Sunday, March 16, 2014

New Zealand Day 35: Tastings in Blenheim

One of the great things about staying two nights in the same place is that we don’t have to pack up the car by 10 AM! So, I slept in this morning. I got up once in the night to stretch the shoulder but didn’t need any ice—a good sign.

B had a wonderful violin practice yesterday (which to me, doesn’t particularly mean that she played well, though she did, but that she remained reasonable without screaming at me, falling on the floor as if her legs turned to jell-o, or arguing about every tiny thing I say), so I was hoping to continue the trend this morning. This was too much to hope for, apparently, so we were very late leaving the apartment for the Blenheim farmers’ market, conveniently occurring today.

It was terrific once we got there, though! It was much smaller than the Nelson one, perhaps owing to the rainy weather, but had some great stuff. I got a great latte from the coffee cart, a delicious peach crepe for breakfast, and then we found plums (picking the Angelino variety after sampling a couple), more strawberries (I can’t get over the fact that they are an all-summer-long fruit here), corn, and some green beans. If we were going to be here more than another week, I would’ve gotten some olive oil, too. This is definitely the right time of year to visit New Zealand!

After lunching on leftovers in the apartment, we headed out for some wine tasting. The first stop was SpyValley, which my mom picked because of my love for Riesling. Plus, they are solar powered!

(Yes, I know the number and quality of photos has fallen off drastically since Alex went home. I will try to do better.)

They had some toys for B, which was great, and we tasted our way through Sauvignon Blanc, two Rieslings, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Rose, and Pinot Noir. I think my favorite was the “free range” Riesling, which came from a patch of grapes that couldn’t be harvested last year due to a flood and thus were left on their own for awhile. But I really liked them all. We came away with a bottle of the Sauv Blanc and free range Riesling.

Then we headed off to Wairau River, which was also terrific. Their Sauvignon Blanc—usually not my favorite type of wine—was the second today that I’d be happy to drink any time! I actually liked their regular 2013 vintage better than the 2012 reserve that we also tasted. The 2013 Pinot Gris was terrific, the 2013 Riesling was also very good, and the 2011 Reserve Pinot Noir was super tasty. We also tried a 2011 Reserve Viognier, which was interesting but not my favorite. We ended up leaving with the Sauvignon Blanc, the Pinot Gris (now with a big dent in it as I write this after supper), and the Pinot Noir. Mmmm.

Brynna colored happily at Wairau River (they gave her some crayons and a coloring page) but Mom figured it was time to do something that she could get into, so we then headed off to Makana for a chocolate tasting. Today they were handing out samples of macadamia nut brittle, which was delicious, and orange truffle, which was incredible. Here’s B having a taste and looking into the kitchen.

So, even in the rain, New Zealand is great. I've never really done wine tastings before, but it is terrific and now I wish we were staying a couple more days in Blenheim! When my parents were here a few years ago they did their wine tours on bicycles, which would've been awesome. Our Top 10 rents bikes but I couldn't convince anyone that we should take them out in the rain. Too bad.

Tomorrow we are heading back to the North Island via ferry. The plan is for a couple of nights in Wellington and then somehow make our way north to Auckland for a flight in a week. Unclear if we're going to go through Tongariro again or just up the east coast. Hmmm....

I love it here in New Zealand. Towards the end of any vacation I am usually ready to be back home but I have to say I'd be happy to stay here indefinitely—though Alex and Jasper would have to come and we'd prefer if a bunch of you, dear readers, joined us as well!

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