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Nose to Tale – Wellington Wine Country at Le Cordon Bleu

By August 21, 2018No Comments
The wine producers of the Wairarapa have had a close relationship with Le Cordon Bleu for many years, and notable is their pairing up for the annual ‘Wellington on a Plate’ (WOAP) gastronomic festival. The timeless approach of wines matched to a designed menu is the format. This year, there were two events, held on consecutive nights held. The Wellington Wine Country producers firstly put forward a selection of white wines, then on the second night a selection of red wines to matched menus. Carol Bunn of Wellington Wine Country selected the wines to match the food courses. The Le Cordon Bleu staff, trainee students under the supervision of Sebastien Lambert and their lecturers cooked and the delivered the food and wine to approximately 40 diners.  www.cordonbleu.edu/new-zealand/wellington-campus-details/en
I was privileged to attend the first night of the ‘Nose to Tale’ event which featured Longbush free range pork, Kingsmeade artisan cheese and Schoc chocolates. The Wellington Wine Country personnel in attendance were Carol Bunn and Vanessa Paton with winemakers Christine Kernohan, Martin Bell, John Kavanagh and Margaret Hanson, who discussed the wines. As their guest, I offered my services to also speak to the wine and food – after all, there’s no such thing as a free lunch! I have quoted the special prices as offered by Martinborough Wine Merchants for those ordering on the night.  www.wellingtonwinecountry.co.nz

The Menu and the Wines

Following is the menu and a list of the wines served in flights with each food course. My impressions of the wines and interaction with the food follow. I have given a provisional rating of the wines, but these have not been added to my database of notes, due to the relaxed and convivial situation.

Wine on Arrival

Margrain ‘La Michelle’ Martinborough Methode Traditionnelle 2014

Pale straw colour with fine bubble and moderate bead. This is softly full and beautifully balanced with restrained stonefruit and stylish yeasty autolysis. Dryish to taste, juicy and plush, with fine fruit and autolysis, with fresh acidity. A refreshing and gentle welcome to the night. (18.0+/20) Special Price $42.50

Flight One


Pork rillettes with mustard apple and cherry jelly, pickles

Textures of tomato, tomato-basil sorbet, gel, marshmallow, confit

paired with

Martinborough Vineyard ‘Manu’ Martinborough Riesling 2017

Bright, very pale straw colour. The nose is very soft and concentrated with fine florals, lime and honeysuckle. Medium-dry to taste, this is still crisp and clean, with limes, minerals, and crisp underlying acidity lending soft textures. Hints of toast emerge. 15 g/L RS. (18.5/20) Special Price $24.50

Gladstone Vineyard ‘Pushmi’ Gladstone 2016

Very pale straw with slight green hues. This has a full, gentle nose with stonefruits and waxiness. This has good presence, breadth and volume. Fresh, but with nutty interest. Dry and powerful, plenty of energy and vitality, some skin contact textures, Waxy stonefeuits and a little lanolin, build to a solid palate core, unfolding classical green stonefuits. A co-fermentation of Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc. (17.5+/20) Special Price $27.00


Old fashion porcini ravioli, woodlands mushroom perfume

paired with

Julicer Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Pale straw colour. The bouquet is softly voluminous with aromas of tropical fruits and gentle honied notes. Still refreshing and bright fruited on palate with stonefruits a hint of bean. This is elegant and stylish, with fresh acidity and fine textures. Lively and aromatic. (17.5+/20) Special Price $17.50

Urlar ‘Select Parcels’ Gladstone Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Light golden-yellow colour. This has a solid, full and broad nose with great presence and weight. Robust green stonefruits, some waxiness and nutty oak, a little green bean. Rich and vibrant on palate, broad and mouthfilling with green stonefruits and beans. The acidity lends vitality. This has some extraction and grip, and zestiness with it. (18.0/20) Special Price $31.50

Impressions of the Interactions

While the Riesling had acid cut for the fattiness of the rillettes, it was the textures of the Gladstone that provided the match. With the ravioli, the richness of flavour and the textures of the Urlar won over the Julicher. The Julicher had fragrances which contrasted with the earthiness of the dish, making it workable.

