Signature makes the First Fifteen!

8.09am, Saturday 15th August, Federal Deli, Federal Street, Auckland, North Island, New Zealand

Morning folks, and we’re making a good start to the day with proper muesli and stewed rhubarb at the Federal Deli….I’ve been swinging between the Fed Deli and sisterstove Depot Eatery next door for three days now…and loving it! They’ve both really looked after us – the HandPicked Shiraz Viognier is on the list at The Fed, and both the Signature and Cigar (Coonawarra Cab) are on at Depot.

But what I want to do this morning is tell you about our absolutely fabulous moment yesterday. We were one of three wines poured yesterday at THE big gig in Auckland. Rugby is akin to religion in this country, and families trace their bloodlines according to when they had their last All Black – the national representative team – playing for New Zealand! The fortune and form of the All Blacks is the barometer of how things are travelling in the country, and apparently points fall off their stock exchange when the All Blacks lose…..which in recent years is not very often at all. So at this time of the year, all conversation turns to the Bledisloe Cup – the Trans Tasman trophy that the All Blacks have had bolted to their mantlepiece for 15 years or so……and this year because of the maverick Wallabies (for our international readers – that’s the Australian national team) taking a game from the All Blacks last week in Sydney – the return match at Eden Park here in Auckland this evening… alive! And we’re not traipsing off to the game…..hoping that the best possible situation will be to get beaten by the All Blacks by less than 20 points! We’re actually in with a chance….slim to nil because the All Blacks will grow 4 more inches at their home ground, and Richie McCaw will pick the team up under one arm, the ball under the other…..and charge!! 

So….into this moment…..given that in another few weeks, the Rugby World Cup will be underway in the United Kingdom……we find ourself on the wine list, at the Gala Launch for Sir Graham Henry’s book launch celebrating the victorious World Cup Campaigns by the All Blacks. And yes that would be mostly tangled up with the 2011 win, which makes the All Blacks the current defending champions….and Sir Graham their coach. Serious rugby royalty ladies and gentlemen… a rugby mad country. And here we are, Australians coming to the party with their best old school ‘claret’ Cabernet and shiraz blend…..and sharing it with 600 people in the Great Room at the Langham Hotel, Auckland. In the words of Spandau Ballet……”that is…….GOLD”.

So here’s a bit of a snapshot of the day….

We arrive early to open and prepare 60 magnums of the 2009 Signature Cabernet Shiraz….and the Langham has already set up the room……oh and helping out is the man on the back of the 2009….Clive Weston (the tall boy on the left)

The sound check is underway, lots of stirring video of the 2011 Final pre game haka against France

Besides the book launch, there’s to be a charity auction of extraordinary items – to benefit the fund that provides for rugby players – male and female of all grades – who have been injured playing the game. Here’s the prize item – an All Blacks ‘originals’ the first ever team – Jersey

We’ve sorted the Signature magnums, and out come the table centrepieces – old style rugby balls made completely of chocolate, and the first wine of the day – Nautilus Pinot Gris – also served from magnum

The chefs start putting 600 entrees together – we’re in New Zealand folks, so it’s got to be a magic salmon combo

How good are these folks in the Langham kitchen!

Do you think I might be able to sneak this auction item – the Bollinger Bullet ( hides a magnum in there – only 200 made for the world) – into my suitcase? 

Table 52 – Yalumba hosting their friends from Kiwiland – ready to go!

Happy days! This was just after main course…before the dessert was served with our Signature

This was us…..chocolate football, chocolate mousse…Then we had a chat to the crowd, pleased to report that we won a lot of hearts…..and went home for a big sleep!!

Thank you Sir Graham, thank you Sir Brian – an absolute national kiwi treasure – thank you The Langham…..and thank you Don Hope the publisher for one of the greatest gigs Yalumba has been poured into!! The spirit of ANZAC was alive and well in Auckland yesterday folks…… bring on the game at Eden Park tonight!!

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