Tasting Notes: Central Otago
our glasses swirling,
straw-lined spittoon at our feet
as the siphon
dips down into the barrel
then up into outstretched glasses:
our tasting notes
written against oak barrels
that might be monastic escritoires
unfold, quietly continuous,
as glacial water races through the valley,
delve into the ravine,
taut, twisting towards turquoise
bound by the bungee
cord, swirling, suspended
in the Southern Hemisphere,
then brought back up; soon we will return
north, to winter, to clay cold beneath our feet.
at the Otago Museum,
evidence of early settlers:
of the Pinots
stand among schist.
site of sheep stations,
of water races and glaciation;
rooted in schist:
refractive, friable, fragile;
standing in the space that survived
surrounded by hillsides
that disappeared underfoot,
poring over soil maps,
our tasting notes stained with evidence
of Pinot, notes of tension and tannin, of red cherries,
of structure and spice.
Underneath the soil maps
a moa bone rests, honeycombed,
What trace will remain
of this tribe, the viticulturists
the worshippers of wine? An hour in the air,
the tip of the South Island, a sandy promontory: Farewell Spit.
About the author
Judy O’Kane worked the 2009 harvest in St-Estèphe and trained at Ballymaloe Cookery School on sabbatical from partnership in a legal practice. She has recently completed a PhD at the University of East Anglia and holds the WSET diploma. Judy won the National Memory Day Prize, the Charles Causley Poetry Prize, the Irish Post Prize, and the Listowel Writers Week Original Poem Prize. Her prose work Thirst, an exploration of terroir, a work in progress, was shortlisted for the Tony Lothian Award by the Biographers’ Club. Judy has read at the House of Lords, at Pinot Celebration, New Zealand, and at Borough Market in London.