Next stop Marlborough wine country and Blenheim.
The fourth word may give you a clue as to what the focus of this stop was! I thought when we got there that I would be the only one staying as this was not a compulsory stop. However, Simon who I enjoyed Kaikoura with, and a lovely girl called Chantel also departed. Together we booked on an afternoon wine tour of the region. We were joined by two other people who had been doing a full day tour.
Marlborough wine country is beautiful. Vast glacier plains are surrounded by the ever present white tipped mountains. I expected the vines to be old and tall, gnarling and twisting over the countryside. However, I was surprised to see small, fairly young looking trees. I never quite got an answer how young they are but it certainly wasn't the developed French countryside.
Our first wine stop was Wither Hills, one of the newer wineries. We were greeted by a middle-aged domineering wine taster who proceeded to lead us through the tastes. Blenheim is mainly known for the Sauvignon Blanc and this is where we began. We proceeded through two different ages onto the Reisling, then the Chardonnay, the Gewurtztraminer and finally the Pinot Noir. Our domineering taster instructed what food would go well with the different wines and before I knew it I had slipped off into conversation with Chantel about what food we imagined would go well. The only issue with the tasting was that you would have about quarter of a glass of wine with each taste and were required to sip/down it fairly quickly. By the end of the first winery I had more than a glass in less than 5 minutes. This theme continued.
The next winery was Cloudy Bay. As this was one that I acutally knew I expected to be impressed but was rather dismayed at the blandness of the wine. It may have been the disinterested taster who was looking after us, but none of the wine particularly appealed like say the Gewurtztraminer had at Wither Hills where I could actually imagine having it with an Indian or a butter chicken salad. Again we tried seven different wines varying from the Sauvignon Blanc to the Pinot Noir.
The third winery was the small but very lovley Huia. This can only be bought in central London, more's the shame. Our taster was so thrilled to have us and very energetic that it we ended up staying for a while and trying over ten different types of wine. We even started with some sparkling. The Reisling was delicious and the Gewurtztraminer was so very different to any type of wine I ever tried. You could taste the flowers in it and because it was so different made me want to buy vast quantities! I did refrain but between the three of us we did purchase a Sav Blanc to have later.
The final winery was Villa Maria and by this stage our little group was a extremely happy and bubbily. I'm not actually sure how much we tasted between the giggles. It is written down somewhere, but this winery was more about the fun of the tour than the tasting. I do remember being impressed with some of the wine and if I can find that piece of paper, I pray it will tell me which ones.
The wine tour was fantastic and I now know more about white wines which I tend to avoid. I will definitely look for Wither Hills when I get home and if I can treat myself will head for the Huia as all the wine from there was a delight.
We spent the evening sampling the wine we had bought and very reminiscent of Kaikoura had a good night talking into the dark.