I'm still in Blenhime, at the same place. There is still a LOT of work to do on the vinyard. The other night we had the strangest thing for dinner, it was corned beef but not as I know it. Corned beef, for those who do not know, is a bit like spam. Its tinned beef with lots of fat and salt, and all the leftover cheap bits of meat. It was invented in the first world war to feed the soldiers in the trenches and has a very distinctive flavour, I don't mind it but it wouldn't occur to me to buy it. Anyway this was different. It was a big lump of beef, an actual roasting joint that had been soaked and aged in brine. We cooked it in the slow cooker and despite the long cooking time the entire inside was a very dark red. It was extreamly tender and cut so easily with a butter knife. The taste was almost like tinned corned beef really, but not as fatty or salty. We had a sweet mustard sauce with it which is traditional apparently. It was very strange though to see something so familliar in such a different form.
The vineyard is coming along slowly,out of 86 rows we've done 15. it just takes a long time. We've also had a few distractions. The calves were weened off their mothers and put in a separate paddock at the other end of the farm but two escaped and somehow got back with their mothers. so when Dave's friend John came over to collect firewood (they have a forestry block which will be cut down in 15 years but has been thinned out) we spent ages trying to separate the cows. That was hard work and was all for nothing as one of the cows and one of the calves escaped that night and were wandering around the vineyard. We repaired one of the electric fences in the field where the calves were and made a horrible discovery. Dave had a tame deer on the property, raised it and and brought it up. they left the door open one day and even found him on their bed (the house is one story)!!!!! He was totally harmless but pam was worried that he would hurt someone by accident one day or that he would realize he was wild and hurt someone on purpose. Anyway in our fence repairing quest we found Bambi, strangled by the electric fence tape and completely disintegrated. It looks like he must have got an antler caught and wrapped himself up so badly he had choked. His head was their with the tape around it, and his fur and skeleton but maggots and bugs seemed to have got the rest. What a horrible way to die! He could have been shot humanly and made good venison! Such a sad death and a waste of good meat. Pam is happy though, one less thing to worry about.
After working in the garden this morning Pam and I went on a bit of a vineyard tour. This area, surrounding Blenhiem is full of them. About 10 years ago it was full of sheep but they got rid of them when wool prices dropped and put vines everywhere. Its NZ's biggest area for wine production. We just went to four (Pam was driving and I'm a lightweight so more then that would have been a very bad idea) and tried some of the more and less famous vineyards. Villa Maria and Cloudy bay are excellent vineyards and I've had their wine at home. The stuff we get from Villa Maria is the cheaper range that they sell. Its not the cheap nasty stuff, its consistent, drinkable, fairly priced vine that is not fancy but just nice. However they have a reserve range, which is not exported and these were very good indeed. The Pinot Noire especially. I did not like their Malbec at all, Argentina makes better, it was to chalky and heavy on the tannins, dried my mouth out. I also have found out the difference between Syrah and Shiraz. They are the same grape and was called Syrah in France but then the Australians started growing it they re-named it Shiraz and gave it a much bigger, bolder, in your face, aggressive taste. They use Syrah to refer to the more mellow wines made with those grapes. Cloudy Bay was excellent, just as I expected. The highlight there was a Sauvignon Blanc aged in oak barrels. Sav is normally a very fruity, fresh, tropical sort of grape but this was very very different taste, hard to describe but a pleasant surprise. It reminded me of the wine Pam and Dave gave me that they grow, and it turns out they also use oak for their Sav. We Went to Whither Hills as well where I learned that they sell their wine in the UK, but for much cheaper then sell their wine in the tasting room! Highfields was the other one, their wine was average with a horrible sparkling wine. All in all a good afternoon and a simmilar tour would have cost about $60 so I am very grateful!