Another Fine Evening Matching Wine and Food

Another Fine Evening Matching Wine and Food

It’s always an extreme pleasure to be invited to Nick and Lesley Richards for dinner. Lesley is a really accomplished amateur chef and Nick’s ability to choose quality wines and store them until they are mature enough to drink satisfactorily is legendary.

The wine theme for this evening was New Zealand.

Here is what we ate:

Nibbles:   Japanese seaweed thins, mixed salted nuts, olives

Starters:  Lomo, Salchichon & Chorizo Iberico Bellota, gambas al ajillo, champinones a la Segoviana,  asparagus with olive oil and black garlic


Main:      Roasted duck breasts with red wine sauce and red onion marmalade, braised green lentils and steamed vegetables with garlic

Cheeses: Epoisses (washed rind cows milk from Burgundy, France), Chabichou du Poitou (unpasteurised goat’s milk from Loire, France), Brillat-Savarin (soft creamy cows milk from Normandy, France), Stilton (blue cows milk from Cropthorne-Bishop, England), Manchego (hard ewes milk from La Mancha, Spain)

Pudding: White chocolate & passion fruit mousse, rich dark chocolate cake, dulce de leche ice cream with Welsh smoked sea salt

The meal was absolutely delicious, however the purpose of this post is not to give a critical analysis of the food, but to examine the wines and how they performed on the evening as an accompaniment to the somewhat Hispano-oriented cuisine.

So here is the line up of the wines:

As an aperitif and with the starter we alternated between Palliser Estate Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 and Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay 2008. For me, the Palliser was a little subdued, I did expect the exuberance of tropical-fruity New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, but to me it was a bit atypical – nettley rather than passion fruity and whilst it was OK as a straight aperitif, it struggled against the fatty components of the charcuterie. On the other hand, the Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay proved itself to be a better all-rounder with all the elements of the starter dish.

Palliser SB

Three Martinborough North Island 2007 Pinot Noirs, one from Martinborough Vineyard, one from Ata Rangi and one from Dry River were consumed with the main course and the cheeses. The Martinborough was the lightest of the three and whilst displaying good varietal flavours, was perhaps a little overwhelmed by the food. The Ata Rangi, by contrast (I have to say it is a long standing favourite New Zealand Pinot Noir of mine) didn’t disappoint with its overall finesse and persistence on the palate, but the star of the three undoubtedly was the Dry River – the most Burgundian of the three with weight and balance and plenty of savoury fruit underneath the tannins. It certainly took the dark sauce with the main course and the Epoisses in its stride although the lighter wines fared better with some of the other cheeses.

PInot Noirs

Villa Maria Reserve Noble Riesling Botrytis Selection 2012 (from Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand) was served with the dessert and like the dessert of very sweet chocolaty and fruity elements tempered by smoked sea salt, so the somewhat cloying sweetness of this botrytis affected Riesling was tempered by a good streak of acidity to make a harmonious match to the dish.

The next day I thought I would look up these wines in Wine behind the label as I was curious to see how my ratings of these wines on the night matched with those already in the guide. Bearing in mind that the ratings in the guide are not vintage specific, up to one star either way would still be an acceptable variance to the overall ratings of these wines.

So here are the results:                    My rating on the night         WBTL rating

Palliser Estate Martinborough SB 2013     ★★                            ★★

Ata Rangi Craighill Chard. 2008                ★★★☆                    ★★★

Martinborough Vineyard PN 2007             ★★★                        ★★★

Ata Rangi Martinborough PN 2007            ★★★★                    ★★★★☆

Dry River Martinborough PN 2007            ★★★★☆                ★★★★

Villa Maria Reserve Noble Riesling 2012   ★★★                        ★★☆

Yes, so here is proof that our ratings work – not more than half a star variance I think shows the reliability of Wine behind the label when it comes to choosing your wine – whether for home drinking or at a restaurant. Always have a copy handy! In your hands, on your tablet or on your phone.

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