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Wine & Travel Reviews


New Zealand: A Wine & Scenery Epilogue

We’ll never forget NZ. On the high side, we experienced some of the best wines, winemakers, scenery and outdoor activities anywhere, all in such relative proximity. Caravanning is the most economical and flexible way to navigate through it, and we truly appreciated NZ’s popular support for caravan goers, as evidenced by the plethora of caravan parks and amenities in almost every little town. The abundance of exceptional wines and extraordinary fresh food (such as NZ meats, fish, fruits and cheeses!) provides a gastronomic delight for the caravan chefs among us. On the low side, NZ needs to work on the quality of restaurant food and service, and more generally, customer service. This appears to be one uninherited trait from NZ’s British heritage. Maybe when we return for another visit we’ll find a capitalist revival of sorts.

NZ NI Favs If you’re like us, you will accumulate more wine during your trip than you can drink, or special wine that you will want to cellar for a few years. Between airline baggage restrictions and the import duty, the best option if you have wine exceeding a case worth (we had two cases and then some) is to ship via a licensed wine exporter. After extensive searching we found only one, located in Marlborough: MWT Wine Export. So why, you may ask, didn’t we just ship the cases back to ourselves via an international shipper? The answer is unnecessarily complicated. U.S. import (customs) regulations are the thorn, not NZ export regulations. To ship alcohol into the U.S., an authorized customs agent or importer must receive the shipment. MWT Wine Export just happens to have a business relationship with such an import agent. And there are overhead costs, in addition to import duties and straight shipping charges. Luckily we were charged a flat rate by the case, NZ$270, a decent deal during our short period of relative US dollar strength. The few extra bottles we had left were stuffed in our luggage, but gone are the days when one can get away with carrying back a whole case with no extra charges, as we did from Australia in 2002.

And now for our wine and scenery favorites (may they be yours as well):

NZ SI Favs Martinborough on the North Island was both a revelation and a delight for its wine prowess. Let’s just say we drop dead for the Pinots (both Noir and Gris) that we tasted here. They are serious and weighty, if not truly multidimensional. Most people only visit Marlborough on the SI, and we think that is a great oversight. Give yourself the extra time to go to all four major wine regions (Hawkes Bay, Martinborough, Marlborough, Central Otago) covered on pages 6, 7, 8 and 12 in the adjoining travelogue, and as to which you’d vote a best of. Though New Zealand is known primarily for Sauvignon Blanc, we tasted over 50 here and passed on most of them. Part of the problem is that these wines are best tasted and sipped very cold, and many wineries do not chill them enough for a tasting. That said, the majority we passed on, or another way to say it: we simply couldn’t get past the ubiquitous and over-emphasized capsicum (green pepper).

As for scenery, Tongariro N.P. and Cathedral Cove on the North Island and Kaikoura and Milford Sound on the South Island are hard to beat. Click HERE for a travelogue photography slideshow. Once again, shoot us a note or leave a comment on your favorites, and why, and we'll post throughtful comments. My why will be different than your why, but inspirational mood rousing sums it up for me. Happy travels.

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