Over the course of the year, Wellington star chef Martin Bosley has run a series of wine-themed dinners that have enabled a closer look at the combination of wine and food. In addition to the more usual event where a highly regarded wine producer has a selection of their different wines matched by food courses, Martin has taken the rather more unusual and novel approach of designating a wine variety or style to which he has created a number of different dishes to suit the wine. To date, Martin Bosley’s has had B.Y.O. Riesling, Bordeaux/Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir/Burgundy and now Chardonnay dinners, the last of which I managed to attend.
The second pairing consisted of a Bret Brothers Viré Clessé ‘Sous les Plantes’ 2007 from the Macon. Another very gentle and even wine, not a blockbuster by any means, and attractively open and accessible. Subtle savoury detail from secondary development along with distinctive fruit and barrel-ferment combination. This had more than the Chablis, but care would need to be taken to match with food? This came with a Church Road ‘Tom’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2006, also light golden in colour. This was much more voluptuous and full, with ripe citrus and tropical fruit allied to complex sweet oaking and nutty, reductive layers. A blockbuster for sure, but ameliorated by the ripeness and sweetness of the fruit. Totally and richly integrated. This was a statement wine that would stand tall by itself.
Bread, whipped butter, Marlborough sea salt, herb salt. A necessity for resetting the palate and cleaning up sauces!
Coffee-cured kingfish ‘pastrami’, roasted garlic custard, lemon mayonnaise. The fish was dark fleshed from the coffee curing, which imparted negligible flavour, finely textured, with a fresh, firmness, the custard and mayo also very subtle with its infusion of ingredients. The finesse of the flavours and textures of the Simonnet-Febvre Chablis 1er Cru was the best match, the Girardin Puligny-Montrachet far too powerful.
Asparagus, horseradish panna cotta, heritage carrots, white heart hazelnuts, avocado mousse, soft egg yolk, spring herb sauce. With so many individual tastes and ingredients, every wine and food had a similarity to work as a match. The Simonnet-Febvre and Brett Brothers were both gentle and non-clashing, the latter wine’s openness particularly useful. Egg yolk is a notoriously wine-smothering component as it coats the palate too. But the Church Road ‘Tom’ a pronounced and pleasing caramel amalgam was the result.
Nelson scallops, poached chicken breast, creamed eggplant puree, scallop dashi. While the scallops were the textural and visible feature of this course, followed by the chicken breast, it was the Japanese dashi soup stock that dominated the flavours. The bigger Girardin and Church Road wines were better with the scallops, especially the ‘Tom’ with its sweetness, but it was the Bret Brothers Viré-Clessé that enhanced the sea stock flavours, providing a soft cut and lift.
Sautéed Curly Tree whitebait, fished from the Moeraki river aka ‘The Blue’, garden peas, chive butter. Plenty of whitebait here, instead of the egg-dominant fritter, the peas and chives possibly a little too strong in texture and flavour for the whitebait for me. Here the Bret Brothers and Moreau-Naudet Chablis Grand Cru were the ideal matches, subtle in flavour and the acidity providing succulence and moisture to the whitebait sauté.
Slow-roasted pigs cheek, Jerusalem artichoke cream, Shiitake mushrooms. Potato gnocchi, apple pudding, reduced pan juices. The heartier red meat course, but done daintily. Sweet nutty elements and savoury-salty-sweet flavours all of which can be found in complex Chardonnay. Here the Te Mata ‘Elston’ was the top performer with its array of complex secondary flavours. The Church Road ‘Tom’ also for its size and richness. The acidity and cut, allied to power was a workable match for the Neudorf ‘Moutere’, as was the case with the Girardin Puligny-Montrachet. Big meat calls for big wine.
Burnt meringue with mango custard, coconut ice cream, lemon granita. A softly rich and gently textured dessert with piquancy from the lemon, and citrus and coconut echoing the flavours of Chardonnay. Too sweet for the wines, or at least the wines were too dry for the dessert. Maybe we should have brought along a Noble Chardonnay sweet wine?
Coffee and tea. This was time for reflection on the wonderful array of flavours that echoed that of Chardonnay, or which could contrast with them. Also a range of textures was presented in the food, as were styles and origins. I think Martin Bosley gave the concept considerable thought and put his ideas out there. It was excellent to have such a range of Chardonnays to put up to try to match the different components. There truly was something for everyone and every wine.
I hear a rumour that Martin Bosley’s might sneak in one more B.Y.O. Wine Dinner before the end of the year. I recommend you give him a call to register your interest on Tel: 04 920-8302 or keep an eye on his website for details: www.martin-bosley.com