Friday, January 26, 2018

Rain Day

Monday turned out to be a bit grey and rainy. We were prepared for this, as Lyin’ Dan the mendacious weatherman had told us about it in advance, so we decided to take a look at a few vineyards around the Nelson region, and also to go to the WOW museum.

Most vineyards arrange their public openings for the weekend, which is when most people visit. This being a Monday, many of them were shut, or “open by appointment only”. We dropped into the i-site in Motueka to pick up a map which detailed which ones were open, and set off north to Riwaka River Estate, a small vineyard just north of where we were staying. They make three varietals – sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and pinot noir. The owner told us about their philosophy of only releasing wines once they had sufficiently matured – for example, we were tasting the most recent pinot noir, the 2014. As we chatted she brought out a 2017 sauvignon blanc for us to taste as a comparison to the 2016 – a very cool, cucumber, minty tasting wine, which reflected the conditions from last summer, which was a very poor one for grape growers. The chardonnay was, I thought, a very good combination of oak and fruit (a 2015 I think).

Next on the list was old favourites Neudorf Vineyards. We tried a number of their wines including their rosé, a pinot noir with no time on the skins, so the very faint blush colour comes purely from the time being pressed; and an albariño, a Spanish grape which very few New Zealand vineyards have grown.

The final stop was at Moutere Hills vineyard, which has a unique tasting proposition: instead of the usual $5 fee, or free if you buy something, they charge $1 per wine tasted, so you can select which wines you want to try, and how many (a couple of the premium ones are $2). After trying the chardonnay and Riesling, I moved onto the reds – syrah, pinot noir and merlot. They threw in a free taste of their premium merlot as well, for comparison.

We drove into Nelson for some lunch, and decided to try the Cod & Lobster brasserie – a venue which was just about to open last time we were in Nelson. As you might expect, they specialise in seafood, and we had cured salmon and seared tuna for lunch. We then walked around the corner to Penguino’s for an ice cream.

In the afternoon, we drove back down to Stoke, and found the WOW museum. WOW, or World Of WearableArt, is an annual show of weird and wonderful…I hesitate to call them dresses, maybe costumes is a better word. The show and awards ceremony started in Nelson in 1993, but quickly outgrew the town and transferred to Wellington, where it takes place each year at the TSB arena – we went in 2015. They are currently exhibiting costumes from the 2017 show. Combined with the museum, bizarrely, is the Nelson Classic Car collection. As the name suggests, this is a selection of random old cars – not as extensive as the one in Paraparaumu that we visited in 2014, but still pretty impressive.

We made our final stop of the day at the McCashin’s brewery and distillery. I’d hoped for a tour, but these have to be booked in advance and take place at 11:00, so no chance of fitting one in on this trip. Instead we bought some feijoa liqueur, to be incorporated into Nicola’s favourite cocktail, the Old Feijoan.

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