OVER THE MOON IN MARTINBOROUGH
We took a couple of days to visit our local wine region, Martinborough in the Wairarapa. This quaint little town is host to lots of small, family run wineries, and to vineyards from big players in other regions (such as Craggy Range's Te Muna Road vineyard) but these tend not to have cellar doors. One of the great things about this region is the proximity of many wineries to the town centre. It is possible to walk a loop to a handful of wineries, which means you don't have to designate a driver! Another great thing is that the wineries are all so different in their approach and winemaking style. You have a great cross-section of what is possible in the terroir (both successful and less successful) within an afternoon's stroll.
The region itself is tiny in terms of total New Zealand wine production, but it stands tall with the great reputation of it's Pinot Noir which now has an international following. Some of my highlights from this area were the aromatic varietals, that showed a great flavour profile and really surprised me. We encountered some fabulous Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and Riesling. With the free draining alluvial soil, and a dry climate from the rain shadow from the surrounding hills, this stresses the plants so that they put their effort into producing smaller concentrated berries. I was certainly surprised at how small some of the berries were on the vines, even with harvest just around the corner.
One of the gems of the trips was a stop at Luna Estate for a bite to eat, before sampling their portfolio. One of the initial things that drew us to Luna was their Asian inspired menu. We were willing to bet that they wouldn't choose a relatively compact, Asian inspired menu, unless they could do it exceptionally well. The bet definitely paid off, and we all had a spectacular lunch on a quiet shaded patio with a refreshing (if not strong) cool breeze.
To start, we enjoyed the edamame which was perfectly salted and spiced so you could appreciate the heat, without being overwhelmed. This was perfect to pick at and enjoy over a longer period of time whilst chatting and luxuriating in the wine. Speaking of the wine, we selected the Eclipse Chardonnay. The wine was bright, refreshing, and very well balanced. The wild barrel fermentation added nice rich, grounding notes of warm spice, brûlée, and toast. Luna tend towards barriques not barrels which would provide a nice texture without being too oaky.
After the edamame, we split the vegetarian dumplings and the bbq jackfruit bahn mi. If there are ever dumplings on a menu, I will typically order them (I have a particular love for them, especially pan fried). These handmade dumplings did not disappoint. The texture of the wrapper and the golden crust was exquisite, and the salty soy sauce and chilli oil dip paired well with the wine. The bahn mi was sensational. The bbq jackfruit added a lovely sweet note and balanced the acidity of the pickled carrots and spice of the fresh peppers.