New Zealand (South Island) – Blenheim

When I finally arrived at Blenheim, the first thing was to check into my Airbnb. I booked a 2 nights’ stay.

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The place was done up to shabby chic theme. I liked how they adhered well to the theme, including small details. Even the electric kettle looks vintage style. The house was well equipped with heating elements like an electric blanket, air-con heater and toilet heater.

They grow fruits in their premises and it’s free for us to take as many as we like! I ended up using a few of those beautiful fresh grapefruits and lemons.

The town’s pretty dead by nightfall so we just stayed in and I whipped up dinner after picking up some stuff from a Countdown supermarket which was just 3 minute’s walk away.

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Freshly grated cheddar.

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Mushroom mac and cheese tonight! I went generous with the cheese. There’s no full kitchen here, but the electric frying pan was good enough for my cooking. The kitchen utensils where well stocked. Glad they had a sharp grater which was very useful!

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Bought Regal Smoked Salmon, product of Marlborough. Got this bottle of Cloudy Bay 2015 Sauvignon Blanc from Countdown too. It would be cheaper at the Cloudy Bay winery actually, which I visited the following day.

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For breakfast, we took a short 5 minutes’ drive out to get some famous pies!

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This shop is famous for pies and was highly recommended. I love pies and I’m glad that they were opened on Saturday morning.

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This is their signature – The Pork Belly Pie ($6). It was sinfully good.

They also sell their pies from a food truck, venue always changing.

The Burleigh
72 New Renwick Rd, Burleigh, Blenheim 7201, New Zealand

Today’s itinerary was visiting vineyards, so not much driving was involved compared to previous days. Everything was around the same area. First stop was Brancott Estate.

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The skies weren’t friendly today. In Marlborough they usually get plenty of sunlight so this is abnormal. The abundance of sunshine makes it an ideal place for growing grapes.

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They have a restaurant within the Brancott Estate Heritage Center and I was sold by the photos of the view.

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Lunch with a view.

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Gnocchi

This was the vegetarian dish of the day. Very good.

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Beef Tenderloin

Finally having steak in New Zealand! I loved it. The food here was not fanciful but cooking and taste was on point.

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Their wines are easily found in almost every supermarket and are priced very affordably.

Brancott Estate Heritage Centre
2 Vineyard Rd, Blenheim 7272, New Zealand

Post-lunch was time for some real wine tasting. My choice was none other than Cloudy Bay.

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For those who are unfamiliar, Cloudy Bay is a brand feature wines mainly made from grapes of the Malborough region, though they now have some plots in Central Otago (for Pinot Noir).

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They are famous for their Sauvignon Blanc which is known to be one of the best in the world even though it’s a new world wine.

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Vintages across 3o years. Of course, this is not the way to store the wine, so the older ones are undrinkable.

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The reason why Marlborough is good for Sauvignon Blanc is because they have plenty of sunshine here throughout the year (today’s a rare cloudy day, I was told), and the soil.

They also have Pinot Noir from Marlborough, which is their second best seller.

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Sample of the soil situation of their various vineyards. The composition is very different.

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Pelorus NV

A flute of bubbles to kick start the tasting – Pelorus is their sparkling wine made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes from Marlborough. It takes 10 years to make this!

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Sauvignon Blanc 2015

This is their signature wine, the Sauvignon Blanc. I already opened a bottle of this the night before, but of course I don’t mind having it again. It’s real guys, Cloudy Bay makes one of the best Sauvignon Blancs in the world. As with most new world wines, they’re suitable to be drank young, though ageing is fine as well.

At the point of posting this, the 2016 bottle has just been released.

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Te Koko 2012

Using also grapes from Marlborough, Te Koko is another Sauvignon Blanc but made with French methods, with French oak barrels. The result was a very different kind of wine – distinctly spicy and more woody. This wine takes longer to be ready as compared to the new world method counterpart.

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Chardonnay 2013

Cloudy bay is quite diversified, producing a variety of wines. This Chardonnay is not bad but not on the league of those from Burgundy (of course, different methods are involved in the wine making). The Sauvignon Blanc was more outstanding.

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Pinot Noir 2013

The grapes are from the Marlborough region. It’s light and acidic, distinctly new world style.

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These two are the most famous wines from Cloudy Bay. You can find them almost anywhere – supermarkets, airports…

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This was not part of my wine tasting menu but I was offered some Te Wahi Pinot Noir 2014 to try because it’s newly released to be sold. However, you wouldn’t find this available in most places – you can probably only get it here!

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Te Wahi 2014

This is wine is made from grapes from Central Otago, as briefly mentioned above. This is the first vintage of Te Wahi after they fully acquired the plot and had full control of the conditions. What set it apart from their usual Pinot Noir is the method – they use French methods for this wine instead of the usual new world way hence it requires a longer time to age. The result was a really good smooth and deep Pinot Noir comparable (even better than some) to those I’ve had in Burgundy! I love it. Tasting it now is when it’s very young, and it’s already so good. It’ll be even better when aged with a cellaring potential of 10 – 15 years (I think 10 will be good).

The production of this is not a lot. If you have a chance to get a bottle, store it properly.

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Here’s the list of wine available for purchase.

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They have dessert wine too.

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They have manuka honey too. Interesting to see the vintage on the label.

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Books are available for reading if you would like to hang around.

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I took the Experience Cloudy Bay tasting which cost $10 (not including Te Wahi). You can also order some cheese to go along if you wish. $5 off per bottle is applicable per tasting purchased. It was a pity I didn’t get anything in the end.

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Lovely swings in their backyard.

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Cloud Bay
230 Jacksons Rd, Blenheim 7240, New Zealand

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As mentioned, the lemons came in useful for afternoon tea. Here’s some homemade iced lemon tea!

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And a simple dinner. Cheddar, lemon and olive oil spaghetti with regal smoked salmon, cheese board (cheddar and grapefruit) and Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc.

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