Hayley sings (but you’ll have to take our word for it)

By | 11/03/2013

It was half way through Hayley Westenra’s rendition of ‘Songbird’ that I realised Emma and I had a long way to go to be recognised as serious wine writers.
“Take a photo” I hissed. (I was too embarrassed to tell her I had packed a camera but had left it back in the tasting room). “I’ve only got my iphone” Emma whispered. “It makes everything look blurry”.So instead of taking photos we sat listening to Hayley’s beautiful, haunting voice, with goosebumps on our arms and reconciled to the fact that we had a distinct lack of pictorial evidence to show we had spent the evening in Blenheim celebrating the launch of Brancott Estate’s new uber-premium sauvignon blanc, Chosen Rows.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve given a lot of thought to the future of wine writing. Today I gave a talk to a group of visiting degree students, (from the Association Universitaire Internationale du Vin et des Produits de la Vigne), who are studying  for an  MSc in Wine Management. They wanted to know about the future of wine writing in New Zealand and what challenges faced those choosing to pursue this as a career.
I am not sure I had much pearls of wisdom to impart, save to say that today, good writing isn’t really enough. The effortlessly eloquent Andrew Jefford is a hero of the IMW editorial team, but whilst we admire his style, Emma and I would be foolish to try and imitate his carefully thought out style of prose.
Perhaps to effectively communicate, we’ll need to use words supplemented by pictures, even videos – anything that can make the subject come alive for the reader.  It may be an eternity before you ever see videos of Emma and I tasting and then uploaded to YouTube (shudder), so perhaps we will always be Luddites. But in future, in the interests of retaining copyright and originality, as well as packing the trusty biro and paper, we’ll be finding room for the Box Brownie too.

WSET Diploma commitments meant I arrived too late for the official tasting so I’ll leave Emma to write up the afternoon’s proceedings and to put the 2010 Chosen Rows in context. For what its worth, I was very taken by the wine.  I’d expected something along the lines of Section 94 or Te Koko – a balls-out interpretation of the oaked sauvignon style – full of smokey sulphides and struck match. Instead I tasted a complex, restrained sauvignon blanc, one whose barrel ferment character was very much in the background.  Acidity was keen but the wine had poise and potential. From 2010, it was still extremely youthful and tight, showing very little by way of thiols or honky armpit character. An intriguing wine.

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