Winery of the Year – Schubert, New Zealand
Schubert Wines Block B Pinot Noir 2008

Must-Have Wines Best of the Lunar Drinking Year Tiger 2010

Its six years since I first visited Schubert winery and I have been an avid follower of their wines ever since. Indeed, I would go as far to say Kai Schubert and Marion Deimling make some of the most profound pinot noir on this planet from their tiny vineyards in Martinborough and the Wairarapa, literally only a cupful relative to most wineries.

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Asia Symphony of Wine and Flavours

Burghound Unrivalled Passion for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

The Burghound Phenomenon. Burgundy lends itself to obsessives, what with its hundreds of growers, thousands of named vineyards and maddening variations in vintages. The world’s foremost Burgundy expert – who, thankfully, is also in possession of an acute palate – is Los Angeles-based Allen Meadows… No Burgundy lover leaves home for the retail shop without a copy.” – Matt Kramer, Diversion Magazine.

Asia, the last continent – Jancis Robinson MW (Financial Times May 2010)
“It is no exaggeration to say that Asia has become the focus of the world’s fine-wine trade. But the Asian wine scene is very much more than Hong Kong and China. Japan and Singapore have long histories of connoisseurship.”

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Churton – Stunning results from Biodynamic Viticulture in Marlborough, New Zealand

With the vintage in New Zealand drawing closer, Sam Weaver at Churton in Marlborough reported in correspondence to me, “The vineyard is looking great (see picture), we had a very good fruit set which was then followed by a much wetter, earlier summer than normal.

This has led to very healthy looking vines and vineyards. Very good fruit set and potentially very good bunch size in Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. We’ve just finished our first round of crop thinning so will be on target with good but controlled yields. For us this means 40hl/ha for Pinot and about 55hl/ha for Sauvignon Blanc.”

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Rabbit Ranch Pinot Noir 2009 Central Otago, New Zealand

Most Auspicious Wine for Chinese New Year 2011 Year of the Rabbit!

The Wandering Palate has gone lunar! Notwithstanding I reside in Asia, the nucleus of my ideologies revolve around a back to nature approach with wine, food and the environment – sustainable, organic and biodynamic principals that revolve around the lunar calendar, its roots in ancient feng shui and Chinese gardening that have evolved over the eons yet pivotal today.

As the Year of the Tiger comes to an end, Chinese New Year is fast approaching and a significant proportion of the world starts searching for the answers to 2011, the Year of the Rabbit. Being a Tiger/Scorpion, I was searching all last year for the answers and whilst there were plenty of highlights it was a challenging year, to say the least.

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Most Auspicious Wine for Chinese New Year 2011

Lapin au Vin des Central Otago a la Wandering Palate (Rabbit Casserole with Central Otago Pinot Noir)

The Wandering Palates rabbit casserole perfected over a lifetime and inspired by an overabundance of rabbits and wild thyme, moreover excellent pinot noir in Central Otago, New Zealand.

In my formative years down on the farm in Te Awamutu, rabbits were in plague proportions and weekly night time shoots necessary to keep them at bay. The hare’s were so big they used to open the farm gates themselves.

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Must-Have Wine for the Christmas Table 2010

The Wandering Palate is heading to our Melbourne residence for the festive season and preparations for the Christmas day feast are already well in hand.

Priority of course is procuring the appropriate turkey, and I can tell you after enduring a commercial frozen turkey from the USA for the last three years here in Singapore, we are looking forward to a free-range, chemical-free, wholesome, flavoursome bird (one of the issues Singapore has yet to come to terms with) moreover, at a third of the price!

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Peaks of Celebrity

New Zealand pinot noir is joining the fame game with vineyards being name-dropped in the most glamorous of circles.

There is a compelling association between Hollywood and the meteoric ascent in popularity of wines from New Zealand, now juxtaposed as a chic destination for the eco-conscious avant-garde.

New Zealand born actor Sam Neill, with his exemplary Central Otago vineyards and auteurist pinot noir Two Paddocks is spreading his wine liberally among Hollywood friends, as well a luring the cognoscenti to Queenstown, the picturesque epicentre of viticulture in the far- South Island.

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Make a meal of it
Roast turkey on Christmas dinner

Christmas is a time to share with others. Gather other holiday `orphans’ and stage your own dinner – complete with a glass of fine wine.

If you haven’t planned your Christmas celebration yet, I suggest you dine at home with the carte du jour and wines that we will enjoy. There is a great deal of satisfaction in entertaining at home, rather than looking like lost souls in a hotel restaurant.

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Two countries, one grape variety
Lunch at the Australia & New Zealand Pinot Noir Celebration

Australia and New Zealand both produce first class pinot noir but Curtis Marsh is swayed by a Wellington street party in its honor.

Having recently listed the merits of pinot noir from Victoria, Australia’s stronghold of the variety, it would be remiss not to address the antipodean challenger of New World pinot greatness, New Zealand.

Despite mutual British ancestry and a Commonwealth bond, the two countries are culturally disassociated and intense rivals. To quote the late New Zealand prime minister David Lange “The best thing between New Zealand and Australia is the Tasman Sea.”

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Attack of the Clones
People visiting Ata Rangi vineyard, New Zealand

Vine cuttings can be matched to various soils and regional characteristics of other countries, enhancing the complexity and finish of a wine.

With practically every significant pinot noir producer in New Zealand available in Hong Kong, my advice is to be adventurous in your selection, as you will not come across a bad wine, with quality high across the board. Rather, it is a question of budget or regional style and above all, what appeals to your taste.

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