Monday, 16 September 2013

Wairau River Wine Lunch at Hotel du Vin - a review

by Roz

Last Saturday, B and I went along to a wine tasting lunch at Hotel du Vin in Glasgow at the beautiful One Devonshire Gardens.  We were really looking forward to the event as the hotel holds so many lovely memories from our wedding and the wine we were going to enjoy was from Wairau River, a family run estate in the Marlborough region of New Zealand (where we went on honeymoon!).  Now it's no secret on the blog that I love my wine!  I've shared with you in previous posts about our New Zealand wine deliveries and our wine tasting evening, which even inspired our lovely reader Katy to head to Three Choirs vineyard in England and write her lovely guest post for us.  So we were very much looking forward to this event which included a four course lunch matched specifically to showcase the wines from Wairau River.

When we arrived at noon we were shown through to the Whisky Room - B was in heaven looking at all the different and expensive bottles on display - which was decorated like a perfect little snug for enjoying drinks.  We enjoyed a glass of bubbles and got chatting to the other guests and our hosts for the lunch, Dave Kenny the Export Director from Wairau River, Mike Webb from Ellis wine importers and Aldo one of the sommeliers from Hotel du Vin.

The wedding shoes even got an outing!

  B would like a bar area like this in the new Forever House!

We enjoyed the perfect crab wonton canapes in the whisky room whilst chatting away to Dave, who was just lovely.  He was on a 3 week tour of the UK and other countries in Europe to promote their wine and chatting away to him really made us want to go back to New Zealand.  We found out that we had been very close to the Wairau River vineyard when were in Marlborough and after tasting the wines at the lunch, we were very sad to have missed out on a visit to their Cellar Door.  Oh well, we'll just have to plan a trip back one day!

After the canapes we moved through to one of the private dining rooms, one large table was set for the 11 people (including us) attending the lunch, with Dave and Mike sitting at the head of the table to tell us a little bit about each wine before we tasted it.  The format of the lunch was excellent, it was informal with everyone encouraged to ask questions about the wine and Dave moved round the table throughout the lunch to ensure he managed to chat to everyone.  When we moved through to the dining room it was clear we were in for a treat as there were so many bottles of wine open and waiting for us to drink :)  I got chatting away to one of the other guests, Patrick, who was at the lunch with his wife and some friends, and they had been to previous wine lunches at Hotel du Vin, always a good sign when people are regulars!

The menu (below) sounded delicious and we learned that the food was selected to compliment the wines by the wonderful chef Darren at Hotel du Vin.  For both the intermediate course and the main course we were treated to two different styles of the same wine; with the intermediate it was the regular Sauvignon Blanc and the Sauvignon Blanc Reserve and with the main course it was the regular Pinot Noir and the Pinot Noir Reserve.  It was a real treat to be able to try these two different styles of wine, made from the same grape, at the same time to taste the difference between the two and let Dave explain how the different production or maturation processes results in the different wines.

Our truly delicious menu - thanks Darren!

Smoked Mackerel Salad

The starter was a perfect match to both the Pinot Gris (Aldo kindly topped up our glasses that we enjoyed with our canapes!) and the Dry Riesling.  The mackerel tasted lovely and fresh and the pickled ginger added a refreshing zing to the dish.  I found it difficult to pick a favourite wine out of the first two whites, the Pinot Gris was crisp and refreshing, so it was interesting to learn from Dave that the residual sugar in the wine was 6g.  The Dry Riesling was a darker yellow with a granny apple/citrus smell, it was very easy drinking with a interesting 'slatey' taste on the palate. 


 Our fellow guests enjoying their starter

We then moved on to our Intermediate course, which I had expected to be a small palate cleansing course, so I was pleasantly surprised when the large portion below arrived, especially once I tasted it!  The turbot was perfectly cooked, the fish flaked into the risotto, yet the skin was crisp and tasty.  The risotto itself stole the show for me though, it was garlicky perfection and I could easily have eaten a giant bowl of the stuff!

