Sunday, July 31, 2011

Black & White in NZ

Even though I'm rather enjoying myself in Bali, I'm still missing New Zealand; it's such beautiful and diverse country, and extremely photogenic. I took these shots at Tolaga during a little fishing excursion, just before I took off for Bali.

Friday, July 29, 2011

New Zealand - Fishbait Finger

Though I have been fishing my whole life, most of my experience has been in freshwater targeting bass, catfish, and trout. This is mostly due to my family's affinity to freshwater fishing and the legendary fishing lure company, Z-Ray, that my grandpa, aunt, and uncle have owned for decades (yes, that cute little boy in the top right corner below is me).
The main argument for ocean versus freshwater fishing is the element of unknown provided by the diversity of ocean life; while an angler can target specific species, one never really knows what will be on the other end of the line. When I arrived back in Gisborne to find out that my flatmate's son, Jack, had fallen in love with fishing, and in turn re-kindled the love in his dad and the boys, I was stoked.
I don't think you would call our fishing tactics advanced, but they were always well thought out and we learned from our mistakes (Peter's diagrams were essential to the cause). We managed to use what little supplies at hand to have a thoroughly enjoyable time, with highlihts such as the misadventures of paddling out the kayak through 3-foot sets at Wainui and the nighttime long-line incident. Nevertheless, we managed to pull in all sorts of sea creatures: snapper, kawhai, red cod, sea perch eels, sharks, crayfish, and even an octopus.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Swell Coming

After some good surf, it's been pretty flat for the past few days. This morning started slow but there were some overhead sets coming through by the afternoon low tide, forerunners for a solid swell forecasted to peak  early next week. Though it's looking promising, I'm a bit wary of the winds we've been having; this past week's  swell never reached its size potential as winds pushed the swell out of Bali's swell window. But I'm not complaining, there's still been some good surf to be had. video

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pasar Ikan

After eating so much delicious seafood while in Bali over the past few years, I was pretty excited to track down the fish market that I've rumors about. I set out on my motorbike with a general idea of where to go, but basically drove down the main road asking, "di mana ikan maaarkit?". Most people didn't give much more than a point down the road, but eventually I came across someone who gave me proper directions.
I was amazed by the diversity of seafood available in the small, crowded market. I was a bit surprised to find that no other tourists were in the market, and I quite enjoyed bargaining away. I slowly worked my way through the market until I have gathered what I wanted, and ended up with over 2 kilograms of yellowfin tuna, a kilogram of squid, and a kilogram of prawns for a less than $20 USD. They even cleaned it all for me, rather quickly and efficiently.
There were plenty of interesting people cruising around the market, but none compared to the gentleman below. This character walked in with his boombox and starting dancing in front of stalls until he was paid to leave; it's impossible for me to do justice to this situation, but I can say it was quite entertaining for everyone. My fish market adventure was probably my favorite thus far this trip.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Creeping

It's not unusual to share the beach with sea mammals in California, particularly outside the major population zones. Central coast surf conversations will often include stories of sharing waves with dolphins, getting chased out of the water by elephant seals, and how long the half-eaten sea lion carcass has been on the beach. It's something that you get used to. But I haven't had the same experiences with sea mammals here in New Zealand, which is why I was surprised when this pinniped creeped up the beach. I'm not a 100% sure, but I think it's a Hooker's Sea Lion (or New Zealand Sea Lion), the world's most endangered sea lion.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Seresin 2009 Leah Pinot Noir

After developing a passion for wine during his travels, renowned New Zealand filmmaker Michael Seresin purchased land in the Wairau Valley in the early 1990's. Today, Seresin controls over 100 hectares of vines split over three sites and produces Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon. Strictly following biodynamic farming principles in the vineyards and taking a minimalistic winemaking approach, Seresin's wines display a unique sense of place. Their 2009 Leah Pinot Noir is hand picked, fermented with wild yeasts, oak matured for 11 months, and bottled unfiltered.
Winery - Seresin Estate
Location- Renwick, Marlborough, New Zealand
Wine - Seresin 2009 Leah Pinot Noir
Varietals - 100% Pinot Noir
Appellation - Marlborough
Alcohol - 14.0% v/v 
Price - $40 NZD

Nose/Aroma - Earthy and herbal, slightly floral. Pungent.
Palate/Flavors - Balanced and elegant; good phenolics. Well-integrated and complex flavors of cherry, spice, and truffles. Reminded me a little of cherry coca-cola at some stage; sweetness fades with time and savoriness takes over.
Style - Powerful but elegant, draws the fine line between too much and too little with a fickle varietal.
Food Pairing - By itself was pretty good. Braised lamb or pork belly would be lovely.
Comments - Beautiful mouthfeel. I always like wines where secondary flavors are primary. Drinks great, opens up really nicely, but could easily cellar several more years.

