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February 10, 2009

New Zealand: Beauty in the Bottle

New Zealand
The pickers of Rippon
ready for the new crop.

Photo: Julien Capmeil
for Condé Nast Traveler

New Zealand is an adventurer's fantasy, of course, but a sybarite will find equal pleasure in its diverse and dramatic landscapes. Here, some of writer Chang-Rae Lee's favorite wineries from Central Otago and Queenstown, one of the four regions he visited for Condé Nast Traveler's February feature, "Veni, Vidi, Vino."

* Rippon Vineyards produces a beautifully supple pinot noir. A charming cottage serves as its "cellar door" for wine sales, and you can get a cheese platter to picnic on the stunning lakeside grounds.

* Van Asch's winemaker, Theo Coles, has worked all over the wine world, including stints at Chateau Leoville Las-Cases and at the Tenute Silvio Nardi in Montalcino; his pinots are rich and alive with black cherry notes.

* Valli Vineyards' Grant Taylor used to make the wines at Van Asch but is now producing impressive pinots here: The 2005 Gibbston Vineyard Pinot received high scores from both Wine Spectator and Jancis Robinson.

* Aoturoa is a handsome, serenely sites villa just south of Wanaka, on a terrace of the Clutha River. Its owners/hosts, Jon and Lesley Davies, prepared delicious dinners of bouillabaisse and locally smoked ham, but even better, they treated Lee like family, letting him ramble around the property on their four-wheel ATV, rabbit hunt with Diesel, the lodge's ecstatic young Staffordshire terrier, and borrow fly rods and gear.

For more from New Zealand, pick up a copy of Traveler's February issue, on stands now.

Further reading:
* Read Chang-Rae Lee's piece here
* Video: Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand
* Catch of the Day: International noshables

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