• Five minutes with Donna

     

     

     

    Donna is a ray of sunshine in the office. Always a smile and a quip – her favourite one being ’You can’t rush progress!’ Supportive of everything and everyone, she is a great team player. When not working she loves family life with her husband and two sons.

     

     

    Lying on the beach or skiing down a mountain?  Gawd me on ski’s, dangerous for both my health and those on the mountain, as for lying on a beach, everyone would need rose coloured glasses for sure
    Cake or biscuits? You know I love sweet stuff, I’m a shocker.
    Beef or lamb? I can do justice to either, brought up on a farm I’m good with both.
    Rock or pop? I love music in general, country rock is always a fave.
    Football or rugby? Don’t tell my boys but I grew up playing rugby.
    Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc? Being versatile anything goes, although I do love our Reserve Chardonnay.
    Comedy or thriller? A good thriller as long as there is the mute button on the TV remote nearby, I’m a screamer otherwise.
    Jason Stratham or Daniel Craig? Do you need to even ask, Jason Stratham for sure.
    TV1 or TV3? I’m a TV1 fan.
    Late nights or early mornings? Pretty much both!
    Retro or contemporary? I’m not really sure, I think I’m more contemporary, but do like a little retro.

  • Five minutes with Marcus

    Marcus Wright

     

     

     

    Marcus is our Chief Winemaker. Usually in, on or under the water when not in the winery, he coaches underwater hockey and loves to fish and dive.

     

     

     

    Tea or coffee? Silly question
    Cereal or toast? Toast
    Fish or meat? Seafood of all kinds. Preferably harvested myself
    Veg or fruit? Both
    Burgundy or Bordeaux? Both, but if I had to choose it’s got to be Burgundy, both white and red
    Read or listen? OMG Both!
    Vinyl or CD? Vinyl
    Spontaneous or planned? Meticulously planned or very last minute depending.
    Late nights or early mornings? Pretty much both!
    Run or bike? I’m my happiest in the water so UWH/swimming/freediving

  • Five minutes with Bec

    Rebecca Wiffen

     

     

     

    Bec is our Assistant Winemaker and when she isn’t in the winery, she’s running around after her two young children or looking after things on her farm. She’s a busy lady with a passion for watching sport and organising the local Wine Options competition!

     

     

    Tea or coffee? Coffee in the morning, tea any time after 3pm – I like my sleep!
    Cats or dogs? Cats and dogs, I have two of each. My cats are both mixtures and my dogs are a Kelpie (with a, hopefully, mended snapped achilles) and a Beardy sheep dog – old and retired!
    Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc? Chardonnay!!!
    Shorts or pants? Shorts! Pants are for July, I say!
    Cake or muffins? Cake, the more chocolate the better
    Vegemite or Marmite? Vegemite (but I prefer boysenberry or raspberry jam!)
    Beef or lamb? Both, yum, home killed straight off the farm
    Gin or vodka? GIN!
    TV or Netflix? Happy to watch either but I do like a good series on Netflix. I seem to have lost the patience to wait for anything to be on TV!
    Book or a magazine? Magazine… The trashier the better!

  • Why We Love Wine

    We do. Love wine, I mean. And this is why.

    • We can use a really nice glass to drink it from. Doesn’t have to be expensive – just nice. Preferably quite thin, with or without a stem, tapered toward the top and no chunky rim. And large (only fill to 1/3).
    • We can enjoy it with some yummy food. Might be just a platter of antipasti, a chunk of good cheese or a full-blown degustation dinner – regardless, wine and food were made for each other.
    • We can talk about it if we want to. If you really like it – you might want to say so – if you really don’t you might want to say so too, but perhaps not if you weren’t the one who brought/chose it.
    • We can buy into the whole experience of enjoying wine. If we want to. Pour a glass a third full, swirl it round, stick our noses in and take a good sniff or two, then a sip/mouthful and savour it for a moment, letting it reach all parts of your mouth. Even suck in a bit of air like the professionals, if you feel like it and if you’re not wearing white.
    • We can experience the wine changing in the glass, or from one glass to the next (steady). As white wine warms up, having come from the depths of the chiller or ice-bucket, it reveals more aromas and more flavours. Red wine tends to soften as it gently absorbs more air once released from the bottle.
  • Five minutes with Sion

    Sion Barnsley

     

     

    Sion is our General Manager and he’s also a shareholder. His name is a Welsh form of the given name John, pronounced in English identically to the Irish name Seán.

