Church Road winery – Tom McDonald Cellar,
Raymond Van Rijk is a genius. I first stumbled across this talented Dutch specimen at an A & P Show in Hastings, New Zealand. I brought a gorgeous mix of spices off him which if were mixed with olive oil and water made the yummiest bread dip I’ve stumbled across. Unfortunately he doesn’t make it any more, a sore point I brought up with him when I attended his BBQ class at Trinity Hill Winery as part of F.A.W.C, Hawkes Bay.
My motives for attending were definitely suspect. I eat a fair amount of game meat and in all honestly, I was in it for the lunch. That Trinity Hill’s wine maker, John Hancock was also going to be matching wines for the event was a huge bonus. More than 35 years wine making experience in New Zealand, Australia and France as well as a chardonnay that was awarded best in the world by the 1997 Wine Magazine’s International Wine Challenge, John has some significant achievements within the industry.
Raymond Van Rijk takes the humble BBQ to the next level. He encourages getting the basics right while endorsing the use of fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables and the best equipment. Sally Haslett from Woodburn Venison attended, contrasting Raymond’s ‘bloke about the BBQ’ with a womanly touch. Meanwhile John was more than happy to raid the cellar (so to speak) to supply Trinity Hill Syrah, Tempranillo, and a Nobel Voignier to compliment our meal. The Trinity Hill 2009 Gimblett Gravels Nobel Voignier was so good I brought a bottle or two to enjoy later.
As well as sampling a few great Trinity Hill wines, I ate venison (farmed, not wild), alpaca and portobello mushrooms (a great vegetarian option).
This event was amazing. I came away with a huge respect for the humble BBQ as well as more than a few new tricks to try.
“not just a special site”
it is a sacred site”
– James Halliday
Gimblett Gravels in the Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, is where the grapes from some of the worlds finest, full bodied, red wines are grown. This picture is from Alpha Domus, one of a group of wine producers who have established the Bridge Pa Triangle Wine District.
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.”