Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bring on the Wine!

For dinner at work tonight I made a large salad with the Kula lettuce that I purchased from the Farmer's Market this morning, 2 large Roma tomatoes and the freshest tasting cucumber I think I've ever had! I then doused it (of course) in about 2-3 tbs of blue cheese dressing.

 This was very satisfying at first but I'm hungry again......What to do??

Good thing "Ono Gelato" is across the street from my gallery :-)
"Corn and Lime Salad"

And maybe a couple bites of this...."Purely Decadent" non dairy dessert!

Oh...and maybe one of these......

Now I'm ready for : Bay of Islands Day 2

Rain, again.....So what do we do?? Go wine tasting of course!

The most famous wine region in the country is on New Zealand's South Island. However, we were about a 15 hour drive and a 3 hour ferry ride from Marlbough County's world renown Sauvignon Blancs so, I guess we had to "settle" for the Northland wineries near Kerikeri.


We were so impressed! We went to 3 wineries and every single one of them had excellant varietals! Fruity Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay even Chambourcin and Port! Looks like the South Island could have some competition soon with these delicious Northland Vintages.....

MARSDEN ESTATE - Wiroa Rd. Kerikeri, NZ

Notice the nice eye sore to the far left....

Marsden Estate looked similar to the wineries I am use to in my native California.... Large tasting room, beautiful al fresco dining room and large gardens. Marsden Estate is named after Rev. Samuel Marsden who planted the first vines in this typically warm region of New Zealand. We tasted 4 different bottles this day ...

*Pinot Gris - Essence of apple, pear and quince with a spicy finish. Very very good!
*Chardonnay - Creamy and full bodied like a good Chardonnay should be, aged in American and French Oak barrels. I'm not a huge Chard fan because of the tradition of using Oak with this grape however Carlos really liked it.
*Cab/Merlot blend - Mostly Cabernet ( only about 5% Merlot ) Very juicy with intense berry. Yum!
*Port - I thought this was awesome! Rich, sweet and warm.

We ended up buying a bottle of the 2008 Pinot Gris ( $27 NZD ) and drinking it in our van a few days later while watching the cold surf in Raglan :-)

AKE AKE VINEYARD - 165 Waimate North Road, Kerikeri, NZ

I loved this place....We drove up a dusty driveway around 4 pm that afternoon to a man and his young daughter working in their yard...The gentleman graciously stopped his gardening and took Carlos and I on a small tour of the empty restaurant and tasting room. The space was gorgeous and unpretentious with simple wood and sea grass embelishments. The dining room was enclosed in glass and over looked the quaint vineyard. We were facing west and the sun during this time of day was low on the horizon and gave the whole room a warm, cozy glow.

I see blue sky!!

Side Note: We were told that at first the Ake Ake restaurant was vegetarian however the Kiwis love their meat so they eventually decided to change the menu up a bit and cater to the local flavor....
Side Note: Ake Ake means Forever Forever is local Maori....

We sampled several bottles at Ake Ake...very impressed with all of them.

*Chambourcin - Ake Ake's 2008, 2007 and 2006 vintages have all won silver medals! This was beautiful...full of ripe plum and sweel florals.
*Chardonnay Reserve - Aged in American Oak and then Steel barrels. Carlos and I both like this citrus like chardonnay!
*Port - Yum!! This is a light Rudy Port aged in oak barrels.
*Rose - Made from Chambourcin and Cab Franc Grapes....I don't usually turn to Rose however, this was really nice. It had just a hint of sweetness and floral/berry undertones.
*Chardonnay - 2007 Again, oak and then steel fermented...almost tasted like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with it's tropical fruit and citrus! Wonderful!

After our tasting the young man had to rush off so he could start preparing food for the quickly approaching dinner hour.

We purchased a bottle of the Chardonnay Reserve 2008 ( $29 NZD ) .....this was a hard call because they were all so good!

 **To be continued because the next winery deserves it's own post....Kerikeri's "Fat Pig Vineyard"....

Time for bed and can hear a HUGE storm brewing outside right now?! Hope my garden is ok??

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