Wine reviewers, I guess, are like economists – they can never agree, and the world would be a boring place if they did. Reading what an expert has written about a wine is one thing, but there’s nothing more satisfying than pouring wine for a friend, or giving a bottle of wine away, and being on the receiving end of unsolicited and fulsome praise. Which is what we received in the last week.
Not that these people had to give us feedback, as they didn’t drink the wine in our presence.
One family member took a couple of bottles overseas with her, and this is her description of the reaction from her friends (I’ve blanked out names for privacy):
“I have reports of the two bottles of James I brought with me, by the way. I shared one bottle with my friend C. She swirled, sniffed, and then, tasting it, dropped her jaw in surprise at how good it was. It was the finest wine she’d tasted in years and she raved about its complexity. We had the bottle with a really strong blue cheese and it was an exquisite combination. The second bottle I took with me to dinner at the home of **** and ****. We drank the bottle over a dinner of pasta with lightly spiced homemade sausage that they buy at a local butcher shop — They all loved it: A, who admitted he was not much of a wine drinker, said he really enjoyed it, E**** did his little “wine critic” analysis and then promptly asked where in North America he could order it from, and M*** confessed to me that she’d been a little sceptical about the prospect of drinking wine from a family vineyard (I think she probably imagined a few scraggly grapevines in a backyard, and then envisioned the ‘harvest’ squeezed into bottles at a “you brew” wine outlet in a stripmall — yes, such abominations do exist over here) but was a delighted convert. I ended the evening by promising that I would bring a bottle with me each time I return to Canada!”
The other bottle was given to Tony and Bridget Williams, of Dunedin. We got to know this couple when we became engaged, and another friend of ours recommended we visit Tony, goldsmith and fine jeweller extraordinaire, to discuss my engagement and wedding ring.
It was the most wonderful experience. Tony has a breathtakingly beautiful selection of jewellery at his showroom/workshop in Dunedin. We spent about two hours with him, talking about what we wanted. I have a thing about the stars, and said I wanted the rings to be a pair, but individually beautiful, and to look as if the stars had fallen down from the sky. When we left his studio and went out into the Dunedin streets, snow was falling in big chunks – it was romantic and beautiful.
About three months later we met Tony again in Christchurch to see some draft drawings he’d brought up to show us. Classic, with a twist. Every day I look at the rings and admire his skill, artistry, and originality.
About two years later we went to Dunedin to have the rings professionally cleaned by Tony, and the stones checked, and had another browse around his showroom. I admired another ring of his, a cloisonne fish (decorated enamel in the most intricate of styles), which Tony had won an art award for. How lovely, then, a few months later to be surprised by my husband when I was given this ring for my birthday.
So when Tony and Bridget came up to Wellington in July for the annual jewellery show at the Michael Fowler Centre, we paid them a brief visit, and took them a bottle of James ’05 Pinot Noir. I’d forgotten all about it, until last week when we received a card of thanks from them, with the following:
“We both enjoy good Pinot Noir but are often disappointed, particularly with a lack of body. This, however, was a stunning example of the type, which ranks among the best we have tried. You should be very proud of it.”
We are, and we are very very happy with our winemaker, Jane Cooper, at Matahiwi. Cheers.