Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Neudorf Vineyards 30th Anniversary Dinner at Hopgoods restaurant

Thirty years ago this month Tim and Judy Finn completed their first vintage at Neudorf Vineyards and to celebrate this milestone and a year packed with awards and accolades they joined forces with Cuisine Restaurant of the Year category winner, Hopgood’s Restaurant, to present a celebration dinner.

Over the years Neudorf Vineyards has proved to be one of New Zealand’s leading producers of fine wine and a long history of top accolades has been added to in the last 12 months; named New Zealand’s Greatest Winery for 2009 in The Wine Report by Tom Stevenson, Winner of Champion White Wine at the Tri Nations in Sydney (also winner of the Chardonnay Trophy and runner up for the Riesling Trophy), Decanter magazine chose Neudorf Chardonnay as ‘New Zealand’s Best’ and Michael Cooper awarded all the Neudorf Moutere wines Five Stars in his indispensible Guide to NZ Wine.

The six course celebration dinner was held on the 10th May and each course was matched with a premium Neudorf wine. I would like to say ‘my favourite course was xyz’ but I can’t, all of the food was simply outstanding and the careful pairing of the wines made sure the dinner was simply faultless.

Some of the delights about 80 diners enjoyed included dishes like Smoked Venison carpaccio with a fried quails egg, creamy celeriac and beet jelly served with Neudorf Moutere Pinot Noir 2007’ followed by ‘Salmon and crayfish ravioli with watercress, apple & fennel salad and sorrel cream paired with Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay 2004’

The skill and imagination of Kevin Hopgood and his head chef Aaron Ballantyne were displayed throughout the entire meal with little treats like the quail eggs that were poached, removed from the shell, crumbed then quickly deep fried and duck that can be quite dry but in this case was rich and succulent.

As to the wines, well they were as good as we expected – refined and elegant. One thing that did make me sit up and take note was the pinot gris. From the 2005 vintage the Neudorf Moutere version reminded me that good pinot gris can age magnificently.

In recent years pinot gris has had plenty of bad press (from me included) because there are a number of bland, boring, flavourless versions being sold for about $10 or less however when made well from grapes grown with care and attention pinot gris can be a super wine and will age beautifully. Buy a good version, put it in the cellar or cupboard for a few years and be pleasantly surprised.

To top it off for Neudorf Vineyards the dinner was held about a week after one of the best vintages ever in the region came to an end.

These two outstanding Nelson businesses are proof that quality will always shine.

To see what is happening at Neudorf or to check out the stunning vineyards go to their website and have a look at the live webcam images. Tim moves the camera occasionally, depending on what is happening on any day.

I have been drinking

Neudorf Moutere Pinot Gris 2009 - $28 at the cellar door

This is a luscious wine designed to last the distance. It has enough acidity to hold the fruit flavours together while the full palate weight continues to develop complexity that results from extended yeast lees contact. Bursting with spiced nashi pear and quince flavours and a little twist of ginger in the background this is delightful autumn drinking right now. Perfect with cheese.

Blackenbrook Vineyards Pinot Gris 2009 - $23.90 at the cellar door

This is another wine designed to stand the test of time. The big, rich mouthfeel is there predominantly because of the huge 15% alcohol. The alcohol is high because the sugars have been fermented out resulting in a drier style wine packed with ripe flavours but without being too sweet. A beautifully balanced delight.

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