So what do you do after three days of intense Pinot Noir tasting and drinking? Not to mention the after-party of Guns And Roses in the same hotel. Why another round of Pinot Noir, of course, drank in a chartered jet flying at low, turbulent altitude. Our Michelin-starred chef, Roger Jones, put on a brave face (well not that brave) and decided to join the mile high Pinot club.
Neudorf 2011 and Cloudy Bay Te Koko 2011 drank in the clouds, Axl and Slash in the next plane while a troupe of dancing girls awaits our intrepid reporter. All in the name of joining the Pinot Noir Mile High club. Someone’s got to do this job you know.
Taking off from Wellington and flying low altitude through the wine regions of Nelson, Marlborough, Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay, Bob Campbell’s co-pilot dropped us so low down over some wineries that we could pick up their internet access.
Some 80 of the world’s top wine journalists, MWs and bloggers were treated to a rather rare flight experience.
Air New Zealand’s highly professional staff had us all wined and dined to perfection, although our plane did look a bit smaller compared to the Guns and Roses plane which was also docked ready for take off.
Not one to complain but their after party at our hotel last night did keep me up.
How many national airline carriers would encourage and deliver such a perfect experience, and work so well with New Zealand Wine?
Air New Zealand are very clever with their promotion of everything that is good with New Zealand, and delivery a superlative service – just look at their inspired safety videos which encourage everyone to pay attention, with a regular changing theme, their on-board promotion of NZ wines, food and anything else that highlights New Zealand.
Flying low altitude is not that smooth, however, so we were grateful to Captain Bob’s assurance that another vineyard and glass of wine was on the horizon.
He also mentioned that he has only ever given 100 points to one wine and that was to Neudorf Moutere 2014, and we were served a stunning 2011 Moutere – subtle, spiced, pure class, citrus, white peaches and elegance… a complex wine starting to evolve and deliver, but this will age and age. We do, incidentally, have some of the 2014 in our restaurant.
Cloudy Bay Te Koko 2011 was another stunning beauty, the intensity was special, suave and sophisticated, with a refreshing acidity at the end.
Our arrival party at Napier/Hastings Airport was a traditional Art Deco dance celebration, in remembrance of the huge 1930 earthquake in Napier.
The impressive dance routine by the 1930s-dressed dancing girls may well have impressed Axl Rose if he had followed us but he was off to Auckland.
This evening was then hosted at Craggy Range, where I am billeted for the next five days, and will even venture into the kitchen to host dinner next Tuesday as part of the first of my Tri-Nations Wine Challenges in New Zealand with South Africa as the Challengers.
A beautiful supper hosted in their grounds for some 100 guests was a great welcome to Hawke’s Bay.