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Name Was Mayor Inspiration

Environmental adversaries Warren Cooper and Sam Neill have become comrades over a nice drop of vino. 


Actor Sam Neill boxes up a case of his Socialist Chardonnay for the man whose jibe inspired the name - former Queenstown mayor Warren Cooper.

Photo: Rowan Quinn, SouthlandTimes


"Dear Warren, I hope you enjoy this wonderful wine. Thanks for the inspiration! If you're off the turps at the moment, by all means give this box to the charity of your choice. Perhaps an environmental charity would be appropriate! Cheers, Sam Neill"

Two Paddocks Picnic Socialist Chardonnay label

Actor Neill has named the latest offering from his Two Paddocks winery, near Queenstown, after a famous Cooper dig, labelling it Socialist Chardonnay.

Mr Cooper, a former mayor, and Neill, a Queenstown property owner, made headlines in 2000 for their name-calling in a very public spat over development in the resort.

Mr Cooper called Neill and his cronies "chardonnay socialists", while Neill suggested Mr Cooper hand in his mayoral chains and stay at home and watch the telly.

Yesterday, Neill boxed up a case of the entry-level chardonnay ready to send to the mayor.

In a note on the back, he says: "Thanks for the inspiration. If you're off the turps at the moment, by all means give this box to the charity of your choice – perhaps an environmental charity would be appropriate."

Mr Cooper said he was chuffed with the good-humoured nod – not to mention that a case was on the way.

He felt the "over-dramatised feud" had certainly been settled in his favour with Neill's generous gift.

He and wife Lorraine would enjoy the single bottle handed over yesterday for pictures and would probably give the case to "some charity associated with Sam's love of the New Zealand environment".

And, in the spirit of socialism, Mr Cooper had something to share in return.

He said he would give Neill a 1975 bottle of Cooks Alicante commemorating Think Big icon Rob Muldoon.

"He was a bit of a chardonnay socialist himself," Mr Cooper said.

"I just hope after 30 years the secret that's involved in this bottle is a tasty one."

© Copyright 2005, The Southland Times. Posted with the permission of the publisher. The Southland Times Online

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