Au­tumn rains colour the cel­e­bra­tions in Kiwi winer­ies

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel - Ju­dith Elen

FOODDe­tec­tive has been on the trail in New Zealand’s idyllic Marl­bor­ough wine re­gion. The news from here, in the north of the South Is­land, is that the weather has turned. Af­ter a long, hot sum­mer that had ev­ery­one an­tic­i­pat­ing a bumper crop, it’s rain­ing on their pa­rade. Mid-har­vest. (Mudgee and the Hunter Val­ley in NSW have had in­ces­sant rain fol­low­ing a cool sum­mer, also bad.)

The fra­grant, thin-skinned sauvi­gnon blanc grapes that have put th­ese moun­tain­fringed NZ plains on the world map come in tightly packed bunches and are sus­cep­ti­ble to botry­tis rot (and not the kind that pro­duces dessert wines); so, anx­ious times. Most vine­yards are about two-thirds through their pick­ing but the nec­es­sary gam­ble of leav­ing the fruit on the vine as long as pos­si­ble for max­i­mum ripeness and the sud­den, sus­tained rain­fall means a lot of grapes will be lost.

ARO­MATIC white wines are the flag­ship here, but vine­yards are also pro­duc­ing pinot noir, and th­ese wines are soft and lovely. A Wines­tate mag­a­zine ar­ti­cle in 2003 men­tioned Marl­bor­ough’s quiet pinot noir revo­lu­tion. Pinot noir skins are thicker and the bunches more open, the bet­ter to with­stand mould. One of the re­gion’s best known wine­mak­ers, Cloudy Bay, hosts an an­nual event, Pinot at Cloudy Bay, at the win­ery. This year’s will be on June 28 and reg­is­tra­tions open next week. De­tails to come. www.cloudy­

MEAN­WHILE, at Seresin Es­tate — the dream-like prop­erty owned since the 1990s by NZ-born cin­e­matog­ra­pher Michael Seresin ( An­gela’sAshes , Har­ryPot­terand thePrisonerofAzk­a­ban ) — es­tate man­ager Colin Ross tells De­tec­tive he cried when he walked along the rows in one of the plant­ings and saw the dam­age. But there are still plenty of grapes to be picked. And life on this es­tate with vine­yards in the Wairau and Omaka val­leys could only be a cel­e­bra­tion, with its or­ganic and bio­dy­namic prin­ci­ples (they make com­post ‘‘ teas’’ from sea­weed har­vested in the Marl­bor­ough Sounds), Tus­can olive groves and goat-faced Wilt­shire Horn sheep crop­ping the weeds and pro­vid­ing meat for sausages.

HAR­VEST Cel­e­bra­tion Din­ners will fea­ture at Seresin’s spe­cial-event restau­rant at Wa­ter­fall Bay. Rex Morgan, chef-owner of lead­ing Welling­ton restau­rant Cit­ron, will of­fer a five-course din­ner matched with wines from Clos Henri, Huia, Law­son’s Dry Hills and Seresin Es­tate. Each din­ner is lim­ited to 35. April 25 and 26; $215 a head in­cludes boat trans­port from Pic­ton. Book­ings: +64 3572 9408.

IT’S no back­wa­ter here de­spite the peace and quiet; Heidi Gibb, chef-owner (with Chris Gibb) of Gibb’s Vine­yard Restau­rant at Blen­heim, tells De­tec­tive Syd­ney chef Tet­suya Wakuda will be cook­ing with Marl­bor­ough chefs at a fundrais­ing din­ner for the Marl­bor­ough Com­mu­nity Hospice on July 4 at Mon­tana Bran­cott Win­ery. Wakuda’s Syd­ney of­fice con­firms the date but de­tails are yet to come.

NOOSA is plan­ning its fifth Cel­e­bra­tion of Aus­tralian Food & Wine — Noosa Style, which opens with seven top chefs from across the states lead­ing hands-on classes on May 16, 11am-2pm in the Grand Mar­quee. Lunch and wines are in­cluded in the $95 fee. The big week­end con­tin­ues with food trails, de­gus­ta­tions, Queens­land Wine Expo and the Great Aussie Pic­nic, May 16-18, Grand Mar­quee, Noosa Li­ons Park. TheAus­tralian ’ s Graeme Blun­dell will be one of the food­ies com­pet­ing in the pic­nic chal­lenge; De­tec­tive has high hopes for Blun­dell’s re­peat tri­umph fol­low­ing last year’s suc­cess as the peo­ple’s choice win­ner in the bar­be­cue cook-off.

