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Wine of the Week for week ending 6 Sep 2009
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Akarua Cadence Pinot Noir 2007
Central Otago, New Zealand

I wanted to make my cheats 'coq au vin' but could I find the recipe? I'm sure I had posted it somewhere on this website but it wasn't in my Food Files and a search on my website and also on my PC didn't bring up the recipe either. All I could find was a mention of it - almost exactly one year ago - when I matched it to a pinot noir. Pinot noir was once again the raison d'etre.
It has to be somewhere, I said to Neil, and I eventually found it on a piece of paper stuffed inside my hard copy recipe book. It had evolved from my Chicken in Red Wine posted back in 2004. In fact the ingredients are almost identical, it's the cooking method that changes.

I used four boneless chicken thighs, each but into four pieces. They were coated in flour, dried Italian style herbs, salt and pepper. Oil and butter was heated in a pan and 2 chopped up rashers of streaky bacon, a diced red onion and a smashed clove of garlic were add and sauteed gently until soft. They were removed and the chicken pieces put into the pan to brown on all sides. Back in went the onion and bacon mix with roughly chopped mushrooms (2 large browns this time) and about a cup of pinot noir. Then the pan was covered and it was ready to eat in 20 minutes.

Two Pinot Noirs were opened - both from Akarua in the Bannockburn region of Central Otago. A few years ago the Akarua Pinot Noir 2002 and the Akarua Gullies Pinot Noir 2002 hit the big time - 1st and 2nd place in Cuisine Magazine's pinot noir tasting. Then to cap off a good year the Akarua Pinot Noir 2002 was also declared Champion Wine of the Show at the 2003 Air New Zealand Wine Awards. A big sumptuous wine for sure - but really, I have to say, it wasn't my preferred drinking style. I prefer a little more restraint in my Pinots. So the 2007's were a revelation.

With Akarua Gullies Pinot Noir 2007 ($35), the cherry fruits of Central Otago bounce off the savoury oak and leap out of the glass. Spicy on entry to the palate - juicy cherries and Black Doris plums, a touch of chocolate and freshness from the underlying acidity. When tasted alongside its sibling, it is lighter in style and has more juicy fruit sweetness but the savouriness is there and lingers beautifully on the finish.

I like the fact that the premium wine in the Akarua duet now has a name - it makes it quite decisive as to which wine is being talked about. I also like the name it has been given, which is 'Cadence'. Adopted in 2006, I read on the website that it "recognises the rhythms and cycles, driven by nature". and on tasting the wine, I feel quite lyrical.

Akarua Cadence Pinot Noir 2007 ($45) is rich, concentrated and structured. The aroma is smoky, savoury and earthy - traits that make a solid backbone to the voluptuous fruit that interacts with violet candy, anise and dried thyme. Despite that voluptuousness it shows restraint with a youthful tightness. A beautiful wine with exactly the right amount of fruit sweetness to harmonise with the sensual savouriness that is delivered. Fruit encompasses the red spectrum - from strawberry to something a little just past cherry. And when the wine is swallowed, the flavours persist gently in the mouth for ages.

With these two wines Akarua should be back in the winners circle. Oh, I see the Cadence already has been with golds in San Francisco and London earlier this year. I'd like to see it repeat that performance in one of the local shows in the next few months.

Find out more from the Akarua website -

© Sue Courtney
24 Aug 2009

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