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Te Whare Ra Winemaker’s Dinner at Shed 5

By July 2, 2015No Comments
Anna Flowerday, proprietor from Te Whare Ra, my ‘Winery of the Year’ for 2014 was in Wellington to work in the wine and hospitality trade and to host a winemaker’s dinner at Shed 5 Restaurant on Queens Wharf. It’s part of her work ethic to see the making and selling of her wines from the start as fruit from vines in the ground to the glass being consumed by the wine lover in a classy restaurant. The wine and food matched dinner was attended by over 60 people, mainly from the Te Whare Ra mail order customers, as well as regular Shed 5 diners, along with some hospitality and wine trade personnel. The response is clearly a sign of the strong following of both Te Whare Ra, and Shed 5. (To see my article on Te Whare Ra as my ‘Winery of the Year’, click here.) www.twrwines.co.nz

Anna Flowerday – Te Whare Ra

One of the distinguishing features of Anna and Jason Flowerday’s wines is their elegance and restraint which in my opinion makes them excellent when pairing and matching with food, as their subtlety will not overpower dishes they accompany. This finesse, while not necessarily a wine competition winning attribute, is a very practical one, which also distinguishes their wines from the majority of up-front, bold-fruited bottling that typify Marlborough. The wine and food matched menu designed in collaboration with chef Geoff Ngan at Shed 5 looked particularly special, Geoff being a specialist when it comes food matching. Having enjoyed many such meals at Shed 5 over the years, I attended this dinner with real anticipation. Here are my impressions of the wine and food, as well how they matched. www.shed5.co.nz

The Wine and Food Courses
Geoff Ngan, Shed 5’s chef, described how he uses the freshest produce and ingredients available locally. In his wine matching meals, the detail and intricacy of his dishes reflects the effort in pairing and matching components and tastes in both the wines and the food. The diner has plenty to look at and taste in the dish itself, and then much more when the wine is introduced. That’s when subjectivity enters the equation!

Anna in describing the wines in a technical and taste perspective added a light-hearted and humorous note by revealing the name of a famous person of whom the wine reminded the Te Whare Ra team.

Te Whare Ra Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Meredith feta, onion jam, truffle honey, tomato crumb, grissini
Very clear and pale coloured, the nose is tight and very finely expressed with gooseberry fruit and mouthwatering mineral aromas, the fruit just beginning to show some ripe fruit development interest. Very dry and thirst-quenching, the chalky, mineral textures are the feature, yet a soft richness underlines the palate. The input of lees and barrel-ferment here. Lively mouthfeel, real linearity and excellent length. The Sauvignon Blanc was linked to Rachael Hunter, a Kiwi classic in every way, but with great style.

The amuse bouche styled dish came in a shot glass and the contents scooped out with the grissini. The richness and soft textures of the feta and honey reduced the acidity of the wine and rounded it out, making it more mellow. The sweetness of the honey with the truffle interest became the prominent flavour for me. This would be positive for many, but I would have preferred the wine to show more acid bite.

Te Whare Ra ‘Single Vineyard 5182’ Marlborough Riesling ‘D’ 2014
Yellow fin tuna, sake and mirin glaze, soba noodle and blackfoot paua salad, lotus crisps, fried ginger, chilli-sesame mayonnaise
Very pale and very clear. Again a wine expressed with tightness and finesse. Beautiful clarity and purity of limes, lemons and minerals, showing delicate floral detail. Dry and very elegant on palate, with a refined, concentrated line of limes, minerals and florals, the palate flowing along a beautifully textured, silky line. Lovely acid freshness and crispness, taut, yet smooth. A rainwater on wet stones purity and freshness. Classy, and described as Audrey Hepburn (especially in Breakfast at Tiffany’s).

The tuna subtle in flavour with lovely textures, firm enough but melt-away in the mouth. More texture in the paua and the salad, which the wine acid provided cut. A myriad of Asian flavours which the wine lubricated the palate and became one with the dish. The wine became sweeter, more rounded and richer with a little more exoticism. It was most interesting how this combined, and a very good match.

