Not many people will fly 9,000 miles around the world to look at gravel. On the other hand, I’ve come to understand that not many people are quite as obsessed with wine as I am. My destination was a wine region called Gimblett Gravels, on New Zealand’s North Island, and I was dead set on getting there because of a tasting I’d attended a while back at Manhattan’s Per Se restaurant.
The tasting was hosted by Steve Smith, a co-founder of Craggy Range winery. He poured his Le Sol Syrah, made with grapes from the Gravels, in a blind tasting against some of the greatest Syrahs in the world: Penfolds Grange, Chave Hermitage, Torbreck’s RunRig. His point was that Le Sol was in the same realm as these wines. Being a skeptic, I figured Le Sol would be perfectly OK, but essentially I went to the tasting to try the Chave.
And now here I was, on a plane somewhere over the Pacific, because I was still haunted by the scent of that New Zealand wine.