Joseph d’Elena Pinot Grigio 2009 & Maggie Beer’s cucumber gazpacho – summer in 2 glasses!

On Thursday I had fun at Harvey Nichols presenting some seriously good South Australian wines paired with light bites Aussie style.  Aussie style because they featured renowned Barossa chef Maggie Beer’s grape-derived products, which are imported by Australian gourmet specialist Of Wine and Yabbies.  Like the wines, they are sold at Harvey Nics.  

You’ll find the list of wines and bites below, but our stand out food and wine match memorably lifted the phrase “cool as a cucumber” off the page.  Joseph d’Elena Pinot Grigio 2009 (£14.75) is a cracking example of this fashionable variety.  Unlike many renditions, it was a triumph of substance over supposed style with beautifully defined pure and juicy pear fruit and more than a lick of lemony acidity to match chilled, super-fresh cucumber gazpacho with a dash of Maggie Beer verjuice.   Here’s the recipe (serves 4) for the gazpacho which comes from Maggie’s Kitchen (which I notice is on sale at Amazon – see here):

Place 2 slices of day-old sourdough or wood-fired bread, crusts discarded, bread torn in a bowl.  Combine 2 tablespoons of coconut milk with 1/4 cup of water, then pour the mixture over bread and leave to soften, but don’t let it become soggy.  Process bread, 2 small sping onions, 1 small clove of crushed garlic and 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil in a food processor or blender until combined.  Add 2 large “telegraph” cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped and 3/4 cup of verjuice and blend until combined.  Adjust with enough verjuice to form a soup consistency.  Adjust the seasoning (sea salt and freshly ground black pepper) then cover with plastic film and chill for a couple of hours or overnight.  Top each serve with a teaspoon of coconut milk and a few mint leaves.
And the other top wine and food matches?  Here’s the low down:

Grosset Polish Hill Riesling 2009 (21.50) and Kilikanoon Morts Block Watervale Riesling 2008 (£14.75), both from Clare Valley with South Australian Yellowtail Kingfish Ceviche with Maggie Beer Verjuice, Bird in Hand Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Murray River Pink Salt – these driz-a-bone, fresh, pure and zippy Rieslings work so well with ceviche, sushi and fresh oysters (especially with a squeeze of lime) – again, top summer drinking!

Teusner Joshua GMS 2007, Barossa Valley (£18) – an impressively balanced unoaked Grenache-led blend with Mataro/Mourvedre and Shiraz which proved a great hit with the Harvey Nics’ sommelier team  – a great textural match of seamless, succulent fruit with the smooth Duck Terrine with Maggie Beer Seville Vino Cotto on sourdough.

Torzi Matthews Frost Dodger Shiraz 2003, Eden Valley (£31.25) – despite its age and though made from vines of relatively tender youth for the Barossa, not to mention an element of appasimento (dried) fruit, the Frost Dodger showed remarkable freshness and line.  Perfect for cutting through Pork Belly cooked in Shiraz, Maggie Beer Vino Cotto and Aged Red Wine Vinegar on bitter leaves.

Glaetzer Anaperenna Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Barossa Valley (£38.25) phwoar, the low yields in this drought year make for an intensely concentrated wine.  A girder of Cabernet  pushes out a long, long brooding finish with ripe savoury tannins.  Powerful flavours, which found echo in Stilton with Maggie Beer Cabernet fruit paste while the sweeter, fleshier Shiraz was a great foil for salty Stilton.

And terrific in their own right, the impressively corsetted from Burgundy to Oz switcher Tapanappa Tiers Chardonnay 2008, Piccadilly Valley, Adelaide Hills (£41.25),  poised, perfumed and elegant Hollick Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Coonawarra (£17)  and muscular but lithe Mitolo GAM Shiraz 2007, McLaren Vale (£24.25).

Afterwards, I took the opportunity to check out the wine shop, which is located on the 5th floor, next to the restaurant.  Unsurprisingly, given the Knightsbridge location, it’s stuffed to the gills with Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux (quite a few half bottles for the abstemious among you).  As for the New World, the Australian selection is very good indeed, with iconic producers like Cullen, Giaconda and Rolf Binder as well as up-and-coming ones like Mac Forbes (see my recent write up here) and Luke Lambert plus quirky labels like Lillian (see my report of a visit here).  The South African line up features some of my favourite producers too – Boekenhoutskloof, Jean Daneel, Cape Point and so on.  And there’s a particularly wide selection of sweet wines.  As for the Food Hall, I’ll be back for the verjuice – got to make that gazpacho!

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