Lauraine Jacobs

Food & Wine Writer

5 October 2015

NEW WORLD GOLD MEDALS

I am a New World supermarket shopper and right now am very impressed with the fabulous showcase of gold medal wines from the huge annual tasting the company conducts that are all on sale in the stores.

Criteria to enter these awards means there must be at least 5,000 cases of any wine and the price point is less than $25 per bottle.

So right now all the hard work of selecting wines to enjoy has been done. I tasted the trophy winners over an intimate lunch designed by Peter Gordon and a few wine writers and journalists. Do not miss the wines pictured above, or the Australian (!!) chardonnay of Wolf Blass that came out trumps.

The chief judge Jim Harre told me he was mightily impressed with that chardonnay, and could harldy believe it has triumphed over our NZ entries.

All the reds with gold medals are excellent too. Do not miss them - they will not remain on the shelves for long.

5 October 2015

ELEPHANT HILL

Sometimes I get really lucky with wine. A recent lunch I attended was hosted by Misha Taylor of Procure wines brought together two exemplary operators.

At that gorgeous gem in Karangahape Rd, APERO wine bar, Misha arranged a small exquisite lunch where the Reserve wines of Elephant Hill were showcased alongside Lesley Hottiaux's delicious food.

We tasted viognier, sauvignon blanc, '13 and '14 chardonnay, syrah and two merlot cabernet blends. The white wines, all from Elephant Hill's coastal site, are grown only 100m from the ocean and were full of amazing aromas and flavours.

The reds were serious stuff. Made in a modern style they were chewy with dark broody tannins and hold the promise of rewarding cellaring. It is great to see wines like this where extensive care and attention is lovingly given and quite rewarding.

My wine picks of the day were the '14 chardonnay and the perfumed syrah.

And above; ta-daa! the sensational beef we shared over the red wines.

20 September 2014

A KIWI IN PORTUGAL

We just had four glorious days in the Algarve, staying at Vila Vita (that is another story). About an hour's drive to the north, the owners have developed a stunning estate Herdade de Grous.

They grow olives for extra virgin olive oil and vegetables and fruits for the resort. Cattle and pork are raised for the restaurants and there's luxury accommodation and hospitality. But most importantly, there are 70 hectares of grapes for wine, which is bottled under the Grous label and exported to over 30 countries.

We stopped off to visit on our drive to Lisbon and what do you know? We ran into.their Kiwi winemaker, Sam Davies. He is from Mt Albert in Auckland and has been at this prestigious winery for the last couple of years. He works with the highly regarded Luis Duarte and is doing much to add his bit to the strongly rich red wines made by Grous. Kiwis are everywhere and such talent!

We are bringing home a bottle of Grous Moon Harvest red Sam gave us. Who wants to share it? Thanks Sam.

11 September 2014

GRAND CRUS OF BURGUNDY

Wines to savour. You will never truly know a wine until.you have been to the vineyard where the grapes for that wine were grown. I have just completed a gourmand week drinking some of the most stunning wines made on earth.

And included in our adventures was an opportunity of a lifetime to tour the Cotes de Nuits route through the vineyards, stopping to savour and taste Musigny 2003, Chambertin 2003 and Richebourg 2011. And we stopped at Romanee Conti but sadly the budget was never going to stretch to the thousands of dollars that wine command per bottle.

My favourite was the warm and rich Richebourg, while Murray loved the Chambertin. But the Musigny was very impressive too.

You really needed to be there!

1 June 2013

VILLA MARIA

I have seen the future. This past week, over a degustation lunch, the Villa Maria team unveiled their fresh new look for the wine labelling and branding. It is smart, sophisticated and stylish and although updated, it retains much of everything we know and love about this much trusted brand.

We also had a sneaky preview of the early release Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough. It�s the first 2013 wine I have tasted and it was packed with everything you would expect from this amazing long dry vintage. The wine oozed with tropical flavours, and there was hardly a hint of the grassy greenness we so often experience in sauvignon blanc. So, if this wine is anything to go by, we are in for some amazing treats in the 2013 wines. Of course we will not get to drink many of them this year as wine making processes take time for many of the varietals.

