Conrad (the Wine Wanker) met Konrad (the wine producer and his wines from Marlborough NZ) a couple of months ago at the RegioNZ New Zealand wines event in Sydney (see Are The Wine Wankers now part of the “industry”… really?). He was impressed enough with what he tasted that he organized a sample of their wines from the lovely people at Konrad wines for a fully fledged Wine Wanker Tasting Experience, the WWTE (just made it up… that’s what we’ll call it). Of course his impression was not biased or anything… really. 😉
The WWTE is a special occasion, it’s more than just catching up in a pub and sinking a few glasses of the house red, it’s about giving the wine its best chance to perform in the way the maker intended. It’s about creating a moment in time that is “as you would imagine it should be” when we proselytize to our friends about the magic of food and wine. Being my first official WWTE I wanted to do something special, memorable and provide an afternoons platform that the Konrad wines would need to perform on in order to meet the standard.
The days liquid fare was 3 bottles of white and a single bottle of red. For me as a red wine aficionado this was going to be an interesting day but as I am already discovering within myself, I am enjoying the experience of embracing all that is served up before me, denying any previously held prejudices and learning to enjoy each wine for what it delivers.
Conrad has been excited about the Konrad event so the pressure for me, being the host and chef, was to create something to compliment what was chilling away in my wine fridge.
While this post could be just about the wine, a very large part of what we enjoy is more than just the wine, it’s what the wine gives us and contributes to food and friends. Wine by itself is great, food by itself is great but I consider what we do a little like E-Harmony… Bringing the wine and food together so they can enjoy their majestically poetic existence together.
Seafood was the obvious decision, and after several days deliberation the WWTE lunch menu was set.
Conrad and his wife Debbie arrive and we start off with a platter of Mersey Valley pickled onion cheese and home-made tomato chutney as the 2013 Konrad Sauvignon Blanc fills 4 glasses, the final one for my wife Sara.
Straight away Conrad and I look at each other and think…hmmm not so sure. I start telling him I got the same flavour the previous night out at dinner with a Sav Blanc and decided it was too chilled. After allowing the glass to warm in my hands the wine started to come alive, thus we did the same thing with the Konrad Sav Blanc and again this drop started to reveal its true self as if rising from a cryogenic slumber.
My wine fridge is set to a temp of around 10 degrees celsius which should be fine for a Sav Blanc, even a little warm but I have to say in hindsight the wine felt much colder than this…and it showed. There is a lesson here especially if you grab something from the local bottle shop on the way to dinner, chances are it is way to cold for the wine to really express itself, leave it out of the ice bucket for a while.
The scare over and the wine now really starting to take shape. We were getting strong hits of pear, lemons and citrus with some capsicum adding a light tilt to the flavours and giving a savory fruity finish. Great starter and a respectable wine, well paired with the strength of the Mersey valley and chutney. It only seemed like a matter of minutes before we were up ending the bottle and Conrad suggested we should start taking some notes. It’s easy to get carried away with a good wine in hand. On any other day this wine would have been more than adequate for our lunch, but with the other bottles calling we needed to move on.
The Veltliner is not a common variety grown here in Australia, although it is an incredibly popular grape over in its native Austria (we’re two different countries… just in case you’re a bit confused), and after our tasting here today I am keen to try more of it. Lovely hints of spice and pepperiness with lots of fruit, moments of pear and green apple coming through and the finish containing slight hints of sweetness in the form of, surprisingly, wild honey. And quite long-lasting on the tongue too!
So many flavours and so much complexity coming from this wine. The richness of the risotto and cod was a beautiful combination and a great celebration of something we have not often experienced. This was Conrad’s pick of the day.
Main course, sticking with the italian seafood theme, was fresh home-made fettuccine served with a wine, garlic and tomato seafood marinara – prawns, calamari, black muscles and fish. An easy dish to throw together but a great range of tastes without being too overpowering.
The wine of choice here was the 2012 Konrad Dry Riesling. Straight up I am going to say this wine has changed my opinion of Rieslings. It was a joy to drink with smooth soft fruit, delicate flavours and a gentle sweetness through the back. A wonderful floral element to the wine made it a real delight with the lightness of the Marinara. This one sat really well and long on the palette and was the wine of the day for me. This is certainly a wine I would like to explore a little more of.
We cracked open the 2012 Konrad Pinot Noir through the back half of the main meal to get some contrast between the white and the red with the seafood. There was something unique, in a very good way, about the nose we were getting from the Pinot…the lovely spicy scent of freshly cut cedar winding itself around some glorious dark fruits of plum and blackberry. Interestingly as much as I enjoyed the Riesling I really thought the Pinot equally matched the flavour of the marinara but with a different feel to the Riesling.
For Sara and Deb the Pinot was the better choice with the main, and their favourite wine overall, but that’s taking nothing away from the whites.
Time for dessert, and if we were not overloaded with food and wine by now this was going to make sure of it.
Chocolate molten lava cake with ice cream to be washed down by the last of the Pinot before moving on to some magic dessert wine and I was now most certainly done. Unfortunately we didn’t have a dessert wine from Konrad so we opened a 2013 Piggs Peake Suckling Pig Shiraz from out of the wine fridge. Seriously, if you are a chocolate lover this is the wine for you. Conrad thought no wine really goes well with chocolate until he tried this one. The experience is like drinking and eating the most beautiful cherry ripe. Just yum!
The Konrad wines were all great, each one different and each one bringing something enjoyable to the palette. I loved the Veltliner, and I am inspired by the Dry Riesling. The Sav Blanc schooled me a little but in doing so, lifted her dress and showed me a how its best enjoyed. The Pinot Noir demonstrated that even within any varietal there is a beautiful range of variety. Any or all of these wines would make a great addition to the cellar or as a drink now option when looking for something other than the usual suspects.
I have to say, as far as WWTE’s go, I could not have asked for more and this is the great thing about wine. It brings people together and gives rise to the occasion. It challenges us to present great wines in great surroundings and more importantly, doing so with friends. If you are happy to take on that challenge then the reward is an experience worth the effort.
All these wines can be ordered online in Australia by clicking here. At $20 for the whites and $30 for the Pinot they are a dead set bargain!
Authors: Ben and Conrad