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B.Y.O. Chardonnay Matched at Martin Bosley’s

By October 3, 2012No Comments

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 dinners are especially attractive to keen wine enthusiasts who want to dine in a first rate setting with imaginative and fine food. My partner Sue and I were pleasantly surprised to meet our good friend Diane Langman, senior lecturer at Weltec, and judge on Consumer magazine’s wine tasting panel, along with members of her family. This added considerably more to the dinner and wine experience as we pooled together and also shared our wines with those brought along by a friendly contingent of Nelson wine industry people who were attending the dinner as well. Such is the co-operative nature of wine-enthused people!
 
The B.Y.O. Wines
Here are the wines that we ended up tasting and drinking with the food courses: There were two pairs that were analogous. A Simonnet-Febvre Chablis 1er Cru ‘Fourchaume’ 2005 was still pale in colour, very clean, fine and pure, with the subtlest flinty notes, extremely smooth and soft in mouthfeel, very even and quite mature. Would this be too delicate for food matching? Alongside this was a Vincent Girardin Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru ‘Folatieres’ 2009, more golden, with obvious oak matched by powerful citrus and stonefruit flavours. This had a touch of complexing reduction and minerally notes. It was the bold alcohol and racy acidity that were the predominant features. This could overwhelm food, and would require tasty, textural food to match.

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.

Three wines stood out on their own after the initial two pairs. A Te Mata ‘Elston’ Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2002, looking golden and fully developed. Complex and broad aromas and flavours of citrus and peachy fruit now laced with toast and nuts and a significant oxidative element. Soft on palate, but still with good acid cut. As this breathed, it became more harmonious and the oxidative notes integral with the flavours, such that it was seen as a sensation, but possibly a wine to match with specific food. Then a Moreau-Naudet Chablis Grand Cru ‘Valmur’ 2009, pale in colour, very refined and tightly constructed, yet with a hidden richness and presence with fruit extract allied to slippery acidity. This possessed an unctuous raciness which made it exciting. Luscious, yet cutting, this would be a versatile food wine for sure. And finally, a Neudorf Moutere Nelson Chardonnay 2011, incredibly youthful yet packed with all the things that are the fashion in contemporary Chardonnay. Beautifully sleek, but concentrated citrussy, mealy fruit, with nutty oak. And just the perfect amount of reductive flinty complexities peeking through. Aromatic, spicy, layers of flavour, with briskness and freshness with density. One to go with textured foods.
 
A Spring Degustation Menu
The menu created by Martin Bosley was yet another wonderful one showing his skills of intricacy and detail, with an amazing juxtaposition of flavours and textures. It reflected the season with the inclusion of spring produce. Here are the menu courses. I have noted my impressions of which wines worked particularly well. It was a complex exercise and I didn’t try every combination of all the wines with all the ingredients properly. There was too much fun and conversation going on!

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

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