It's that time of year when summer fruits start to peak. Wonderful fresh apricots, peaches and pears right off the tree. Of course if I were further south there would be the last of the big, fat, juicy black cherries too but here in the northern part of the country they arrive from the South Island at least a day after picking.
My brother has this wonderful apricot tree at his beach house while here in my back yard I am endowed with about eight pear trees that are laden with fruit at this time of the year. The peaches are ripe too, unfortunately they are cling stone peaches but the bright orange flesh can be cut away from the stone and it is juicy and sweet. The pear trees especially are popular with all the bird life, while the sheep have been known to crash through fences to get to the juicy fruit that has dropped to the ground. When the groundfalls are gone they even stand on their hind feet to reach any morsel within their mouth's reach.
Sometimes the nicest drink to have with freshly picked juicy summer fruit is a botrytised sweet wine. After dinner with fresh fruit or maybe fruit lightly poached in a bit of sweet wine (or sugar /water syrup if you have to), but also as a starter course or as an excuse for a sweet tipple in the late afternoon. Add to the fruit a few creamy cheeses like a triple cream blue and an apricot flavoured brie, and a pile of honey coated nuts (see below).
To accompany the platter we opened the Framingham Noble Selection Riesling 2004, made in the style that some wineries can do so well. Pale gold in colour, it is a contrast to some of Framingham's previous rich waxy, golden coloured stickies.
This is one of the best and when served well chilled it is just so delicious with its nectar-like viscosity and delightful fresh fruit salad flavours full of pears, apricots, peaches and freshly squeezed citrus. It is clean and fine in texture with orange honey and freshly zested orange peel aromas while apricots linger nicely on the finish. Itís a delicate style, cloying is not a word that could possibly be used and the luscious sweetness is beautifully balanced by a long fine seam of juicy acidity.
If this were a German wine I am sure it would be a trockenbeerenauslese in style. It carries just 7.5 per cent alcohol by volume with 225 grams per litre of residual sugar and 9 grams per litre of total acidity. A wine to avoid if you are diabetic but for the rest of us, sweet heaven.
If you like this style of wine, you will have to be quick. Just 720 of the 375ml bottles were produced and the only way you can buy this elixir is from the winery cellar door in Marlborough or by 'mail order'. It costs $32 per bottle and it is sealed with a screwcap. These days, with the Internet, mail order is a few clicks of the mouse button away.
Find out more from www.framingham.co.nz.
Honey Roasted Nuts
Take one 70g packet each of cashews, whole blanched almonds, walnuts and brazils. Break each brazil into about 3 pieces. Add macadamias also if you have them.
Heat a little butter in a pan and gently pan roast the nuts over a low heat, moving constantly so they do not burn. As they start to brown up, remove from the pan into a glass bowl into which you have placed 2 to 3 tablespoons of your favourite honey (I used local pohutukawa honey), a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, the zest of an orange or tangelo, and a splash of tangelo juice. The hot nuts will quickly melt the honey. Stir well so each nut gets coated, then pour the nut mixture on to a lined oven tray to dry. Store in an airtight container. These are sticky, finger-licking nuts, a delicious accompaniment to the cheeses, fruit and sweet wine.
© Sue Courtney
27 February 2005