Tag Archives: travel

Marlborough Wine and Food Festival – a tick off the bucket list

You’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been – is she still drinking wine? did she win Tattslotto and disappear to an island?

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Did she really win tattslotto??

The answer to that is yes, I most certainly have been drinking wine. While I didn’t win Tattslotto, I did disappear to an island…an island called New Zealand.

It happened. After two years in the waiting, I finally attended the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival with my fellow wino friend, who is a massive fan of the Sauvignon Blanc. But not just any Ol Sauvignon Blanc fan, she’s a fan of the Sauvignon Blanc hailing from the Marlborough region.

 

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Ready for some great Savvy B!

Marlborough is THE home of the Sauvignon Blanc, due to producing the most notable wine from this grape. It’s quite a young region, with the grape variety only being introduced to the area in the 1970’s. The first Sauvignon Blanc vines were planted by Montana Wines, now know as Brancott Estate. So what better place to celebrate the Savvy B than at the estate itself, which was where the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival was held.

To get to Brancott Estate we travelled by bus from Blenhim, which was only about a 15 minute trip from the town centre. As soon as we got the the estate, we waited in line and watched the crowds roll in bus after bus. You could feel the excitement building.

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The start of the day. The crowds just got bigger!

As soon as we got in, we scanned the area looking for wineries that we knew, and wineries that we didn’t know, to add to the shortlist of ones to try. The tastings were setup where you could pay $3 for a few sips, or you could outlay $8-$10 for a full glass. This was a no brainer, pour me a full glass please!

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One of the first wineries, Cloudy Bay – Yes, it was a full glass 🙂

Following our first couple of sips (glasses) at Cloudy Bay and Giesen, we wandered over to the wine Masterclass where a Rosé and cheese matching class was about to get underway, with hosts Brian from Mahi wines, and Dan from Kaikoura Cheese.
Grabbing our seats we sat in front of a selection of 7 Rosés from select Marlborough wineries, along with 7 carefully selected cheeses to match. It was really interesting to try something that wasn’t Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region. An enjoyable spread of Rosé’s, which were very much like the classic French Rosé’s from the South of France –  light in colour, strawberry flavours, and a dry finish. Turns out the cool climate for growing this variety of wine is quite similar to the home of Rosé, France.

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The before shot

The clear favourite for me was from Mahi Pinot Noir 2016 Rosé, paired perfectly with a pecorino cheese with fennel pods. The Mahi Pinot Noir 2016 Rosé was a classic Rosé, with a medium to dry finish, with pronounced strawberry notes.

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Brian from Mahi wines! A brilliant winery, and a brilliant wine maker!

Following the Rosé Masterclass, we stumbled back out on to the grassed area to try even MORE wine! With so many wineries showcasing many different wines, here’s a list of the places we tried which were all standouts!

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Roaming water stations. How good is this?! Australia – take note.

In between the sips (glasses) of wine there was also an abundance of food on offer, from pork belly rolls, oysters, through to baked potatoes. I opted for a Brazilian burger. Delish! This provided some much needed energy after many wine tastings.

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Fuel for the Savvy B

As the day went on, the crowd became livelier, the band got louder, and the dance moves became smoother.  Some were even feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of wineries on site.

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When the day becomes too much a nap is needed!

As the day came to a close, it was time to make way to the busses to get bussed back in to town, where the party continued on at Scotch Wine Bar, in downtown Blenhim.

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The after party location!

So that’s it, I can now finally tick the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival off the bucket list. If you’re planning to make a trip over to the region, I’d recommend planning it around the festival. It will give you a real taste of the region, and will certainly get you in to the spirit of being in the world famous home of the Savvy B!

Until next time winos,
Cheers!

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Champagne – Where sparkling dreams are made

If you follow me on Instagram (@tipthebottle), you would have seen my many insta-posts of Champagne bottles, me in amongst Champagne vineyards, me drinking Champagne…

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Yes, I went to Champagne. Yes, I absolutely loooooved it!

Tripping to Champagne has been one of the best experiences of my life. With so much history and insight in to the Champagne making process, it has made me more knowledgeable on the sparkly drink, and appreciative of the amount of blood, sweat, and tears that go in to one bottle. Actually, it’s really not blood, sweat and tears that go in to Champagne, it’s three grape varieties (and always these three grape varieties) Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay all sourced from the Champagne region in France. This is what makes Champagne, Champagne.

My learning experience of Champagne all kicked off with a full-day guided tour with France Bubbles Tours.

Our tour guide was Amanda. Amanda was a local from Reims, which is located in the Champagne region. She really demonstrated her knowledge of the region, and was dropping little Champagne truths all throughout the day.

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Tour guide Amanda dropping her Champagne truths

So I thought I’d share some of these little truths with you:

The Region

  • Everyone in the Champagne region will have some sort of involvement with a Champagne house – from growing the grapes, to selling the grapes to Champagne houses.
  • The Champagne region experiences approximately 250 days of rain. That’s a lot of rainy days in one year!
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Each of the houses had a Champagne sign out front. I need one for my place!

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Passing through a Champagne village

The Vineyards

  • Because of the climate, Champagne vines are grown compact and close to the ground. This protects the grapes from the frost, and cold wind.
  • It’s hard for a Champagne house to be organic, as they need to treat and protect the vineyards from disease.
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Champagne that grow close together stays together 🙂

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The Champagne grapes – Not yet to harvesting stage – still growing

  • There’s no irrigation, which means that the vines will compete with each other to get as much as they can from the earth. Because of this, the roots go deep into the ground.
  • The Chalk in the ground provides the vines with much of what they need to flourish.
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The side of the hill shows just how much clay is below the surface

  • Each Champagne house will source from a Cru based on the climate and terroir. The sourcing for each grape variety needs to be from one Cru. What’s a Cru you ask? In Champagne, a Cru is a village. The Champagne quality is linked back to the Cru, which essentially is the quality / terroir of the villages’ vineyards. There are different levels of quality, with the top one being a ‘Grand Cru’. A Grand Cru Champagne is a Champagne that has been sourced entirely from one village that has been classified as a Grand Cru. These grapes have a hefty price tag attached to them, which is why you will see a ‘Grand Cru’ Champagne fetch a high price tag.
  • At some wineries they replant some of their vineyards every 30 years. This keeps the grapes young, which can then be blended with old vines. If a winery replants their vines, they need to wait 1 year before replanting, plant, then wait another 4 years before they can begin harvesting. Good things come to those who wait I guess!
  • There is a limit that the Champagne growers can pick each year. In fact, some wineries try to sell off their grapes (illegally) to other wineries.
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Now that’s a view!!

 

The Bottles

  • The best years for Champagne in the 2000’s so far have been 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008. While the best wine years have been 1996 and 1998. You’re welcome 🙂
  • The corks that are squeezed in to a Champagne bottle are also from Champagne – Everything about Champagne has to be from Champagne. It’s the rule!

The Champagne Coin

  • It costs €1.6 million to buy just one hectare in Champagne – Where’s my cheque book?
  • The cost to make 1 bottle of Champagne is around €7 per bottle – this explains why this sparkly drink has such a sparkly price tag.

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Some extra stats!

  • Champagne represents just 2% of the wine in France. Not all that big when you think about it.
  • To claim that you’ve tasted from every Champagne house, you would need to try 10 Champagnes a day for the next 20 years. I’d happily accept that challenge!
  • Each Champagne house has approximately 10 years of stock, just in case a bad harvest occurs.

 

That’s probably enough Champagne truths I’ve dropped for now. Stay tuned for more posts on my trip to Champagne!

 

Until next time winos,

 

Cheers

 

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