Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Easter Sipping

Eager for Easter Sips

There’s nothing like a public holiday, nay a ‘religious’ holiday to get the festive juices working and the wine thirst calling.  We start planning where we’re going to be, or who’ll be coming around.  There could also be a bit of panic about what we’re going to eat because chances are it’s very likely to be the last time we use the barbeque.  Do we need to make peace with granddad because we haven’t seen him since Waitangi weekend? Is it our turn to do Easter lunch this year?  Have we bought enough Easter eggs for the kids?  So naturally we start thinking about wine.
Parents the length and breadth of the country are also in the midst of a very busy fortnight.  For me, school holidays conjure up daydreams of spending my days baking hot cross buns, pottering around in the garden, bottling fruit, visiting playgrounds and sewing dolls clothes with my little cherubs just like my mum did when I was little.  But after a couple of days of trying my hardest to work and keep the house clean and entertain the children with arty, crafty things, what I usually end up with are frustrated, scratchy little cretins suffering from Easter egg overload who demand that I please send them to the YMCA because home is so boring.  So again I find myself thinking about wine.

At least it’s autumn.  I adore autumn.  The firewood’s been delivered and safely stacked away, the electric blanket is dusted off, the rhubarb is ripe and piles of sweet-scented feijoas start appearing in my favourite fruit and veg shops. The figs are fit to bursting; foraging for edible fungus becomes a full-time occupation and best of all it’s quite acceptable to wear long pants every day, which is great because my summer tan is already a shadow of its former self.  Autumn is about wrapping up in something warm to catch the last of the afternoon sun, while sitting on my front step clutching a glass of something crisp and aromatic.

‘Aromatic’ is a term given to a group of white wines where so much of their appeal lies in their extremely distinctive aromas.  Wines like Riesling with its honeyed, floral, apple, lime and mineral aromas, Pinot Gris and its pear and quince notes, Viognier with it’s orange peel and spicy stone fruit and Gewurztraminer’s distinctive lychee, rose petal and spicy characters.  These wines, as a general rule are made without oak, and are matured in stainless steel tanks to preserve these bright, fresh, spritzy characters that make them famous.  However, the down side is that due to their delicate nature and high acidity, these wines are also highly prone to spoilage, so once the bottle is opened it will need to be consumed immediately.  Screwcaps will help it live overnight as will a vacuvin pump – but please don’t think you can leave an open bottle of aromatic wine in the fridge for a week and have it live up to your expectations. 

I won’t attempt to go into who grows the best examples of these styles because you know what?  Great aromatic wines are produced right across New Zealand; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  Each November the Canterbury A&P Show hosts the International Aromatic Wine Competition which brings out the best of the best of these styles.  Last year, West Auckland winery Westbrook took out the Supreme Champion Trophy with their Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2010.

I love aromatic wines because they go so well with Asian food which my husband and I are addicted to, but they’re also sensational with flavours of a Spanish persuasion, and if you don’t believe me crack any aromatic and enjoy with my never-fail, Feijoa Firecracker Salsa.

  • 8 feijoas, peeled and diced
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped 
  •  ½ cup diced capsicum (try a mixture of red, yellow and orange if you can for extra colour)
  • Juice of 2 limes, (about 1/4 cup juice)
  • 1 level tsp freshly chopped red chilli (or ½tsp minced chilli from a jar)
  • 2 tblsp chopped coriander
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion or sweet onion

 Mix everything together and plough into it.

Beer for Brekkie?
As if they didn’t have a beer for every occasion already, the team at Moa have started brewing a Breakfast Beer.
A blend of premium wheat malt, floral Nelson hops and cherries, Moa Breakfast was launched last week at a trendy café in Auckland; but don’t let that put you off because it’s actually pretty good. Brewer Josh Scott and his father Allan would occasionally compliment a leisurely breakfast with beer, which got Josh thinking that if people could enjoy champagne at breakfast time, why not beer? The Breakfast brew has an alcohol content of 5.5%. Like champagne, it is bottle fermented and conditioned and is sealed with a cork, muselet and foil.
Additional ‘Moa Breakfast’ events are set to be held in Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown over the coming months.
Moa Breakfast is available in 375ml bottles in selected stores and premium cafes, bars and restaurants, and a four-pack of Moa Breakfast will cost you around $34. 


Lawsons Dry Hills Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2009 $26 êêêê
Big and blousy, but beautiful nonetheless.  I love this style of Gewurz, with its luscious lychee, rose and peach aromas pierced with ginger and it’s fleshed out with some sweetness and spice on the back palate.   Lawson’s are masters of the lengthy finish and this wine definitely leaves an impression, particularly if you pair it with Thai Larb Gai.  www.lawsonsdryhills.co.nz
Georges Road Block Three Waipara Riesling 2010 $23 êêêê½
A few years making wine in Germany clearly infected Kirk Bray with the riesling bug and this superb example has subtle jazz apple, feijoa and lipsmacking lime notes underpinned with beautifully balanced acidity and superb persistence of flavour.  Gentle, wild fermentation gives this riesling extra depth and a hint of funk.    www.georgesroadwines.co.nz
Rock Ferry Central Otago Viognier 2008 $29 êêêê
Classic aromas of orange zest, cinnamon, jasmine and tangy citrus oil lead to an ultra-clean and lean palate, punctuated by chalky minerality, fruit complexity and elegant length.  Super-tasty with pork spare ribs slathered in Hoisin sauce and sizzled under the grill.  www.rockferry.co.nz

The Mussel Inn Captain Cooker Manuka Beer 5%alc $5 330ml
Using organic malts, hops and water sourced from a tiny stream in the hills behind the brewery, this little outfit from Onekaka in Nelson’s Golden Bay area is turning out some seriously tasty tipples.  The ‘cooker is their signature brew and it boasts a rich, nutty molasses-like aroma, a smooth, creamy texture in the mouth with a hint of anise followed by tangy, ribsticking length of flavour.  Also available in 1.3lt PET $8.85.  For stockists in your area or to order visit www.musselinn.co.nz
Kurow Village Cricklewood Pinot Gris 2010 $24 êêêê½
Produced from North Otago fruit this is hands down one of the loveliest pinot gris I’ve tried in ages.  Scented with classic apple, pear and quince, it delivers a crisp, clean burst of vibrant citrus which morphs into spicy strudel notes on the finish.  If you’re a plate of cumin seed gouda, fruit paste and oatcakes I’d be very afraid.  www.kurowwinery.co.nz

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