Hands down the best risotto I have ever had

I really enjoyed the wines we had to go with this course.  New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is one of my go to wines, whilst there is a big variation in flavours and quality, I enjoy drinking the different styles of this wine time and time again.  The Wairau River ones did not disappoint.  Trying the regular and the reserve version of the wine at the same time was a real treat.  The Sauvignon Blanc was pale in colour and packed a wonderful aroma of gooseberries.  It had a lovely citrus flavour with a short, crisp aftertaste.  For me the perfect wine to drink on a warm summer day or on a night in with some friends.  The Sauvignon Blanc Reserve is produced in a smaller quantity (c.6,000 bottles each year) and comes from a single, organic certified section of vines.  This wine was still a lovely pale yellow colour, but had a less sharp aroma.  It was lovely to drink and you were treated to a long lingering aftertaste, for me the taste was the gentler side of citrus (the flavours of lemon and lime without the sharp tang).  Both B and I really like this wine and thought it really tasted better with the food than the regular Sauvignon. 

 Rump of lamb

The main course really was a great combination with the two Pinot Noirs we enjoyed next.  My lamb was a delicate pink colour and along with a great flavour, literally melted in my mouth (I am getting hungry writing about it!!).  The parsley root puree was an interesting addition and added a new texture and flavour without overpowering the lamb.  I was excited to try the Pinot Noirs, the regular Pinot Noir 2010 was a rich red to purple colour and Dave told us that it had not been filtered or fined to leave a more natural wine.  I could taste a mixture of cherry and raspberries, with a lovely spicy, tannin finish.  It was a very drinkable wine and probably my favourite of the tasting so far.  Then I tried the Pinot Noir Reserve 2010!  This wine was a very similar colour but the taste was almost amplified, to quote B it was 'berry-tastic'.  This wine had spent a few more months in the barrel and you could taste the difference in the weight and tannin of the wine, it had a rich, warm aftertaste and a more blackcurrant and chocolate flavour.  Mmmmmm, I could go a large glass right now.


We finished our tasting extravaganza with some moreish Scottish cheeses and two more white wines.  A Viognier 2011 and a Late Harvest Riesling, which was a special Botrytised Riesling.  The name comes from the Botrytis infection known as 'noble rot', where the fungus removes water from the grapes, leaving behind a higher percent of solids, such as sugars, fruit acids and minerals. This results in a more intense, concentrated final flavour for the wine.  Dave explained that the process doesn't always work as if the weather conditions are wrong (too many rainy wet days) whilst the grapes are still on the vine, the grapes spoil. 

The Viognier was a really good drink, look at how pale the wine is, it's on the right in the photo below.  It was almost colourless and had a light, refreshing taste that reminded me a bit of pears.  Again I think this is a perfect wine to drink in the sun and I could see it disappearing quickly out of my glass.  The Botrytised Riesling was one of the best dessert wines I have ever tasted.  Now in fairness I haven't tried that many dessert wines, but I do enjoy them and my experience of them is a lovely sweet treat to end a good meal but something I can only drink a small amount of.  This wine looked similar, check out is deep, almost honey colour and it smelled pretty sweet.  When I tasted it I was surprised at how light a texture the wine had, it is definitely not a thick, syrupy wine.  To steal Mike's wonderful description, it tastes like iced marmalade!  It almost makes your tongue tingle and has a lovely crisp aftertaste that quite simply leaves you wanting more.  I really enjoyed it with the cheese, but I think it would go perfectly with a piece of tarte tatin and I can't wait to get my hands on a bottle and give it a try :)  

I think it's pretty obvious from what I've written that we thoroughly enjoyed our lunch at Hotel du Vin!  (Just like Bex when she went for dinner in July.)  The event was well thought out, the food was perfect and really helped the wines come alive, and being able to chat to Dave from the vineyard was the icing on the cake.  I highly recommend getting yourself along to one of these events, which are held at many of the Hotel du Vin's around the country, if like us you love your wine.  You will not be disappointed!

B and I attended this wine tasting lunch as guests of Hotel du Vin in return for an honest review. 

Roz xx
Hotel Du Vin on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Amanda M said...

I love New World Riesling - one of my favourites. I also love Viognier - although I don't think I've ever had a sweet one. And of course NZ sauvignon blanc is a classic!

We stayed in a HdV on our wedding night and another one on our minimoon - great hotels. Wish there was one in London.

Nice top too!

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