Looking back on 2016 – not much posting here on the blog, or on twitter, nor on my new Facebook page … my wine life is so different now. Don’t like drinking / tasting on my own – it was something ‘we’ liked to do together – the guessing games – the wine and food matching – the mindful discussions and so on – yes wine can be a very mindful, intellectual experience. And I ran away a few times – to Greece, USA, Canada, Australia (passing through Queensland, NSW, South Australia and Western Australia) and getaways in New Zealand to Mt Ruapehu, Tiritiri Matangi Island and Great Barrier Island. It was my way of getting on with my circumstantially childless and new widowhood life.
People urged me to continue to attend the First Glass fine wine tastings and I am so glad I did as many wonderful wines passed my lips – going out the same way they went in as spitting is de rigour for me at these tastings as I don’t have a chauffeur any more and I don’t drink and drive and I can quite honestly say I don’t miss the alcoholic buzz that you get after sipping a few.
So I racked up several hundred tasting notes from the First Glass tastings; many more from my travels and when I did taste at home I wrote copious notes and those that I haven’t already written about I’m going to be blogging in the few weeks / months.
But it was at the 2016 Air New Zealand Wine Awards gold medal tasting at the end of October I found my ‘Wine of the Year’.
When I poured the Brancott Letter Series ‘O’ Marlborough Chardonnay 2015 from the line-up on the tasting table I was wooed by the beautiful toasty nutty oak bouquet and the exquisite creamy, mealy, lemon scented taste, the creamy almost butter caramel richness balanced by bright acidity. Next day I rang Kingsley at First Glass. “Do you have this wine?” I asked. “Yes,” was the reply. “How much?” “$19.99.” “Put some bottles aside for me.” When I arrived at the shop he said, “Which one is it you want?” He had two bottles with subtly different labels, one having a little red house. I did a comparison tasting and the little red house was the one. I check my my iphone shot of the line-up. The one I tasted at the gold medal tasting had a little red house. I bought three. A week and a half later this very same chardonnay was awarded the Champion Chardonnay at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards. I emailed Kingsley. “Oh, no – everyone will want it now and there may be none left when I come in on Wednesday.” He put three more aside for me. With new stocks coming in I’ve since bought another six. I can’t remember when I last bought a dozen of any one wine but for under $20 a bottle this is such ridiculously good quality and it’s the wine I’ve been taking out to share. Easy to see why it’s my Wine of the Year.