“Now for something completely different."
Those much loved lines at the start of every Monty Python show couldn’t apply more to any Valli wine than our Vendemmia Tardiva Pinot Gris from the Waitaki Valley. The style of our other whites: our Waitaki Riesling, Gibbston Pinot Gris and Waitaki Chardonnay is based around freshness. They are white wines with bright acidity and length of flavour. They are linear wines with a vibrant and austere, yet exciting energy.
Vendemmia Tardiva is the opposite: it is rich, broad and opulent. While the others are sitting bolt upright in their hard backed chairs paying attention to every tiny detail, the VT is lounging in its lazy-boy, feet up and if you listen carefully you can hear it snoring.
Why is he making such a wine you may be asking yourselves? Well for a start it’s an interest in what my Northern Italy ancestors made a couple of hundred years ago. Vendemmia Tardiva translates literally to Late Harvest. These wines are produced by leaving grapes on the vine as long as possible, harvesting as late as possible but before there is any deterioration. The result: reduced acidity and increased concentration of sugars and flavours producing intense wines with higher alcohol (side note: family anecdotes suggest the latter was my great great grandfather’s motivation for making such wines).
However, ancestors are only part of the reason. We also wanted to make a wine to compliment a certain style of cuisine. Those lovely spicy dishes: Szechuan, Thai, Indian etc. that tend to overpower almost every wine have found their match: our Vendemmia Tardiva will not take a back seat. It will be a dance, with both wanting to lead...now that’s what I call great entertainment. A good way to understand VT is to think of it as a Pinot Gris dressed up in Gewurztraminer's clothing. All those BYO restaurants, as well as the curry in your cupboard are calling.
But more than that, there are many food dishes that you might not think of on first sip. Wanting to explore more food pairing options with this wine, we reached out to a couple of our favourite chefs for inspiration: Jack Crosti at Mela in Auckland and Jamie Bennett at Story in Christchurch.
Adding another level of interest is the fact that, although it is a rich and textural wine, it is not a sweet wine, and therefore it pairs well with dishes that are rich and want something to stand up to them, but are not particularly spicy. Jack plays into this notion with his pairing below.
However, sometimes we like to look for contrasting flavours with wine and food pairing - a sort of yin and yang effect, which is what path Jamie took with his food match - a fresh, crisp pop of acid and crunch.
We hope you enjoy the recipes and would love to hear your thoughts on the pairings, as well as any others you feel work well. Join us in the discovery.
Jack Crosti, Mela Restaurant, Auckland:
“After a sip, my mind went straight away back to Italy in summer. There's a dish that for me is Summer: Trofie al Pesto. Trofie is a small handmade twisted pasta, super easy, and fun to make, with the most delicious pesto you can make. I made a little video on how to make it during lockdown which you can check out: Trofie al Pesto”
Jamie Bennett, Story, Christchurch
· Grab a crisp Cos or iceberg lettuce, cut it into quarters, make sure it’s nice and clean and dry.
· Go around the neighbourhood or your own garden and forage as many soft herbs as you can find - parsley, mint, basil, chives, sorrel etc., as well as any edible flowers.
· Make your favourite basic dressing - olive oil, salt, lemon juice and just a hint of mustard. Go through each layer and wrap each leaf with the dressing. Put it on a plate.
· Chop the banging herbs and hit the lettuce hard with them.
·Micro plane your favourite hard cheese over it or crumbled goats cheese on it.Whip up some buttermilk, mint, really good olive oil and salt and make a soup to go with the lettuce.
·Serve straight away crisp and fresh along side a lovely glass of Valli Vendemmia Tardiva Pinot Gris. Enjoy 😊