Al Brown puts on yet another hat

There's a new kid in town with the release of the Tipping Point range of wines in their distinctive, funky, squat bottle. Tipping Point is a collaboration between renowned restaurateur, author and entrepreneur Al Brown and Constellation Brands. In these socially distanced times, I had an email chat with Al about this new brand.

Al is a man wearing many hats, and he responded warmly to the idea that he is now also a ‘‘wino’’, having as he put it ‘‘been practising for 30 years’’. With his restaurant experience he recognises that the top Kiwi wines can compete with the very best in the world, but is ever mindful of the incredible quality and value proposition provided by our mid and lower range wines. I think that he would like to be seen as ‘‘unstuffy’’ in his approach to both food and wine, with the latter meant to be poured and enjoyed rather than intellectualised over.

In his partnership with Constellation Brands he revelled in building something from scratch, and they have released six wines that are meant to be opened and shared. He recommends pairing them with ‘‘fresh, seasonal, product driven, uncomplicated delicious food cooked with a heart and soul ... also fish and chips on a park bench’’.

But it’s not just about feel-good wines; there is also a strong do-good aspect to the range, with each of the wines aligned to a charity/worthy cause close to Al’s heart and proceeds from sales going to each. Al intends for the Field Blend charity to be up for grabs each year, which he says ‘‘is an important way to find less visible causes out there and give them some deserved recognition for the good they are contributing’’.

He participated in the vintage in all three regions, seeing the process from grapes on the vine to the final wine in bottle, which he remarked was a huge learning process in understanding the contributions made by people across the industry while he mused that ‘‘the main thing I could offer was in the blending stages. Much like creating a dish or recipe, it’s all about balance. Thinking about sweetness, acid, layers of flavour etc’’.

Here are three plucked from the range; now I’m keen to try his habanero mustard!

2021 Tipping Point Common Ground Marlborough Field Blend

Price RRP $24.99
Rating Very Good to Excellent

Attractively aromatic,
peach, nectarine,
pear, grassy, wine
gums, musk later.
The palate brings in
gooseberry and
grassy notes with
pear juice; there’s a
Sav Blanc quality to
the flavours, but the
texture is fatter and
richer. A tingly feel, a
perception of fruit
sweetness runs
through to the finish,
yet is relatively dry. A
nice combo of
flavours here.

2020 Tipping Point Working Bee Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay

Price RRP $24.99
Rating Very Good to Excellent
Ripe peach, banana
skin, butterscotch,
clotted cream. Initially
comes across as a
fatter, richer, supple
style with buttery
hints, while a
refreshing lick of
acidity keeps this
nicely in balance.
Aeration allows
preserved lemon
notes to show with
the freshness and
zestiness more
apparent. This will
have broad appeal for
Chardie enthusiasts. 

2020 Tipping Point The Woodsman Central Otago Pinot Noir

Price RRP $34.99
Rating Very Good
Intriguing nose of
smoky char, ripe
cranberry, dried
fruits, balsamic, a
little leather. The
palate shows more
typical flavours with
ripe dark fruits,
raspberry, savoury
nuances and a little
char; an appealing
chewiness adds to
texture. Time allows
wild herb flavours to
grow, along with an
edgy, youthful
quality,which should
mellow over  summer.









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