This was very evident in the showcased wines of our lunch. Once again, I gazed into the future. Who would have believed five years ago we would be served locally grown verdelho, viognier, grenache, or even several organically certified wines at lunch? Wine drinkers are apparently seeking something different and as usual, Villa Maria is at the forefront with new styles and varietals.

For the record, the food was superb, especially the first two courses, a warm smoked tomato consomme surrounded a little pile of crab and avocado with micro basil, and then some fresh New Zealand clams in a juicy broth with fine spinach tagliatelle. The first dish shone with the Ihumatao SV organic verdelho 2012 (not for sale yet) and the second dish was served with both cellar selection Hawkes Bay viognier 2011 and Barrique fermented Gisborne chardonnay 2011. I preferred the viognier but must admit the gutsy chardonnay better complemented the clams.

The lunch marched on. Szechuan duck with grenache and pinot noir (the grenache triumphed) and smoked lamb loin with Gimblett Gravels merlot/cab-sav and syrah. The syrah won that round. And to finish an astonishing cake of walnut and tomato with lemon and passionfruit icing. Lots of sweetness on the plate to pair with late harvest riesling and noble botrytis riesling from the Marlborough 2011 vintage. I preferred the freshness of the former wine but happily drank the latter. It was so thick and unctuous, that I pondered why have dessert when you could just sip that gorgeous wine?

As Hawkesby said, Villa Maria have never made a bad wine yet.I am even kinder and say all their wines are well worth drinking.

2 January 2013

SUMMER ROSE WINE

Hot weather, casual eating and living - perfect for rose wine. Here's the Alpha Domus Pilot, deliciously fruity and lots of body. It's from Hawke's Bay so has been perfect with our Holly Bacon ham, which is also from that bountiful region. Maybe the best rose we have drunk to date.

We've also loved the Wooing Tree (don't you love that name?) from Central Otago and made from pinot noir grapes. Seriously fruity with hints of plum.

We also found an old bottle of Fromm rose from Marlborough in our cellar. Six years old it was seriously good. Deliciously ripe, and the ageing had made it subtle yet still fruity.

Time New Zealand wine makers took rose more seriously, IMHO!

3 November 2012

CHAMPAGNE IN OSAKA

Sometimes you get the unexpected! Dinner in a private home while travelling is always a complete privilege. We were invited to a very special dinner while in Osaka, Japan. Chef Tsumara had a very popular restaurant in the city and has now retired (at a very young age I might add.)

He'd visited us at Omaha Beach a few years ago and so we were thrilled to see him again. We went with our friends Bill and Noriyo Vincent from Auckland (The Village Wine Shop in Mt Eden) and Tsumura-san cooked a fabulous homestyle feast for us. Everything was totally delicious and very special.

The guests were wine connoisseurs so we enjoyed fabulous wines throughout the meal including a magnum of Bandol's Domaine Tempier, and those really interesting Champagnes pictured above. We loved it as most of our meals in Japan were accompanied by beer or sake!

2 November 2012

HAWKESBY'S FINE TASTE

This is the fine collection of French wines that the effervescent John Hawkesby brought to dinner this week. The occasion was a joint effort between myself (the cook and hostess) and John (sommelier and raconteur.)

We'd donated a dinner at the TEN Hospice fundraising brunch in June and the four couples who had paid generously, joined us (with Joyce Hawkesby and Murry Jacobs) to enjoy their feast.

Hawkesby's cellar is only surpassed by his relentless enthusisam for all things gourmet, so we had a superb evening, sipping, tasting and most importantly chatting.

To read about the dinner menu click on Lauraine's Blog on the right hand side of this page.

17 October 2012

TOKYO WINE

This is probably our favourite family wine. And here it is in the amazing Isetan department store. The food halls of all the dept stores are incredibly beautiful with so much variety. Isetan leads the charge and if I were a winemaker in New Zeaalnd this is where I would want to see my wine. Beautiful. Go the Ibbotsons and Saint Clair!

17 October 2012

WINE IN JAPAN

Always love it when I spot great quality wines around the world. the gorgeous Misha's from Central Otago in Isetan in Tokyo.