Tom, who works in sales for Bellbird Spring, reviews the range with respect to food and wine matching. Whilst particular vintages are noted, many of the comments will be applicable to the same wines in other years.
The Pruner’s Reward Sauvignon Blanc 2013
The wine shows a hallmark Waipara style that is distinct from Marlborough examples; citrus and subtle herbal notes are more prominent, rather than gooseberry, passion fruit, blackcurrant leaf and capsicum.
That said, this still represents a very flexible wine, which will successfully accompany a wide range of food, including seafood, poultry, green salads and Asian dishes with a mild chili influence.
When working with Asian menus I often try to characterise dishes as “citrus” (i.e. they contain citrus or one can imagine squeezing a lemon over them) or “leaf” (where green leaves or green herbs dominate). Sauvignon Blanc would normally be allocated to the “leaf” dishes, but I think this example falls into both categories.
Block Eight Sauvignon Blanc 2011
This powerful wine has a more European style reminiscent of white Bordeaux and several other classic French styles, and so all manner of poultry and pork dishes may work well. Richer southern French wines come to mind; and I can see a successful match with gutsy stews and offal dishes based on pork, including andouillette
The oak profile of this wine, with the subtle textural influence of oxygen, also makes me think of some white Riojas; as such this is a wine, which would be a great partner for various Spanish chicken, pork and rabbit based dishes. A classic paella, which may well contain rabbit, seems spot-on.
The wine will really come into its own with nutty creamy cheeses such as good Cheddars, Gruyeres and so forth, with the smoky nutty oak merging beautifully with the similar flavours in the cheese. Raclette would partner very well, as would a classic Swiss fondue.
Whilst Sauvignon is a good all-rounder as a grape variety, this wine has a nutty, savoury element which means that I would not pair it with sweet sauces and strong spices and Asian dishes – the Pruners Reward is a safer bet for those.
Dry Pinot Gris 2012
Block Eight Pinot Gris 2013
Our dry Pinot Gris is a full textured white wine which will stand up to a dish like slow cooked belly pork – a dish which sprang to mind when recently tasting this wine, as I also noted clear cooking apple aromas. There are some honeyed notes from a little bottle age which I think further complement this sort of dish, plus some citrus /sour fruit notes which along with a crisp finish should cut through a rich creamy sauce.
The Block Eight Pinot Gris has around 40g / litre residual sweetness, and as such it will handle a little spice heat. But I would more likely factor in that sweetness to balance sweeter sauces. It sounds picky but if I was working with a chef I’d probably quiz him/her about the sauce before choosing between the two.
Home Block White 2013
Aromatic whites such as this blend of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Muscat tend to be seen as an automatic choice for all Thai food. My personal view on rosewater perfumed Gewurztraminer is that it does not usually match Asian cuisine anywhere near as well as citrussy Riesling.
The sweetness and aromatics of our wine are relatively subtle and delicate, and the palate is beautifully balanced between softness, florality and freshness, and so I would pair it with much subtler dishes featuring mild aromatic spices, perhaps including star anise and similar elements. Tomi Japanese Restaurant on Edgeware Road in Christchurch have featured the 2013 Home Block as a wine of the month as they feel it will nicely complement their fragrant cuisine.
Pinot Noir Rosé 2013
Possibly the most flexible wine in the portfolio.; mineral upfront with lovely berry fruit on the aftertaste. This wine makes a fantastic aperitif and combines fresh minerality with enough depth to match a range of canapés. Though this is a pale salmon pink, I can also see it working well at barbeques (sauces permitting) where a juicy red or a rose can be preferable to contrast with the smoke and charred flavours. Grilled vegetable dishes could be particularly successful.
Similarly it would be brilliant for seafood-centred tapas, and would not be overpowered by most cured meats. Salad Nicoise with tuna comes to mind, and whilst Provence roses are not made from Pinot Noir, this wine would definitely match well with many dishes from Provence and the Cote d’Azur.
The Pruner’s Reward Pinot Noir 2012
Block Eight Pinot Noir 2012
Whilst the Pruners Reward is the junior label for Bellbird Spring, this is very much a “serious”, well-structured wine just like its big sibling. Both wines display a clear cherry element, and a fresh backbone of acidity. This confirms the classic match of duck breasts – if the wine shows flavours one associated with sauces served with duck, we know we are onto something. Of course we then need to choice a similar “red/black” sauce – if serving Duck à l’orange we might go back to the Pinot Gris.
The Block Eight has great depth and intensity, with high toned spice aromas (my notes include eucalypt). It will accompany the heartiest of meat dishes, including beef and venison.