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Down to the last drop

Mar 22, 2022  ·  4 min read

Here at Hippopotamus, we pride ourselves on our exclusive cellar door. It’s one of New Zealand’s rarest wine collections, procured over the years by our award-wining Head Sommelier and Manager Florent Souche.

We perched harbourside to pop the cork on what makes’ the wine list at Hippopotamus so delicious, decadent and daring. Pour yourself a glass, let’s sip and pick the perfect pours to enjoy at Hippopotamus in the coming weeks.

Q: Florent, resident wine expert. Tell us, what makes our wine cellar unique and unlike any others in Wellington?
A: Our cellar gives us the ability to age the wine on site before we release a new vintage. We usually have 4 to 5 vintage in stock and we release the wine only when it’s ready. Many restaurants don’t have the space for an appropriate cellar which helps age the wine in a controlled way. It’s an expensive process. Once a bottle is opened, it can’t stay open for too long. It must be enjoyed!

Q: Lucky us! What’s on the wine agenda over the next few weeks at Hippopotamus?
A: We have so much planned. We are bringing the most exquisite wines to every Wellingtonian, whether they are an avid wine lover, or wanting to explore and expand their wine palette. We’re doing this through two events in April and May.

So every Thursday during April and May, we’ll be hosting our Winemaker Experience. It’s a chance for guests to explore our cellar door by the glass with a canapé to match. And myself and other local winemakers will be there tableside to discuss all things wine with guests.

Then on the 26 and 27 May, we are really looking forward to having Tantalus with us for an incredible Winemaker Dinner. The exciting part is that some of the wines on the menu haven’t been released to the public yet so you’ll get the first taste! It will be a five-course degustation complemented with a specially curated wine list by Tantalus. I will also be joined by Tantalus wine experts Alex Perez and Gwiliam Evans on the night to talk guests through the wines selected and answer any questions they may have.

Q: Why are these events close to your heart?
A: We will be bringing out some of the most rare and limited wines out of our cellar, wines that we don’t usually open by the glass. We will open some current and older vintage wines, such as Te Mata’s Coleraine 2020 with the Coleraine 2009, and for the white wine lovers, we’ll open some of the legendary Kusuda Wines from Martinborough. There will be a nice mix of local New Zealand wines, complimented by some of our favourites from France. Plus, all of the wine is being perfectly complimented by Hippopotamus delicacies.

Q: Hippopotamus is going to be busy through to May! Now a couple of quick q’s to finish as we drink our last drops. What is your top wine pairing tip?
A: You can’t go wrong with a Savoie white wine with Savoie cheese. Savoie is a small region in the Alps Mountains by the Switzerland border in France. There are so many different profiles with this wine as it uses many grape varieties in both the red and white wine.

Another great pairing is the Chignin Bergeron (Roussanne Grape) and a Beaufort Cheese. Roussane is a grape variety similar in flavour profile to a Viognier variety. It has a really exuberant nose with a lot of stone fruit characteristic such as peach, apricot, and some honey suckle. The palate is medium rich, and flavour profiles similar as dried apricot, ripped peach. Sounds amazing right?

Q: What is your favourite wine at the moment?
A: 2018 The Elder Pinot Noir from Martinborough, one of the greatest wine of all time. And that’s because everything is in there. The complexity of Martinborough wine, the richness of the “Te Muna” area, and some light white pepper notes, give this wine an extraordinary complexity in the palate and the tannin is so velvety.

Q: Last but not least, what is your favourite thing about being a sommelier?
A: The possibility to meet and drink with all different of people, who share the same passion for wine and food. I’ve been able to meet and work with some pretty incredible people.

There you have it darlings, wine down to its last drop. The ultimate experience for wine lovers, happening right here in the heart of the city. Flirt with formality on a Thursday nights at our Winemaker Experience, or say santé at the Tantalus Winemaker Dinner.


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