Mission – Winemaker for a day

Church Road Winery – Tom McDonald Cellar

I really don’t think it gets better than this. A gorgeous Friday afternoon in Napier, New Zealand where I’m attending a foodie weekend and I’m learning from Chris Scott how to make a perfectly blended red wine at Church Road winery’s Tom McDonald Cellar.

“All the best wines I try, stand out from their peers because of their texture and structure, aroma and flavour alone is not enough, and this has become a focus in my wine making” Chris Scott, Church Road Senior Winemaker. Chris Scott is intense, passionate about his wines and his mission to see a New Zealand wine establish a new global benchmark.

In the impressive Tom McDonald cellar, I am one of a small group, eight of us in total, here to learn about blending the best red wine from one of the best in the business. Chris is quietly spoken, taking us through Bordeaux blend red wine and mentioning how he sees a Hawkes Bay blend red wine evolving. The similarities and differences of the location, climate, soils and varieties are discussed before clarifying some wine terminology and a brief outline of the varieties of red wine types.

The Hawkes Bay Blend is discussed as containing Syrah as well as the more traditional Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. We are given a fleshy Church Road Syrah with a strong spicy, peppery aroma to try and my team decide to use this to compliment the Merlot with a edging of Cabernet Sauvignon. The winning team uses the Syrah as a base.

The experience is a humbling one. I suspect, in ten years time, I will look back on my foray into blending and think to myself “Wow. How lucky was I.”

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