A report by Andy on the recent tour around New Zealand with Negociants.
Every year our New Zealand distributor Negociants New Zealand brings together the range of brands they represent for a tour around New Zealand. It is a cast of stars with the Negociants portfolio boasting some of the icon wine brands of New Zealand and Australia.
The 2012 tour was aptly titled “The World’s Best Vineyards All Under One Roof” and started out on Monday 18th June in Auckland where sommeliers, restaurateurs, retailers, wine critics and media were treated to wines, water, whiskey and beer from over 30 brands. The Auckland venue at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron proved popular once again as 400 attendees ignored the early afternoon rain and winds to come and sample some of the best wines available in New Zealand. The morning Masterclass sessions were fully booked as attendees were taken through a range of wines in either Aromatics (Riesling & Gewürztraminer), Old vines or NZ Chardonnay classes by a panel of winemakers. The Aromatics class had some interesting discussion on Riesling & Gewürztraminer styles, assessment of residual sugars and how sommeliers present these wines. It was interesting to hear the different approaches from the winemakers and the people who sell them in restaurants and shops.
The Auckland tasting session started after a brief lunch break. Our stand was busy from start to finish often with several groups at a time going through the wines. Many were people we knew already – who list our wines – and quite a number were new people who we hope will become our customers! The sessions ended with a quick pack-up and shuttle to the airport to move on to Wellington where on Tuesday our session format was again master classes followed by the tasting session. Whilst there were fewer attendees in Wellington, we again were delighted to see many of the friends from prior year tours who serve our wines.
Christchurch was the third city on the tour and is always a special stop. Firstly going to The George Hotel is a treat. Nathan and his team welcome us all like family, and checking in 30 people off the airport shuttles seemed effortless, as did serving dinner to the group well past the kitchen’s normal closing hour. We were in Christchurch just after a major aftershock had shaken the city on the 2011 tour, and saw the damage to beautiful heritage building just next door to the hotel. That building is now gone as are many in the area, but the city is rebuilding and the turnout to the Wednesday classes and tasting from restaurants and retailers was inspiring.
The last venue for the 2012 tour was in Queenstown – nice and close to home. The morning flight was reminiscent of being on a sports tour when I was young – 30 Negociants and winery people, all good friends – talking, laughing and taking up most of the space on the small Air NZ flight from Christchurch. We arrived to a cool Queenstown morning with our venue at the Queenstown Resort College offering some stunning views of the snow capped mountains. Our Australian friends simply raved about how beautiful this scenery is – and of course how that contributes to the wines!
We finished the tour with an “end of tour dinner” at Fishbone in Queenstown. As could be imagined, the range of wines laid out on the tables was outstanding – we had the remainders from the days’ tasting. There were speeches to thank the hardworking Negociants organizers including some that had the presenters (including Stephen Henschke) laughing so much they almost could not continue. It was a fitting close to the week of hard work.
The Negociants New Zealand 2012 tour was a success – it always is. Bringing together the people behind the brands forms a great sense of being on a team of friends and supporters. We are not competing but sharing our individual styles of wines with a range of customers and wine lovers who appreciate the care and attention we all put in to making great wines.
We are already looking forward to 2013!