New Zealand Boutique Wine Festival 2015

A friend and I attended the third annual New Zealand Boutique Wine Festival held in the beautiful and sophisticated Imperial Building on Fort Lane last Sunday. It was a beautifully set-up event, with 24 boutique vineyards from all over New Zealand showcasing over 200 wines in a gorgeous setting. 

The tastings were set up on two levels, and each entry ticket came with a tasting glass and a free tasting. The rest of the tastings had to be 'paid for' with tokens which you can buy for $2 each. One token generally amounted to a tasting of about 30ml, although some wines of a higher quality costed more. 

Overall, we had a really good time. We were there early enough that we could spend time talking to the individual winemakers without feeling hurried or jostled, and really going through each vineyard and deciding what we wanted to try. 

From whites, to roses, to reds and dessert wine, it was a delight to be able to explore wines from different regions, as well as meeting the winemakers in person and sharing in their passion and experiences. 

Some wines that stood out for me were Bishop's Head Fume Blanc from the Waipara Valley, which was a really delightful drop, as well as Sugar Loaf Marlborough's 2010 Riesling, an elegant, honeyed and creamy Riesling that reminded me of some of my favorites from the Pfalz region in Germany.

We also enjoyed the wines from Peacock Sky Vineyard in Waiheke Island, and I'm hoping to make a trip there one day to indulge in their degustation wine tasting experience with food pairings. 

Gillman Vineyard's 2008 vintage was an absolutely beautiful red that really ended the afternoon on a high note for us. Lush, savory and elegant, I adored every drop of this Cabernet Franc and Merlot blend which lingered on my tongue long after the last drop.  

Last but certainly not least is the 2007 Late Harvest Riesling from Lone Goat Vineyard in Canterbury. This was a gorgeous dessert wine, not overly sweet and surprisingly fresh with plenty of lime aromas with rich honey and melon on the palate and a lovely long finish. 

There were probably quite a few more notable wines whose names I've forgotten, and of course, plenty more we weren't able to try - but suffice to say, it was a wonderful experience and I'll definitely be keen to go back next year. 

The vibe was great, the location was gorgeous, and there were plenty of interesting wines with some amazing standouts. We also appreciated the bottles of water that were lying around, free for the taking. If I had one gripe it would be that there wasn't any food or canapés served to help tone down the drinking. Some bread and cheese platters on hand would have been enough. We could and did however, order food from the venue which was amazing - but it would have been nice to have something to snack on in between tastings. 

Overall, the event was well-planned and executed and it was a lovely way to spend a drizzly Sunday afternoon. And I now know of (and will try to source) quite a lot more boutique wines that I've never previously heard of - which is of course the main purpose of the event. 


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