    When not in his office, Sion likes to be at his bach in the Sounds, or even better, out on his boat (or somebody else’s!)

     

     

    Summer or winter? Summer
    Mornings or evenings? Mornings
    Rice or pasta? Rice
    Sparkling or still? Still
    Fiction or non-fiction? Non-ficton
    Cook or clean up? Cook
    Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling? Sauvignon Blanc
    Cheese or dessert? Dessert
    Beanie or cap? Cap
    Soccer or rugby? Soccer

  • Silver for PINK in 2019 Harpers Design Awards

    Brand new wine, PINK Pinot by Marlborough wine producer Lawson’s Dry Hills, has been awarded a silver at the Harper’s Design Awards 2019. The label was designed by Jason Petersen of Gusto Design, Nelson.

    Harpers is owned by Agile Media, a respected B2B drinks publishing and events company based in the UK. The company publishes Drinks International, Harpers Wine & Spirit and Drinks Retailing News.

    According to Harpers, the look and design of product packaging has never been more important in demonstrating brand values and giving cues to the quality of the liquid inside.

    In October a panel of designers and key on and off trade buyers were brought together to assess all the entries and deliver their expert opinion on which products have proven themselves worthy of a medal place and deserve to be category champions 2019.

    One of the judge’s commented on PINK, “Unique for wine and works well for rosé as well as price. Simple, unique, effective.”

    Commenting on the result, Petersen said, “It was fun and exciting to do something so different within the wine category and good to work with a producer willing to break the mould.”

    The full results will be published in Harpers Wine & Spirit and available to view all year round from 13 December 2019 at www.harpers.co.uk.

    For further information, contact Lawson’s Dry Hills Group Marketing Manager, Belinda Jackson [email protected] 03 578 7674 or Jason Petersen www.gustodesign.com

    Harpers Design Awards 2019 logo

  • Natural Wine Blog

    If you think you’re hearing more and more about natural wine, you’re not alone. While currently a mere drop in the wine ocean, interest in natural wine is gaining momentum at a rate that defies its modest volumes. As today’s consumers are increasingly wanting to know what ingredients are in the wine and food they’re buying and are willing to pay a premium for products they perceive as being ‘natural’, our curiosity about natural wines can only keep growing. With some wine drinkers reporting fewer or no side effects like hangovers from drinking natural wine, you begin to understand what the fuss is all about.

    So what exactly is ‘natural’ wine. While there is no legal definition, it means that the grapes have been grown and the wine made with minimal chemical or mechanical intervention along the way. Some would say it takes winemaking back to the way it was centuries ago – long before modern science got involved.

    In conventional wine production, there is plenty of scope for viticulturists to use herbicides, pesticide or fungicides to protect the grapes and ensure the fruit reaches its potential (although New Zealand vineyards must be certified by Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand which employs strict criteria). Why should we worry? Decanter magazine reported that a recent study of French wine showed 90% contained traces of at least one pesticide, albeit at very low levels. Then during the winemaking process, winemakers have the latitude to use around 72 permissible additives including yeasts, enzymes, proteins, tannins and bacteria to enhance their wines, depending on the winemaking rules and controls of their region. After that, a raft of techniques including temperature-controlled fermentation, lees stirring, fining and filtering may be used to further manipulate the end result.

    In natural wine production however, the options are considerably limited. Grapes must be grown organically or bio-dynamically which, among other disciplines, means there’s no reliance on synthetic herbicides or pesticides. As Lawson’s Dry Hills winemaker Marcus Wright, pointed out, “There are still sprays that you can use, but your options are limited. You have to keep a very good eye on things, because the sprays are much softer.” With science doing little to help, viticulturists have to work with the forces of nature. Ploughing is minimised, soil is often enriched with compost rather than fertilizers and the vines require careful management.

    Once in the winery, the winemaker’s wings are clipped considerably. Only the grapes’ natural yeasts are used in fermentation and minimal or no sulphur is added. There’s no fining to remove sediment, nothing is added to rectify sugar or acid levels, even the use of oak barrels is minimised by many, preferring the natural taste of the grapes to be the driving force. As a result, natural wine is typically very much ‘alive’ when it’s bottled. White wines will often look cloudy as the wine may rest on skins for long periods; such skin contact potentially helping to naturally preserve the wine. However, that cloudy appearance is nothing to be alarmed about. The requirements of Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand ensure the purity of the wine isn’t compromised by chemical residues.

