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edited by Sue Courtney
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Wine of the Week for week ending 18 Jan 2009
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Askerne Gewurztraminer 2007
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Neil had bought pork fillets on the way home from work.
"They looked nice," he said as if to justify his purchase, not that he needed to.
"They do. But did you have any ideas for cooking them when you chose them out of the display?" I replied.
He shrugged.

Neil used to shrug as lot when we first met. Not so much these days. Then, as if a light has switched on inside his head, he said, "Well what about pork and tangelo and fennel?" He knows I love those flavours.

"Sounds ab-so-lutely perfect," I replied with a big smile. "What can I do?"
"Nothing," he said. So I left him to it while I thought about the wines, picking out a Pinot Gris - always a safe bet with pork- and a Gewurztraminer as I often get an orange water infusion in Gewurz.

But in the meantime he had poured something else.
"Gosh, what is it," I asked incredulously, as I relished the gorgeous nuances this wine was displaying - the delicate spices, the florals, the orange water infusion and the lightly viscous texture.

He showed me the bottle. It was the Sepp Moser Breiter Rain Gruner Veltliner 2006, left over from New Years Eve. I'm in love with this wine and need to buy some more. I think it's my most favourite wine ever. (See also my Sep 23rd blog review).

Now this would go well with Neil's dish, I thought and popped the bottle, with now only a quarter of its contents left, into the refrigerator to see how the wine would fare well chilling.

I opened the Benson Block Gisborne Pinot Gris 2008 from the tasting box and liked what I tasted.

"I can't understand why so many people malign Pinot Gris," I reiterated to Neil. I'd made the comment before and I will probably make it again. I think one of the problems is that the wine produced from the grape can be so, so variable.

We'd had the gorgeous Momo Marlborough Pinot Gris 2008 a couple of days before and now this Benson Block, while not as intense as the Momo, was a perfectly acceptable drink. Just on the sweet edge of dry, bright citrus and pear fruit, a soft gentle texture, some nutty nuances and a long fresh finish.

Neil sightly pulverised about 1 teaspoon each of fennel and cumin seeds and rubbed about 1/4 of seeds into the pork fillets that he had aleady rubbed with a Marlborough olive oil. He then browned the fillets in a saute pan then placed them in a baking paper-lined baking dish together with the juice and zest of two tangelos and the remainder of the (not so crushed) seeds. Then he closed the paper around the fillets and popped them into the oven to bake at 25 minutes at 170 degrees C.

I borrowed the saute pan, using the drippings from the spiced pork, to soften some zucchini that had been halved lengthways, before popping them into another dish to cook alongside the pork in the oven.

When the beeper went off to say the pork had been in the oven long enough, Neil rested the meat while he reduced the cooking liquid that had accumulated and then added some butter to that to gloss it up.

Well, Neil's pork, that he sliced for serving then poured the juices on top of, was an absolute triumph. Tender, juicy and just so beautifully flavoursome with the cumin, fennel and tangelo infused perfectly.

The Pinot Gris was an okay match, but not startling, so we opened the Askerne Hawkes Bay Gewurztraminer 2007 , which by now had been in the refrigerator for over 30 minutes. Well, you couldn't have found a better wine to complement the food and vice versa. It's quite an oily wine in some respects but the citrus and spice of the food cut through that oiliness to create an almost orgasmic taste experience.

I managed to rescue some wine to write a 'proper' tasting note, and here it is

Askerne Hawkes Bay Gewurztraminer 2007 The spiciness that is inherent to the grape variety is the key to this wine. The aromas have a delicately spicy floral perfume laced with orange zest and flavours are oily textured and exotic with a rose water infusion, orange zest, ginger and aromatic spice. With balanced fruit sweetness and soft, gentle acidity, it's never overpowering. For fans of this grape variety, this texturally pleasing and beautifully flavoured gewurz is hard to ignore. It can take serious chilling and it's more than a winner with the right food.

Back in October, when this wine was tasted without chilling, I loved it too. Then I described it as, "Powerfully aromatic, so typical of Gewurztraminer, with lemon verbena, rose petal, Turkish Delight and lychee scents and a rich, almost oily palate with a concentrated flavour reminiscent of Moroccan spices, violets and orange water. Dry in style with a gently viscous honeyed sweetness."

The wine is indeed technically 'dry'. It has just 4 grams per litre of residual sugar but the acidity is noted as very low, which is typical for the variety. Alcohol clocks in at 14% by volume and a screwcap seals the bottle.

Try it with the pork. It is not an expensive meal to make, not for us, anyway. Cumin and fennel seeds are staples in our pantry and the fennel seeds are self-collected. Actually fennel is starting to seed up right now if you are a gatherer of these types of things. We have just about year round citrus on our trees in the temperate Auckland climate - the tangelos being the star performer at our place.

Coincidentally the previous vintage of this wine was also a Wine of the Week, and it was also matched to pork, although the pork that time had Chinese flavourings. There's some background to Askerne in that review and you can always go straight to the source at www.askerne.co.nz.

Askerne has moved on to the list of my Top Gewurztraminer producers with its consistency over the last three vintages and this vintage is available for around $22 a bottle. It's in good wine shops too.

Incidentally we didn't get to try the remains of the Sepp Moser Breiter Rain GV 06 with the food. This Askerne was simply perfect and and we savoured every moment. Never mind, it seems like the Sepp Moser is a keeper. Hurrah for screwcaps - they help to keep these opened wines fresher for much longer.

© Sue Courtney
11 Jan 2009


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