edited by Sue Courtney
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Martinborough, New Zealand
Sometimes the nicest surprises in life can be found in the fridge. Or so I decided after tasting the Schubert 'Dolce' 2000 that I had opened almost 4 weeks earlier to review for inclusion in my weekly wine column in the local rag, the Rodney Times. In the article I said "one of the sweetest wines I've tasted but with lots of bright acidity to balance it. It is extremely luscious and rich, a wine that one just needs to sip on very slowly after dinner." I was 8.30am in the morning when I did that tasting so the wine was securely recorked and 'cellared' in the refrigerator until I rediscovered it a couple of days ago.
But had it deteriorated? No. Not at all. If anything the wine was better, so concentrated in it delicious and luscious flavour. It's the colour of sunshine and the scent it emits is amazingly aromatic, full of honey, mead, apricots, citrus, honeysuckle nectar, candied orange peel and toffee. I decided it was Viper's Bugloss honey when comparing it to the golden coloured liquid honey I had bought in the Waitaki Valley the previous month.
In the mouth the texture is viscous, thick and rich, but the crisp clean citrus flavours balance the luscious orange, apricot and toffee flavoured wine. It's simply a stunning sweet wine with flavours that go on and on.
But I thought about my comment 'to sip on very slowly after dinner'. What about as an apertif with some fruit and blue cheese, or even as a dessert wine with poached fruit? With peaches and pears in season and growing on the trees in the back yard, there was no holding back on the wine and food matching. I decided to experiment with a three-course dinner to match to the wine.
The starter was a pear and blue cheese salad made with fresh Cos lettuce, chunks of fresh pear and a blue cheese and walnut creamy sauce. Mmmm, not bad. The cheese was quite salty, which contrasted well to the sweetness of the wine.
The main course was Baked Pork Fillet stuffed with pears and sage leaves and served with a Beurre Blanc Chardonnay sauce. The accompanying vegetables were potatoes glazed with honey and tangelo juice, and beans.
Desert was a poached pear and a poached peach, poached in a Gewurztraminer reduction then sprinkled with sugar and placed under the grill to caramelise the sugars. The fruit was served with whipped cream.
So did it work? Well, yes.
The unexpected success was the pork with the Beurre Blanc sauce and the honeyed potatoes. I wouldn't have expected a sweet wine and a main course to go so well. The Beurre Blanc, with its tangy piquancy from the lemon juice and chardonnay and its creaminess from the butter and cream was, without doubt, the 'x' factor. The acidity in the wine cut through the creaminess of the sauce and the combination in the mouth was superb.
Schubert 'Dolce' is made from Martinborough fruit and although the grape varieties are not listed on the bottle, the Schubert website indicates that Muller-Thurgau and Sauvignon Blanc are the predominant varieties. Harvested during March and April 2000, the grapes were whole bunch pressed and fermented in stainless steel tanks. The wine was bottled 12 months ago. It has 9.0% by alcohol and at $25 a 375ml bottle, it rates pretty well in the price stakes too.
The wine I had came from a 750ml bottle ($50), which is useful when you are serving the wine with three courses.
"Dolce" is the name given to the wine not only because it is sweet, but also because it was the name of the Italian who in 1989 planted the vineyard where the grapes were grown. What a sweet name for a sweet wine. It won a silver medal in the NZ Wine Society Royal Easter Show last month, but I would definitely give this wine a gold.
Schubert is a fairly new winery in New Zealand. It was founded in 1998 by Kai Schubert, a graduate from the German Viticulture and Oenology University in Geisenheim. The first wines were released in 1999. Find out more about Schubert Wines and the 'Dolce' wine in particular from the website www.schubert.co.nz.
If you want to see the recipes I made to match to this wine, click here.
If you want to read my review of the Schubert Wairarapa Cabernet Merlot 2000, click here.
© Sue Courtney
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