- Discovering the Joys of New Zealand Wine

Special Edition Newsletter - 2007

Once a year, the KiwiWineries Newsletter goes beyond our normal coverage to look at wine news from around the world. This year's special edition features the latest news from our team of correspondents: Robert Parker's brush with death; Montgomery County, Maryland's latest wine initiative; and a new high-profile winery in New Zealand. We also have an advertisement from our newest commercial sponsor.

Hollywood Report:

Lord of the Barrels

Move over Michael Seresin, Sam Neill and Roger Donaldson; another Kiwi movie legend is on the stage. Step aside Francis Ford Coppola; another bearded director with a blockbuster trilogy is getting into the wine business. That's right, it was only a matter of time before hugely famous director Peter Jackson started his own winery and that announcement came today.
Today's press release noted that "Mr. Jackson brings to the project an abundance of resources, financial and otherwise. He found that the time was right to diversify his interests, apply his creativity to a vital New Zealand industry, and provide some economic opportunity for former colleagues."
Knowledgeable sources indicate that the winery and vineyards will be staffed by the former cast and crew of the "Lord of the Rings" movies. The tourism boom in the wake of the movies has been gradually declining and, in fact, some of those involved, particularly the cast, have fallen on hard times.
It is no surprise that the wine operation will adopt an "old world" approach. It was announced that Gandalf was the natural choice for the position of Head Winemaker. It is expected that he will bring a whole new meaning to the wizardry of winemaking. Other cast members, such as the hobbits, will also be a major part of the business plan.

All available hobbits have been hired to work in the vineyards where their gentle, agrarian ways will provide optimal care to the vines. Beyond that, they have a natural "talent" for the old world practice of crushing the grapes underfoot. Mechanical crushers will not be needed.

One setback has been encountered from the original plan. It was envisioned that there would be an abundant pool of unskilled laborers from the legions of unemployed orcs. It turns out, however, that all of the orcs have already been hired as Sales Reps for Constellation Brands where they have been tremendously persuasive in getting Monkey Bay placed in every wine store on the planet.

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Montgomery County's Latest Wine Initiative

For several years, we have reported on the wine projects of Montgomery County, Maryland, including their wine superstore and private brand wines. Today, new County Executive Isiah (Ike) Leggett announced the county's latest initiative to vertically integrate its wine business. Once again using its leverage as the only county in the nation with a monopoly on wine distribution, Montgomery County has plans to develop its own vineyards and winery.
Ubiquitous Product Development Director Mel O'Lactic went on to describe the plan. "Our grapes will come from carefully chosen parcels using select clones. The fruit will be hand-picked at optimal ripeness for maximum quality. This will be a boutique winery dedicated to making world-class, artisan wines without compromise. Our wines will demonstrate the true expression of Montgomery County terroir".
Eager to get the inside story on this new venture, KiwiWineries sent its Senior Government Correspondent, Weida Peoples, out to investigate. Through the Freedom Of Information Act, she was able to obtain Montgomery County's internal guide to the key phrases in the press release.
Carefully Chosen Parcels"We'll use the ground the county owns; like the Parkway and ICC median strips."
Select Clones"The grapevine catalog says Scuppernog and Riverbank will grow here."
Hand Picked Vinemaster 5000
Optimal Ripeness "Standard practice but we can charge more by using this phrase."
Boutique Winery "We can charge more by using this phrase."
World-Class "We can charge more by using this phrase."
Artisan Wines "We can charge more by using this phrase."
Without Compromise "We're the government, we don't have to compromise."
Montgomery County Terroir "Nobody will mistake these wines as coming from anywhere else."

Robert Parker Dodges Death In Freak Accident

The wine world was shocked to learn this week that iconic wine critic, Robert Parker, had a brush with death after an accident involving some bizarre circumstances. It all began with Mr. Parker conducting a tasting of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs and resulted in him nearly bleeding to death from a cut blood vessel.
In unraveling the strange events of this incident, doctors at Johns Hopkins Univervisity in Baltimore, Maryland believe that Mr. Parker has a severe, previously undiagnosed allergy to secretions of the Southern Bell frog (Litoria raniformis). The wine tasting had been proceeding normally until the fateful bottle of Grove Mill. By force of habit, Mr. Parker usually sniffs the cork but in this instance, of course, it was a Stelvin screwcap. At that precise moment, he was exposed to trace chemicals from the Southern Bell frog which lives in the wetlands on the winery's grounds. Mr. Parker reacted to those chemicals with a violent sneeze and from the whiplash of his head, cut his nose on the metal edge of the screwcap. In most cases, that would be little more that a paper cut, but for Mr. Parker, the blood vessel to his olefactory senses is as large as a normal person's artery and he bled profusely.
Fortunately for the wine world that would be lost without him, a bevy of Mr. Parker's assistants rushed in to control the bleeding long enough for the paramedics to arrive. Mr. Parker was immediately flown by helicopter to the Johns Hopkins Medical Center where several hours of microsurgery were needed to reconnect all of the blood vessels and save his sense of smell. While he is recovering well and will suffer no long-term effect from the incident, Mr. Parker was so put off by the experience, he vowed that in the next edition of his 1,400 page Wine Buyer's Guide, the New Zealand section would be cut from two pages to one.
Meanwhile, Michael Franz and some lesser-known keyboard hacks were left to contemplate "what might have been" in the quest for the title of Best Wine Writer in the State of Maryland.

And that's the way it is on April 1, 2007.

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