It had all the elements of a perfect memory; a serendipitous lunch date, a superstar of the industry, an elegant setting, excellent food and the wine to match. It’s something winemaker Rod McDonald has never forgotten. It’s his epiphany drop, the wine that showed him what New Zealand wines could be, that inspired him to go looking for his own pièce de résistance.

1998 in Burgundy: “I was travelling for work in the UK and I took a week o to travel around visiting winemakers. I lucked in to this amazing lunch with Jacques Lardiere who is a bit of a legend.”

Lardiere was chief wine maker at Louis Jadot. He opened a bottle of premier cru Volnay pinot noir from 1971, not exactly in Rod’s honour, but still he was there to share in the experience.

“What made it amazing is it tasted like it was  ve minutes old, it was so youthful, so purple, the acidity was bright, it was so  eshy.” And in many ways it reminded Rod of a New Zealand red. “It opened up a whole new idea of what French wine is and it told me that we shouldn’t be afraid to stand on the same stage as them.”

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