Nip & Tuck – Launch of The Vintner Tasting Room

25th February

Feb the 15th – a big day for The Vintner.  Our first wine makers tasting, organised at short notice in our tasting room with press, buyers, wine makers, customers and generally all sorts of people we’d need to light the Vintner touch paper.  … The only minor problem was that we had no tasting room.

Nothing like a target to aim for however, and out from behind the wheel of the Vintner van jumps our hero Gregory, tool box in hand and within two weeks he’d moved the desks, cleared the mess, fixed us up with the wine racks, the sink, the cupboards, the display shelves and by (but not before) 4pm on Feb the 15th we were ready to open our doors to fifteen great supporters of The Vintner, eager to find out what we’ve been up to.

Fresh off his direct flight from NZ, John Coney strolls in at about 5:30pm and by 6pm he’s kicking off with the Morton 2000 Blanc de Blancs fizz (recently reviewed by Simon Woods & Jamie Goode) – rich, biscuity, terrifically complex and extremely serious methode champenoise which made the bottles of our Champagne Henri Favre in the wine rack above rattle with fear.  Our guests gathered and when John poured the Morton NV fizz about half an hour later, it had a similar effect on our Cremant de Bourgogne in the racks next door.

The first still wine to try was the 2010 Morton White Label Sauvignon.  What a completely electric wine this is.  No problem with a vintage change here and the whole room agreed.

By this stage our friends from Rocket Food were showing off by matching a canape to each wine.  In walks Charlie’s dad, Rick Stein at about 7.30 to be greeted at the door by Michael (of Rocket) holding out the first fish canape of the evening (Confit red mullet with pickled onion slices & pinot noir sauce) … “that’ll learn him” says Charlie to Michael.

John continued by showing two vintages of his Coniglio Chardonnay from Hawkes Bay, the ’02 – rich and heady with mature, nutty tones and the ’04 – bouncing out of the glass with ripe tropical and citrus fruit, beautiful poise and balance and quite clearly a wine that would turn a few heads in Burgundy.

… then to Archangel (Central Otago) where Julia took over, proving to us that she hadn’t just taken a three week holiday down under and that she did in fact know her onions.  From here on the room was difficult to control.  The Riesling ’09 stormed out of the blocks letting all of us know that Central Otago has a style all of its own with this varietal and it’s every bit as serious as Germany, France and Australia.  The 2010 Pinot Gris did exactly the same with slightly riper, fleshier stone fruit and a smack of white pepper too, while the Pinot Noirs proved yet again that they are, we really do think, the finest wines on our wine list.

So we’d done our tour of New Zealand from Hawkes Bay to Central Otago but as the the last canape came round, John pulled the bunny out of the hat with a mindblowing sticky … his late harvest Semillon 2006 from Hawkes Bay.  The whole room falls silent, then sighs, then Rick pipes up …’Holy cow!! Why isn’t this on our list Charlie?…’

All in all, a great inaugural tasting for us and there’ll be plenty more to come.  Gregory’s ripping up the hideous blue carpet and smacking in the nails to hang a couple more wine racks.  Wooden boxes are being varnished, wine fridges are arriving next week so hold on to your hats and keep an eye on our events page – it’s being loaded as we post this blog.

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