Once again, in the middle of the winter, my wine choice for Wine of the Week could be considered rather strange, because I've chosen sauvignon blanc, which is definitely a fun summer white. What's more, I chosen not just one, but two. And the reason there are two is because one of them is so deliciously stunning all on its own while the other is quite possibly the most versatile food match sauvignon blanc I've ever had.
But first of all the reason that a sauvignon blanc was opened in this mid winter week was because the warming chardonnay I opened simply didn't go with my food. A second chardonnay was more of a disastrous match and having no pinot gris, I turned to sauvignon blanc in desperation.
The catalyst was a bright, citrussy, Marlborough chardonnay and with homegrown citrus abundant right now, I decided to utilise it in the cooking of a pork fillet. Pork is also rather chardonnay-friendly food. And the citrus pork and chardonnay would have worked well, if only I hadn't ground up some fennel seeds to roll the pork in too. That was the chardonnay clash. Oh, the pork was served with an orange, apple and kumara mash alongside green beans with a citrussy infusion. All rather yummy.
First of the sauvignons to be opened was Spy Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007. Talk about passionfruit, this has so much of the beautifully scented green, purple and yellow passionfruit, it is like the vine has totally taken over the fence, the shed and everything else in its way. It is bright, fresh, lively and vivacious with summer herbs, lime and horned melon (aka kiwano) adding to the tropical flavours, a gorgeous richness and texture and Marlborough's signature pungency too. But far too fruity and overpowering in its flavour to accompany the dinner, although it is the wine you'd want to drink in any social situation. It's simply delicious.
The second sauvignon to be opened was Twin Islands Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007. Now this is herbaceous, through and through. On the nose there's a hint of citrus to the steely scent and it is even citrussier to the taste along with cut grass, summer herbs, capsicum and bean and a rounded finish. As the aftertaste evolves in the palate, it becomes more rich, fleshy and fruit sweet than the rather austere start would have you believe. On its own it seems quite a vegetal style in comparison to the tropical-fruited Spy Valley, but it is so resoundingly successful with the food, it's a star in its own right.
The wines were enjoyed over the four days last week and everything I matched the Twin Islands to, worked. There was a chicken, green bean and potato casserole cooked in tomatoes with dried 'Italian' herbs (marjoram, basil, red pepper, rosemary, oregano, parsely and thyme). The leftovers were served with Brussels spouts - set off beautifully by the Twin Islands sauvignon blanc. There was a little Roma tomato and Feta Cheese salad starter. Now this combo worked well with the Spy Valley too. Interestingly the Roma tomatoes are cheaper at this time of the year than they are in the summer. Lastly there was a crisp, salty pork cracking to tease the wines.
The Twin Islands was a winner every time - so bright, zesty, and food-friendly - it's so good to know it is on many restaurant wine lists and sits on those lists at a low price point in comparison to others.
So if you want a lovely bright fruity savvy simply to drink - choose the Spy Valley. It's sealed with a screwcap, has 13% alcohol and is about $17 a bottle. Check out www.spyvalley.co.nz.
But if you want something to serve with nibbles or dinner, choose the versatile Twin Islands. Also sealed with a screwcap, it has 13.5% alcohol and costs about the same price. It's the second label of Nautilus Wines so has the pedigree. Check out www.twinislandswine.com.
© Sue Courtney
7 Jul 2008