If you like your wine, there’s nothing better than a dinner with matched wines. I have only recently started enjoying wine, but even I can appreciate that a good sommelier and an expert pairing can make a real difference – both in terms of my enjoyment of the wine, but also the food it is paired with.
For those that have a real interest in wine, the next step up from a paired wine flight, is a wine dinner with matched wines from one vineyard. This is an experience you can enjoy at The Pompadour. They hold a number of different events throughout the year, I was excited to be invited to the New Zealand Wine Dinner which would feature Kevin Judd from Greywacke as our host for the evening. I very much saw it as a rare opportunity to immerse myself in all things wine and develop my knowledge in this area.
There were four large tables where we were all seated together, this made for a nice atmosphere where conversation about the food and wine could be shared with other guests. We were fortunate to be sat beside Kevin – we hadn’t realised what a sought after spot we had until another guest came over later on in the dinner to ask how we’d bagged ourselves such good seats!
The dinner began with a starter of Veal Tartar, this was my first time trying veal in its raw state but it was soft and surprisingly tasty. The onion and capers created a nice balance of flavours.
This was enjoyed with Greywacke’s flagship wine, Wild Sauvignon Blanc, 2015. Kevin is somewhat of a pioneer on the wine scene back in New Zealand, he started his career at Cloudy Bay, where he is widely attributed with making it one of the most sought after labels in the world.
Greywacke is his independent venture and the first batch of 6000 cases of Wild Sauvignon Blanc (‘Wild’ because of the wild yeast used, a very unusual method of fermentation due to the lack of control) was released to international acclaim and quickly sold out. The wild yeast and longer fermentation creates complexity of flavour, which can vary year to year due to the unpredictable nature of the wild yeast.
Our next course was a delicate Lasagne of North Berwick Crab with a beurre nantais (a twist on the classic beurre blanc but with a little cream which assists with the emulsifying process). It was rich and beautiful and enhanced by what was my favourite wine of the evening, the Riesling, 2014. The smallest production from Greywacke, this is an easy drinking wine. Grapes are handpicked when medium ripe, the acid balances out the sweetness in this wine of which part is fermented in old barrels with some of that wild yeast.
The Seared Pavé of Scrabster Cod was delicately cooked to perfection. This unfussy dish was paired with the Greywacke Chardonnay with it’s distinctive funky note.
The highlight food wise was the main of Iberico Pork, the Amalfi lemon purée brought the whole dish together into what is one of my favourite fine dining dishes ever.
This was served with the Pinot Noir – made using the ‘whole bunch’ method – they use the skin and stems creating that whole bunch character that wine connoisseurs among you will recognise. The grapes are picked by hand depending on ripeness and weather forecast and the wine spends 18 months in a medium plus toast barrel.
Our five course dinner was completed with a classic Tarte Tatin which was served with a Pinot Gris – for this one, Kevin and his small team wait for botrytis to set in – a fungus that winemakers usually spend most of their time trying to avoid! Kevin’s unorthodox method clearly works though, as this was another hit.
Whilst there were clearly many guests who knew much more about wine than I did, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and certainly had the masterclass I was looking for. If you want to find out more about Kevin and Greywacke Wine you can visit his website here – Greywacke. Did I mention he’s also a keen and very talented photographer? Some people have ALL the talent, doesn’t it make you sick! I hope I have done the wine justice here, and if I have got any of my terminology wrong, please excuse me – I’m very excited to be learning more about wine, and will happily stand corrected on anything I’ve misunderstood!
You can find out about upcoming wine dinners and events at The Pompadour here.