Sunday, November 23, 2008


OK we know that the standard of news reporting has slipped badly in recent years but the following just shows how stupid some copy writers are: In a Newstalk ZB news report on the Air NZ National Wine Competition results it was reported that "Chair of judges, Steve Smith, says the two winning wines made a big impression on the 26-strong judging panel, who tasted the wines blindfolded." Blindfolded! Didn't this news writer think about what he/she was saying? Do they just merrily type away without engaging their brains. Tasting wines blindfolded might well result in the chaos depicted in the attached B.Johnson cartoon

Friday, November 14, 2008


Gary and I play snooker on Thursdays and generally have a couple of glasses of wine afterwards at the local wine bars.
I've written before about the poor service at one of the locals and why we made a shift. We had been going for some time to Diablo's but it closed down and after a long period of being renovated opened as a Greek bar and restaurant. The new owners have spent a lot of money changing things (why they do this I can never work out. They think that a different set up, name and paint job will attract and retain customers. What they need to concentrate on is soul and service).
Anyway, when the new one opened we gave it a try in I think the first week of opening. They were very disorganised, not knowing the wine selection nor the prices and taking a long time to serve. We put up with that giving them the benefit of the doubt attributing it to teething troubles. Every odd week now for several months we have gone there and things have hardly improved. It is always empty. The staff still don't know the wine offerings or the prices. The wines available by the glass are not listed in the expensive printed wine menu. The management usually cluster together having conversations or arguments leaving the invariably new staff member to try and man the bar. Last week it was all too hard trying to order a glass of wine so I just has a beer. This week I said to Gary enough is enough and that we should go somewhere else. He convinced me to give it one more try which we did. We successfully ordered the first glass of wine each although it took a while getting it paid for. When I went back into the bar to order another two glasses of wine the inexperienced yet capable young woman behind the bar had gone and an inexperienced and incapable new young woman was behind the bar. I ordered , for sake of simplicity the same wine I had had previously - the Matua Judd Estate Chardonnay 07 (good wine). The bar person went to the beer spigot and said "which beer?". I pointed out that it wasn't beer I wanted, that I wanted a glass of wine and pointed to the bottle in the fridge telling her that it was the top bottle on the left. When she responded again "which beer?" I decided that it was never going to get better especially when she said "sorry it's my first night working here". All this was in earshot of 3 management once again huddled in conversation.
OK, I felt sorry for the girl, probably a student, but I was a customer buying $12 glasses of wine. The guys running this place spend a fortune on decor but employ cheap labour and don't bother training them. Their conversations are probably along the lines of "I wonder why we don't get many customers?"
We left and got a glass of wine across the road (at the other place that takes ages to serve customers).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Anyone having read older posts I have written will know that I decry supermarkets and the way that they destroy brand equity through deep-cut discounting. They also do not provide enough choice for the wine enthusiast. That said though I still buy wine from supermarkets (more so now that I am self-employed and am watching the pennies). Today I picked up some bargains - Deutz Cuvee at 19.99 (14 bucks off), Mission Reserve Viognier at 19.99 (five bucks off plus a free memory stick), Penfolds Bin 28 24.99 (10 bucks off) and Rosemount Blue Mountain Shiraz Cab 29.99 (36 bucks off). That was not a typo. Fosters implosion is turning up bargains like this.Even discounted in Australia Blue Mountain should be well over 40 dollars (AUD).
There have been a lot of Rosemount, Wolf Blass and Penfolds specials recently as a result of Fosters (the parent company) losing their way in the wine world. I suggest to look out for the bargains and buy up large (please don't read this until I get back to Foodtown and buy some more).
I've been buying good Riesling and Chardonnay when the good brands come on deep-cut special. I don't buy Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris but there are particularly good deals on the good brands of these occasionally. What never turns up though is good Pinot Noir on special. In fact, supermarkets don't stock good Pinot Noir. Why is this? A few years ago Pinot Noir was scarce and suppliers would not sell it to supermarkets. When they did they didn't promote it. Supermarkets resorted to stocking cheap and crappy Pinot Noir from Australia and lesser regions. Now that good NZ Pinot Noir is plentiful things haven't changed. I refuse to believe that suppliers are holding out given that most of them are awash with the stuff. It just may be that the supermarket buyers are not chasing hard enough. Believe it or not it often happens where the supermarket buyer has personal preferences and dislikes that get in the way of sensible stocking and ranging. A few years ago a buyer for one of the major groups would not range Shiraz because he thought that it was not popular. At the time Rosemount Diamond label Shiraz was the biggest premium Shiraz brand sold in USA, was huge in Australia and in NZ was starting to dominate the (non supermarket) shelves. It took a long time for him to be convinced but once so the Shiraz he stocked took off.
Meanwhile I buy my Pinot Noir from specialist wine retailers and via the web. It annoys me though to think of the piles of unsold stuff sitting in warehouses somewhere.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


On looking at the bizarre choices that voters made last night it seems to me that most of the powerful city seats went to labour (Wellington Central, Christchurch Central, Manurewa, Dunedin South, Dunedin North etc). In fact out of the 27 or so major city seats Labour won 15 of them to Nationals 8. The 'country' seats all went to National except for Palmerston North which went to Labour.
OK. Good on the country, this is ground-swell and grass-roots opinion, but is it well informed opinion or populist knee-jerking?
If electoral seats were wine-styles then the Labour ones would be classic Chardonnay,steely Riesling, powerful Syrah, elegant Pinot Noir and edgy Sauvignon Blanc. National ones would be flabby Pinot Gris, boring Muller Thurgau, insipid Chasselas, overpriced Viognier, unproven Arneis and early maturing Rose. Oh, and as they did win some important city seats I'll give them Cabernet Merlot blends albeit with green herbaceous edges.