The New Zealand Wine Festival Is BACK in Seoul & Busan
The Kiwi Chamber is hosting the 11th annual wine festival here in Seoul on May 25th. After attending last year, I can say it’s one fun event so don’t miss out. I’ve cleared my calendar. Will you?
Don’t worry if you don’t live in Seoul though, there is a second addition that is held down in Busan on June 8th. Hosted by the Grand Hyatt Hotel, the backdrop couldn’t be better in the spring. Stand next to the waterfall, grab a picnic blanket and lounge on the grass, or stand around a table as you sup on some delectable eats and of course sip on some wine, wine wine. If you’re a wine connoisseur here in Korea, you’ve likely noticed that there are many more options these days than there have ever been. In 2018, New Zealand wine was a hot item and made the list for the fastest rowing top-10 wine in Korea. Since 2015 when the Korea-New Zealand FTA reduced tariffs on New Zealand wines from 15% to 0%, there has been more emphasis on the strong brands in the country and we are definitely reaping the rewards on the peninsula today. Don’t miss out on the event… but keep reading for more information.
Here’s what you need to know straight from Sunny Myung, the project manager for the event, and Philip Turner, the New Zealand Ambassador to Korea.
“These events are not only a way to experience the great wines that New Zealand has to offer, but are also a chance to experience famous New Zealand culture and hospitality in the beautiful settings of the Grand Hyatt Hotel Waterfall Garden in Seoul, and by the ocean at the Ananti Cove Resort in Busan,” the New Zealand Ambassador explained. The wine is on top notch and there are great performances and plenty of staff and vendors to help learn about the wines being opened. The setting to sip wine couldn’t be more perfect, in my opinion. Overlooking the city, the Grand Hyatt Hotel has one of the best views in town.
What is this year’s theme?
The theme is ‘Flavours of New Zealand’. Our aim is to provide our guests an invaluable opportunity to experience New Zealand’s wine regions and the diversity of styles and varieties under the theme, ’Flavours of New Zealand.’ Our guests will love not only the freshness of New Zealand sauvignon blanc and pinot noir, but also admire the distinctiveness of wine varieties across regions. Each region has their own characteristics and offers an array of flavours for the palate. New Zealand wine flavours are fresh, subtle or spicy – a blend of influences that has created a unique range of flavours that match well with different food styles.
We would like our guests to discover these special wines along with premium New Zealand cuisine pairings which deliver a top-notch culinary experience. – Sunny Myung
Visitors to the event will be able to try an array of red and white wines from over 30 of New Zealand’s top vineyards.
What are five key wines people should look out for this year? How many wine brands and varieties will be available at this year’s wine festivals?
This year will be the largest representation of wineries since our festival began in 2009. We will have around 35 wineries from across New Zealand – 25 wineries which are established in Korea and 10 wineries which are new to the country.
There will be a wide range of fine New Zealand wine at this year’s event. We will have sauvignon blanc from Marlborough, pinot noir from Central Otago and syrah from Hawke’s Bay. We will also have a world class fizzy sparkling wine, as well as other notable wines from both the North and South Islands worth exploring. There will be an increasingly diverse roster of other grape varieties to fall in love with – unforgettable aromatic wines such as pinot gris, gewürztraminer and riesling, and even late harvest dessert wines. – Sunny Myung
What are your favorite wine varieties/vintages? What wine regions in New Zealand do they come from?
I always enjoy a good Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Noir, but recently I have been enjoying some less well known but delicious wines. New Zealand is a very young wine country – so young that we are still discovering new regions where grape varieties adapt extremely well to local soil and climate – what the French call the terroir. One such area is the Gimblett Gravels region near Napier in the Hawke’s Bay, on the east of the North Island. The area makes great strong red wines from grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – I recommend in particular the Merlot from the Craggy Range vineyard.
But my current favourite region is Waiheke Island near Auckland. Just 30 minutes’ ferry ride from the centre of New Zealand’s largest city, this small island has a hot and dry micro-climate that makes great Bordeaux-style reds – unusual for New Zealand. The vineyards there are all small, like the island, so the wines are typically limited in production and seldom found in large supermarkets. I particularly enjoy the Man O’War Ironclad red wine – a splendid combination of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Merlot grapes. Enjoy! – Philip Turner
The event isn’t only about the wine though, there is also a Kiwi-themed gastronomic experience including an outdoor BBQ and tons of delicious gourmet foods in a buffet style in the garden. This year for the Seoul event, there will also be a hangi, or a traditional New Zealand Maori feast. A hangi involves digging a pit in the ground and heating stones with a large fire. Food is placed in baskets on top of the stones and then it is all covered with earth for several hours before it is served. I’ve been getting more and more into the wine spirit over the past few years and have even learned more about wine tastings over at Vineworks in the Sangsu, Seoul area. This event is a highlight of my wine experience. Let it be yours as well.
Check out the awesome video recap of the event last year. If you watch, you’ll be able to see me having all of the fun around the 54 second mark. Come have all of the fun with me!
This year the Seoul event will also feature a grape treading photo zone where participants can actually get in to try their hand.. er foot, at traditional wine making first hand. Both the Seoul and Busan venues will also be introducing a “Hidden Cellar Door” concept where enthusiasts and industry specialists can discover some of the captivating varieties that are new to the Korean market.
The reason we added these special features is to showcase not just our best wines, but also the beautiful regions our wine comes from and the people and culture that make our wines so special. I hope to deliver these unexpected wine discovery experiences to all our guests through our ’Hidden Cellar Door,’ which offers new wine varieties to Korea. This will enable us to expand the range of our guests from purely wine lovers to a more diverse group which includes F&B industry specialists such as importers, distributors and sommeliers.
Guests will also get to discover tradition by taking part in a New Zealand ‘hangi’ and ‘grape treading’ experience that won’t ever be forgotten. A traditional Māori hangi is a year-round outdoor culinary experience that’s generally prepared for large gatherings. Māori people are aware that the earth is the giver of all life, and from the soil comes food and that same food is then cooked from beneath the earth. – Sunny Myung
Come for the eats and treats, but you might also walk away with some amazing prizes. The event also has a fun lucky draw with outstanding prizes including hotel stays, gift sets, and the grand prize is an economy ticket to New Zealand from Singapore Airlines! Last year Arielle and I walked away with a goodie basket full of cheese, crackers, kiwis and more great treats. Don’t miss out! This is one fun event to really kick off the summer fun in Seoul and in Busan. The event is a highlight of our season and Arielle and I can’t wait to attend again. If you want to come to, make sure you register!
Tickets for the individual events are 120,000 won for Kiwi Chamber members, 140,000 won for non-members and 150,000 won for at-door purchases. Group discounts are also available for 120,000 won per ticket for groups of eight or larger. For more information and registration, please contact [email protected] or visit us at www.kiwichamber.com.