Tips to satisfy your palate
Recently, I was very fortunate to attend a winemaker’s dinner at the fantastic Palate restaurant in Hamilton, hosted by Gordon Russell of Esk Valley Wines.
Esk Valley is an old established Hawke’s Bay producer, and Gordon has been making their wines for over 20 years. Part of the Villa Maria Group, which has always been a firm family favourite, I was more than keen to try their wines, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.
Esk Valley Merlot Rose 2015 is a blush wine made from red grapes, dry but sweet-fruited, with notes of strawberry, and highly enjoyable.
Show me a chardonnay and I usually get interested, show me a winemaker’s reserve and I get excited, as it often suggests a big fat tasty oaky beast of a wine – the best kind. As luck would have it, Esk Valley Winemaker’s Reserve Chardonnay 2015 is exactly that style.
A mouth-filling, buttery, minerally pile of excellence.
It was served with an entirely vegetarian course, which would normally cause a furrowed brow and a muttered curse, but the potato gnocchi was a perfect match.
Served with some beautiful Hapuka, Esk Valley 2016 Verdelho was a revelation. Originally from the Portuguese island of Madeira, Verdelho is becoming increasingly popular as consumers look for something new and different.
Esk Valley was the first to plant the variety in New Zealand, as far back as 1998.
Esk Valley also produce one of NZ’s absolute classic wines – The Terraces.
A blend of classic Bordeaux varieties, it sits at the very top of the tree and has become an iconic wine that is generally offered ‘en primeur’, a French tradition where top wines are offered for sale while still in the barrel to those lucky (or wealthy!) enough to be ‘on the list’.
Sadly, we didn’t get to try any! Instead, we were treated to Esk Valley, The Hillside, Cabernet/ Merlot 2010. It is a big, muscular, dark fruited and complex wine that will age well but is already spectacular.
When I’m not combining grainfed sirloin steak with magnificent NZ red wines, I tend to beer and food match at home.
As a go-to commercial beer that is several levels above the usual suspects, Monteith’s RIPA Red IPA is a great option.
I love red beers, and this is pretty decent, and it works equally as well with fish and chips or with roast chicken. Flavoursome and nicely weighty, at around $16 for a six-pack it’s worth hunting down.
In my previous column, I mentioned the supposed demise of the loved Mikes from Taranaki. I am happy to say Mikes is very much alive and kicking, and producing some very tasty beers. My apologies to Ron and all at Mikes for the error.
Simon Wood grew up in Hamilton and now lives in Te Aroha.