It's been a real winter weekend. Rain, drizzle, low cloud - so low I couldn't see the house on the other side of the valley. A weekend to stay in bed all morning and cuddle up with a good book. Then, when the hunger pangs start and you have to get up and go into the kitchen for sustenance, it's also time to think about dinner. It's been mostly a red wine and lamb week and so I'm tempted by some mood brightening aromatics that are in the tasting box from Waimea Estates in Nelson.
With those wines I'm thinking slow cooked, Asian-spiced pork belly that can marinate then cook slowly in the oven. As usual, the wines we choose are largely driven by our mood and the food is often secondary.
This recipe took my fancy, slightly modified for my style of cooking. Basically, strips cut from the pork belly were marinated in 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of honey, softened in the microwave, together with a good heaped teaspoon of five spice powder. This marinated for a good two hours while the rest of the gripping book was read. Later, some finely chopped onion and garlic were softened in a pan. Brown sugar was added and combined then the marinated pork strips went in to brown on each side before being removed to a casserole dish. A cup of chicken stock and more soy sauce (I used tamari) were added to the pan to incorporate the drippings and form the cooking sauce, which was poured over the pork. A star of anise, broken up into individual petals, was added into the mix. The dish was covered and cooked in the oven at about 160 degrees for about 3 hours. When it is cooked slowly like this the pork disintegrates and the skin, which was left on, has kind of melted.
The best wine match was Waimea Bolitho SV Nelson Pinot Gris 2007. On first evaluation it's a reasonably neutral smelling wine - a lightly high-toned scent with nutty, bready nuances emanating from the glass. This didn't prepare me at all for the luscious sweet taste and I wondered if it could be 'late harvest' in style, but that is not the case. It tastes so luscious and mouthfilling with ripe juicy pear and toffee-coated juicy apple flavours and with its voluminous mouthfeel, it is almost seductive and definitely mood-fitting for a smoochy winter weekend. I love the sweetness, which according to the tech notes is 25 grams of residual sugar, but also the power and balance. It isn't cloying at all despite the fact we didn't chill it. But it could be lightly chilled in winter and will definitely take plenty of chilling in summer.
It was a delicious partner to the pork, perhaps only challenged by Waimea Estate Gewurztraminer 2007 … but that's another story.
Waimea Bolitho SV Nelson Pinot Gris 2007 is sealed with a screwcap, it has 13.5% alcohol on the label and costs $26.90 a bottle. I love the bottle presentation and the curvaceous "W" (photo to come). It looks very elegant on the dinner table.
Find out more from www.waimeaestates.co.nz.
© Sue Courtney
16 Jun 2008