Maybe it was the heaving blue swell of the Kaikoura coast to catch up with family after being housebound in Christchurch for the last six months.  Or it could have been gathering around the kitchen bench making plans to see baby seals, grown-up seals and touristy, historic whatnot.  It may also have something to do with the countless coffees in tiny tearooms or the incredible feast of crayfish weighing in at a couple of kilos, paua the size of padder tennis bats and fresh sides of salmon smoked inside an old Burgundy barrel used to produce international trophy winning pinot noir by my new friend Quintin Quidder of Wild Earth Wines.

Or possibly it was sitting in front of the fire cackling with laughter as we sipped Hallertau beers and watched the Topp Twins film Untouchable Girls. But I think it was actually the look of wonder and nervous excitement in my children’s’ eyes as the Works Infrastructure man dressed in high-vis poked his head out of the billowing snow and into our Rav4 that really did it.  “Four-wheel drive mate?  You’ll be sweet. Drive slow, watch out for the snowplough truck ‘cos he can’t stop – and you should be back in Christchurch in an hour or two”.

“It’s like we’re driving through Narnia!” our daughter shrieked from the back seat as the normally dull-as-dishwater drive (Waipara excluded) from the Kaikoura Coast to the Garden City quickly morphed into a winter wonderland that grew prettier with every slow bend in the road.  Literally minutes after arriving home to a perfectly snowy section, our neighbours appeared en masse on the back lawn.  Armed with shovels and cameras, they commanded us to create a snowman because the street was having a competition. No sooner was ours given a hat, carrot-nose, glasses and a plastic ninja sword (our son insisted) did we trudge off with the group, past the horse paddock and the walnut trees to the next house to help them make their snow man.

Checking the letterbox later I found a delivery fairy had left behind a little bottle of Manuka Gold Honey Liqueur.  So after scratching together a meal of spaghetti and meatballs from what remained in our post-holiday pantry, I mixed a shot of Manuka Gold with a splash of brandy and some hot apple cider which served as a cockle-warming supper treat.

It was absolutely the perfect end to a wonderful weekend away.

Marlborough Welcomes the Competition…

Following on from established regional wine shows like the Hawke’s Bay A&P Mercedes-Benz Wine Awards and the Gisborne Regional Wine Show, a brand new initiative designed to showcase Marlborough’s wines was launched last week. The Marlborough Wine Show, an independent event run by Wine Competition Ltd, has set out to demonstrate to the world’s wine media and global wine markets that Marlborough offers significant and valuable diversity through its sub-regions and wine styles.  They want to dispel the ‘one trick pony’ tag once and for all and prove that although sauvignon blanc might drive Marlborough’s engine it’s not the only thing that’ll spin your wheels.

Led by Chief Judge, Jeff Clarke, the judging team includes leading Marlborough winemaker judges Olly Masters, Cath Oates, Simon Waghorn, Patrick Materman and Anna Flowerday. Guest international judge is Melbourne based Ben Edwards, President of the Australian Sommeliers Association.

Judging is being held at the Marlborough Convention Centre on 1st and 2nd September, 2011. At the end of both days, organisers are inviting local wine industry personnel to come and taste the wines, giving an invaluable opportunity for wine producers to benchmark their wines against other entries – which can only help to improve the breed. Bottles of wine not required during the judging process will be auctioned off and proceeds donated to a Charitable Trust with the goal of contributing to research or specific projects developed to enhance Marlborough’s position within the wine arena.


Terrace Edge Waipara Riesling 2010 $18

Wow! Delicious jazz apple aromas and a super-tangy melange of apple crumble, pear and squinty quince flavours burst open in the mouth.  I really like the crispness and elegant length of flavour in this wine too; plus it’s just fantastic with slivers of parmesan cheese dipped in liquid honey.  Visit to order.

terrace edge riesling
terrace edge riesling 2010


Rippon ‘Tinkers Field’ Mature Vine Pinot Noir 2009 $95

Yes, you are right, it is that price.  But I guarantee if you try this you’ll quickly realize that the last thing you spent ninety dollars on didn’t give you half the satisfaction as just one sip of the Tinkers Field.  Biodynamically produced from one of the oldest pinot noir sites in Central Otago, it is scented with sweet rhubarb, cherry chocolate and earthy spices.  In the mouth it has lush intensity of flavour, juicy red fruits, black tea and finishes with soft, delicately prickly tannins and plush persistence of flavour.  It is an experience not forgotten in a hurry.  Order at


rippon tinkers field pinot noir
Rippon Vineyard 'Tinkers Field' Pinot Noir

Manuka Gold Honey Liqueur $46

Created using my favourite type of honey, Blue Borage and fortified using grape brandy, manuka honey and some other secret ingredients this is my new favourite sweet treat.  I could harp on about the health benefits of honey (as each bottle contains over 40%) but it’s totally the taste which won me over.  Deeply concentrated tangy aromatics, smoky overtones and lingering, spirituous, honey-rich length of flavour.  For stockists and enquiries visit


Manuka Gold Honey Liqueur

Hallertau Deception Luxe Schwarzbier 330ml $4.50

Sexy golden syrup colour and oozes smoky, charred characters interwoven with espresso and bitter cocoa notes.  It has a refreshing finish despite its smouldering nature and provides the perfect partner with smoked lamb rumps dusted with pepper and thyme.  To buy direct email or try your luck at


hallertau deception
Hallertau Deception Lager

Villa Maria Private Bin Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011 $15

Finally!! The first batch of sauvignon’s from this years harvest are hitting the shelves and so far the ones I’ve tried are breathtakingly good.  Take this one from Villa, it’s all passionfruit sorbet and preserved lemon aromas followed by a burst of fresh lime and green herbs – it’ll inject some crisp, citrusy summer flavours into your day.  Lovely stuff and widely available.


villa maria private bin sauvignon blanc
Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc