Sipping and sampling in Marlborough

Over the Christmas break I was staying in Marlborough with my family (while Mr LML was hard at work back in Auckland) so obviously a wine tour had to happen. Luckily for me, my Dad totally enjoys sober driving his wife and two daughters around wineries all day.

Designated driver - Marlborough wine testing

Can you tell?

We’re old pros at wine tours so know you’ve got to start with a full stomach so before we head near any wineries we head to Gusto Café in Picton to fuel up for the day ahead. This also gives us time to pore over a Marlborough wine map to plan our tour.

Mornings done right

Mornings done right

Once the Morning Glory (big breakfast Gusto style) settles we are on our way for our day of swirling, sniffing and sipping. If there is one thing the women in our family can agree upon is that you’ve got to kick off a wine tour with the good stuff, the bubbles that is – so first up is No.1Family Estate.

No.1 Family Estate

No. 1 is produced by Daniel Le Brun who originates from the Champagne region in France and he only creates what he loves – Methode Traditionelle wines. There are three wines for tasting and each one is even better than the last. We settle on the No.8 as our favourite and buy two bottles – we’re off.

We have our lunch spot picked out so begin making our way towards the Twelve Trees Restaurant , bypassing the legendary Cloudy Bay for a stop on the way. I love the Cloudy Bay tasting rooms because they have an awesome outside area where you can lounge while you enjoy your tastings. On a Sunday they have a raw bar, which is to die for. Sadly we are here on a Friday but the wines were still delicious.

Twelve Trees Restaurant is at Allan Scott Wines. We’ve been here many times before but I would say this menu is one of their best.

Twelve Trees Restaurant, Allan Scott Wines.

We start our meals with garlic bread (for the driver) and bubbles. We all order a different main but there is no food envy here as everyone loves their order. Dad is a little confused by the grass jelly with his smoked lamb though.

Smoked lamb shoulder, Twelve Trees Restaurant

Meanwhile, my fresh summer linguine is just what the doctor ordered: perfectly cooked pasta with plenty of vegetables and herbs.

Fresh summer linguini, Twelve Trees Restaurant

To keep the driver happy (nothing to do with our own stomachs) we finish with some delicious desserts and his choice of double chocolate brownie with raspberry sorbet and cocoa almond soil. It also gives him fodder for a self-amusing Dad joke – that we we’re treating him like a cow and making him eat grass and soil for lunch.  Oh, dad.

Outdoor chess at Allan Scott Wines

After lunch we play chess outside with this uber large chess set

We have just enough room for one more stop and choose the newly refurbished Saint Clair Family Estate.

Saint Clair Family Estate

The cellar door is right beside Pataka – The Foodstore which specialises in New Zealand produce and devonshire tea. The latter of which calls to my parents, so my sister and I soldier on and buy a tasting tray each to enjoy in the sunny courtyard.

Saint Clair Family Estate

You can select five different wines from a big range and they’re served up in the cutest jars in a wooden tray. This is the perfect way to end our day, just relaxing in the sun as we sip glasses of wine – bliss.

There are many other great wineries that we can’t make it to and one that definitely deserves a mention is Hans Herzog Estate. All Herzog’s wines are hand picked small batches. They are all delicious but my personal fave is the Montepuliciano – it tastes as sexy as it sounds.

Herzog’s also has a gourmet restaurant of the same name that offers one of New Zealand’s best degustations – in my humble opinion.

Not everyone has a willing sober driver on hand but there are plenty of wine tours on offer such as Marlborough Touring Company and Sounds Connection. Definitely check them out.

Over to you – have you been to a Marlborough winery?

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