Misha Wilkinson and Hannah Chisolm
Misha’s Vineyard is one of the high-fliers of Central Otago with a fast-growing reputation for fine wines. 2017 marked only the eleventh vintage for Misha’s Vineyard, but the presence of the wines in the marketplace has given the impression of the brand being far longer established. While consumers realise the wines are of excellent quality and continuing to grow as the vines mature, it is the strong and professional marketing by owners Andy and Misha Wilkinson both here in New Zealand and in export markets, particularly in Asia, that has built the brand to where it is today. www.mishasvineyard.co.nz
Andy and Misha are tireless promoters of their wines and brand, and their dynamic energy sees them conduct an incredibly full schedule of events in all of their markets. They are particularly keen to show how well their wines partner fine and varied cuisines. Andy and Misha were in Wellington this month to hold the second of their degustation dinners at One80 Restaurant in the Copthorne Hotel on Oriental Parade. Executive chef Chetan Pangam enjoys putting together regular degustation dinners to showcase the culinary expertise of his staff, and going through the exercise of pairing his food with the wines. He too, as the Wilkinsons are, is a consummate performer, entertainer and educator. www.one80restaurant.co.nz
My partner Sue Davies and I were privileged to join the Wilkinsons for the Wellington degustation dinner with their winemaker Olly Masters. The dining room was filled with over 40 guests, and the atmosphere was one of fun. Andy and Misha gave an entertaining account of how their vineyard was established and how they came about to make the wines they have in their portfolio. Particularly interesting was the Chinese connection, in a historical sense, with a numerical significance around the ‘lucky’ number ‘8’, and the modern interaction with the Asian scene. Adding to the polished presentation by Andy and Misha was the beautiful operatic singing of Hannah Chisolm, which reinforced the opera themes behind the names of the Misha’s Vineyard wines.
Chetan Pangam (R) and the One80 Kitchen Staff
The Menu and the Wines
Chetan Pangam designed an eight course dinner with five Misha’s Vineyard wines served.as matches. I list the menu courses below, and my impressions of the wines follow, with scores (not added to my database) then with a brief indication of the matching.
1st Course: Home-made sour dough bread, house churned bitter
2nd Course: Slow-cooled free range pork belly, crackling, compressed cucumber, pineapple chilli mayonnaise
Wine Match: Misha’s Vineyard ‘Limelight’ Riesling 2014
Bright, pale straw colour, still youthful in appearance. The bouquet is very refined, tight and elegantly presented, showing lime and lemonade fruit aromas along with white florals, and some secondary development of toast. Medium-dry to medium in taste, the palate is very fresh and lively, with bright acidity underlining a tight core of lime fruit melded with honey and toast. There is a little phenolic texture providing dryness to match the sweet fruit lusciousness, and the wine carries to a fine, off-dry finish. This is in remarkably youthful condition, and showing secondary interest. Drinking very well now. 18.5/20
An interesting and good match with the wine acidity cutting through the pork richness. The wine appears drier, and the flavours while not matching strongly show no clash. A workable match for me.
3rd Course: Ora King salmon, daikon tofu cream, squid in teriyaki, mirin belly, shitake mushroom, togarashi, caviar, Lot 8 Yuzu olive oil
Wine Match: Misha’s Vineyard ‘Dress Circle’ Pinot Gris 2016
Pale straw-yellow colour. This has a full and rich nose of classical pear and yellow stonefruit aromas, revealing exotic florals, a touch of rose-petals and honeysuckle, with subtle nutty oak detail. This fruit is softly expressed ns shows purity. This is still very youthful. Medium-dry to taste, the palate possesses power and drive, along with purity and cut. Attractive pear, floral and honey flavours form a harmonious amalgam. While the alcohol drive is present, it is in balance. The mouthfeel is rich with a degree of unctuousness, and the wine has a long, lingering finish. Youthful and with underlying power, the fruit clarity is a feature. It should develop well over the next 4+ years. 18.5+/20
The salmon flavours dominate the match, but the wine grows in subtle flavour depth, with some alcohol power to integrate well with the dish. The wine’s richness is enough to meet the oiliness of the salmon. Initially not a match, but in the final analysis, quite workable, and indeed good.
4th Course: Awatoru wild venison, beetroot textures, radicchio, feta, buckwheat, blackberry
Wine Match: Misha’s Vineyard ‘Impromptu’ Pinot Noir 2014
Darkish ruby-red colour with some garnet on the edge. The bouquet I full and open, quite bold in expression, showing clear dark-red berry fruits with nuances of earth and dark and dried herbs, and savoury undergrowth elements, This has good complexity, and the componentry is all well tied together. A fulsome wine on palate , quite up-front and flavoursome with sweet and lush dark red berry fruits and savoury layers. The fruit richness provides density and the palate is solid, near robust, with good tannin extraction and grip, providing plenty of textures. There’s a little alcohol drive too. This is a decent red wine with the presence to work with meaty dishes. Attractive and very functional. 18.0/20
With the venison, the wine’s sweetness and richness is enhanced, and the textures of the wine match that of the meat. The venison is enlivened and grows in detail and is also enhanced. The detailed componentry in the dish come alive too. A good match on flavour, weight and textural levels, both wine and food benefitting.
5th Course: Gelissimo green apple sorbet, apple textures
6th Course: Preston’s local lamb – pulled lamb shoulder filo, masala lamb cheeks, savoury nut granola, carrot, jus
Wine Match: Misha’s Vineyard ‘Verismo’ Pinot Noir 2011
Full, broad and evenly coloured, the dark-red showing some garnet hues on the edge. The bouquet is softly full and integrated with red berry fruit interwoven with secondary savoury aromas of earth, dried herbs and undergrowth, then mushrooms. This is very integrated and seamless in presentation. There is no lack of depth or intensity here, the aromatics building in the glass. A big wine on palate, with piquant dark-red fruits that open up and fill the mouth. This ha richness allied to vibrancy and vitality, the acidity refreshing and lively. This has plenty of extraction and structure, the textures very fine-grained and powdery. A lot of wine here with a cool classiness. This will drink well over the next 6-8+ years easily. 19.0/20
An even match in terms of weight and textures, the interaction very pleasing. The flavours of the lamb in their different forms grow and prevail to an extent over the wine, which is a more richness and textural-based expression. The food course becomes more exotic. A good match, with the lamb flavours blossoming.
7th Course: Persimmon pear tarte tatin, honey pear, saffron ice cream, mascarpone cream, walnut
Wine Match: Mishas’s Vineyard ‘The Cadenza’ Late Harvest Gewurztraminer 2016
Very pale straw colour. The nose is very refined, tightly bound and intense with exotic rose-petal, honey and lychee aromas. The finesse, clarity and intensity are the features of the aromatics. Sweet to taste, this is a wine of elegance, with fine, tight and reined in flavours. Yet the Gewurztraminer characters of rose-petals, exotic florals and fine aromatic fruit are expressed with clarity and delicacy. The acidity lends freshness and the wine possesses very refined textures. They provide refinement and a stylish linearity. Not a ‘sticky’ as such, but an elegant, aromatic wine with sweetness. 18.5/20
In essence the dessert has greater textures and richness, along with a wider array of flavours. This normally dooms the wine to second place. But here, its clarity and cut enabled some presence, without being overwhelmed by the food. The wine’s high points remained intact. Not an ideal match, but surprisingly workable.
8th Course: Petit fours, seasonal berry macaron
With: Misha’s Vineyard ‘The High Note’ Pinot Noir Schoc chocolate truffle
Andy Wilkinson, Misha Wilkinson and Olly Masters
The Misha’s Vineyard Triumvirate