How do they do it – and could they maybe not get it so right so much of the time? The favourites coming into this  rugby world cup (Again) – they are Number One in the World (Again) – so is it a simple shoo-in for Richie McCaw’s men?  For sure, they will cruise through the pool matches – no disrespect to Argentina, Namibia, Tonga or Georgia  – they will be great matches with some very full-on physical and entertaining rugby  and by no means a walk over –  but it would take something catastrophic to not see the All Blacks in the next round. As always, they will put on a brilliant display of fast played rugby, they have only lost two International tests in the last four years (I was at one of those matches so I know it CAN happen!).

Captain: Richie McCaw

Player to Watch: The classic as for a long time is the simply brilliant Dan Carter, but keep an eye on Brodie Retallick for sheer power in the All Blacks pack.

Dates of Pool Matches:

Sunday 20th September vs Argentina – Kick off 16.45 – Wembley

Thursday 24th September vs Namibia – Kick off 20.00 – Olympic Stadium

Friday 2nd October vs Georgia – Kick off 20.00 – Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

Friday 9th October vs Tonga – Kick off 20.00 – St James Park, Newcastle

 

For more details of Team New Zealand: http://www.allblacks.com

For full details follow: http://www.rugbyworldcup.com

What to Eat & Drink whilst watching the All Blacks 

Food: As befits an Island nation, New Zealand is blessed with a wide range of produce from sparkling fresh seafood to delicious lamb.  The Maiori influence is seen by the continued popularity of a Hangi, which similar to the Lovo of Fiji, –  cooking in earth ovens.   British influence in NZ’s cuisine is now being blended with the effect of Pacific Rim cooking.  One of the best dishes that I ate in New Zealand was the superb green lipped mussels – but that might be a little fiddly for match day food.  So you could get creative with lamb – get some small lamb chops (get your butcher to split them into individual chops and French trimmed – then once roasted (with lots of garlic and mint) – they are the perfect finger foot to nibble!

But there is perhaps one more food even more perfect for match day – still enjoyed throughout New Zealand – from its British heritage – Fish & Chips!  You could show the more Asian influences of NZ by making it with Tempura batter – but why mess around with a classic – follow this link and find an outstanding independent Chippy near you http://www.fishandchipawards.com/finalists-and-winners/past-winners

Drink:

Beer: Very much in tune with the “have a go” and inventive attitude of most Kiwi’s, craft beer production has increased in New Zealand by 40% since 2014! There is now a vast range of very individual styles being produced. Look out for http://www.yeastieboys.co.nz  who make up part of the NZ Craft Beer Co-operative which is imported into UK by Instil Drinks – contact them for stockists – http://www.instildrinks.co.uk More mainstream brands include Speights and Steinlager – more widely available in the UK – see the list of beer stockists on the relevant page.

Wine: In my top ten wine producing countries of the world, New Zealand produces some tantalising wines.  It burst onto the world market with Sauvignon Blanc and that is still by far the most planted variety with over 50% – but it has so much more to offer as well.  Considering that NZ only produces less than 1% of the World’s wine, it has made its presence felt very strongly on the UK market. Its attitude to screwcaps as a closure – and sustainability in the vineyards along with its diverse climatic conditions mean that NZ wine has a great future.

Even the big commercial wineries in NZ produce mostly good value wines – but if you could spend an extra couple of pounds on each bottle, you’d get so much more for your money.

First place to stop by is the New Zealand House of Wine, multiple award winning wine specialist. They have a very varied list from a wide range of producers – https://www.nzhouseofwine.co.uk

Throughout September,  Majestic have a 33% off NZ wines which means that wines such as Mud House Pinot Noir, from Central Otago with all its coffee and bramble notes comes down to a reasonable £9.99 a bottle. https://www.majestic.co.uk

If you are looking for a good price Sauvignon Blanc to pair with your fish & chips – then Seifried Estate SB at £10 a bottle is perfect.   It has all the gooseberry notes associated with NZ Sauv Blanc but with appealing grassy notes as well – and it comes from the region of Nelson rather than the usual Marlborough. http://www.marksandspencer.com

For a different white variety, give the Earths End Riesling a whirl – from Central Otago, there is no oak aging to cover the glorious elderflower aroma backed up by white peach and citrus. I’ve found it’s off dry style makes it very food friendly with a wide range of foods (including a memorable smoked cod risotto). £13 from M&S as above.

One of the most exciting regions of NZ is Central Otago on the South Island, especially if you like silky, seductive Pinot Noir.   If you like your Pinot’s to have lots of ripe cherry notes backed up with some spice – then the Great news is that Waitrose have Mount Difficulty Pinot Noir reduced at the moment down to £19.49 – and worth every penny. http://www.waitrose.com

For sure, this next suggestion is not a wine to glug in despair as Dan Carter kicks yet more points into the lead – but something to be savoured and meditated! Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir. £48 a bottle available from http://www.laithwaites.co.uk

There really are far too many NZ estates that I could was lyrical about their wines – so below are a few links direct to their websites – so either search them for UK stockists  including the excellent – https://thenewzealandcellar.co.uk– or use www.wine-searcher.com

Links to some of my favourite Wine Producers:

https://www.feltonroad.com

http://www.eskvalley.co.nz – made by the brilliant Gordon Russell, look out for their more unusual Verdelho (white) as well as their icon wine, The Terraces.

http://www.hunters.co.nz

http://www.atarangi.co.nz

http://teawacollection.com – whose labels alone make you want to buy them!

https://www.pegasusbay.com

http://www.rippon.co.nz

http://seresin.co.nz

http://www.mtdifficulty.com

https://www.palliser.co.nz

And for when you may have celebrated a little too much – don’t forget that NZ has a thriving Coffee Culture – with all the terminology that goes with it – who else would have invented the “Flat White” (well the Aussies argue they did but we’re amongst friends….) – and did you know that New Zealand has more roasters per person than anywhere else in the world. Just don’t tell a Kiwi barista that a  coffee with milk (UK style) is the same as a “flat white”!

For more information about Wines of New Zealand:  http://www.nzwine.com