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Wine of the Week for week ending 4 Dec 2005
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Pegasus Bay 'Encore' Riesling 2004
Waipara, New Zealand

What do you do when you have a tree full of grapefruit yet you canít give enough away because everyone else around you has trees laden with grapefruit too? Well, you can eat them for breakfast day after day after day until you get sick of them. You can cut out the segments and have them with watermelon and banana and yoghurt. You can make them into marmalade to go into the cupboard with last year's and the year before's jars. Or you can start looking at recipe books to find some new way to serve them. And boy, did I find a delicious way to serve grapefruit - with wine, of course.

I didnít actually start looking at recipe books specifically to find this recipe, but the book just fell open at the page.

It's the smallest recipe book I own, measuring just 13 cm by 9 cm, and it is called "Wine Cookery" by the late Alfred Wark. Mr Wark, an Australian, was an employee of Yalumba for 25 years, a lover of gourmet food and wine, and a prolific writer as well. His book, where every recipe uses wine, brandy (sometimes both) and other drinks - was published in 1969.

Poached Grapefruit is the last recipe in the book and I thought this would be ideal to match to the Pegasus Bay Encore Riesling 2004, the most delectable sweet wine I've tasted in some time (and I've tasted a few recently). I've always been a fan of the Pegasus Bay Aria Riesling, the Pegasus Bay Riesling and the second label Main Divide Riesling, but this adds another dimension to the Pegasus Bay portfolio. It's the first time they have produced a 'noble' riesling, a wine that would be the equivalent of a German Trockenbeerenauslese but at a minimum of the price.

When you taste the Pegasus Bay Encore 2004, it's like tasting nectar with typical botrytis-affected flavours of honey and apricot joined by Pegasus Bay's hallmark grapefruit with an infusion of lime and candied peel. It's viscous in texture, like runny toffee, but it's fine and never cloying with a clean fresh finish. Utterly drinkable and with only 9% alcohol by volume, it's a fantastic way to finish off the night.

Why did Pegasus Bay decide to produce a botrytis riesling? After all their botrytis chardonnay, Finale, has long been an end-of-meal pleasure. Well, it seems that 2004 was an excellent vintage for riesling and with fruit that had the concentration for a fully botrytis wine, that sealed the deal. A special area of the vineyard that has cool, dewy mornings late in the season, was set aside and grapes were picked in June with half a dozen passes through the vineyard to hand-select the most shrivelled bunches with the last pick after the winter solstice. Like all great wines, it seems, the quantity is tiny because the vines, which have no leaves left by the time the final pick is done, do not yield much fruit. Thus the price is set accordingly and the Pegasus Bay Encore is $35.95 a 375 ml bottle. It's sealed with a screwcap, though, so you can be sure of a clean, fresh wine when you open it.

Alfred Wark's poached grapefruit is easy to make once you get the grapefruit segments out of their skins. I find the easiest way to do this is to peel the grapefruit, halve them as you would if you were having grapefruit for breakfast, flick out the pips, loosen the grapefruit from the pith using a grapefruit knife and cut between the segments for a pithless piece.

In a saucepan combine 3/4 cup of water, half a cup of sweet wine (Mr Wark says Sauternes but I used Selaks Ice Wine, a local cheapie sweetie), 1.5 cups of sugar and the grated rind of one of the grapefruit (grate the rind before you cut the fruit). Bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes over moderate heat. Pour the hot syrup over the segments and chill. Mr Wark says to gently stir in 1/4 cup of brandy before serving. I tried the poached grapefruit before and after the brandy addition and thought that with the delicate Pegasus Bay Encore, the dish was better to have without the brandy.

It's a bit daunting to have all this grapefruit on its own, so I softened some vanilla icecream and stirred in some finely chopped crystallised ginger, then refroze the icecream before serving with the grapefruit.

For a variation, use tangelos as well as grapefruit - three of each, and use the peel from one of each variety. This adds additional sweetness to the dessert, which is quite tart when made with grapefruit alone, thus a delicious sweet/sour effect with the wine.

Pegasus Bay Encore 2004 would also be delicious with the gluten-free orange, lime and basil cake that I tried at the Matakana Patisserie in the weekend. Unfortunately I didnít have the wine with me, so coffee had to suffice. Next time I'm up there I'll buy some of the cake to take away to try with the wine.

For more on the Pegasus Bay Encore 2004, dial up the Pegasus Bay website,

© Sue Courtney
28 November 2005

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