Subject: Wine, and more wine
Conclusion: Thumbs up!
These guys really know how to make a SB. However, the most surprising thing was that there are many many producers in the Marlborough/Cloudy Bay area (over 50) and there is a wide range of different styles and tastes. In Canada, we tend to see a lot from Montana (the lead commercial producer) and Cloudy Bay (The lead "estate" type winery).
We must have tried at least 12 different places while in the area, and I started to focus on the Pinot Noirs while Kristine stayed mainly with the SB's - which is really what they do best. The Pinot's were OK, but it really is too cool a climate for the reds, and there weren't any that I would call "knock your socks off". The SB's on the other hand displayed great variety owing to the different micro-terroirs and the different wine making styles. The industry is growing so rapidly here as old orchards are ripped out in favour of the grape, and as the competition grows, there is much experimentation going on. I have to say though, that the Cloudy Bay was the best of the bunch, with a beautiful silky texture and incredibly good balance. All the others were just a little too far in one direction or another - so I would conclude that we are getting some of the best in Canada. The experiences at the wineries were very good with most cellar doors staffed with interesting people who didn't push the sale - this was great! All except for one...
We we're at a craft winery (which shall remain un-named) staffed by an American gentleman who was obviously enthusiastic about his business and wines, but entirely over engaged with the process of describing the complexities of the wine and the wine making process in the hopes of convincing you to buy the product by simply exhausting you with extraneous information (sort of like the sentence I just wrote - to provide the correct annoying effect - did it work?).
He wanted $3 for a tasting where all others do not charge, so Kristine negotiated a single tasting for the two of us at $3 and we shared the glass - we didn't even try all the wines. At the end of the tasting, I gave him a $5 bill expecting a $2 coin back. He said, "Thank you very much, but you wouldn't happen to have just one more dollar would you?" What? Were you not here 10 minutes ago? Do you think you gave us such a fulfilling extraneous experience that we are now willing to re-negotiate our deal? Kristine was pissed!
She immediately said, we agreed on three dollars. He reached into his little box and gave us back our $2 coin, again adding a sentence with loads of apologetic customer brainwashing service oriented information that just got us more upset inside. Arghhhh!!! I want to stay balanced here, we've met a lot of great Americans backpacking (and elsewhere) - they are out opening their minds - but this dude just seemed like all he was thinking in his head was "Hey, If I bring a US business style to this tiny little place, I think I can make a lot of dough from these little Kiwi folks!" He should look at his peers - none of them charge for tastings, and it just pisses people off. My 2 cents. I'm sure I'll have my critics, but it's my experience, and I own it.
That being said, there are great SB's here - some of the best we've tasted. Just run from the sales people RUN, I SAY, RUN!!!!!!