BLENHEIM, New Zealand. – When renowned American wine writer and critic Matt Kramer referred to it as the biggest single success story the modern wine world has seen, he wasn’t kidding. The category known as New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has in 46 years grown from literally zero vines and nada litres to 24 000ha of vineyard planted in the dry alluvial and clay soils on the South Island’s Marlborough region, seeing 340 000 tons of grapes crushed annually and making 255m litres of wine.
The much-maligned tot-system is alive and well, and I am sure I am not the only one willing to work for wine. This week past saw me straining under tremendous physical and emotional toil for nothing but the prospect of a good stiff drink from my temporary employer. The sweat-drenched brow, the aching lower back and the pulsing veins were all worth it, though, when said employer produced a few bottles of alcohol. Within minutes the pain was gone, a pleasant coolness had set in and a feeling of good-will to all men – well, almost all – was taking grip.