Pinot noir tipple a cricket match must

Last updated 05:00 29/01/2013
Sam Neill
PINOT WINS: Actor Sam Neill umpires a wine celebrity cricket match in Wellington.

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Actor Sam Neill pointed the finger and announced that he was open to bribes while trying his hand at umpiring a "wine celebrities" cricket match at Wellington's Newlands Park.

The match between the New Zealand Pinot XI and their English counterparts yesterday marked the start of the Pinot Noir 2013 Conference, held in the capital this week.

Neill - who owns Central Otago's Two Paddocks winery and is a keynote speaker at the conference - was officiating, and set some tough standards.

"Pinot noir is a banned substance in sport, but there will be strict testing and anyone who doesn't have any on board will be banned for five years," he said.

Neill has been making wine for 20 years.

"I'm someone who has put my money where my mouth is. My mouth is firmly committed to pinot noir."

About 500 winemakers, industry figures and enthusiasts are in the capital for the four-day conference, including about 200 from France, the United States, Australia - and England.

Organiser John Saker said it might come as a surprise to some, but Britain was up and coming in the wine industry. English Pinot XI captain Jasper Morris, a master of wine, said England was now the 21st-biggest producer of pinot noir in the world. The team hoped to hold up against the Kiwis.

"We know New Zealand does some good wine and we reckon they probably do pretty good cricket too."

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