Pinot Gris is better with age. How much age? Not much, I suspect. But I often find when I do a tasting of young Pinot Gris that with the ones I think 'a bit neutral', the wine remaining in the bottle develops over the next 24 hours with the air space and seems to undergo an amazing change.
This happened when we opened Woven Stone Ohau Pinot Gris 2011, a wine made from grapes grown in the lower North Island at Ohau, about 88-kilometres north of the Wellington Railway station via State Highway 1.
We did a recce of this vineyard when we returned from the South Island in April 2010. The grapes had been picked and no-one was there. But I've told that story before. Actually it was when the sister label of this wine, was a Wine of the Week earlier this year - click here.
Woven Stone Ohau Pinot Gris 2011 has an aroma of pear that is rich and unctuous and that impression is reinforced in the palate. An earthy savoury style with a well-defined citrussy backbone, a herbaceous infusion to the delicate tropical fruit and a good juicy finish.
The wine was opened as a food match for dinner. The wine pourer chose two wines, a Pinot Gris and a Pinot Noir, and I tasted blind. Talk about a wine coming into its element with food, the Woven Stone was a perfect match for the chicken in a wine, shallot, mushroom and herb sauce - a take on a French classic perhaps (see recipe below).
The next night the wine pourer surreptitiously inserted the Woven Stone into a Pinot Gris tasting and it ended up being my second choice wine. After 24 hours in the bottle, the juicy tropical fruit was no longer simply delicate, but the wine's star feature. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. It slipped in behind the intriguing wild yeast fermented, barrel-aged Momo Marlborough Pinot Gris 2011.
Another food match and another success with the Woven Stone and the chef's barbequed fillet of salmon that had been marinaded in soy, brown sugar, Dijon mustard and wine vinegar, then accompanied with salad. The Momo turned up its nose at this match, but the Woven Stone was in its element again.
Technical details are 13.5% alcohol, 12 g/litre residual sugar and 6.3 g/litre total acidity – enough acidity to balance the sweetness, for sure. A cheapie as RRP is $14.95 to $16.99 and it's available in New Zealand through Foodstuff supermarket outlets, ie New World, Four Square and Pak 'n Save. And of course directly from the winery on mail order. To find more check out www.ohaugravels.co.nz, Twitter @ohaugravels and Facebook.
Chicken in a Wine, Shallot, Mushroom and Herb Sauce
Two tablespoons each of olive oil and butter are heated in a pan and sliced shallots and 125 grams of mushrooms broken into pieces are added to soften. Shallots and mushrooms are removed and prepared chicken pieces take their place to slowly brown. Transfer browned chicken to an oven dish and pour off excess fat from the pan, leaving about a tablespoon. Add 1 tablespoon of flour to the pan drippings to cook for a minute or two. Now add half a cup of chicken stock and 1/4 cup of white wine (I used Riesling), and stir until bubbling. Pour the sauce over the chicken, add the shallots and mushrooms. Cover and cook in the oven at 180°C for about 20 minutes. Add another tablespoon of butter to the sauce and the herbs – I used chervil, tarragon and chives - all home grown and in season right now. Cook for about 10 minutes more.
© Sue Courtney
2 December 2011