Te Whare Ra ‘Single Vineyard 5182’ Marlborough Chardonnay 2013
Atlantic scallops, preserved lemon and ricotta tortellini, Jerusalem artichoke, celeriac foam, chive beurre blanc, sorrel
The wine came out on the cold side, and needed to come closer to room temperature before revealing its personality. Bright and with some light golden hues. Initially tight and revealing little, but growing to show white stonefruits, mealy and nutty notes, smoke, toast and oak, with flint and mineral complexities on bouquet. Stonefruits and citrus fruits show on palate, with rich creamy barrel-ferment and lees layers, of nuts and flint. Integrated MLF. All interwoven, and blossoming in texture and richness, this still has excellent acid vitality and energy. Great sophistication, but remaining very stylish. Seen as Grace Kelly, or for the younger set, Heidi Klum.

An outstanding dish with the sweetness of the scallops, pan-searing caramelisation, and textures perfect with the fruit depth, weight and oaking of the wine. The tortellini tended to accentuate the citrussy flavours and acidity of the wine, maybe a little too much? Nutty artichokes and subtle wood influence of the wine in great harmony, and the creamy sauce and textures just melding together with the wine. The best match of the night.

Te Whare Ra Marlborough Pinot Noir 2013
Venison Wellington – wild Karamea venison, smoked mushroom duxelle, pickled Chioggia, Vichy swede and artichoke, spinach puree, black doris gel, juniper jus
Dark ruby-red with youthful purple hues. Lovely ripe and concentrated black berry and black cherry fruit aromas, lifted by plenty of violet and black floral notes, unveiling some black mineral elements. The palate reflects the nose, with its concentrated black fruit flavours and aromatics. This has sweetness and richness, the core is succulent and lish, and supported by very fine-grained and supple tannins. Spices and liquorice emerge to add layers of interest. Again, this has elegance, but the concentration and depth is noteworthy. With a comparison to rugby players, this had to be Dan Carter – perfect, according to Anna. She saw Central Otago as being likened to Sonny Bill Williams, and Martinborough well-represented by Richie McCaw.

A substantial dish, with beautifully cooked, moist venison. The wine’s sweetness and fine-grained tannin structure handling the texture of the meat. The mushroom duxelle was the dominant taste which firmed up the wine, accentuating a wood-like character, somewhat a distraction. The duxelle also softened the pastry a little too much. The black doris gel added to the interaction of meat and wine, and the spinach very subtle in picking up on the cooler aromatic style of the wine. A good match which would have been better without the strident smoking of the mushrooms.

Te Whare Ra ‘Single Vineyard 5182’ ‘Toru’ Marlborough 2014
Passionfruit and kaffir lime crème brulee, dentelle biscuit, coconut ice cream, guava jelly, pineapple wafer, lychee crumbs
The co-fermented field blend of Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris. Bright straw coloured, the bouquet is elegantly concentrated with a seamless melding of aromas, the rose-petal florals of Gewurz a little more prominent, quite piquant and with intensity, but softly fresh. Off-dry to taste, the mouthfeel is racy and crisp with a fresh, lively flow, carrying lifted aromatic fruit flavours of rose-petals and a zesty musk. The Riesling provides wonderful vitality, the Pinot Gris input more subtle, but sure with presence and depth conferred to the palate. The multi-faceted character is a definite Meryl Streep.

A game of two halves with the dessert. The lightness and less sweet nature of the accompaniments to the brulee were excellent matches in exotic flavours, weight and textures, the pineapple wafer a perfect combination infusing with the wine. The wines aromatics were enhanced. But the brulee too sweet, making the wine appear even drier. The passionfruit and lime, with the burnt sugar was an extension of the wine’s flavours. An interesting match, with half very good in pairing with the wine.

Girls having fun
Astrid (Shed 5), Catherine (guest), Anna (Te Whare Ra) and Sue (Wine2Trade)

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