Flight Two

Braised pork neck, trotters and tail cromesquis, fondant potatoes with truffle espuma. rosemary and sage jus

Green risotto with peas, wild tetragone, roquette salad, chlorophyle, lemon confit and smoked butter

paired with

Luna Estate Martinborough Pinot Gris 2017

Light, golden-hued straw-yellow colour. This has a full, fresh nose of exotic fruits and florals with honeysuckle. Dry to taste, the palate has richness with exotic fruits and honey on a palate with noticeable phenolic grip and fresh acidity. (17.5-/20) Special Price $23.50

The Elder Martinborough Pinot Gris 2016

Bright straw-yellow colour. The nose is firm and tightly bound with elegant stonefruit aromas. Dry to taste, but rich, weighty and fulsome on palate, with a good rounded core and good body, with fine textures and grip to balance the richness. (18.0+/20) Special Price $37.80

Matahiwi ‘Holly’ ‘South Series’ Wairarapa Chardonnay 2017

Bright, pale straw-yellow colour. The nose is very tight and elegant with intense citrus fruits and spicy oal, along with some fermentation esters. Rich, but classically structured with very good depth of stonefruit and citrus, with plenty of spicy oak. This is very fresh and more together on the nose. The first of the Masterton Chardonnay crop. (18.5-/20) Special Price $35.00

Te Kairanga ‘John Martin’ Chardonnay 2016

Bright, very pale straw colour. The nose is a little soft and restrained in expression with stonefruits, savoury nutty oak and mealy detail. This is rich, plush and mouthfilling on palate, broad and harmoniously interwoven with stonefruits, citrus fruits, creamy and nutty oak. This has a stylishness, allied to the richness. Plush on the finish. (18.5+/20) Special Price $48.60

Impressions of the Interactions

This was certainly a pair of wines that behaved similarly. The fist wine in each pair was aromatic, the Luna Pinot Gris showing exotic fruit, and the Matahiwi Chardonnay with fermentation lift. The second wine of each pairing had the textures to match the food course better, The Elder Pinot Gris quite together and subtle, but the Te Kairanga with enough richness to handle more. Overall, the Chardonnays were better matches for me with the food than the Pinot Gris wines.

Flight Three

Cheese from Kingsmeade and Drunken Nanny with green tomato jam, quince comfiture, beetroot chutney

paired with

Escarpment Vineyard ‘Kupe’ Martinborough Chardonnay 2010

Full straw-yellow colour. The nose is full and solid showing plenty of presence, the aromatics in the secondary and tertiarty spectrum with savoury stonefruits. nutty layers and notes of aldehyde with slight oxidation. Full-bodied, the flavours are in the developed complex spectrum with savoury stonefruits, nuts and a little oxidation and aldehydes similar to aged Champagne or even sherry. This has some drying phenolics and fresh acidity. Taken as is, not pleasant, but with the cheese another matter altogether. (16.5/20) Special Price $57.50

Nga Waka Martinborough Chardonnay 2006

Light yellow-straw colour with pale golden hues. This is full and broad with soft aromatics, totally integrated, the ripe tropical fruit and stonefruit just decreasing, along the toasty, nutty oak show. A little oxidation apparent. Surprisingly elegant and not overblown on palate, with a mouthfilling array of ripe fruits, nutty and toasty oak, some secondary earthiness and slight oxidation.
Quite lush and decadent, and in great condition. (19.0-/20) Special Price $23.40

Impressions of the Interactions

The Ecarpment ‘Kupe’ Chardonnay came into a second life with the cheeses. The nutty and aldehyde flavours working with the creamy, and aged, harder cheeses superbly. The matching was superb in flavours and textures. However the blue cheese wasn’t a great match here. The Nga Waka Chardonnay did not match the cheeses so well, but there were no obvious clashes. Some thought the Nga Waka was better with the blue. My feeling was that a red wine or port would be better with the blue.

Dessert to finish

Kiwi delight with olive oil ice-cream and wheatgrass pineapple juice

paired with

Johner Gladstone Noble Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Bright, light golden-hued yellow colour. This has fresh aromas of passionfruit and tropical fruits along with fresh herbs and lime marmalade, unfolding honied elements. Very sweet on palate, quite lusciously decadent with lime marmalade, nectar, gooseberries and passionfruit. The unctuousness is restrained and fresh acidity lends cut. 140 g/L RS, (375 ml). (18.0-/20) Special Price $22.50

Impressions of Interaction

This was a delightful match, the herbaceous fruit flavours going well with the kiwifruit in the dessert, The wine’s overall sweetness was more than capable of handling the dessert componentry, and the acidity lent cut and freshness, The dessert moderated the youthfulness of the wine. A treat to get it right like this.
Sue Davies (Wine2Trade) & Carol Bunn (Wellington Wine Country)

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