Lauraine Jacobs

Food Writer and Author of Delicious Books

Lauraine’s blog

31 August 2010


Every so often something comes along that completely knocks your socks off. While on tour with my co-authors to promote and celebrate the launch of The New Zealand Vegetable Cookbook we attended a very fine organic/biodynamic dinner at Bar Saluté in Greytown in the Wairarapa. We suspected the food would be wonderful, as I have been a fan of Travis Clive Griffin’s cooking for as long as I have known him. It was superb; from the starter of local Kingsmeade haloumi with tiny pink fir potatoes and roasted chestnut tabouleh with Lot 8 olive oil through the pork rillettes, a ravioli of oxtail and beef shin, Urlar highland beef, pithiviere of boeuf bourguignon and a poached pear bavarois with homey and cardamom ice cream to finish with a stunning Urlar Late Harvest Riesling, it was all superb. And a gin and tonic sorbet thrown in for good measure, made with local gin. Everything grown locally and organically – a real triumph.

But I was not expecting the wine. I had not heard of Urlar and as it was billed as ‘an organic and biodynamic local wine’ I had an image of a couple of bottles of rough but honest plonk. How wrong! Urlar is as sophisticated and delicious as it could possibly be. The stunning labels, the flavours and aromas of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir wines we drank, and the passion of both owner Angus Thomson and winemaker Guy McMaster could not be faulted.

Angus and his family sold up the family farm in the highlands of Scotland and journeyed to Gladstone, Wairarapa where they planted their dream on a farm with stony soils and the cool but predictable climate that the region offers. Their aim was to create a truly sustainable business and bio-dynamic and organic practices are paramount to the family, and to Guy as the winemaker. The wines all exhibit that quality I always seek; bone dry well rounded finish but lots of sweet fruit flavours that make for lovely drinking. Guy manages to get a ton of texture in every glass. I am hard pushed to pick my favourite amongst the whites, as the Sauvignon Blanc was gorgeously smooth and not harsh at all, the Riesling was pure fruit with that slight botrytis nose that suits the grape so well, and the Pinot Gris had lovely texture and a very interesting touch of spice on the nose. Two vintages of Pinot Noir showed why these wines really will be taken seriously for the luscious flavours, slight pepperiness and a dark broody intensity really impressed. Urlar wines are well worth seeking out and probably easier to find now that Negociants are distributing this classy, chic range.

And as for that dinner, the beef and pork were grown on the Urlar farm too. That’s probably a first; a meal with food and wine matches sourced from the same property!

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