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Wine of the Week for week ending 20 Feb 2011
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Palliser Martinborough Chardonnay 2008
Martinborough, New Zealand

If you checked out my blog entry of the 13th February, you would know that it is peach season in New Zealand, and this year my own Golden Queen peaches are quite amazing. They are golden and juicy as can be. We are experimenting with peach and wine matches, and it is quite clear that one grape variety is head and shoulders above the rest. That, my friends, is Chardonnay. We found the youthful Soljans Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2010 to be a hit, but there was another Chardonnay, with a little more complexity from bottle age. It took the drinking from a tasty appetiser to main course and while being a delicious accompaniment to the in season peach treats.

Palliser Martinborough Chardonnay 2008 seems to have been made with all the bells and whistles, or perhaps without because many Chardonnay winemakers pride themselves on minimal intervention. A blend of Mendoza and Clone 95 grapes were whole bunch pressed and fermented in French oak casks, remaining in oak on fermentation yeast lees for nine months. The alcohol is 13.5%.

It's a lovely creamy Chardonnay with toasty oak, stonefruit and savoury mealy flavours and a refreshing but very subtle hint of citrus and tarragon on the finish. It is melt-in-the-mouth Chardonnay with depth and richness and a seamless texture. Sizzled butter persists and a peachy sweetness lingers.

I last tasted this almost exactly a year ago, on its debut, but it was quite youthful then. Now, after a year in the bottle, it has come of age and is quite divine.

My Neil is doing an awful lot of cooking these days, no doubt inspired by the countless foodie shows I watch. He googled 'chicken and peach' and printed out a recipe from NZWW. But of course it had his own little twists.

The first night he made it, he followed the recipe, adjusting proportions as he saw fit. Like with the elephant-sized cloves of garlic we had, he though two cloves of garlic would probably be just a little bit OTT.

Chicken tenderloins (or strips cut from the breast) were rolled in a breadcrumb mixture that included tarragon (we have French tarragon in the herb garden) and orange rind (we have oranges on a tree). The crumbed chicken is panfried until golden and topped with chicken pieces and rocket and other salad greens.

But it was the cooked peach dressing that set this salad off. Peach is cooked in EVOO with garlic and cardamom until soft. Then more oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper complete it. One of the key things here is to have red wine vinegar that has been sitting at the back of the cupboard for about 20 years!

This is a beaut vegetarian dish too you omit the chicken and serve just the pan-fried crumbs with the peach and salad greens instead.

Palliser Martinborough Chardonnay 2008 has a screwcap closure and costs about $38. It is the current release. Find out more from Note the label makeover too.

© Sue Courtney
16 Feb 2011

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