    There’s also an increased chance of popping the cork on a bad bottle. That said, many natural wines look bright and vibrant and present an abundance of flavour in the glass. Marcus tried his hand at a natural wine using conventional grapes recently. “We actually made a Gewürztraminer using natural techniques, with no added yeasts, left it on skins for 100 days and it was absolutely delicious.”

    Of course, there are risks. With the whole process from grape to bottle presenting a range of challenges and the risks increasing considerably, you can understand the reluctance of many larger wine producers to dabble with natural wines. So why should we get excited about them? Perhaps we may be jumping the gun, but if the craft beer revolution gives us anything to learn from, natural wine could have a significant impact. Indeed, Marcus sees natural wines as, “The craft beer of the wine world. They have the potential to capture the attention of the younger generation who don’t have preconceptions about what they buy and drink.” Today, craft beers are no longer the fringe but are arguably the drivers of change in what once was a dying market.

    So, could the natural wine movement mimic the craft beer phenomenon? Natural wines are making an impact right around the world as vignerons of all cultures and countries are getting involved, while many bars and restaurants are only too eager to offer natural wines to their customers. Closer to home, a visit to ‘Cave à Vin’ – a bar which serves only natural wines on Auckland’s North Shore – provides a glimpse into what’s happening and the diversity of wines on offer. As you look around the rustic surroundings, you notice the funky label designs reminiscent of the hippie era. Behind the rough sawn timber bar, our host, Romain, originally from Beaujolais, paints a vivid picture of what is happening with natural wine from a French perspective.

    Romain described how, despite their strict adherence to the disciplines of appellation and tradition, a growing number of French winemakers are joining the movement and producing some exciting wines. Similarly, natural wines are popping up in California and Australia as well as New Zealand with many available for tasting at this quirky establishment. Sure, they’re not all great, natural wines tend to age quicker in the bottle and there’s a risk of striking the odd one that’s dull and flat, though it wasn’t difficult to find some shining lights as well.

    Right now, there are very few natural wines in the major wine stores and supermarkets, so how are consumer likely to respond as more of them appear on the shelves? According to global market research company Kline Research, consumers are willing to pay a premium for products they perceive as being ‘natural’, particularly millennials who are, of course, the new generation of wine drinkers. Closer to home, the 2018 OANZ Organic Market Report showed that retail sales of organic products are growing twice as fast as conventional products. The New Zealand organic sector has grown ten per cent a year since 2015 and by mid-2018 was said to be worth around $600 million.  So whether this increased interest in ‘natural’ will result in growing demand for natural wines, only time will tell. And there are those who insist that natural wines are nothing more than faulty – a strong opinion that is not without merit. Keep watching this space!

  • Christmas salad

    Food and wine pairing is about what tastes good – so don’t worry too much about the rules, just mix some flavours and pour a glass of your favourite wine and see what you think! You can use recipes for inspiration, but adapt them to suit your own tastes, or perhaps to suit seasonal produce from your garden.

    This salad mixes many different flavours from sweet to peppery, tangy to toasty – perfect with our exciting new Rosé, PINK Pinot by Lawson’s Dry Hills. Serve chilled.

    Christmas salad

    2 cups rocket

    50g goat’s cheese, crumbled

    Fennel bulb, finely sliced

    50g toasted pine nuts

    Tablespoon of pomegranate seeds

    Fresh mint, Italian parsley, oregano

     

    Dressing – combine the following in a jar and shake until well-mixed.

    ¼ cup Raspberry vinegar

    ¾ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

    ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard

    Half a clove of fresh garlic, minced

    Pinch of Marlborough sea salt

    Few grinds of freshly ground black pepper

     

    Combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl and add as much of the dressing as you wish. Quantities are approximate!

    Enjoy with grilled fish or meats, especially glazed ham, or just some artisan bread and don’t forget the PINK!

  • The rise and rise of Rosé

    Across the ever-changing wine landscape, there’s one trend that’s growing at a startling rate. Rosé. It continues to climb the sales charts with both seasoned aficionados and newcomers to the world of wine thoroughly enjoying drinking pink. The release of PINK Pinot by Lawson’s Dry Hills is indicative of how far Rosé has come – and how seriously the country’s quality wine producers are taking it. Winemaker Marcus even chose to use an imported a yeast from the south of France especially suited to this style of Rosé.

