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Wine of the Week for week ending 2 May 2004
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Margrain Botrytis Selection Chenin Blanc 2002
Martinborough, New Zealand

Pork was on the menu for dinner and I was looking for an interesting wine to match up to it. Neil rummaged out the back and found a bottle of Margrain Botrytis Selection Chenin Blanc 2002 from Martinborough. I'd had this in December and knew just how delicious it was - I'd already rated as a 5-star wine in my Wine Reviews section. So I thought, "Well perhaps I could try matching it to a main", because after I matched the Schubert Dolce to pork about a year ago (see Wine of the Week ending 30th March 2003), I had emails telling me this was kind of normal in Alsace.

But Chenin Blanc is the great grape of the Loire Valley and Vouvray in particular. Do they match sweet wines to their main courses there? I don’t know but I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

Neil opened the small 375ml-bottle wine to make sure the wine was all A-OK but had forgotten it had a synthetic stopper so we had a preview taste. The wine smelt of toffee apple and icing sugar dusted orange blossom with warm honey in the background. With apples and limes filling the palate with a rich concentrated sweetness and raisined grape flavours, it was fresh, not at all cloying, spicy and perhaps even a little savoury on the finish and ever so slightly nutty. The texture was unctuous and it had a terrifically long finish with lingering ginger infused candied citrus peel flavours.

The wine would also work as an aperitif but we would try it alongside main and dessert. We had the pork and there were apples in the fruit bowl that would match so well to the apple flavours in the wine. And then I spotted some figs in the fridge. "Pork, apple and fig" sounds good, I said, so that was the basis of the dish. Tangelos and sage came from the garden and everything else was in the cupboard. It was a typical Sunday night, impromptu dinner with unusually, an even more impromptu dessert.

My recipes for Pork Butterfly Steak with an Apple and Fig Sauce and Baked Apples stuffed with Figs, Pumpkin Seeds and Honey can be found in the Food File archive. They worked a treat with the wine.

The grapes for this wine were harvested on the 30th May, which means it was almost winter and probably felt like it in Martinborough at the bottom of the North Island. The resulting wine carries 9.8 % alcohol by volume with 190 grams per litre of residual sugar and 10.3 grams per litre of total acidity. Lots of sugar, yes, but plenty of acidity to balance. A danger zone for diabetics but fantasy land for the rest of us.

You can read more about this 2002 vintage wine on the Margrain website.

I see from the website that the current release is the 2003. If it is anything like the 2002, it will be a beauty. The price is a steal. Just $25 a bottle for the 375ml.

Eating delicious food with a wine that matches as well as newly wed lovers is doing what I like to do best. Now it's time to go to bed.

© Sue Courtney
25 April 2004

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