Random Thoughts by Dave: NZ’s Hawke’s Bay Wine Region, Other Observations
Hawke’s Bay was the sixth and final wine region we visited in New Zealand and was actually a perfect way to end. While Pinot Noir was the red wine most often seen in the other five regions, Hawke’s Bay, by virtue of a warmer climate, serves up bigger reds, including many Bordeaux varietals and Syrah, along with Chardonnay. Tasting in Hawke’s Bay reminds of Napa Valley with large and modern facilities at Craggy Range Vineyards, Te Awa (now owned by Villa Maria) and Elephant Hill and delightful, yet slightly smaller tasting rooms at Te Mata and Black Barn. We’re big Cabernet Franc fans (thank you Robert Sinskey) and one of our best wines of the trip was a $45 splurge for a 2009 Cabernet Franc from Clearview Estate. Age was definitely a friend of this one, though we were assured it would continue to improve for another 10 years or so. I was suffering from a little palette fatigue at this point and we didn’t have access to winemakers or proprietors as in other areas, so I’ll conclude by saying the region produces some outstanding wines that are well worth tracking down.
We’ve harped ad nauseum about the costs of traveling in New Zealand, but there’s one thing we haven’t touched on and that’s tourism. We spoke with the owner of a brewery who recognized that the cost of doing business and living in New Zealand is out of control and was actually in the process of trying to sell his brewery and move out of the country. What he said people fail to understand is that when people like us tell other people about how expensive it is to go to New Zealand it will discourage people from going. Tourism makes up a huge portion of the New Zealand economy and a decline in tourists would severely impact the country’s economy and employment. Someone needs to find a way to bring costs down.
Toilets in New Zealand and Australia (where we’ve just landed) all have two flush options depending on what’s about to go down. I realize these exist in the U.S., but shouldn’t they exist in larger numbers, like any new toilet that’s installed? Another interesting thing in many bathrooms Down Under are heated towel racks. I’m not quite sure these are necessary, but they do work. Jill just informed me that they are used to warm your towel up for your post shower toweling off rather than just drying your towel for the next time.
Early observations from Australia — beer just as pricy as New Zealand at around $9 a pint in pubs, however we don’t benefit as much from the exchange rate here. I’m feeling overwhelmed by the amount of wine that’s produced in Australia and my lack of knowledge about it. Plans are to hit seven regions — the Yarra Valley, Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, Grampians, Coonawarra, Eden Valley and Margaret River. Suggestions on places to visit are welcome.