Lunch at Bentleys with Craggy's Steve Smith
I'm slightly worried that readers will get the impression that most of my days consist of a long lunch, with some wine. That's quite unfair, although, of late, this may have been more common than it used to be.
Anyway, today I lunched at Bentley's (see http://www.bentleys.org/) with Steve Smith MW of Craggy Range, along with a handful of other journalists. It was a low key, rather jolly affair.
The food was fantastic. I had stuffed squid and then pheasant with foie gras, both of which were perfectly executed. The wines were Craggy's Te Muna Sauvignon Blanc 2006 and 2005 Block 14 Syrah. They're both lovely wines. Te Muna is all about texture - a rich but still-fresh Sauvignon that's a great food wine, and Block 14 is dark and peppery, with restrained richness.
We had some discussion of naturalness in wine. Steve mentioned how NZ studies showed the efficacy of using a white cloth under the vines to reflect sunlight back onto the bunches of developing grapes. 'But I don't like laying down left-over petroleum product in vineyards', he added. So instead he's been using osyter shells which reflect light and also add some calcium to the soils. It's a more natural solution.
We talked about wine additions. He doesn't see too much of a problem with chaptalization. 'But I have a huge issue with adding tannin', he mentioned, 'which changes the structure of the wine. There's also a big debate about reverse osmosis. 'I would have no issue with using it on juice to remove water after rains', says Steve, 'but I would have a big issue with altering the wine after fermentation, or using it to reduce alcohol'.
We could have discussed these issues all afternoon, stretching into the evening. But unfortunately Steve had to leave for a photoshoot. In a florist's. The man's a rock star!