As a continuation of our Nelson wine tour tales, we are sharing a very enjoyable excursion to the stunning Marlborough wine region at the top of the South Island of New Zealand. This was part of the break to the sunshine of the Southern Hemisphere some of us in the Cellar Maison enjoyed in January this year.
Marlborough had become synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc over many years of top quality, distinctive wine making with this grape varietal. Now there is a very exciting expansion into some wonderful wines that are generating significant interest world-wide. Riesling in particular and some of the aromatics such as stunning Gewurztraminer were favourites for us. We also enjoyed our fair share of Pinot Noir.
It wasn’t only about wine however. It was all about the food too. Marlborough offers a world-class winery and cellar door experience throughout its extensive grape growing region. And collectively as a region they make it very easy to enjoy with wine trails, tours, accommodation and of course, wonderful, regional produce that showcases the seasons and compliments the wine.
We had a day trip for tastings along the convenient few roads with vineyards dotted appealingly close together. The tastings were informative, often delivered by the wine maker or owner of the vineyard and therefore laced with true passion and grit that makes an event to truly enjoy. When it came to lunch, there were a few good options of cellar door venues that also offered restaurants. After much browsing and reviewing of menus in the days leading up to our trip, we settled on Allan Scott Family Winemakers and booked a table – sensibly as it’s very popular and we certainly didn’t want to risk the dreaded “Missing-Out-On-Chosen-Restaurant” crisis.
Allan Scott consistently produce impressive wine and they have created a stunning space to taste, buy wine and dine. We sat in the courtyard of their Twelve Trees restaurant, in the dappled shade with views onto their vegetable and herb garden and the elegant vines draping rustically above to provide reprieve from the dry summer heat.
The menu is heavily weighted towards local produce and seafood which is effortlessly compatible with the wine from grapes grown only metres away from where we sat. The entrée of local Havelock mussels presented as a taster was a sensation of lemongrass, red kimchi, capers and Japanese mayonnaise, respectively, was delightful and worked well with our glass of Gewurztraminer.
Unable to choose, we decided to share our main courses….solving possible food envy issues.
The steamed salmon fillet was divine. Soft, velvet flakes of perfect fish complimented by the seasonal, summer vegetables and herbs. The Pinot Gris definitely made a happy partnership.
Finally, the spectacular New Zealand lamb; Pilpelchuma marinated and smoked lamb shoulder rack, sweet & sour carrot, cous cous, almond sumac, yoghurt, and grass jelly – yes, grass jelly, which was delightful – surprising and not at all odd. A sleek Pinot Noir was a great choice and light enough to enjoy at lunch without leaving us in a slump for the afternoon.
It’s worth putting in some research before your Marlborough wine tour and there are some great resources to do this online such as this site http://www.wine-marlborough.co.nz/wineries/ that we used.
If you’re staying put in good old England for the moment, why not explore some Marlborough wine from your favourite local wine merchant. There are certainly some excellent Marlborough and Nelson wine choices to cellar as well. If you have suggestions please do share and tell us what you’re targeting at present.