RedbankJames WineBlog – good NZ methode

Yesterday – Saturday – was so hyperbolically busy in and around the vineyard that when I sat down after a bath with a glass of lovely, refreshing New Zealand methode traditionelle, I fell asleep after two sips. But more of that later.

Now is a splendid time of the year to be planning and planting the new garden, nestled right in the middle of the vines. During the week I’d bought, from Robinsons in Masterton, a bootload of natives (plants, silly) including native grasses, tussock, hebe (jeebies), plus dwarf ceanothus (Californian lilac), lavender, rosemary (for remembrance) and a couple of twisty-looking native shrubs which have tiny silver flowers of which the name escapes me. So much for the rosemary. We’ve planted those in the paved circle out front, over which we’d already laid newspapers and pine mulch. Waving in the wind right now, they all look very happy and warm. We also weeded and mulched the cabbage trees, two kowhai, and one pittosporum we’ve planted down by the gateway (which appears at the top of this page every time you open the blog). It’s so satisfying to plant things, nurture them, whisper to them and say a little prayer over them to speed them on their growing journey. I know I’m silly, but I always imagine they look thankful when you’ve taken them out of their pots and lovingly planted them in the moist earth.

This is meant to be a birdbath in the centre, a Christmas present from me to Colin two years’ ago, but Kete hops up and drinks from it so I don’t think the birds feel very welcome at her local bar.

The other task for the day was to visit East Taratahi Builders’ Supplies in Carterton and inspect the chook houses they make. Very exciting – timber house with rounded roof of coloursteel which we can order to match the house, nesting boxes and roosts inside – the chooks (yet to be purchased) will be happy as, well, happy has hens in straw. We’re also ordering a pig house from these people – also wooden with iron roof, in which the porkers be warm and dry until the day arrives when they bring home the bacon. I think we’ll have to name them “crackling” and “sausage”.

So as I said, after a bath we lit the fire and opened a bottle of Hugo Bunny’s 2006 Waipipi Methode Traditionelle, made from Chenin Blanc grapes grown just north of Masterton at Opaki. He describes this as a “firm, flavoursome wine with hints of green apples, limes, lemons and yeast” and that’s pretty much accurate, as we found this drop incredibly refreshing and moreish. Enlightening, is the word I’d use. After I awoke from my little fireside doze I made a dish of Italian sausages with pumpkin chips, artichokes and tomato on red rice, and we knocked off a local Syrah from Schubert – only 169 cases produced of this 2005 vintage and it was very good. Schubert make excellent wines, red and white. A perfect end to a lovely winter day. 

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