Rainy day relief

Rainy day relief

Grant Lowe, general manager of Hotel du Vin in Harrogate, shakes off the autumn washout to sample two sunshine-tinged New Zealanders.

It’s a Thursday morning in autumn and the sun is shining. That in itself is a novelty now in this country, more so considering we have just had a months rain in a day. So, the thought of having a spot of lunch accompanied by a couple of great New Zealand wines, has certainly brightened up the end to a damp week.

I’m very fortunate because I can sit in my restaurant and have the wine served by my very own sommelier – Peter, with the wine in the best condition possible to be able to offer my own personal opinion. I should admit now though, that although I work for Hotel du Vin, I am in no way a “wine snob” or a tradionalist.

I believe if you like the wine and you believe red should be chilled (for example), then that is good with me. Personally, I have learnt a great deal about wine and also food matching. It still amazes me how the taste of a wine can be changed so dramatically by food, so it will be intriguing to see how these two wines alter as an aperitif wine and a food wine.

“What are the wines?” I hear you shout. “Good” I say because that means your senses are ready and it means we can enjoy them together. The area of New Zealand? Well it is one of the best wine producing areas – Marlborough and the wines are a classic Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Noir from this great region.

It’s lunchtime at last and I’m sat in the Bistro with the autumn sun, low in the sky, streaming through the windows. The sauvignon is served chilled at 5°C and has a very pale straw like colour, which delicately coats the glass, as I do that thing of swirling it around in the glass to release the “nose”.

You get the usual fruit “grapefruit, melon and citrus” aromas, with a touch of herbaceous. The taste fills the mouth with that initial acidity and good length. A little too acidic for my personal taste as an aperitif, which means it will be great as a food wine. What shall I have to eat? Well it has to be something with a rich creaminess ideally – so a nice starter with some goats cheese or even crab.

Delicious. The Sauvignon cuts right through the goats cheese and that initial acidity in the wine, is smoothed away to leave me savouring the sauvignon – well actually I’ve reached the bottom of my glass a little too quickly!

Next is the Pinot Noir with its intense ruby colour whilst being a delicate red and a great wine for those new to reds. The aroma and taste deliver those great red berries and cherry flavours, with a slight hint of spice and again great length.

A very easily quaffable red wine as an aperitif and so versatile with foods – pan roasted chicken with a harissa sweet potato mash, a swordfish dish to a great venison osso bucco bourgingnon with a rich deep demi glaze sauce and silky mash potato.

A great autumnal dish that compliments this wine so well, I’m in heaven. It’s a shame I’m at work as I could quite easily finish this all to myself. The thought of having a hot chocolate fondant as dessert to go with the wine, even flits across my mind. “Yours too?!” well all good reviews to an end.” Anyone for a glass?”