    The latest wine competitions add a sense of perspective to how much Rosés have come of age. At the 2018 New Zealand Wine of the Year Awards, there were 70 medal-winning wines. The winner of the Best Open Red category was in fact a Rosé, not a traditional red Pinot Noir or Syrah as you may have expected. A record number of 100 Rosés lined up for the 2018 New World Wine Awards – up 33% on the previous year. Then at the latest Organic Wine Awards, there were eight Rosé medal winners – more than for varietals like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Gewürztraminer.

    In 2015, Decanter magazine reported record sales of Rosé in the US and today the trend continues to gather momentum. From 2001-2016, 11.5 million litres were exported from France to the US, as reported by Wine Spectator magazine. Even celebrities like Brad and Angelina joined the movement having invested $60 million in Chateau Miraval in the Côtes de Provence back in 2011. Closer to home, new Rosés are constantly being added to the line-ups of major wine producers on both sides of the Tasman.

    With over 150 New Zealand examples on the shelves in right now (and counting), Rosés are creating strong demand from women and younger wine drinkers, but men are also joining in, disproving the stereotypical assumption of ‘pink must be for girls’ (about time!).

    So where did it all begin? Provence in southern France is the heartland of Rosé while other French regions including the Loire, Languedoc-Roussillon and Corsica also produce many high-quality examples. Virtually every wine region in the world produces Rosés, the most well-known globally being Mateus from Portugal in the distinctive flask-shaped bottles (often coveted as candle holders back in the ‘70’s).

    From a style perspective, there tends to be two distinctive camps – darker, slightly sweeter wines or the more favoured pale and dry ones, such as those predominantly from Provence. Rosé is made by crushing the grapes and leaving the skins in contact with the juice for just enough time to extract the desired amount of colour. The skins are then removed and the juice usually fermented cool, in stainless steel. A number of red varietals are suitable for Rosé with many of New Zealand’s north island producers opting for Merlot or Sarah, while south island wineries tend to choose Pinot Noir.

    To create PINK, Marcus chose Pinot Noir grapes from the company’s Chaytors Road vineyard in Marlborough’s Wairau Valley. Grapes were picked in early March with sugar levels of 21.5° Brix, a crisp acidity and lovely, intense flavours. Once in the winery, the grapes were gently pressed and allowed to settle overnight. Then during fermentation, the specially-imported yeast proved its worth, highlighting the natural berry fruit characters to help create a ripe, fruity yet refreshingly dry wine. Marcus is delighted with the results, saying, “We have worked hard in the vineyard and winery to craft a wine that is a much fun as the packaging – beautiful on the eye and delicious on the palate”.

    As one trade professional said when tasting PINK, “It’s a rare thing to find a pale Rosé that is dry, yet so packed with flavour!”

    So as spring gently creeps up on us and we think ahead to warm, summer evenings, there will be many delicious pink wines to sip and enjoy chilled, including the brand new PINK Pinot by Lawson’s Dry Hills. This immensely drinkable wine with lifted aromas of ripe strawberry and elegant floral notes is ideal for serving with those mixed platters of cured meats, olives and young cheeses.

    PINK Pinot sits alongside the popular Lawson’s Dry Hills estate range that includes Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir, but looks very different! The label is modelled on the popular mandala pattern, the literal meaning of which is ‘circle’ which represents wholeness. A circle also denotes balance and perfection, important characters in great wine. Dressed in silver, which is said to restore balance and pink for compassion and glamour, this exciting new wine should be enjoyed with great friends, delicious eats and inspiring conversation.

    More about Lawson’s Dry Hills PINK Pinot

  • Writing for the world wine web

    Keeping informed about the world of wine used to be simple. Glossy magazines and daily newspapers provided fertile soil for New Zealand writers like Bob Campbell MW, Vic Williams and Geoff Kelly to flourish and share their views. They were our palate’s alter ego; our ears to the ground in a pioneering industry eager to grow and develop its identity. It was a time when receiving the latest news, a matter of weeks or even months later, was deemed timely enough. After all, in this industry speed was never the driving force and time, it seemed, could only make a good thing better.

    Oh how things have changed.

    Wine scribes have had to embrace the new digital media, keeping wine lovers informed at the click of a mouse barely seconds after the finishing touches have been applied to articles, posts, blogs and tweets. And it’s just as well as wine columns in the daily papers, globally, have been disappearing as the big media companies look to cut corners to try to cope with their shrinking patronage.

