – so I could catch up the last couple of days events here in the City Of Sails – which have all been huge. So I’ll start with Monday.

Jason Bryant at The Wine Vault

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not thrilled to bits about doing stuff on video, but I’ve known Jason Bryant at The Wine Vault over in Westmere for a while. He’s a great supporter of ours and has taken to the internet airwaves like a duck to water. So when he wanted to do a Yalumba tasting session on his “WINE VAULT TV” thingy, I’ve turned up first thing Monday morning in one of my best shirts, with three wines in tow that pretty much sum up how we’re travelling at the minute – 2008 Virgilius Viognier, 2008 The Cigar Coonawarra Cabernet, and the hero of the hour 2008 Scribbler Cabernet Shiraz. I think these sessions are usually 5 minutes at a time, so Jason will have a heap of stuff to work with, seeing as we put roughly and hour and a bit on tape in one take.

Did I mention he’s a lovely bloke to talk to ? About wine , Elvis, pre European phlloxera clones of Shiraz, paleo shorelines that made the Coonawarra Terra Rossa Cigar, The Flying Tiger hawker style cafe in Vancouver and their sable fish 7 Viognier combo, Graceland, how spanner crabs move through the water and go really well with Vermentino – I could go on … and I think I did a bit. But he seemed to be happy with it all, and is a great champion of  what we’re doing out of the Barossa – and if you’d like to have a look at our chat – go to Jason’s website at, then click on the picture of the old fashioned TV screen that says “Wine vault TV” and it should all work ! (EDITOR’S NOTE: It took two episodes. Find them here.)

Vivace's basil & cream cheese stuffed piquillo peppers with herb oil

Then we zipped into the city to drop in at Vivace upstairs on High Street – long-time supporters and champions of the small share plate menu – just to see what was new and interesting. Mandy and Geno have been using our wines for this style of food forever, but always seem to come up with something new – check the photo of the basil & cream cheese stuffed piquillo peppers – a good example, as was the sticky oregano ribs! Also, they’ve started a new spot – Ragu – watch out for that one over at Pt Chevalier.

Then early evening over to see Chris at the lovely dark hole in the wall businessman’s hideout at O’Connells – another stronghouse for our big reds. Just to say thanks a heap and grab a quick bite of freshly whipped goat cheese blinis and some rocket and we were away to the North Side of the city to one of the big consumer tastings we do in Auckland – Kingsley Wood’s First Glass Wines & Spirits at Takapuna.

First Glass Wine & Spirits tasting ...

On the night we had 90 people turn up to work their way through 12 wines – a big list but a strong one. I think this makes eight tastings that I’ve done with Kingsley, and I was well aware that our chief winemaker and Viognier queen, Louisa Rose, did the one last year, so I had to make sure that the ratio of hard fact information to my travel and food story waffle … had to be through the roof!

She sets the bar high!

... couldn't get all the 90 attendees in one picture

Pleased to report that all the attendees were in no hurry at all to leave. In fact we went well over time, because of the high octane content and questions, plus a lot of folks stayed back to ask more – always a good sign. And I only did one story (although according to the troops it’s a very good one) about crossing paths with one of the jewels in New Zealand’s crown – the incredibly charismatic actor Sam Neill – at the Vancouver Wine Fair earlier this year.We even had some folks connected to the Aust & NZ Society of Cardiologists event two Saturdays ago in Adelaide turn up – nice to see. So my Auckland partner in wine from Negociants NZ  – Andrew  “The World Palate ” Parkinson  and I trekked back to the city around 10.30 pm tired but thrilled to bits with the response to the wines. 

Thanks Kingsley for the staunch support – hope you like your In & Out Burger genuine imported California T-shirt – and we’ll see ya next year.

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