Lauraine Jacobs

Food Writer and Author of Delicious Books

Wines to drink

8 March 2010


The decision to marry maybe easier than deciding what wines to serve at the celebration. Scott, our son, married Loretta last week and we were lucky enough to be able to choose the wines for their wedding feast. So here's our choices:

  • Veuve Clicquot NV on arrival and for the toasts. We chose this as it is as sophisticated as the happy couple and immediately gave a lively kickstart to the party. Elegant, slightly austere, but very deliciously toasty and effervescently bubbly.

  • Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2009 for those who like a lighter style of white wine (that's me!) This wine has become one of the world's cult wines, is admired widely and is always consistently top shelf. It went down a treat with the guests.

  • Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Chardonnay 2007 for all the Chardy fans. It is reliably consistent, well made, terrific value for money and suited the menu admirably. A gem from Marlborough and a wine that we could drink every night if we had to choose one wine. As we do.

  • Amisfield Pinot Noit 2007 is a stellar example of fine Central Otago Pinot Noir. Lots of deep ripe fruit flavours and a certain mystique that all Pinot Noirs should carry. The only red wine served, it was wildly popular with boys and girls alike.

And I must say, I am delighted we have a couple of bottles of each left in the cellar. We will enjoy them while we reminisce over the wedding photos.

1 March 2010


I had been saving this wine. A very special bottle. Dom Perignon OEnotheque Vintage 1976. My daughter Katie's birth year.

Last Thursday evening the family went to dinner at our favourite restaurant, to mark the last time we would be four, for the next day son Scott was to marry Loretta and we would become a family of five. This was a time for celebration and so we opened this amazing Champagne that had been waiting for 33 years. The weather in Champagne had been extraordinarily dry in 1976, and the harvest came early. It was aged, like all Dom Perignon, for 6-7 years but then displaying splendidly exceptional characteristics, it was cellared for 25 years longer.

The aromas were fantastic: musky, woody and spicy. Full of fine beads, the wine filled my mouth with life and a warmth that was reminiscent of raisins and ripe plums. It was delicious, the perfect wine to drink on a hot summer night on such a special occasion.

We toasted the family's future with this spectacularly toasty wine. The best!

23 February 2010


Diana Krall was cool, so sophisticatedly cool. Her lovely husky voice, her relaxed approach to the piano and the casual confidence she exuded that totally won over her audience at ‘On the Green’ at Villa Maria Estate in Mangere on Saturday evening. (And a certain Mr Tom Jones was in the audience too.) We were privileged to be there in Villa Maria's lovely tasting room, and so what could be a more appropriate match for the music than a bracket of three superb wines to sip and set the scene?

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Maxwell from the Southern Clays vineyard was a delicious ripe sauvignon that tasted just like this popular variety should. Slightly tart at first and then lots of lovely fruity flavours that go zing in your mouth. I loved it; just perfect to set the stage for a star performer.

It was then a lovely soft Chardonnay from Marlborough for my husband (which he would not share), while I chose to sip on Villa Maria Single Vineyard Seddon Pinot Noir that was grown on the southern bank of the Awatere Valley, over the range from the original growing area of Marlborough. The wine was silky smooth, with a velvety texture and alluring appeal. Just like Diana Krall! So it will be her soft music on our cd and another bottle of that delicious Pinot for a treat in the near future.

15 February 2010


My husband has suffered medical (mis)adventures over the past few weeks, but I knew he was back on form when he disappeared into the cellar and came out grinning with a bottle of Eileen Hardy Shiraz 1996 on Saturday night. We were eating steak, so something big and bold was called for. I have never been a Shiraz girl. I truly believe it is a man's wine. It is one of the great wines of Australia, apparently, loved by blokes who also go for those huge oaky Chardonnays. But I had a go at Eileen, mainly to keep the harmony and also because if a wine is named after a woman it can't be all bad. Eileen was silky smooth with layers of interesting aromas and flavours that danced on my tongue. And I could not pick up the eucalyptus I often detect in Aussie Shiraz. I'd recommend this wine to accompany hearty beef dishes and steak. But I could only manage one large glass as Eileen is really, really rich!

7 February 2010


A knowledgable foodie friend came to stay this summer for a couple of nights and brought a few welcome bottles of wine, as good friends do. One of these bottles really captured my imagination. It was a Zibibbo di Sicilia, a delight fully refreshing fruity wine with layers of tart spice and truly zingy power. I have always been a fan of slightly sweeter wines to end a good dinner even if there's no dessert (the wine can stand alone) and this came up trumps. I visited Sicily in late 2008, and during my enchanting two weeks there went to several fine vineyards. Sicily oozes with history and the vineyards harbour grape varieties that are ancient and unique. This Zibibbo varietal grows in the western region of the island and is made and bottled by Pellegrino, and imported into New Zealand by a Touch of Italy. It's really worth seeking out!

30 January 2010


I lunched at a downtown restaurant yesterday and being totally virtuous my friend and I each ordered a glass of riesling (rather than a bottle of wine) to accompany our meal. She went for a glass of the Rippon 2008 at $16, while I chose the Greenhough Hope Vineyard 2008 for $12. The difference was extraordinary. Rippon vineyard is on the shores of Lake Wanaka in Central Otago and has an awesome reputation for carefully bio-dynamic viticulture and the winemaker is passionate about his wines. It was a good, nicely balanced riesling that was well rounded with a light bouquet. The Greenhough riesling, from another passionate winemaker who makes his wines on the fringes of Nelson, would have won hands down if this was a contest. The wine exhibited everything that a perfect riesling should. Incredibly aromatic, I could have sat there just sniffing the deliciously delicate layers of fruit and spices forever, rather than drinking this wine. It was at once a little minerally, citrusy and slightly sweet yet not at all sugary. Both great wines with formidable reputations that I would recommend. But as one was 33% more expensive than the other, I’d go for the Greenhough again and again. As my friend did, for she thought it was so enchanting that she ordered a glass too.

28 January 2010


My favourite summer drink has been riesling this year. After golf, as an aperitif, with light and slightly spicy foods, or to simply sip for no other reason than it's great weather and there's lots ot celebrate; my first choice is riesling. We bought a case of the wonderfully aromatic Pegasus Bay Riesling 2007 and that has slowly been whittled down. But showing steely strength I made sure a few bottles have been hidden away as riesling is a great keeper too. My other love has been Muddy Water Riesling, which is grown in the Waipara region north of Christchurch, not far from the Pegasus Bay winery. I can't make my mind up whether I prefer Muddy Water's James Hardwick riesling which is elegant and limey, or their Lough Vineyard riesling which is concentrated and moderately sweet. The nicest thing about riesling is that it as just as lovely with food as it is sipped as an aperitif. Long may the summer drinking last!