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A Plum Café Degustation Dinner with Wine2Trade

By July 19, 2011No Comments
The degustation dinners at Plum Café have a bit of a cult following. Dave Fenwick and chef Nick Stratton have hit an excellent formula with five excellent contemporary New Zealand food courses, a little smaller than entrée sizes, matched to five good wines, all for the value price of $65.00 per head. July was the opportunity for Sue Davies of boutique wine distributor to showcase some of her wines that come from the length of the country. I was called up to assist and chime in with my perceptions of the wineries, the winemakers, food, and the all-important food matches. It was a fun night with some lovely and interesting people, who all obviously share a passion for good dining. Here are my impressions of the matches:
Course One: Spiced pork with apple, sage and mustard – Mount Edward Central Otago Riesling 2008
Comfort food with the pork belly and pureed apple, matched with medium, but crisp, fine and mouth-watering Riesling from the Lowburn area near Cromwell.

I thought this a very functional match where the freshness and acidity of the wine cut through the richness and fat of the pork belly. Interestingly the sweetness of the wine, carrying 19 g/L rs, was moderated and brought the wine and food closer together. There was sufficient sweetness to match the heat from mustard. A good ‘sweet and sour’ amalgam resulted. 4.0+/5.0 for the match.

Course Two: Poached chicken salad with lime Vietnamese dressing – Eradus Marlborough Pinot Gris 2009
Subtle, moist chicken with crisp fresh flavours and a little heat, match with off dry, subtle, and steely Awatere fruited Pinot Gris. As it warmed up, it became richer.

A great match where both the wine and the food came alive. The chicken became more succulent and the subtlety of the wine gave way to pronounced florals and stonefruit flavours. The moderate sweetness of the wine was more than capable in handling the coriander and chilli hints. 4.5+/5.0 for the match.

Course Three: House smoked salmon with celeriac puree and salmon caviar – Heart of Giold Gisborne Chardonnay/Viognier 2009
Two powerhouse personalities, the smoking of the salmon and richness quite exquisite, underlined by the gentle nutty celeriac and given a piquant peak with the caviar – to go with the full-bodied, exotic-flavoured, oaky, nutty Gisborne blend.

Here, both the salmon and the wine were extroverts, and stood up to each other well, both standing tall together, but without the integration of componentry. The mildness of the celeriac mash did its best to absorb the oak of the wine. 4.0-/5.0 for the match.

Course Four: Braised field mushrooms with truffled honey – Instinct Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2009
Earthy, fleshy mushrooms drizzled with honey, the truffle nuances very subtle, with a lively dark and red berried Wairarapa Pinot Noir that had more structure and acid tension than when tasted last.

Here, earthy flavours abounded, the wine and food wanting to harmonise. The sweetness of the honey a little too sticky and the wine a little too fruity and berried. The acidity of the wine a little clashing with the sugar of the honey too. Maybe on another day when the wine is a little more evolved, this might be magic? 3.5+/5.0 for the match.

Course Five: Grass fed beef fillet with gratin, caramelised onion and Terrace Edge Syrah jus – Terrace Edge Waipara Syrah 2009
What a wonderfully cooked piece of beef, perfection with medium-rare pink throughout, and soft earthen textures. Excellent grilled-top gratin and sweet caramelisation. And the best Syrah yet from Terrace Edge, ripe, silky, but substantial.

A superb pairing here, with the wine adding juiciness to the meat, and the meat absorbing the sweetness of the wine, thus becoming an integrated taste sensation. The earthiness of the meat juxtaposed with the brightness of the fruit of the wine, and the caramelisation paralleling the oak, all resulted in layers of flavours all interacting. The tannins of the wine were needed to meet the grain and texture of the meat, but the potato softened all the components. Some things just taste right, and this was one of them. 5.0-/5.0 for the match.

To Finish: Tea and coffee
To tell the truth, most of us had another glass of Terrace Edge Syrah to finish the night.

Plum Café, 103A Cuba Street, Wellington, Tel: 04 384-8881

Disclaimer: These wines described above are distributed by ‘Wine2Trade’, the company under which ‘Raymond Chan Wine Reviews’ operates.

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