    While search engines have made seeking out the latest news easier, the plethora of information on offer has made it harder to be selective. Where do you start? Well, many of the writers and critics who made their names in print have been just as successful online, so they make a good starting point. Internationally, Jancis Robinson’s columns still grace the pages of the UK’s Decanter magazine but she also has her own website and e-newsletter. Decanter’s online newsletter offers snippetsof their tastingsfor free, or you can pull the cork on a Premium Subscription to read the full reviews for £75 a year (around $NZ145).

    From the US, subscribe to the Wine Spectator newsletter at www.winespectator.com and while Robert Parker’s ‘Wine Advocate’ is still available in print, it is more accessible at www.robertparker.com.

    Closer to home, Australia’s Winestate Magazine can still be found on newsstands and also read as a digital edition at winestate.com.au. Gourmet Traveller Wine, which harnesses around 30 leading wine writers including an impressive seven Masters of Wine, is available as a bi-monthly digital edition. Or for those who tire of reading on their tablet or PC, it too can still be found at newsstands. Also making the transition from print to digital, Bob Campbell MW, together with writer Huon Hooke, have a successful online newsletter ‘The Real Review’ at www.therealreview.com. And then there’s Yvonne, Joelle, Michael and co locally. Need more inspiration? Simply google ‘wine news’ and watch the flood gates open!

    Onlinepublishingarguably gives wine writers more opportunity to engage with their readers leading to a more ‘personal’ relationship. It’s therefore important that messages and comments are replied to in good time – there is now an expectancy to receive a response within 24 hours at the most – something that the ‘old school’ writers have had to get used to. And their opinions travel fast via the viral nature of social media, where hashtags and online communities reach readers unrestricted by industry, time zone or geography.

    In today’s world, wine news like many other things, also comes via a cellar full of apps allowing you to download buying guides like Vivino, Wine Searcher and more.

    Yet with the rise of digital media one wonders if some of the mystique has been filtered away. This revolution is rather like that which occurred when screw caps began replacing corks. The once familiar ‘pop’ now mostly echoes in the corridors of time, replaced with the ‘click of quality’ (according to the pioneers of the Screwcap Initiative back in 2001). So too, digital writing has re-written the rules of traditional print media.

    Whilst we are obviously a wine producer rather than a wine writer, we do make an appearance on social media with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram under our Lawson’s Dry Hills brand. Like bringing the media closer to readers, these social platforms bring brands like ours closer to our customers and that’s a really good thing. When someone writes about us and tags us, we get to see that review and can reply or thank people straight away. We can re-post it, ‘share’ it, ‘like’ it – it’s all great brand exposure and word-of-mouth is the strongest form of advertising!

    The internet is not going anywhere, so the instantaneous nature of news, thoughts, reviews, comments and opinions can reach thousands, if not millions with just a few clicks. This is now the way of the world and the demand for expediency will only grow as people continue to want to satiate their appetites for instant information.

  • Vintage 2019 in Marlborough hits the sweet spot

    While most New Zealanders were basking in the warmth of an unseasonably hot, dry summer, Marlborough wineries were basking in the glory of a different kind. High sunshine and low rainfall provided the perfect conditions for their grapes, offering the essential ingredients for a standout vintage. So this year, unlike the more-challenging harvests of the past few years, winemakers had the freedom to call the shots. For Lawson’s Dry Hills’ senior winemaker Marcus Wright, that meant picking when the grapes and the conditions were right, unhurried by the threat of inclement weather and ensuing challenges such as botrytis.

    However, it takes more than good weather to make great wine. Years of nurturing the soil and managing the vines plays a huge part in the resulting wines and none more so than managing the yields. Pruning to two or three canes is just the start (many vineyards grow four canes) and already reduces the amount of fruit a vine can produce. Careful canopy management and taking decisions to sacrifice fruit post-veraison are all hugely important decisions that affect the quality and style of the wines. The strategies employed by the Lawson’s Dry Hills team are part of why their wines are so consistently good, year on year. They’re here for the long-term and therefore avoid the short-term gains to be had from large crops but poor quality, resulting in wines that lack the varietal character and sense of place that are so important.

    The freedom to harvest when the time is right is also the result of careful planning, a luxury made possible by Lawson’s Dry Hills having invested years ago in their own harvester. This is not the case for many other vineyards with contractors having to work around the clock to meet demand. For some, that meant waiting in a queue and producers having to delay bringing in fruit that was deemed to be ready.

