During the first weekend of March each year two wine events are held, the Nelson Wineart Degustation Dinner and Auction in support of the Suter and the Kahurangi Long Lunch. This year we attended both, we didn’t really have much choice about the Suter function because we help organise it and after being involved in such a time consuming event on Friday it was nice to sit back and let someone else do the organising on Sunday.
The events have quite different focuses, one is a charity fundraiser and the other is to taste new release Kahurangi wines and wines they import with great food.
The Nelson Wineart dinner was a black tie event held at the Yacht Club on Wakefield Quay, catered by Stuart Cliffin from Relish, and we enjoyed five courses of beautiful flavours paired with award winning Nelson wines. This dinner shows how wonderful Nelson wines are when paired with the right foods. A couple of the star pairings were the refined Ora King Salmon sashimi, soy wasabi jelly, pinot gris glazed sushi and cabbage and seaweed spring roll that was served with Aronui Pinot Gris and Waimea Estates Gruner Veltliner.
The twice cooked pork belly with smoked apple, black pudding and watercress worked well with the two wines served. The Brightwater Lord Rutherford Chardonnay paired well with the pork while the Woollaston Estates Pinot Noir was delightful with the black pudding. Now don’t think the black pudding was a sausage, it had in fact been turned into a sauce, Stuart is a very clever chef.
To fill in space between course we ran an auction and sold some pretty special wines; A bottle of 1998 Penfolds Grange was donated by a Suter supporter and sold for $750 which I think was a bargain for this particular wine. Graham’s Port bottled a 4.5 ltr bottle of their 20 Year Old Tawny Port and Eurovintage arranged for it to be airfreighted to me for the dinner; Graham’s don’t sell this size bottle so it was a unique auction item and we sold it for $1,500. Overall the dinner and auction raised over $30,000 for the Suter and just as importantly 94 people got to enjoy very good Nelson wines with outstanding food.
The Kahurangi Estate Long Lunch has been held each year for the last six and has rapidly gained a strong following. This year Matt Bouterey weaved his magic with a Kingfish ceviche cocktail; tartare of Ora King Salmon; beef fillet carpaccio; Freedom Farms pork belly; a confit duck leg and roast plum, honey & almond tart with pineapple & chocolate parfait and pineapple gel for dessert.
For me the best wine pairings were the Mt Arthur Reserve Riesling with the pork belly and the Mt Arthur Noble Chardonnay with the dessert. Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon 2006 was served with the Kingfish cerviche, I saved a little of this to try with the pork belly and I think that was a perfect match, the natural fats in the pork balanced the fresh acidity in the wine beautifully.
Over the weekend I got to experience some of the finest food I have ever had and these two events proved beyond any doubt that Nelson has some outstanding chefs in the region and that quality, reasonably priced Nelson wines can stand up with the very best wines when served with the right foods.