Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

Torlesse Pinot Noir

November 17, 2008
For the past decade, New Zealand has been a rising star in the world of Pinot Noir. Bottlings from small producers like Torlesse showcase the beautiful character and elegance that result from careful nurturing in the vineyards and cellar. This Pinot has it all ? sweet plummy fruit, subtle spiciness and the refined complexity that mark a classic Pinot Noir. Torlesse winemaker Kym Rayner practically coddles this wine. He gains maximum color and full flavor extraction by fermenting in small vessels, hand-plunging the cap and allowing the wine to sit another 10 days on the grapeskins. In the classic Burgundian style, the wine is gently pressed in a traditional basket press and aged in French oak. Lots of work by Kym means an exceptional wine for us! This Pinot is excellent with lamb, beef and full-flavored pasta dishes.

New Zealand Country of the Year

October 28, 2008

Popular Australian TV travel show Getaway has named New Zealand “Country of the Year” for 2008. Click here to see for yourself.

The New Zealand Wine Journey

September 10, 2008

Many years ago I saw a ROM exercise machine in a ski shop in Aspen and it seemed like something right out of the movie “Back to the Future”. ROM is a highly specialized, $14,615 retail, Range of Motion exercise machine that will provide a complete workout in four minutes. It has nothing to do with wine, it is the typical steps a ROM purchaser goes thru that is the inspiration for my story.  I recently saw a ROM ad and thought there are similar steps for most people who are learning about New Zealand wines and foods. (the ROM ad is at the end of the post)

Ten Steps Most People Experience in Discovering New Zealand Wine

  1. Aware New Zealand is a country in the Southern Hemisphere.  
  2. Encounters a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, most likely from a high volume producer and enjoys the experience.
  3. Continues to passively explore other and similar offerings.
  4. Plateaus out at this level for some time.
  5. Revealation! New Zealand has so much more to offer, like Napa or Burgundy, has many facets of people and places. Moves beyond ratings and learns from retailers and sommeliers to explore and trust own palate.
  6. Discovery process begins – Sauvignon blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Bubbles  – all handcrafted by individuals.
  7. At this point, learns in the global wine business “family” is used by some of the largest wine companies in the world. Not bad – not good. Just an indicator that change is often taking place and highlights a marketing need to be authentic. The exception of course is when you can visit and look the winemaker in the eye, you know you are in the right place. This is goal – to discover the people and places.
  8. Expands awareness of varietals, people, regions, terrior, foods and travel experiences. This extends the joy.
  9. Now amabassador for “All Things New Zealand” especially food, wine and travel.
  10. New era of enjoyment from sharing these New Zealand stories.

I first saw the ROM about 20 years ago, my New Zealand story began in 1984 when I met my wife Leslie.

I am at step ten. Where are you?

Exceptional handcrafted wines of New Zealand for enthusiasts across the USA. Wines for food, friends and memories.

Here is the ROM ad.







Decisions 2008

August 18, 2008

Daily we are bombarded with messages telling us to do something in 2008 to change the world. I wonder if these four year cycles really change the world or just the cycle?

Here is a decision to consider and implement in 2008. Next time you walk into a wine store ask these two questions:

  1. who grew the grapes and who made this wine?
  2. what do you know about them?

The reason I suggest these questions is they will provide you with some insight into what the sales person knows about the wine and introduce you to wines that are made by real people in real places. I believe it will lead you to the wine shops and sommeliers that are really excited and interested in wine. We should also watch for wine writers who make a habit of sharing the people side of wine too.

Before you call this silly, do it at least 5 times with different locations or people. Watch the responses and see who is really connected to the inventory or just capable of pointing to the ratings tag by the wine.

So what, you say again. As we all try and find the reasons for what we buy, I feel wines made by real people are wines with something unique and special about them. The challenge is trying to uncover them and I sense the path runs right thru the better writers, retailers and sommeliers around the world.

These are the people who delight in helping you find special wines to share with friends and food. Wines that make your evenings memorable. Whether it is a wine from California, Italy, New Zealand or wherever, these new friends will help.

Too often the conversation goes either two ways.

  1. at the cash register “did you find everything you need” or
  2. “how much do you want to spend”

Think about this for a moment. In the first situation it means there was most likely no one around to help. If a used car sales person asked question #2 very few of us would spend our money with that individual. For some reason it is OK in the wine shop.

I’ll leave you with my final thought and it seems the language of wine as evolved to a point where it might need a tune up and my two questions might be one way to improve your daily glass of wine.

  1. who grew the grapes and who made this wine?
  2. what do you know about them?

Moat Building

August 14, 2008

photo credit © Ron McFarland 2008

I recently had the opportunity to enjoy 8 days walking thru the Weminuchi Wilderness in Southern Colorado with two llama’s to carry the load.

This enabled us to enjoy cheeses from France, Spain and Colorado and canteens filled with wines from New Zealand, France and California. All very civilized.

As I enjoyed these foods and wines from around the world I thought about the evolving conversation concerning the need and in some cases urgency to “buy locally”. Is this really possible? Will we become villages with a cobbler, a butcher, a dressmaker and so on?

Is this even good for people and the planet to return to a mode of living from centuries ago?

As someone involved with importing and selling fine wine from New Zealand in the USA this has lots of meaning and implications for our young business. This is why I pay attention to this conversation.

We clearly are at a transition point and in a time of searching for solutions. My feeling is by becoming global collaborators rather than global villagers we will end up in a better place. By working together far more creative solutions will be found and at a faster pace.

Or should forward thinking people be planning to reinstate “moat building” to the curriculum?

photo credit © Richard Replin 2008

I think I know the answer and doubt we will give up our enjoyment of foods and wines from around the world or have stay at home vacations.

We do need to pay attention to the details to get this right.

New Ideas for Rediscovering Food and Wine

August 7, 2008


I came across Michelle May’s M.D. blog recently and it really reasonated with me. As my journey in importing and selling New Zealand wine has evolved I have become much more attuned to the eating and wine drinking habits of Americans.

In my opinion, many American taste buds have been shaped by twinkie’s and ketchup and this has influenced trends in wine flavors. This could be one of the factors why so many wines have a cookie cutter profile.

Michelle May M.D. provides some very simple ideas about rediscovering the joys of food, wine and friends.

Let me know what you think of her ideas.

Visual Magic

August 5, 2008

How does a landscape this stunning impact grapes grown in a location like this in New Zealand?

It certainly has to influence the people who work in the vineyards and wineries and lead to something special.

photo credit ©Allan Johnston 2008