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New Zealand Wine

Food & Wine

Wine and sustainable seafood pairings? Yes, please!

March 19, 2017
Fondue made with Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc

I’ve been a little MIA on the blogging scene lately, as I try to juggle finishing the first draft of my novel with a busy period at my day job and a whole lot of the fitness stuff that helps me balance all this wine stuff. Sometimes I feel like I have gotten so into writing about wine that I’ve forgotten to talk about the healthy living things that help me keep my life in balance. It’s important for me to remember that this space was always supposed to be about living a happy, healthy, wine-infused life. As I prepare for a busy race season and continue my yoga journey (I’m proud to say that I’ve hit my mat every single day in 2017 so far), that part of my life has definitely been front and centre on my social media and I hope to see more of it here. But don’t worry, there’s still lots of great wine content too!

Matt Dean PettitToday’s post is about an event I attended in the fall (yes, I’m that far behind – sorry) that fits into all three themes of the blog. I was one of a few lucky bloggers invited to join one of my favourite chefs, Matt Dean Pettit, for a sustainable wine and seafood pairing lesson. If you don’t know Matt, he’s the amazing chef behind the now defunct Rock Lobster chain (I really miss that place) and the brains behind Matty’s Seafood (available in grocery stores across Canada). He’s also a fabulous and funny guy who made us all feel really confident and comfortable when it was announced that not only would we be learning about pairing, but also cooking with wine.

Whitehaven Sauvignon BlancThose who know me are well aware that I am NOT a cook. Thankfully, I married someone who is or I would still be existing on those frozen dinners you heat in the microwave and mini-popsicles. I’m not even kidding. This event was all about enjoying sustainable seafood. We had a really interesting session from Ocean Wise, who taught us that over-fishing is the single greatest threat to our oceans and how to choose easy, accessible and sustainable options. I was very relieved to learn that two of my favourite foods—oysters and mussels—are farmed and, therefore, very sustainable. Wine, of course, pairs very, very well with both.

At first, I was a little disappointed when I learned we would be pairing and cooking with just one wine—Whitehaven’s 2015 Sauvignon Blanc—but this crisp, refreshing New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc was actually a strong pairing with every dish we tried. Sauvignon Blanc is a great option with seafood and the ethos of the winery (they’re passionate about sustainability, have a zero waste winery and use sheep in their vineyards), worked very well with the theme of the night.

Mussels cooked with Whitehaven Sauvignon BlancAnd then we cooked! And it was so much fun. Matt is a fantastic teacher and he even had a non-cook like me enjoying my time in the kitchen. We made a wine-soaked mussel dish and then worked in teams to create a fun fondue. Both involved lots of wine being cooked and consumed, which is always a recipe for a great time.

After our cooking class, we got to try all the dishes on the menu prepared by actual chefs in a group meal that showcased the freshness and flavours of the seafood dishes and how well they complimented the wine. This was truly a fabulous event and a great way to learn about sustainability in a fun environment. It definitely has me thinking a lot more about the seafood we buy and consume.

There are some great videos of the event available (and, yes, you can see me attempting to cook in one of them) and the recipe for Matty’s Moules Frites (one of the dishes we made) is available too. Visit the Whitehaven page on Facebook to check them out!

Do you have a favourite wine and sustainable seafood pairing? Share it in the comments or on social.

*I was a guest at this event, but my opinions are my own.


Food & Wine

Wines of New Zealand

June 12, 2013
Wines from New Zealand

Until recently, I’d never attended an international wine trade show, so when I decided to buy a ticket to the Wines of New Zealand, I had no idea what to expect. Thankfully, I had my wonderful wine friends Rob and Sophie to help make my first wine fair a fun one.

As you’d expect, there was a lot of fabulous Sauvignon Blanc on display at this show – New Zealand is known for its Sauv and it’s a well-deserved recognition. I couldn’t believe the quality of their Sauvignon Blanc and just how different each wine was, while still retaining the qualities of the grape. I think that’s one of the most interesting things about attending a show like this – you get to try so many different wines and can really taste how the winemaker and the terroir affect the wine.
So what were some of my favourite discoveries?
I tried Astrolabe Wines 2012 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and really liked it – a lovely, fruity nose with lychee, melon and good minerality. But the Astrolabe Valleys 2012 Sauvignon Blanc was totally different – it was very green, with asparagus, garden veggies and even soil on the nose. On the palate, the greenery continued. It was so unique and interesting – like drinking a garden! I think I’d pass on this one right now, but I’m really curious about how it would be after a little aging. I thought the wine was completely fascinating and a great example of why these shows are such a great opportunity to taste.
Elephant Hill Wines from New Zealand

Elephant Hill drew us into their booth with their fantastic signage and the wines were worth staying for. Their 2012 Sauvignon Blanc was light, fruity and fresh – one I’d definitely want to try again. I liked their 2011 Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay, but the surprise standout was the Central Otago 2011 Pinot Noir – lots of candied fruit, cherry and sweet red fruit on the nose of this one.

Looking back at my reviews for Hunter’s Wines I can only assume that the ‘Yum!!!’ I noted for the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc was an indicator that I’m definitely hoping to try that one again. I also enjoyed their MiruMiru Sparkling. I found the te Pa 2012 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc to be a winner – very fresh with great acid and Waimea’s 2012 Spinyback Sauvignon Blanc and 2010 Viognier were fabulous. Both of those should be available at the LCBO in August and I’ll be looking out for them.

There were some great botrytis-affected wines at the show too. I thought that Marisco’s Sticky had a fun name (their whole line-up of wines actually does) and I found it to be a tasty dessert wine. I also really enjoyed Konrad’s 2011 Noble Riesling/Sauvignon Blanc – a delicious sweet, but not too sweet, wine.
So, other than a lot of wine, what can you expect at a wine fair? Well, at the New Zealand one there was lots of great food available (though I’m told this isn’t the case at all of these shows) and an opportunity to learn more about the region from the New Zealand wine rep. It was a nice, relaxed vibe and while it got a bit crowded at times it wasn’t overwhelming like some of the other non-wine specific shows I’ve attended.
I also wanted to add a mention of The Village Press Olive Oil, which is made with Hawke’s Bay olives and is completely delicious. I picked up a three-pack at the show and have been really enjoying it. Those in Toronto can find it at Olive and Olives or at A Bisket-A-Basket. It’s also available at Olive & Kiwi in Hamilton or at The Wandering Locavore in Niagara. It’s worth seeking out.For more information on the wines of New Zealand: