Wine festival next to fight for survival

DEBORAH WALTON-DERRY AND PETER MORICE
Last updated 07:55 13/02/2014
wine festival
Scott Hammond
The Marlborough Wine and Food Festival still allows the civility of glasses to drink from

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The headline in the Marlborough Express last month read "Sting threatens wine festivals".

When we began writing this column, the 30th Marlborough Wine and Food Festival was only hours away and we hoped it would be a great day for everyone involved.

On Monday when the paper came out, the headlines were largely positive but, yes, there was still a tally of those who misbehaved, although they misbehaved outside the festival itself. It's always the few who misbehave that get the coverage while the majority are largely ignored.

Whatever the outcome of the festival, we appear to have a new puritanism creeping through society, fuelled by the media searching for something to fill column centimetres because there is little else to report on.

Tragically, good news stories aren't considered real news so we have to endure the endless recounting of how wicked a small percentage of society is and we are all off to hell in a handcart due to the much-reported few.

We think it's unfair the way the innocent have to pay for the law breakers - and this comes into stark relief in the context of police stings at of the wine and food festival and liquor outlets.

Shouldn't we be targeting the offenders and loading them up with hefty fines or community service? It's the tired, stressed supermarket checkout operator that's in the gun when a sale is made to an underage buyer. It's the wine company that's fined when a sale is made to an underage festival goer.

The emphasis is all wrong. Yet again it's the good being punished for the behaviour of the law breakers.

It's about time more prominence was given to the many thousands of people who either shop for wine and food and enjoy that right responsibly, or have fun and behave appropriately while sharing the joy of wine and food with family and friends at a festival.

Peter makes the point that the police appear to be shying away from their role of working with the community by replacing it with an "us and them" approach. It is becoming increasingly clear the police don't want to fulfil their role as guardians of public safety but rather become the final arbiter of what we can and can't do. Forget about nanny state, this is far more insidious.

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The Marlborough Wine and Food Festival - an international event of some renown - now finds itself in a fight for its survival.

The pattern the police are following in slowly cranking up the pressure on events such as this was well established in their successful campaign to shut down the beer festival, Blues, Brews and Barbecues. First it was turned into an R18 event, thereby losing the family feel; next it was plastic instead of glass.

While the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival still allows the civility of glasses to drink from, it's only a matter of time before there's a caving in and acceptance of the police's requirement for plastic.

To crank up the pressure, there are "controlled purchase operations" - the deliberate setting up of youngsters to try it on at the various stalls. This is akin to shooting fish in a barrel.

Meanwhile, their wowser cheerleaders celebrate with a bottle of grape juice while banging another nail in the coffin of public freedom.

Our plea: A focus on the positive rather than an endless repetition of the negative perpetrated by the few.

Konrad Marlborough Bunch Selection Riesling 2011 ($20)

Naturally light at 8.5 per cent alcohol, and grown in the Waihopai Valley.

Lime and mineral flavours predominate with some ripe apple notes towards the finish. Deliciously fruity with a long finish that's slightly sweet yet crisp and certainly very moreish.

Lone Goat Vineyard Burnham School Road Canterbury Pinot Noir 2010 ($26)

We love the label featuring Ella the lone goat, but most of all we loved the wine.

This pinot has a spicy aroma full of plum and dark berry notes, leathery with well integrated oak.

The palate is a fine reflection of the aroma - full-bodied with great mouth feel, the fine grained tannins sit well with the ripe fruitiness and delicious savouriness. Add excellent length and a smooth, almost creamy finish and you have a real palate pleaser.

We're looking forward to visiting Lone Goat in the near future to try more wines. Availability is limited but go to the Lone Goat website and try your luck. You'll love the opening graphics. Go Ella.

Mt Riley Merlot Malbec 2010 ($18)

A soft, generous red wine with ripe plum and woody notes in the aroma. The palate is as appealing as the aroma - plum and ripe, rich currant flavours supported by a crisp green note towards the finish. Quite spicy, soft and easy drinking. Enjoyable served alongside pre-dinner nibbles, perhaps an antipasto platter.

- The Marlborough Express

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