Multi-million-dollar taste buds toast NZ wine
17 Dec 2009
One of New Zealand’s rising stars in the wine industry is tapping in to a set of multi-million-dollar taste buds to help promote its brand.
Invivo Winery, launched in 2008 by two 33-year-old Kiwi school friends, has employed English wine expert Angela Mount, whose nose and throat were insured for $23 million while she was employed as head wine buyer for UK retailer Somerfield.
Mount says she’s happy to be involved with Invivo which she describes as an "exciting and compelling brand." The Kiwi winery is enjoying a string of successes abroad and is about to be introduced on Air New Zealand flights.
Mount’s appointment as wine ambassador for Invivo came about when she met the founders - Kiwis Rob Cameron and Tim Lightbourne - at a London trade fair.
At the time, Mount’s gold-plated buds and their wine-tasting and assessing capabilities were said to be the most expensive body parts in the world - compared to the $14.1m insurance taken out for Ugly Betty star America Ferrera's smile and the $8.5m valuation once put on Bruce Springsteen's voice.
To get the insurance she had to visit several medical professionals and complete a test where she was blindfolded and required to identify 50 different scents. She guessed 48 correctly. One of the scents she missed was an athletes' muscle rub she had never heard of.
Exciting and compelling
Mount who now runs her own business, as well as working with top chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and presenting on the BBC, says she is happy to be the UK face of Invivo.
She says she is impressed by the company's marketing strategy and label which was designed by Kiwi fashion house, Zambesi. She also likes the enthusiasm of Invivo’s founders - Cameron, who is the winemaker and Lightbourne who handles marketing.
The wines themselves also get the thumbs up from Mount.
"There is an inherent elegance about them. There is an intensity of fruit, but it's refined, it's subtle, it's lingering and it's not one of those 'it hits you in the face and then disappears' type of wines."
This month New Zealand Cuisine magazine named the brand's Marlborough sauvignon blanc the second best in New Zealand, and Air New Zealand has confirmed it will start serving it on flights next year. It was chosen after a blind taste test of more than 800 wines.
Invivo has produced around 100,000 bottles in its second vintage.
In just one month the winery sold 14,000 bottles through UK wine merchant Averys, and Lightbourne says their success has all been a bit of a whirlwind. "It is better than we could have dreamed of," he said.
Invivo produces hand-crafted, limited release wines in a newly accredited sustainable facility and represents famous New Zealand wine growing regions like Marlborough and Central Otago.
The winery was a finalist for New Zealand Wine Producer of the Year in 2009, and was awarded the NZ Innovation in Wine Marketing trophy at the 2009 Hospitality New Zealand show.
NZ wine industry
Classic New Zealand Wine Trail
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