Take a look at that scenery. That is what it is all about. The friendly locals were apologising about the weather when I arrived for a 24 hour stay in Marlborough, as part of a short break in New Zealand.
Marlborough: where they tell me the sun mostly shines. That image I captured looks just how the most famous of the regions brands Cloudy Bay should look like to me though. Mystically beautiful. And dare I say it very Middle-earth.
To explore the Marlborough Wine Trail with more than 100 cellar doors you could well stay in the region for more than one day. For my 24 hours I explored just two of the cellar doors and lunched at a third. At Giesen Wines the premium range The Brothers was my pick, particularly good in the varietals for which the region is best known: sauvignon blanc and pinot noir.
Of course where there is wine there is usually food, and that is where much of my 24 hours were spent: eating and cooking and finding out about local produce. This included a cheese making session with wine matching at Cloudy Bay.
Lunch was at Herzog restaurant. My Swiss heritage approved. Classic and delicious food served on white tablecloths with traditional service and accompanied with their own wines. Herzog also has a cellar door.
And dinner was enjoyed in the heart of Marlborough’s wine region in the landmark 1920’s Art Deco Hotel d’Urville. Here the dining room offers a modern update on traditional hotel food and I selected accordingly. A mid-season treat of onne dozen Bluff oysters followed by steak with green pepper sauce and potato torte. Have you tried Bluff oysters?
And before departing the next morning I took in a cooking class in Blenheim at Darlington Barn. Check out Angie’s Pavlova recipe >> here <<.
And some local produce that I found:
SALT: My home kitchen has a salt collection. As we usually associate the Marlborough region with wine I was surprised to find out that New Zealand’s South Island has salt fields located in Marlborough. Tick. Salt in my suitcase (in a packet of course, and, declared as all food should be to Australian Customs Quarantine on my return) and added to my collection.
OLIVE OIL: On my personalised tour with Explore Marlborough my visits to boutique food producers included the Stantons Olive groves where I caught the last of the olive harvest and backed it up with a varietal olive oil tasting.
PINENUTS: And as a parting gesture, I picked up some high quality local pinenuts at the Blenheim airport.
Getting to Marlborough:
My journey to Marlborough was on a leisurely crossing from Wellington on the Interislander. I recommend the Kaitaki Plus ticket which give access to the exclusive premium onboard lounge with complimentary food and beverages, newspapers and magazines, Sky TV and free internet access. OK, I’ll admit I dosed off and as we made our way into Picton the caring attendant gently tapped my sleeping toes to gently wake me up. Service doesn’t get any better or friendlier.
From Wellington to Picton 3.5 hours
Auckland to Blenheim 1 hour 20 minutes
Wellington to Blenheim 25 minutes
Wellington to Picton 25 minutes
Christchurch to Blenheim 50 minutes
Driving times ex Blenheim
To Christchurch 4.5 hours
To Nelson 1 hour 45 minutes
To Kaikoura 1 hour 45 minutes
Marlborough International Events:
– Marlborough Wine Festival 2nd Saturday in February
– Forest Estate GrapeRide 1st Sunday in April
– Classic Fighters Airshow (biannual) Easter Weekend
– Marlborough Marathon late October
– Hunters Garden Marlborough 1st week in November
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