Buy a Satur­day full-day or week­end gold pass be­fore May 1 and you’ll be el­i­gi­ble to en­ter the run­ning to win din­ners for two at 15 of the town’s top restau­rants. www.cel­e­bra­tiono­faus­tralian­foodand

FANCY beet­root ravi­oli, trout stuffed with bread and fen­nel and spelt salad? Syd­neysiders can watch Vogue En­ter­tain­ing+ Travel food ed­i­tor Sophia Young make th­ese dishes and more; then it’s time for din­ner. Au­tumn treats (wit­lof, rad­di­chio, wal­nuts, chest­nuts) join ex­ot­ica (spelt, vin­cotto, co­coa nibs) in this demon­stra­tion us­ing sev­eral cook­ery tech­niques. Elec­trolux Gallery, Do­mayne, 84 O’Rior­dan St, Alexan­dria; April 30, 6.30pm-9.30pm. $60 demon­stra­tion, din­ner, wines and VE+T gift bag. Book­ings: (02) 8062 2513.

Tet­suya Wakuda

TAS­MA­NIAN vine­yard restau­rant Daniel Alps at Strath­lynn (at Pipers Brook’s Ta­mar Val­ley vine­yard) has put to­gether a pro­gram of cook­ing classes at its Ro­se­vears premises. Flash the pans with Dan is held on oc­ca­sional Satur­days at 6.30pm, fol­lowed by din­ner. The first class, on game (in­clud­ing butch­ery tips), is June 21; $215 (with wines and per­sonal pantry bag). Lim­ited to 10. Book­ings: (03) 6330 2388.

POTA­TOES are news this year; it’s the UN In­ter­na­tional Year of the Potato, cel­e­brat­ing this cru­cial world sta­ple. Syd­ney kids will be able to plant their own spuds at the Royal Botanic Gar­dens; at Spudz4kidz, six to 12-year-olds will plant, cook and eat them. Ex­ist­ing plant­ings (her­itage, rare and threat­ened va­ri­eties such as pur­ple congo and pink fir ap­ple), in a big above-ground Per­spex tube, will show roots and tu­bers in April; the chil­dren’s April plant­ings will be har­vested dur­ing the July and Septem­ber school hol­i­days. April 15, 16 and 17; (search for spudz4kidz).

CEL­E­BRATE cheese at a spe­cial night at Bells at Kill­care, chef Ste­fano Manfredi’s hideaway on the NSW cen­tral coast. Five cour­ses, each fo­cus­ing on a dif­fer­ent cheese, matched with Hunter Val­ley wines (from Pa­trick Auld and Usher Tin­kler of Pooles Rock Wines). Cheese guru Will Studd will lead a tu­tored tast­ing of the fi­nal course, which will fea­ture some of the world’s best cheeses. May 16, 7pm; $135. Book­ings: (02) 4360 2411.

A STAR­RING role for Melbourne’s Ho­tel Wind­sor and es­pe­cially its ex­ec­u­tive pas­try chef Nigel Braithwaite. He was for­merly at Savoy Ho­tel Lon­don and trained at Ecole Lenotre in Paris; choco­late and sugar-work are Braithwaite’s forte. Now he has been filmed for Forte Com­mu­ni­ca­tions’ in­ter­na­tional television se­ries Chef­softhe GreatHo­tel­soft­heWorld part two (se­ries one aired on SBS in Aus­tralia, and in 40 other coun­tries). The Wind­sor is among the few Aus­tralian ho­tels main­tain­ing a ded­i­cated pas­try kitchen (Braithwaite leads seven full-time pas­try chefs). In the pro­gram he vis­its Gen­tle An­nie berry farm in Vic­to­ria and shares pas­try-mak­ing and dessert tips. The 125-year-old Ho­tel Wind­sor’s choco­late foun­tain also stars. www.thewind­; www.gen­tlean­

FIND of the week: A teatime choice be­tween 125-year-old Aussie stal­wart Bushells and gen­teel 300-year-old Brit Twin­ings. Both have cre­ated new Aussie teas: Bushells’ Aus­tralian Break­fast ($4.99 for 100 bags); Twin­ings ev­ery­day black Sim­ply Tea ($3.99 for 50; $5.99 for 100); from lead­ing su­per­mar­kets.

DE­TEC­TIVE loves: Chef Gabriel Gate and Rob Moodie’s Recipes­foraGreatLife (Hardie Grant Books, $34.95). De­li­cious detox and pos­i­tiv­ity be­tween the cov­ers of a book; recipes with a Gate touch (mush­room filo tartlets, Ital­ian fish stew, rab­bit ragout) be­side sec­tions on sheds and garages, and join­ing a choir.

DE­TEC­TIVE loathes: A sin­gle wine list be­ing of­fered at a ta­ble for two. (Cen­turies ago, classy restau­rants used to give the bloke the proper menu and the lady a ver­sion with­out prices; those were the days.)

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