Movie star Sam Neill comes to visit

Gary Gubbins

Gary Gubbins

The new Christmas brochure is out now and has 24 pages of wine deals, wine thoughts, advice and a movie star. It’s free and call to us to collect it or ask us to send you one and we will gladly oblige.

Where does a movie star (or film star as we used to call them) fit into a brochure about wine? A fine question that demands a fine answer and there is nothing finer than the truth. If no famous writer said that, then I am claiming it for my own. Copyright GG2012.

A few weeks ago we had Sam Neill visit Red Nose Wine in Ireland. Sam makes a wonderful Pinot Noir in Central Otago on the south island of New Zealand. According to Sam, it is the furthest point south you can make wine. Next stop is Antarctica. This is cool climate country and that is perfect for Pinot Noir.

I have already professed my love for Pinot Noir and for Burgundy, but alas it is a frustrated love affair, for the wines that I really covet are well beyond my financial grasp. Burgundy has long been a mecca for the fine wine lover, and rightly so, but Central Otago is for many the next best thing. Sam might say it is even better, but he has an agenda. My only agenda is to make my customers happy.

What is true is that the wines of Central Otago are far cheaper than those of their French cousin, and when you assess the quality of this noblest and most contrary of grapes, you are really getting something special. Sam has two wines from his Two Paddocks vineyard – the Picnic and the Two Paddocks itself.

These are very different wines - the first is described by Sam as his ‘everyday wine’, because he drinks it every day. Their top wine is one for Christmas Day and a real treat with turkey. We will have these and many more open all the way to Christmas so do call in to try. We are open 7 days all the way up to Christmas.

I met Sam for dinner in Dublin and did some national media work with him the next morning before bringing him down to Tipp. Coolmore Stud very kindly gave us a tour and introduced Sam to Galileo, which he really enjoyed. His mother was very into horses and Sam is one of the few actors who can actually ride. Apparently most of them fake it.

We then had lunch and a little tipple in McCarthys before hosting a tasting and meet and greet in Red Nose Wine. Pat Whelan’s team were on hand with some of his fantastic new pulled pork & beef pittas – slow cooked Southern style. If you haven’t tried them, get one in James Whelan Butchers for your lunchtime snack. Simply sublime. Sam met people, signed bottles, posed for photos and then he spoke about what makes Pinot Noir so special.

He told us about a hurley that was made for him when he was in Ireland making The Tudors. It was a present from one of the Irish actors, and it was a rush job as he was leaving in a few days. The hurley maker was told it was for someone kind of famous, in order that he might hurry with it. He assumed it was for Lar or for Henry and wasn’t too pleased when he was rushed for an actor. The hurley holds court in New Zealand now. I’ll give it a run when I visit.

In between Dublin, Galileo, McCarthys and Red Nose Wine, Sam very kindly offered himself over for an exclusive interview, so here it is – Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine interviews Sam Neill, Movie Star and Winemaker.

Firstly, thank you very much Sam for taking the time to come over to Ireland and in particular Red Nose Wine to help us launch your wonderful wines on the Irish market.

Q1 – I will try and get the obvious questions out of the way quickly. What was the first wine that you had that changed your perception of wine from a commodity to something more profound

A Gevrey Chambertin drank in Lausanne Switzerland – it was like Gods hand came out of a cloud and changed the course of my life.

Q2 – What is the greatest moment you enjoyed with a bottle/glass of wine, and where was it? I always find surroundings & company can have a big influence on this.

The first time we served our own wine at a dinner party to a bunch of my thoroughly disgraceful and underserving friends – a great wine like that is wasted on them frankly.

Q3 – If you were a singer instead of an actor, who would you be and why?

Brian Wilson without the psychedelic drugs thank you very much, although Carl was the better singer.

Q4 – If you were to have written any song, what would it be?

This week I would say ‘Don’t talk, put your head on my shoulder’ a wonderful version I recommend is by Anne Sofie von Otter and produced by Elvis Costello.

Q5 – When I lived in France, I was told that after people’s flirtations with other regions, all roads eventually lead to Burgundy, and Pinot Noir. Where does Central Otago fit into this odyssey?

When you get to Burgundy, stay on the same road and it will eventually bring you to Central Otago. Everything we do originates from Burgundy – vines, the methods we use to grow those vines and to subsequently make the wines– it all comes from Burgundy, but that wine takes a very subtle change of expression at the other end of the world.

Q6 – Can you tell us about your latest film project, and did you know that your co-star already has a connection with Red Nose Wine. Have you tasted Domaine des Anges - Cillian Murphy’s father in laws make this wine?

Yes, I am doing a 6hr project for BBC 2 called Peaky Blinders alongside your man from Cork Cillian Murphy. A fellow wine enthusiast

Q7 – Why weren’t you in Lord of The Rings?

Actually I was unavailable – no loss for them.

Q7 – What are your plans for Two Paddocks long term? Are you looking to spread the good news all over the world or just the lucky countries, like Ireland?

There is not enough to go around the world but I am always happy to see it in places where people truly love wine, so more of that please.

Q8 – Lastly, you were born in Ireland, and lived for a few years up North before leaving for New Zealand. With this strong connection to Ireland, and your great standing back in New Zealand, could you possibly ask that the All Blacks take it easy on us the next time we play them. The last one really hurt.

I’m always happy to please but now you have gone too far.

Thank you very much, and it is a pleasure to represent such a truly wonderful collection of wines. The feedback so far has really been superb.