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Wine of the Week for week ending 21 Sep 2008
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Bladen Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2008
Marlborough, New Zealand

If anyone follows my wine drinking preferences, which anyone reading this article quite well may do, they will know that good Gewurztraminer is a particular passion of mine. So it was great to go to the First Glass tasting last Wednesday and have a Gewurztraminer served as the starter wine. The Villa Maria Cellar Selection 2007 was a nice way to get the taste buds in action for an evening workout but the following wine, the Albert Mann Gewurztraminer 2006 from Alsace was even better.

So what a delight to have delivered the following day, the Bladen Gewurztraminer 2008 from Marlborough. This was one of my favourite wines from the three-day Wine New Zealand trade fair this year, as noted in my Part Two of the Day Three report. Bladen owners, Chris and Dave Macdonald, had one of the most attractive stands too - as you can see from the photo (right) - the artwork of the backdrop had them looking like they were right amongst the vines.

I hadn't tried too many Gewurztraminers at the trade show, due to my focus on new producers - and I don't think any of the newbies had a GW. But I did seek out a few at the end. The Bladen Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2008 reminded me of how exceptional New Zealand gewurztraminer can be - this is a distinctly Marlborough rather than Alsace style - and transported me in my mind right into that backdrop setting, but not only there but to a spring garden and then to a tropical island setting as well.

The Macdonalds had now sent me the wine to try in a more realistic setting and so it was opened, without too much hesitation, on that Thursday evening, to try.

Bladen Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2008 is so pale in colour, but it is brand new. It has a pretty perfume - like jasmine and ginger flower in the distance, and a touch of honey suckle and lemon honey too. Then once the wine is in the mouth it shows off its concentration and balance where sweet tropical fruit is balanced by exotic spices, rose petals and crystallised violets. Just chilled for half an hour in the fridge, it gives the wine almost an icy crunchiness (does that make sense?) and enhanced the tropical fruit. All the time, the wine was never overpowering, just a beautiful taste treat.

So what about food, because now I had the wine we could try out some food matches.

Neil had bought some chicken stir-fry pieces on the way home so I decided to make a spicy satay sauce to accompany them. The chicken was simply coated in a mix of flour, ground cumin, ground coriander, salt and pepper and stir-fried in a neutral oil then topped with the satay sauce made from peanut butter, onion, garlic, chilli, water, salt, soy, sugar and lemon juice. The combination with the Gewurztraminer was perfect.

But the tropical island connotations had me wanting to try marinated fish - because I imagined if this was my tropical island wine, then marinated fish would be perfect so the next night I bought a fillet of terakihi on the way home. My own recipe had a 24 hour preparation and that was too long so the fish was finely cubed and marinated in lemon juice, to cover, for about 45 minutes. The juice was drained and reserved and the fish mixed with coconut milk, chilli sauce, ground coriander, spring onions, tiny cubes of red capsicum, tiny cubes of tomato and salt and pepper. It was a little sweet so more lemon juice was added and Thai basil was used for garnish - I would have used fresh coriander/cilantro but I didn't have any but never mind, the anisey flavour of the Thai basil added another dimension. And the combination of the marinated fish with the Bladen Gewurztraminer 2008 was perfect.

Sam Smail is the consulting winemaker for Bladen and he has crafted this wine with 13.5% alcohol by volume and a residual sugar content of 12 g/L. It is sealed with a screwcap and costs $22 a bottle. There's also a new label design as well.

Coming soon to a store or restaurant near you and soon to be on the Bladen website - too.

© Sue Courtney
15 Sep 2008

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