This isn’t a book review as such, but a review of a special edition magazine by the Cuisine team, edited by Sarah Nicholson. Among the contributing writers are well-known and respected wine and food writers such as David Burton, Simon Farrell-Green, Michael Hooper, Sam Kim, Yvonne Lorkin, John Saker and Kerry Tyack. Subtitled “Explore New Zealand Wine and Food”, it provides an enormous amount of information on visiting over 350 winery cellar doors throughout the country, as well as information on food producers, dining and accommodation. If you’re travelling around the country with wine and food on your mind, this is an essential publication.
It covers the 15 wine producing regions: Northland, Matakana, Waiheke Island, Greater Auckland, Waikato & Bay of Plenty, Central North Island, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, Nelson, Marlborough, Waipara, Canterbury, Waitaki Valley and Central Otago. Each region is given an introductory description, then a run-down on the winery cellar doors than can be visited. The region’s leading and interesting restaurants and cafes are listed with brief synopses, as are significant and artisan food producers. Accommodation, activities and attractions are also covered, with suggested itineraries and contacts given for tour operators and tourism/information offices. Detail is provided with dates of relevant events such as festivals and shows, and maps showing locations of the region’s cellar doors. And the photography is excellent, capturing the feel and atmosphere of the cellar doors, locations and regions.
While the focus is on wine, and is fairly comprehensive in its bread and depth of information, it isn’t a publication that is comprehensive about the wine producers of the country. Many of the wineries don’t have cellar door facilities or at least aren’t easy to visit. They’re not included in Cuisine Wine Country, and they are some of the more significant wine producers in New Zealand. Neither does it cover the ranges and tiers of wines in depth, and there is no assessment or rating of the wines and the wineries to give a fuller appreciation of their standing in the wine scene. It’s beyond the scope of this publication.