Sunday, August 15, 2010


Mrs Tilly’s, is a family run business who pride themselves in the production of good quality confectionery, using traditional methods and only the finest of ingredients. Most importantly they are exploring ways of exploiting their unique selling point of having no artificial additives or preservatives in any of their products.
They believe that it is this, coupled with the wonderful taste of their products, that appeals to buyers and customers alike. Unlike many of the more established manufacturers in the business, they set out to favour flavour over longevity. They refused to compromise on the taste of their products by adding preservatives even though this meant reducing the shelf life.
Mrs Tilley says Our macaroon bars are traditionally produced with an enticing, sweet soft centre. This is then dipped in delicious real chocolate and then coated in a crunchy toasted mixture of dark and light coconut which gives the lovely special burnt taste. This works especially well when drunken scottish bastards get tipped out of the pubs at 11pm craving the taste of a battered and deep fried confectionery. It is much safer for them to eat one of our macaroon bars than to risk immolating themselves at home over the gas cooker.”

Friday, August 13, 2010


....but sometimes they are just covering their arses. Do you read the blurb on the back of wine bottles? The marketers can and do make up all sorts of rubbish (I know I've done so myself). Generally the cheaper the blend the more creative the writing. Often, with better quality wines, in addition to the expansive descriptions of flavours and colour there is a bit of detail about the grapes used and the area(s) they came from. There is usually an indication of when the wine is best drunk or how long to cellar it. The trick is to pick a number that suggests the wine is big and will improve with cellaring without putting the buyer off by him thinking that only his grandchildren will benefit from the wine. I opened a bottle of 2002 Stonehaven Hidden Sea Cabernet Sauvignon. This Wrattonbully/Coonawarra blend was made at the now closed Stonehaven winery in Padthaway and I suspect that the Hidden Sea label is another casualty of the disastrous Constellation Australia brand reorganisation. The back label tells us that "the wine is rich and complex, revealing aromatic ripe blueberry, redcurrant and cassis flavours that are enhanced by subtle oak characters. The wine has been made to enjoy now or cellar for up to 7 years" Well they are wrong! The wine is truly alive and will benefit from further cellaring (not now for me as I've nearly finished my only bottle). It is rich and complex I agree. It has a dense dark colour with vibrant hues. There is a nice balance of fruit and gentle oak that age has combined. It has a round, soft and still fresh flavour with a nice finish and will be good for a few more years. Constellation Australia (formerly BRL Hardy LTD) has been selling off vineyards and wineries (haven't found a buyer for the magnificent Stonehaven winery yet) and I assume dumping out all of the old stocks. If you see any of this wine or more recent vintages or indeed any Stonehaven red wines being specialled out then I recommend that you buy them. Seriously good and good keepers.
Stonehaven Cellar Door and Winery

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Tonight I couldn't be bothered cooking anything new so fossicked in the freezer for one of the pasta sauces that we freeze. I found a very small container of what looked like a Bolognaise sauce and emptied that into a larger container to thaw. As it didn't look like enough I found another small container of what I thought was a tomato based vegetable pasta sauce. I emptied this into the larger container also and as it started to thaw out realised that it was one of Her Indoor's soup mixtures ( beans, broccoli, tomato, carrot, zucchini etc). Thinking 'what the hell' I heated it to have with spaghetti and Parmesan. The result was fantastic. The Bolognaise meat sauce was spicy (I always make it with chilli, garlic and ginger) and the soup was thick and flavoursome. It was a great experience.

Earlier I had chosen a simple red from the cellar thinking that as I only wanted a glass to have with dinner I wouldn't open anything too good. Recently we had been drinking some pretty ordinary Pinot Noir (Montana 'Corbett's Legacy' Waipara Pinot Noir 2008, bought cheap from Blackmarket but supposedly being a fairly expensive wine). Thinking that the Kim Crawford 2007 Spot Label series Marlborough Pinot Noir would be a bit faded and similarly ordinary I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the wine is rich, luscious, fruity and very alive. The one glass I promised myself soon became two and a half. I'll save the rest for tomorrow. To be honest this shouldn't have been too much of a surprise as Kim Crawford wines, especially the ones up the ladder in the range, have fantastic fruit, are very well made and can benefit well from cellaring. I'll look out for more of this 2007 Pinot Noir in case anyone is specialing it out.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Give Me A Little Old Fashioned Love The kind that lingers through the years The kind 
that's made by God up above Give Me A Little Old Fashioned Love

(Ernest Tubb, also recorded by: Smokey Greene)

A friend of mine who shall remain nameless told me the other day of one of his experiences in the wine  
trade in Russia. A contact of his, a fellow wine marketer with a reputation as a 'bon vivant' has a habit of 
slipping in some unsavoury expressions when talking to trade contacts and customers. This is as a joke 
which some of them get and others go on blithely innocent. At an official and highly publicised event, this chap's friends challenged him to slip in something outrageous in the thank you speech he had to present
He chose to talk about the sweet dessert wine and in summing it up he said that he appreciated that it 
kind of lingers on the tongue.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


In the previous post's comments, TSB asked what 'town,' name should be given to NZ's equivalent to a Bordeaux-style wine. This made me think about the New Zealand geographical areas and their meaningfulness on the world stage. Outside of the 'appellation' area of Marlborough, the wine drinking world knows virtually nothing about New Zealand's regions and the non wine drinking populace wouldn't even know Marlborough. Asuming that a few people in the world know where New Zealand is, they might have seen it on a map and noticed that it is in two pieces - a North Island and a South Island. If we want to be taken seriously on the world's wine drinking stage (and by serious I mean actually sell some of the stuff and not witter on about how good everything is) we need to simplify our proposition so that stockists and consumers have some minimal understanding of what they are buying. New Zealand, as far as the rest of the world goes makes decent Sauvignon Blanc. The average drinker looking for a fresh, crisp light styled wine probably doesn't think in terms of varietals but may think in terms of country. The best NZ Sauvignon Blanc comes from Marlborough and Nelson with some Waipara stuff making the grade. These regions are in The South Island. The next largest varietal planting is Pinot Noir. The best on average comes from Waipara, Central Otago and Marlborough - again from the South Island. Next largest planted varietal is Chardonnay. The best comes from Hawkes Bay and Gisborne from the North Island. The next largest planted group of varietals that are often blended are the 'Bordeaux' varietals - Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc etc. The best examples come from Hawkes Bay and Waiheke Island - the North Island.

 So. How do we easily market these around the world? I suggest a New Zealand South Island white wine in a 'bordeaux' shaped bottle. This is Sauvignon Blanc.

A New Zealand South Island red wine in a 'Burgundy' shaped bottle. This is Pinot Noir.

A New Zealand red wine in a 'Bordeaux' shaped bottle. This is the Merlot. Cabernet Sauvignon etc. blend.

 Lastly a New Zealand North Island white wine in a 'Burgundy' shaped bottle. This is Chardonnay. Now I know that New Zealand makes good Riesling, Syrah, Pinot Gris and a few other varietals but - does the world know or care? Keep it simple. Don't confuse the punters and lets all make some serious money out of this potentially great export product.