New Book – “Wine-Lover’s Companion”

When I was a little girl growing up in Waipukurau I always wanted to be a journalist. There was another person in Waipukurau who was a journalist, Karl du Fresne, who went on to become editor of the Dominion. I won’t say he was a mentor, because that’s a stupid word, nobody was my mentor. But I will say that it was comforting growing up as the daughter of a farmer, where most young gels my age grew up to be wives of farmers, that there was someone I knew of who was a real, live journalist. Karl now lives not far from here, in Masterton, writes as a freeland journalist and writes a blog –

Last night I went to the launch of his new book, “The New Zealand Wine-Lover’s Companion, An A-to-Z Guide”. It is a beautifully produced little manual, published by one of this country’s most prestigious independent publishers, Craig Potton Publishing. The wraparound jacket is matt black with a printed gloss label which resembles a very finely designed wine label. Class, all class. The ISBN is 978-1-877517-12-9

Karl describes this book as “the sort of book I would have liked when I started taking an interest in wine. I found then that many of the books written about wine assumed that the reader already had a certain level of knowledge. They were often written in a language that newcomers to wine may have found puzzling, perhaps even intimidating, and they tended to bombard the reader with more technical detail than the casual wine enthusiast really needed. So with this book, I set out to fill what I perceived as a gap in the market.”

Quite. I find, even though I know a fair bit about wine, there are still those who like to write, and speak, about wine in a “I am considerably more knowledgeable about wine than thou” tone of pen or voice. Well, they are just tossers. They are like contemporary art experts. They are insecure and they are terrified about being questioned because they will be exposed as frauds, really not knowing as much as they think they know.

This book of Karl’s is a treasure. It is both informative and amusing and the perfect (I hate this phrase but it is very apt) stocking stuffer. I think it retails for about $30. Although I bought a copy, The Silver Fox was there, we were having a good time, and memory does not serve me well. This is not a book for wine snobs (then again, maybe it might take them down a peg or two, featuring as it does, a comic entry for cresta dore [I can’t do an acute over the e on this blog] an old classic New Zealand wine about which English wine writer Christopher Fielden pronounced after tasting, “if  it smells of nothing and tastes of nothing it must be Cresta Dore”) but one for everyone – even beer drinkers – to enjoy. Cheers, Karl. 

Meanwhile, as I write this I look out with considerable pleasure at my garden which, despite the southerly today, has been progressing nicely. CCQC bought me a very smart lawnmower last weekend which went for a day before it died and has been sent back to the shop, but here are some photos of the garden, including the first roses to bloom:my garden 002my garden 001

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See those hills? Those are Nga Waka a Kupe , the canoes of Kupe, and Meridian Energy, a taxpayer-owned electricity company, wants to put a windfarm up there with 45 turbines, each twice as high as the Auckland Harbour Bridge with blades twice the diameter of the Westpac Stadium. You can read about it this Sunday in my column in the Herald on Sunday.

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