The Emperor breaks the rules

Once in a while you have a wine and food combo that blows you away, not only because it is so divine but also because it is so unexpected. In fact if you told someone you were going to make this match they’d probably say, ‘Don’t be ridiculous.’ Well the ridiculous happened while sipping on Jackson Estate The Gum Emperor Vineyard Marlborough Pinot Noir 2011 in Ohakune on Boxing Day.

The beautifully matured pinot was opened to follow on from the rosé aperitif (see yesterday’s note) and it was indeed a harmonious combo to juicy BBQ steaks and the sides of mushrooms and grilled eggplant especially. A solid match. An “I’ll do that again” match.

Dessert was a bowl of fruit salad – an ensemble of baked summer stonefruits (peaches, plums, apricots and nectarines) with fresh cherries, fresh pomegranate seeds, fresh pineapple and passionfruit.

And it was not long after the mysterious and unexpected happened. It was only because I hadn’t finished my pinot noir so I had a sip with the fruit flavours still very dominant in my mouth. My eyes opened wide. I sighed in ecstasy. The only words I could muster were, “Oh, oh, wow, yum, divine.” The combination was unbelievably delicious. Who would have thought? Definitely not I.

Jackson Estate Gum Emperor Pinot Noir 2011

Jackson Estate The Gum Emperor Vineyard Marlborough Pinot Noir 2011 has a lovely rich red garnet hue with moderate translucency. The evocative and alluring bouquet reminds me of black cherry concentrate with caramel-tinged smoky oak and spice. The mouthfeel is as smooth as silk with a slight velvety rub to the finish and the flavours are crammed with intense sweet ripe red and black cherry fruit with a hint of fresh pomegranate, beautifully honed savoury oak in the background and the most delicate touch of spice. A stellar pinot noir with an incredible depth of flavour and intrigue. I hadn’t tasted this wine when young – but five and three quarter years after the grapes had been harvested, this wine is a beautiful thing.

The grapes (pinot noir clones UCD5, 777 & 115) were grown in a single vineyard named after the Gum Emperor butterfly and situated in Marlborough’s Waihopai Valley. The back label on the bottle states 14% alcohol. This is the current release on the Jackson Estate website (when writing) and it costs $48 a bottle. They recommend crispy roast duck as a food match and I would like to try, but the divine summer fruit salad match I experienced will take some beating.

About the stonefruit
My sisters had bought a huge box of stonefruit from Fruit World on Xmas Eve – gorgeous summer fruit with peaches, plums, apricots and nectarines. The fruits were baked and they turned out to be delicious. When I asked what they’d done, they said no real recipe, some had a drizzle of balsamic, perhaps some coconut sugar, some citrus juices and zest – just whatever was at hand. Sometimes the simplest things in life are the best.


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