Content created in partnership with Tipping Point Wines
Al Brown is sitting at a high table at Depot, the Auckland dining institution he opened in 2011, sipping proudly on a flute of prosecco.“It's not serious," the restaurateur says with a grin. "It's Monday-Tuesday, it’s any day of the week. It's not trying to be champagne; it's just refreshing and lovely, with a dry finish to it.”
The bubbly is the latest addition to Brown’s wine range, Tipping Point, which he founded in 2021 with beverage company Constellation Brands. Launching just in time for summer, the prosecco has notes of pear and apple, with subtle hints of vanilla and honey and is served in an unassuming squat bottle. It joins a Central Otago pinot noir, and a rosé, chardonnay and syrah from Hawke’s Bay.
Of course, for it to be classified as a prosecco D.O.C (which means of controlled origin, a bit like champagne), the wine must be produced in Italy and be made predominantly with the Glera grape, a neutral white variety grown in the north-east of Italy. Last year, Brown paid a visit to the winery that makes his prosecco, just outside of Bologna, to guide the blend and learn more about winemaking.
“I know my limitations,” says the self-proclaimed ‘gravy-maker’, “but what I’m bringing to the table is my palate. So I got to blend, with their winemakers obviously holding my hand, quite tightly.” Brown also witnessed the harvesting and fermentation processes, “and I’ve developed a huge respect for winemakers. If I burn croutons, I just put some more in. If winemakers mess up their wine, they've got a year to wait before they can start again.”
According to Brown, the prosecco is best paired with seafood, or anything light and summery. “It goes with everything. I even like it as a kind of cleanse at the end of the evening, when you need something fresh and bubbly, to clean up the palate.”
Depot is also turning the prosecco into a cocktail, which also includes elderflower liqueur, Lillet Blanc and Brown’s own Lemon & Fennel Infused Olive Oil, which leaves a delicious slick on the lips.
The new prosecco contributes to Tipping Point’s philanthropic side, which sees each wine affiliated with a different conservation charity, including Sea Cleaners, Wilding Free Mackenzie Trust, Kea Conservation Trust and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. With each purchase of a bottle of prosecco, Tipping Point gives a portion of the proceeds to Southern Seabirds Trust, an organisation working with fishers and the broader industry to reduce harm to New Zealand seabirds from fishing.
“There’s a corporate responsibility now to be aware of and try, where you can, to give to others,” adds Brown. “And to me, we aren't looking at the environment nearly enough. So even if it's something little like this that hopefully gets people thinking more along those lines.”
Brown’s new prosecco is all part of his mission to take the formality out of wine – just as he has done with food at his restaurants. “My whole thing is informality, I think that's the flag we should be waving. Kiwis do it better than anyone else in the world, we feel very comfortable around it,” Browns says.
“Wine is a thing that has quite a lot of pomp and ceremony around it. You hand someone a wine list, and it's saying, here, have some anxiety. So I'm constantly trying to break things down and make people feel comfortable.”
Tipping Point’s ‘Winging It’ prosecco D.O.C is $134.99 for a case of six, and is available through their website and at all major liquor retailers, including New World, Pak n Save and Countdown for a RRP of $24.99.
Use discount code STUFF15 to get 15% off Tipping Point 'Winging It' prosecco D.O.C at tippingpointwines.co.nz. Offer ends December 31, 2023. Includes free NZ shipping. Must be over 18 to purchase.