Finally New Zealand opened its borders, and we made the first flights to Auckland to attend a customer get-together at an exquisite location off the coast of Auckland.
Scheduled ferry services regularly sail to and from Waiheke. Fullers operate passenger services from Downtown Auckland to Waiheke’s Matiatia wharf, with trips taking approximately 40 minutes.
Waiheke Island is the second-largest island in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand. Its ferry terminal in Matiatia Bay at the western end is 21.5 km from the central-city terminal in Auckland. Waiheke has become known as New Zealand’s “island of wine,” home to a dedicated group of winegrowers who have successfully matched the maritime climate and ancient soil structures to the selection of classical grape varieties to produce red and white wines with distinctive varietal character.
The climate is well-suited to growing Bordeaux-type grapes, though some Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc varieties are also considered to be good. Waiheke winegrowers regularly win awards for Syrah (Kennedy Point’s 2007 Syrah won best Syrah in the world in 2009), proving the island’s terroir suits the variety well. Wines produced on Waiheke are relatively expensive because of the limited size of many of the island’s vineyards.
If Mudbrick Vineyard & Restaurant is anything to go by, 1992 was a vintage year. That’s when two disenchanted accountants, Robyn and Nicholas, fell in love with a patch of sun-scorched Waiheke land, bought it and then began the Mudbrick story. In the years that followed, they lavished love on the plot, planting and nurturing the vineyards that would earn Mudbrick half its name. An excellent restaurant followed suit, then three romantic cottages.
Mudbrick is one of the island’s best-known wineries, and has a Provence-style restaurant made of mudbrick. The vineyard produces Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah grapes.
The menu is a love letter to seasonal Kiwi produce: Hawke’s Bay lamb, Ruakaka kingfish, butter, cheese and olives from local artisan producers.
Olives and grape vines prosper in the same soil condition. Both crops are also self-pollinating – neither need insects nor birds to carry pollen between flowers – and olive trees shelter grape vines against strong winds that can disrupt pollination. These marinated olives were beautifully pickled and not too sour or salty.
Haku or kingfish (also known as yellowtail amberjack or hiramasa) are raised on land in Ruakākā, New Zealand, in innovative recirculating systems using sustainable practices. The sashimi was served on a fennel mash with green apple slices, pickled celery and quinoa. The appetiser was refreshing and I wanted more.
Blessed with fertile soils and a warm, temperate climate, Hawke’s Bay is among New Zealand’s leading producers of wine; notably red wines – cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah – and stunning chardonnays. But they have also one of the best grass-fed cattle rearing business, producing some of the most delicious lamb.
The main course was the best Hawke’s Bay lamb rump that I have ever tasted. Served with steamed broccolini with a miso plum glaze made with Japanese-style pickled plums (umeboshi), the lamb was tender and juicy with none of the muskiness that is usually associated with this kind of red meat. The lamb was cooked to perfection at the optimum doneness of medium-rare, which is unusual for lamb.
The whole experience was excellent. The location was rustic, cosy, and romantic beyond words. The food was delicious with good paring of wine from the Mudbrick collection. The only thing was that they were still short of staff from the reopening since the lockdown. Nevertheless, we all enjoyed ourselves.
Mudbricks Restaurant and Vineyard
126 Church Bay Road, Oneroa, Waiheke, New Zealand
Tel : +64 9 372 9050
Visited in Jun 2022