Other New Zealand wine reviews - Montana 2007 Waiherere Chardonnay, Te Kairanga 2008 Pinot Noir, Longbush 2007 'Tui' Viognier, Kim Crawford 2008 Marlborough Pinot Noir, Millton 2007 Riverpoint Chardonnay,

Monday, July 18, 2011

Gisborne Goodbye

I quite enjoyed my last few days in Gisborne, despite cold weather and pretty flat conditions. At least there was one day of pumping surf before I left.
 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Small Swell in Bali

I've been in Bali for almost a week now and can't say how great it is to be back. I've been able to catch up with some friends here, do some exploring, and surf everyday. There hasn't been a significant amount of swell around but plenty of fun waves to be had. Plus, the Indian Ocean is looking pretty active; Thursday should see a significant jump in size continuing through the weekend.
 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wine Region - Marlborough (Part II)

Over thirty years, Marlborough's viticulturists and winemakers have gained valuable knowledge of New Zealand's most renowned wine growing region (see part I). By defining sub-regional variations in flavor profiles, wineries are able to create unique wines and blends for customers; this is rather important for marketing, not only for big wine companies such as Brancott Estate and Cloudy Bay but also smaller producers trying to separate themselves in the marketplace. The three primary regions of Wairau Valley, Awatere Valley, and the Southern Valleys can each be divided into several distinct districts which are still being defined (check this map from Kim Crawford).

The Wairau Valley refers to a broad area following the winding Wairau River, which terminates in Cloudy Bay. The towns of Blenheim and Renwick are situated on the valley plains, probably due to the valley's propensity to have a warmer climate than the rest of the region. Combined with the primarily alluvial soils (stoney, well-draining, and infertile), this tends to provide Sauvignon Blanc with riper tropical flavors and distinctive flinty notes. Don't be fooled; the Wairau Valley has significant variations across its districts, which also makes it the most important area for Marlborough's lesser varietals like Chardonnay and Riesling. Heavier, clay-rich soils in the Rapaura districts are primarily planted to Pinot Noir.
South and east of the Wairau lies the much smaller, younger region of the Awatere Valley (shown above). The Awatere enjoys a cooler, maritime climate with less annual rainfall compared to its neighbor to the north. Semi-fertile, sedimentary soil with underlying gravel provides excellent drainage and tends to promote more herbaceous characteristics; look no further for Sauvignon Blanc with iconic tomato stalk or bell pepper (called capsicum in NZ) flavors. Awatere's Pinot Noir is known for bright fruit flavors but tends to be thin in body.

The Southern Valleys are situated on the southern end of the Wairau plains, encompassing several famous areas including the Brancott, Omaka, and Waihopai Valleys. This region was the focal point of the 1970's vineyard plantings that spawned the growth of Marlborough. Primarily glacial outwash, the soils found here are older than most of Marlborough and composed of an interesting mix of gravel, silt, and clay. Without the mediating effects of the river, the Southern Valleys have a cooler climate and later ripening period than the Wairau region. Vineyards here are largely the source of grassy, herbal flavors in Sauvignon Blanc and textural, earthy flavors in Pinot Noir.

Marlborough's international acclaim continues to drive growth in New Zealand's leading wine region. Though sub-regions are only loosely defined, Marlborough has only thirty years of historical data to draw from; continued study will provide a better understanding of the subtle nuances that make its regions unique.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Returning to Indonesia

Tonight is my last in New Zealand for a while; I'm in Auckland for the night, en route to Bali tomorrow. While I'm looking forward to being back in Indonesia for a couple weeks, I don't think I'm ready to leave; thanks to all my friends here for another great season, goodbye for now, and see you soon.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Marlborough Sounds

I traveled back and forth between the South and North Islands five times this vintage season, but only did one via the ferry through the Sounds. The Marlborough Sounds are a series of sunken valleys, peninsulas, and islands that account for nearly 20% of New Zealand's coastline and contain over 50 natural reserves. Located in the northeastern corner of New Zealand's South Island, they are part of the Marlborough region, and the Queen Charlotte Sound is the passageway to the North Island (besides via airplane, of course); ferries routinely run between the country's capital of Wellington and the small port town of Picton (pictured below).
Besides their importance as transport routes, the Marlborough Sounds are a great natural resource. The calm waters are great for recreational activity, fishing, and marine farming (particularly mussels). The area is also home to a small population of residents, most of whom can only access their homes via boat. Our winery's vintage party was actually held about an hour boat's ride into the Sounds at a large lodge.