Friday, 9 January 2015

Wine Tour in Central Otago, New Zealand (Queenstown area)

On the second day of our stay in Queenstown we had organised a winetour for the day with NZ wine tours.  This company is run by Jake Tipler, previously in business in marketing, he decided one day that he would like to make a living out of his passion for wine, and he started organising wine tours. The size of the groups is small (maximum 6) which makes it a personal experience. 

Jake picked us up at our hotel at 10am in the morning and to our surprise we were the only guests on the tour. Usually a tour is cancelled if there are not enough guests, but Jake decided to take us out anyway. The mini van was very comfortable and Jake had bottled water, fruit and chocolates on offer. He first took us out to a spot where we had an amazing view over Queenstown and then asked us about the types of wine we like so he could decide which wineries he would take us to. Jake knows so much about wine and he is so passionate about it!

We first visited Peregrine Winery. Jake took us to the wynyard and explained a few things about growing Pinot Noir. The white variety is called Pinot Blanc and sometimes (a very rare occurence) Pinot Noir grape bunches have a few white grapes on them, or even half and half grapes. Although these grapes are white, they are still Pinot Noir. The wynyard is surrounded by mountains and a lot of sheep. Such a magical place! Jake took us around and showed us how the wine is made, and then took us out for a tasting. This winery has a barrel room where you can see all the barrels where the wine is ageing. We tasted a few wines and really enjoyed a chardonnay and a pinot noir so took these home.

After Peregrine we went to a larger winery where they had lots of wines on offer for tasting. I cannot remember the name of this winery but it had (like many other wineries in the Central Otago) quite a few Pinot Noirs on offer. 

Lunch was at the Nose Restaurant after a visit to the Aroma Room. We first watched a movie about the winemakers and how their wine was made. The climate of the Central Otago is quite dry and this area has only recently been discovered as a good area to grow grapes. Because of the cooler climate the varieties that do quite well are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Unlike the bigger area of Malbourough where massive quantities of Sauvignon Blanc are produced every year, Central Otago has more boutique Wineries and the wine is a bit more expensive. 

The Aroma Room is a room with (as the name suggests) different aroma's you can smell. Wine can have so many aroma's and most of the aroma's in the aroma room wouldn't normally be associated with wine. Banana, leather and clove are a few of these. Jake challenged us and asked us to see how many of these aroma's we could recognise. I always think I am really good at these challenges, but I am not. The difference between Peach and Apricot! I know how it tastes but I cannot smell it. We tried two wines and had a go at recognising the aroma's - massive fail for me. The wines tasted very nice though.We enjoyed a massive platter with cheeses, meats and little vegetable dishes for lunch. It was delicious! 

After our lunch we went to my favourite winery. I cannot believe I have forgotten the name of this winery! There was a table outside with an AMAZING view. I lost myself completely staring into the distance. The winemaker came out to tell us about his wines. We tasted some beautiful wines in the sun, including a Gruner Veltiner - usually drunk in Austria. On our trip to Vienna we drank heaps of Gruner Veltiner, often mixed with water because it was so acidic. This Gruner Veltiner was very nice by itself and not as acidic. Very special.

The last winery we visited was Chard Farm, a small winery specialising in single wynyard pinot noirs. Their Mata-Au Pinot Noir was not made at the wynyard where the winery was located as the family owns various wynyards. This Pinot Noir was lovely soft and fruity, so we decided to purchase a few bottles to take home. 

We were very lucky the weather was good and that we were the only people on the tour. If you are visiting Queenstown, make sure that you book a wine tour with Jake. It surely is one of the best wine tours I have ever been on!


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