11 October 2010

Wharfside Restaurant: Wild about Wine #2

Hi, Martin here from Wharfside Restaurant at Circa Theatre, back for my second instalment on the wonderful subject of WINE.   

My two favourite vineyards would have to be Te Mata (Hawkes Bay) and Pegasus Bay (Canterbury).  Simply put, they both make damn excellent wines.  Both have a strong local community involvement, both have history and I have drank the wines and watched both the wine and the label evolve over the past 15-20 years. 

I have a nice range of Te Mata Coleraine and Awatea as well as Pegasus Bay Aria Riesling and Pinot Noir, but for me it’s Te Mata for reds and Pegasus Bay for Rieslings.  Both vineyards feature multiple wines on Wharfside’s wine list.  One excellent thing about cellaring wines is the ability to use them as gifts.  It is pretty hard to get an aged wine off the shelf so what a great gift when you can give someone a wine that’s aged 5-10 years, is a great drinking age, and they just can’t buy anywhere.  It is really just another wine story waiting to evolve through the person you give the wine to.

Te Mata Vineyard, Hawke's Bay

Pegasus Bay Winery & Restaurant, Canterbury

With regard to the wine we have available at Wharfside, I have found that people are creatures of habit – they want wines they know.  Our biggest moving wines seem to always be the ones that most people recognise.  Kiwis are certainly not the biggest risk takers in wine choice but I do encourage people to get a little outside their comfort zone – you will probably be very pleasantly surprised about what wine treasures await.  Ten years ago stepping outside your comfort zone with wine choice could have provided quite a mixed basket with some unpleasant wine in the mix; however today, that would certainly not be true.  I’ll go so far as to put it out there and say that most New Zealand wines, even in the lower price bracket, are pretty safe, good drinking wines.  I’m sure most people appreciate that there will be more complexity in more expensive wines versus simplicity and easy drinking in cheaper wines, but you would have to look pretty hard to find a New Zealand wine that will curl the tongue. 

At Wharfside, I am intending to introduce one wine by the glass that is a little outside the mainstream every couple of shows, so give it a try when you come in.  I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.  

It’s funny when I think back over memorable wine experiences; I tend to find that it’s sometimes the surprises that stand out.  For example, maybe you have kept a wine too long, or you have come across it hidden away somewhere and you realise there’s a chance it is “past it”, don’t discard it, instead open it with friends admitting that it may be a little past it.  Discuss the wine and have a try, at the very least it will create an interesting chat about a dead wine and at the very most it could blow your socks off.

I have a fond memory of, on a fishing trip, watching the sun coming up as we had breakfast on a boat off the Coromandel, opening a Riesling a good 6 years past its use by date.  It was an elegant, subtle wine – and what should have been a past it - back up wine, turned out to be the award winner of the trip.

Again I come back to the point that wine is about you.  Your palate, fun and enjoyment.  Next time you are having a glass, have a think about what is in the glass.  Don’t be in a hurry, have a sniff, a think, a taste, more of a think, and don’t be afraid to discuss your thoughts with others enjoying the wine, hear what they have to say and see if you agree with their views.  Wine tastings are a great way to find out what you like and enjoy trying several different wines in one sitting.

My partner Dee and friends enjoying a wine tasting at Wharfside

We are opening during the day shortly (from around mid-November) and I invite you to pop down and have a glass in the conservatory while you watch Wellington walk by.   We have a fantastic outlook over the waterfront.  I’ll be ensuring that we have some easy drinking afternoon wines that will taste great on a wonderful Wellington weekend.  Some of my recommendations would be the Pegasus Rieslings, Temata & Mudhouse Sauvs, Pinots and Pinot Gris.  

I encourage you to investigate where the wine originates from and what specific smells and tastes come from each region. 

Hmm all this wine talk is making me thirsty, must be time for a quick glass.  

Martin Halliday
Wharfside Restaurant @ Circa Theatre

Wharfside Restaurant is open for pre and post theatre dining. Call 801-7996 to make a booking.

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