The epic weekend of Kiwi versus Aussie will kick off with the Bledisloe of Wine, where the Australian Rugby Foundation has laid down the ‘wine gauntlet’ to the celebrated winemakers of Central Otago.
The fundraising Bledisloe of Wine dinner – a high-end wine and food match event held in Sydney – brings together top officials from the NZRU and AFRU, past players and other wine aficionados who are treated to five each of Australia and Central Otago’s most outstanding wines, all perfectly matched with canapés and a four-course dinner.
Returning for its second year, with New Zealand defending its hard-won title, the dinner’s held on the eve of the match (Friday August 20).
The New Zealand wines certainly have unique appeal, with ardent rugby fan and vineyard owner, Sam Neill, presenting Central Otago’s wines to possibly his most biased audience yet, hoping scores at the end of the night reflect an impending All Black win on the following day. Australia’s Barossa Valley wines will be led by the Qantas Wallabies wine partner Taylors Wines.
Two wines will be presented with each course, after which diners will vote and the overall winner decided in the People’s Choice Awards.
Central Otago Pinot Noir’s Glenys Coughlan says the wines and their makers are prepared for “their biggest match yet”, confident that the quality of our wines will help get them over the line.
“We’ve got a very strong line-up with wines from multi-award-winning wineries and winemakers including Quartz Reef, Prophet’s Rock, Sam’s Two Paddocks, Brennan and Aurum,” she says.
“We’re putting two globally-recognised wine regions into this match and seeing who’s got the power and prominence to get them over the line. We’ve got some superstars in our team, including some flagship Central Otago Pinot Noir as well as ‘Methode Traditionelle’ and Riesling.”
“We’re putting the Central Otago wine brand in front of the right audience with exquisitely matched food. Many of those in the room will be wine lovers who I’m sure will be delighted to directly compare the very best of the Barossa against our beautifully-crafted wines.
“Sam’s an entertaining and dynamic speaker and he’s always been a fantastic ambassador for Central Otago Pinot Noir. His involvement with the Central Otago wine industry began in the early nineties, and his commitment to producing premium Pinot Noir is probably only matched by his genuine love of rugby.”
While the actual Bledisloe Cup will be present at the dinner, the winning wine region will have to be content with taking home the winemakers’ version.
The dinner will be held at Centennial Parkland Dining, with pre-function canapes and a specially designed three-course menu presented by Head Chef Arkin Barnetto.
All funds raised on the night will go towards the Australian Rugby Foundation’s charitable trust to support rugby players and their families in need.
Central Otago Pinot Noir Ltd has put together the Ultimate Central Otago wine-lovers weekend to contribute to the fundraising, a package that includes three nights for two including breakfast at Hotel St Moritz, a Queenstown lunch for two at Amisfield Bistro & Cellar Door, Lake Hayes, and a private wine tasting at Felton Road Vineyard, Bannockburn.