    Back to 2019 and the LDH harvester rumbled into the vineyard around two weeks earlier than normal, beginning with the Pinot Noir for the Rose at the end of February, followed by Chardonnay then some of the Sauvignon Blanc in early March and the rest at later intervals. Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir were sprinkled throughout. The excitement of the winery and vineyard team would suggest this harvest will draw comparison with the highly rated 2015 (the vintage our Blind River Sauvignon Blanc received multiple trophies at the International Wine Challenge in London).

    Marcus believes the company’s grapes are pretty much perfect this year, having achieved the ideal balance of sugar (ripeness), flavour development and acid levels. All the winery team need to do is gently guide these characters into the finished wine with minimal intervention. The only negative is that volume is down on an average year by about 30% for Pinot Noir and 10% for Sauvignon Blanc.

    Fast forward to May and some of the ferments have finished whereas others are still quietly ticking away. It’s important to keep tasting the ferments with a view to the final blends although the flavours will continue to develop over the next few weeks.

    Such a season of favourable growing conditions is backed up by Met. office data which indicated that ‘Growing Degree Days’ in January 2019 for Blenheim were around 33% above the long-term average. There were over 20% more sunshine hours than the norm and only 8% of the long-term average rainfall.

    For other Marlborough producers, initial reports are also positive. Harvest began in many cases ten days earlier than normal with good quality, yet in some cases, lighter yields. Many reported that it was the earliest they had ever experienced. Of course, hot weather also brings unique challenges as low rainfall earlier in the summer forced a shutdown of the Southern Valleys Irrigation Scheme which harnesses much of the water the vineyards depend on. Some growers were even trucking water in to sustain their vines.

    Right now at Lawson’s Dry Hills, the focus is on treating the new season’s juice with care and ensuring that the high quality finds its way into the company’s brands Blind River, The Sisters, Mount Vernon and of course, Lawson’s Dry Hills. These wines will then follow the 2018’s into the New Zealand market and further afield to export markets around the world.

  • Wine in the cooking as well as in your glass!

    Many of us like to try a new recipe or attempt to dazzle our dinner party friends with a new dish but when it comes to adding wine, we’re a little less confident. Fact is, wine can add a new flavour dimension so here are some tips that may encourage a few more cooks to take the plunge.

    Adding wine to cooking all begins when you’re out shopping. If you’re going to pick up a bottle or two of wine for dinner, and if you need more than a splash for the dish, grab another bottle to cook with. Not that it has to be exactly the same wine, but something of the same grape variety is preferable (don’t worry about having a little wine left over, did you know you can freeze it and save it for another day?)

    So how exactly does wine work its magic? They say that the alcohol in wine helps release flavour molecules in food as well as help dissolve the fats. Add wine early enough in the cooking process to give it time to reduce and concentrate the flavour.

    Imagine you are preparing a Coq au Vin which calls for a bottle of red Burgundy (although with Burgundy prices what they are, not many of us want to tip a bottle into the cooking! Just go for Pinot Noir, which is the same grape variety). Then for your guests, open a good New Zealand Pinot Noir (Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve springs to mind!) to serve with it.

    There are other ways of using wine to great advantage when cooking. The best gravies are those made in the pan that the meat has been roasted in. It’s very simple – remove the meat for it to rest, spoon off some of the fat is there is a lot – you need to leave just a tablespoon or two. Keep a medium heat under the pan and add a tablespoon of flour, stirring well to absorb all of the fat. Cook it for a minute or two, always stirring. Next add hot stock – keep stirring until it boils to avoid it going lumpy. Once simmering, add a cup or two of wine – white for chicken dishes and red for lamb and beef ideally, and a good grinding of black pepper. Allow to simmer gently for 20 minutes or so, stirring every now and then.

    Another idea is to match the region with the produce by using, for example, a crisp Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris to steam the local green-lipped mussels. Delicious!

    If searing a piece of meat, such as steak, once it is cooked, remove and add red wine to the hot pan – it’ll sizzle and reduce as you stir to get all the flavoursome bits off the bottom. Add a few herbs, some salt and pepper and a knob of butter and there’s your red wine sauce.

    For barbecues, using wine in marinades helps to tenderise the meat and adds another dimension to the flavour. When grilling or basting, marinades help retain moisture in the dish while it’s in the oven.

    Enjoy!

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