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Wine of the Week for week ending 25th May 2003
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French Farm L'Orange
Canterbury, New Zealand

Terry's Chocolate Orange
by Fraser Atkins

Dessert wine is one of those areas that even hardened wine enthusiasts often avoid. The gamut runs from wine so sweet and sticky that even someone who could look a whole chocolate mud cake in the eye and reach for a fork might be taken aback, to the wines of France's Sauterne region (considered by many the greatest wines of France) which are often so big that dessert becomes rather unnecessary, let alone the main course. With restaurants frequently offering a sad selection of deathly sweet late harvest Riesling, none of it by the glass, most dinners can easily resist the last assault on their wallet (not to mention their taste buds) at the end of an evening. Despite all this, many wine drinkers persevere, seeing the right wine as the perfect finish to the perfect meal.

What then to do?

Port is often a good option, but the trouble with it (and other fortified wines for that matter) is that it tends to be either two days old (and none the wiser) or else requires twenty years cellaring and of course, twenty years of your hard-earned salary.

If you're still going, before you reach for the whiskey bottle you might want to try an intriguing little number from French Farm.

French Farm Vineyards is located on Banks Peninsula just before the supposedly Gallic outpost of Akaroa (with such memorable places as l'Pub and l'Garage) about an hours drive from Christchurch.

Something that really is French, however, is the 'Farms' chef, Nico Fini. Back in Nico's native Provence they make a fortified wine know simply as l'Orange. Together with winemaker Mark Leonard, they have recreated this provincial delight in Nouvelle-Zelande.

Made from Chardonnay grapes to which is added spirit along with secret herbs and spices, l'Orange is the perfect dessert tipple. Even though it's a fortified wine, it slides down like a Frenchman on a luge. This might have something to do with the method of adding fresh grapes after the initial fermentation, or it could be those secret herbs and spices. Either way it's a wonderful wine. It has a freshness that you seldom find in dessert wines, let alone fortified ones.

So what does taste it like then?

Easy, it tastes just like a Terry's Chocolate Orange (really, it does).

© Fraser Atkins

* * * * * * * * * *

Many thanks to Fraser coming to my rescue of my muted taste buds, subdued and put out of whack by a rasping chest cold.

Check out the the French Farm website for more information about the wine.

Sue Courtney
18 May 2003

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