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Kahurangi Estate Long Lunch – as published Nelson Mail 17.03.15

Kahurangi Estate is one of those places that marries great wines with perfect food. On a normal day this is where you will find, in my opinion, the best wood-fired pizzas around. Don’t expect corporate franchise generic pizzas, these have thin crispy bases and enough topping to make them delicious. No dripping cheese or stuffed crusts here, just the great flavours you get from very good ingredients.

A little while ago when Amanda Day from Kahurangi Estate reduced the café menu to just pizzas, salad, bowls of nuts and olives and of course a couple of desserts I asked her why; the answer was quite straight forward, they wanted to have the best ingredients they could in all of their food and being a country café it was difficult to know how much food they would need over the weekend and not many people went there for lunch during the week. The result was they simply had too much waste. With pizza the ingredients like tomato based sauces, olives, anchovies and all the other products keep a lot longer so there is less waste.

Of course pizza and wine go together very well, especially with some of the varieties produced and distributed by Kahurangi Estate. It has become one of our favourite places to spend a Saturday or Sunday lunch, either during the summer when the sun is shining or inside around the open fire in the cooler winter months.

To satisfy their love of more formal fine food Greg and Amanda Day started an annual long lunch. They invite a guest chef into the kitchen and over the space of four or five hours serve five courses of delectable food carefully paired with wines they produce. Greg being Greg he can’t resist opening a bottle or two of port or other treats from their imported range of wines to taste at the end of lunch.

This year the guest chef was Stuart Cliffin and he created some wonderful treats for those who were lucky enough to get a seat. At this year’s long lunch we were treated to Koura (tiny freshwater crayfish) with coconut, chilli, lime and a taro crisp. This was served with the 2013 Kahurangi Estate Gewurztraminer. For me this was absolutely perfect wine and food matching because when the wine was first served I thought it was a lovely wine, beautifully balanced with great flavour but not too rich. However when we tried it with the food the flavours of the wine came alive and was the perfect example of how wine and food can enhance one another when you get the pairing right.

The second course was Ora King Salmon prepared as a tatare with mascarpone and avocado and a passionfruit and manuka honey coulis. Again the food was delicious and perfectly matched with the 2014 Kahurangi Mt Arthur Chardonnay that was released on the day. This wine comes with a full retail price of less than $30 and delivers complexity, subtlety and quality in bucket loads. This is a very young wine and given another two or three years of bottle age will develop into a wine that is right up there with some of the best in the region.

The third course was oven roasted eye fillet of beef with pomme puree, confit garlic and oyster mushrooms. The beef was probably one of the best pieces of meat I have had anywhere, it was cooked to a perfect medium rare and was so tender you could almost cut it with a fork. The wine match with this was really interesting, I enjoy the Kahurangi Montepulciano when I eat their pizza but when we had it with the beef I found it had a touch of greenness. This added a spice character to the luscious fruit flavours of the wine so wasn’t a bad thing at all. The interesting thing for me is I don’t detect the greenness when I drink it with pizza and I came to the conclusion the olives in the pizza match the green notes in the wines perfectly so you don’t sense them as a different flavour as I did when it was served with the beef dish. So the hint here is drink the montepuilciano with pizza.

As the dessert we enjoyed sugar roasted nectarines with almond shortbread and white chocolate sabayon. I chose the Mouton Cadet Reserve Sauterne 2010 from the Kahurangi International Selections portfolio to have with this and I think this has to be one of the very best value sweet wines available – $32 for a full 750ml bottle.

Kahurangi Estate is open 7 days a week for wine tasting and sales and from 11am until 5pm for pizzas Wednesday to Sunday until the 11th April when winter hours kick in. During winter this year they will be open for dine in or take away pizza Friday and Saturday, 11am to 9pm and Sunday 11am until 7pm.

I have been writing a regular wine column for The Nelson Mail newspaper since 2000.

Unfortunately the column space is not big enough to include my thoughts on all of the many wines I taste. Hopefully this blog will fix that. It also gives me somewhere to archive the many columns I write. I will also include some favourite recipes from my dearly beloved who loves cooking and of course because wine and food simply go together. I will also point you in the direction of upcoming events and websites I think are great. Enjoy, Neil

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