Review: New Zealand’s Oyster Bay wine pairing dinner at Fairmont Norfolk

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Food and wine pairings, when done right, brings out the best in aroma and taste. My recent evening at Fairmont Norfolk’s flagship restaurant Tatu celebrated exactly this concept. Together with Oyster Bay New Zealand, famed for its super-premium wines, and Tatu’s team, diners experienced this concept through a four-course fixed menu with wine pairings specially curated by visiting wine sommelier Andy Fenton.

The evening of uncorking exquisite wines and fine dining was the perfect setting for Fenton to share his passion for wines and also guide the less-experienced drinker through Oyster Bay’s elegant selection.

Months prior to the exclusive evening, the teams at Fairmont Norfolk and Oyster Bay embarked on a culinary project testing dishes with a different composition of ingredients to find the best combinations. The thoughtfulness and effort put into this menu were evident in the conception and execution of the culinary creations as well as the wines that were selected.

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Food & Wine

To begin with, we started with the Sauvignon Blanc 2012, which its predecessor has helped define Oyster Bay’s reputation as a super-premium winemaker since the very first vintage won gold and the coveted Marquis de Goulaine Trophy for ‘Best Sauvignon Blanc of the Competition’ at the 22nd International Wine & Spirit Competition in London in 1991. Known for its elegant and fresh finish, the wine’s aromatic citrus and tropical notes paired well with the delectable canapés: Asparagus Tart, Truffle Emulsion, Shrimp Two-Ways, Ceviche and Crisp Fried Baked Phyllo, and Chicken and Thyme Ragout.

We then moved to a beautifully succulent Cedar plank-cooked Salmon and Zucchini Fritters finished with Citrus Gastrique. The natural sweetness of the salmon and zestiness of the Citrus Gastrique mimicked the Chardonnay Oyster bay 2010 perfectly. The toasty oak bouquet from seasoned French barriques and fuller body captured the aromas of the Cedar planks. This was definitely the most harmonious pairing of the evening.

Then there was the Linguini with Fresh Tomato Ragout of Pancetta, Chili and Herbs, which arrived to the table simply plated. On its own, the dish was a bit underwhelming, but paired with the Merlot Oyster Bay 2009, the pasta resonated with flavour.

My favourite wine of the evening was undoubtedly the Pinot Noir Oyster Bay 2011. Aesthetically, each glass looked stunning with a shade of cherry red so true, its colour radiated around the dining room thanks to flickering candles. Its pristine clarity captivated the eye like diamonds. The Pinot Noir was presented with Pecorino-crusted, Braised Lamb Loin accompanied with Green Pea Gratin, Potato Bits and finished with Garlic Crème. The subtle medium-bodied wine complemented the well-balanced rich flavours of the dish and at the same time, added a new dimension to the gentle, oaky Pinot Noir.

For a sweet ending, we finished with Amarena Cherry and Lemon Verbena Tart, Acacia Wild Honey Ganita, Dark Chocolate and Orange Parfait. The well-rounded sweetness of Acacia Honey and Orange Parfait paired with the citrus-scented Craggy Range Noble Riesling 2008 was another success and absolute treat.

I personally believe that food, much like wine, gives better flavours when served in the appropriate manner. Aside from the vessel, the pairing of the actual wine and food is just as important. Thanks to Fairmont Tatu and Oyster Bay, this was exquisitely executed.

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