Mediterranean Meccaview pdf of newspaper column…
Nestled amongst panel beaters, plumbing firms and various other trade-oriented whatnot down the industrialised end of Tuam Street in Christchurch is a veritable oasis for anyone yearning for a Mediterranean wine and food fix. The wine shelves at Mediterranean Foods are almost back to their bulging best following the February 2011 earthquake and Italian fans will find a lipsmacking selection of wines from practically every region.
From Sardinia to Sicily, Tuscany to Veneto, the thing that makes me visit time and time again is the affordability of the wines. I’ve found absolute gems for under $20 along with plenty of pricey, famous names that’ll win friends and influence people at the your next dinner party. Famous for their cooking classes, Mediterranean Foods chef and manager Nik Mavromatis also runs regular speciality European wine tasting classes on site and his team are able to provide private classes if desired. If you hail from out of town make sure you pop in the next time you’re in Christchurch because it’s like an Aladdin’s Cave of cuisine. Visit www.mediterraneanfoods.co.nz for more details.
From Dolcetto to Marzemino, Montepulciano to Sangiovese, Aglianico to Arneis – New Zealand is no slouch when it comes to producing Italian varieties. In fact there’s an Arneis invasion occurring in pretty much every one of our wine regions. It’s a typically floral, crisp and full-bodied white with hints of herbaceousness and spicy, citrus notes. Favourites of mine at the moment from the homefront are The Doctors’ Marlborough Arneis ($25), the Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawke’s Bay Arneis ($20), the Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Arneis ($35) and the Montana Showcase Series Gisborne Arneis ($22). Word on the street has it that my other favourite, grown by Gisborne’s Matawhero Vineyards has recently been released under the name ‘Bianchetta’. A precious few 50 cases will be available under their ‘Church House’ brand via their cellar door – and if it’s anything like their efforts with Arneis in the past, it’s definitely a wine worth a trip to the east coast for.
My new favourite thing is to sip a chilled glass of a cheeky, but nonetheless high quality Marsala whilst nibbling slivers of lovely, salty parmesan or a rich, creamy blue like the Whitestone Windsor Blue. Try the Lombardo Marsala Superiore Ambra Garibaldi Dolce ($27) from the Mediterranean Food Company. Made from 50% Grillo and 50% Catarratto, ‘superiore’ means it’s been aged in barrel for 2 years, ‘ambra’ means it’s amber coloured, being made from only white grapes and ‘garibaldi’ means it has natural sweetness and a minimum 18% alc. Now go forth with your new-found knowledge and conquer…
No, viburno is not some snazzy new variety that’s taken root on the island; rather it’s the name of a plant which is the symbol of the Mediterranean. Viburno is an auspicious plant which apparently symbolises triumph and great promise; and it’s an apt name for this blend of merlot and cabernet franc. With black fruits, peppery spices and a grippy, liquorice-laden finish. Good drinking now but I think another year or two in the cellar will do wonders for this wine. Available from www.labarrique.co.nz
I’m loving this super-tasty, earthy, spicy Italian red because it’s a fantastic example of Nebbiolo that’s produced a lush, plummy and ribstickingly good wine. Available from Decant Wines 03 3431945
This is a lean, bony, delicate Italian sparkling that you should dive into immediately. It’s a hand made, extra dry example from the Valdobbiadene in the hills north of Treviso and it’s just gorgeous with any recipes involving salty bacon or ham. I love it! Buy from www.mediterraneanfoods.co.nz
If you’re looking for a sharply-priced, crowd-pleasing red that ticks all the boxes then it’s right here. Plum, chocolate, spice – it’s not a blockbuster but there’s plenty of flavour going on here. Available from www.labarrique.co.nz
Green Man Organic Premium Pils 500ml $8
A clean, delicate pilsner with soft, lifted, herbaceous aromatics and a smooth, refreshing finish. I really like this beer because it’s brilliant with so many different food styles and it’s ultra-long on flavour. Buy from www.greenmanbrewery.co.nz
Renaissance Brewing Co. American Pale Ale 500ml $8
Fresh, clean, tangy and hop-driven aromas lead to a racy, malty mouthfeel and hints of bitterness on the finish. It has interest, personality and length – great stuff for these late summer afternoons. www.renaissancebrewing.co.nz