The talents of Nobilo’s winemaker Dave Edmonds were displayed exquisitely at Ottawa’s newly renovated Social restaurant. Noted wine expert Natalie MacLean brought together some of the best palates in Canada’s capital to discover how well Nobilo’s Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wines pair with the delicacies presented by Social’s talented chef.
The tasting team were treated to Dave Edmond’s descriptions and the regional influences that produce well-structured wines typical of Marlborough on the north-eastern tip of New Zealand’s south island. Edmonds himself grew up in Wellington, not far from the area where he now plies his trade and artistry. After years working in the Hawkes Bay region he now dedicates himself to the wines in the Nobilo portfolio. Through his years in the trade he has developed a great nose for Sauvignon Blanc in particular. He is known for sniffing out some distinct aromas amongst the vines that comprise elements of his preferred style of wine. Likened to a truffle pig by his colleagues, he can pick up subtleties that evade others and he uses this skill to achieve the perfect blend of grapes sourced from their major growing areas.
The Sauvignon Blanc grapes are cultivated in the Rapaura area of Marlborough: the Awatere Valley and the Upper Wairau Valley. Each of these properties have distinct terroir characteristics that allow Mr. Edmonds to make complex wines that develop with time but can be enjoyed straight from their time of release. The flinty minerality and herbal notes are derived from the Awatere vineyards. The Wairau Valley berries are rich in passionfruit, citrus zest, and tropical aromas.
Interestingly, the tropical fruit aromas are derived from sulfur compounds (thiols) that are not evident in the grapes themselves. These pineapple and passion fruit characters develop in the winemaking process. And in the case of Nobilo wines, the wine-making technique is meticulous. For the Icon label, the grapes from each region are fermented in cooled tanks for a prolonged period using specially selected yeasts before blending. The result is a Sauvignon Blanc with nice acidity but a more luscious texture than the everyday version found in Marlborough. The richness of the Icon Sauvignon Blanc reduces the perception of acidity and this, in turn, brings out those tropical notes while the classical citrus character plays a more supportive role.
Pinot Noir was poured along with some perfectly prepared lamb crepinette. For this pairing, a vertical tasting showcased the adaptability of these great reds (2010, 2013 and 2014). The 2010 benefited from a year where yields were in the 75% range and this made for some very perfumed and well-structured Pinots. The group universally loved this particular wine on its own while the younger versions were very well suited to the texture and flavours in the lamb dish.
Nobilo’s pinot plantings are in the Southern Wairau Valleys, predominantly in the Waihopai Valley. As most wine aficionados know, pinot is often difficult to grow and loves warm days and cool evenings. The best of the varietal are found in regions where this deference in temperature exerts its influence on the proper balance of acidity (a cool climate characteristic) and rich berry flavours (driven by sunny days and just the right touch of heat). The Waihopai micro-climate is just perfect for growing pinot and the Nobilo Icon version stands out as a great example of what can be done in New Zealand.
One very notable aspect of the event was the paring of the Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc (2014) with a strawberries and whipped cream dessert topped with matcha streusel. The lightness and subtle sweetness of the dessert would be eclipsed by any of the typical sweet wines reserved for more unctuous delicacies. The crisp citrus notes in the dry Sauvignon Blanc perfectly combined with the fragrant strawberries and silky texture of the cream. The streusel added a little crunch to compliment the overall texture of the wine. Perfect for summer!
Menus and tasting Notes:
First Course: Albacore tuna, Avocado, Yuzu, Cocoanut, grapefruit, cucumber and red Thai Chile
Wine: 2014 Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc
Light straw color. Aromas of pineapple, grapefruit and herbaceous notes followed by more tropical fruit on the palate and supportive flavours of citrus. The finish was driven by a mouth-watering acidity well suited to the varietal and region and lingering minerality that creates a nicely balanced example of a great value Sauvignon Blanc. Drink this with ceviche or lemon chicken.
Second Course: Asparagus Salad with hen’s egg, truffle custard and shaved fois torchon.
Wine: 2014 Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc
Medium Straw color. Initial notes of citrus, pear and grapefruit on the nose. Layers of flavor including passionfruit, and a distinct minerality that combine to produce a more rounded mouth feel with solid acid levels supporting the flavor rather than dominating. Very well structured and outstanding balance of fruit and crispness. This will favor foods that are a bit richer and can even do justice to some red meats. Try this with asparagus wrapped in phyllo or a beef cheek ravioli and brown butter sauce.
Third Course: Lamb crepinette, harissa, labneh and sage
Wines: Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir
2010: Medium ruby red; well extracted color. Sweet fragrances led by black cherries, plums, soft toasty notes and mocha. Rich flavours build upon the nasal hints of chocolate cherries. The wine is luscious and well-constructed with acids and tannins providing a perfectly balanced backbone. A lengthy finish keeps the party going. Drinking well on its own at 5 years and will continue to age nicely. Perfect for duck with cherries and pork tenderloin with a cranberry glaze.
2013: Light ruby red. Slightly muted nose with red currant and some spicy notes. On the palate the wine give up some other secrets. To the red fruit flavours, the taste is accented by herbal notes like cut tomato stems. Soft tannins and a medium finish. The time to drink this is now and it shows well with food like grilled tuna, pheasant and other game birds.
2014: Medium ruby red. Graced by red berries and cherries on the nose combined with some herbal notes and smoky oak nuances. Delicate tastes of currant and cherry accompanied by soft tannins and a nice acidity. Well rounded and perfectly suited for a variety of dishes like rack of lamb or wasabi salmon fingers in phyllo with kiwi dipping sauce (just to keep to the NZ theme).
Fourth Course: Strawberries and cream, Japanese cheesecake and matcha streusel
Wines: Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc (2014 and 2015)
2015: (Note: this was a tank sample and not yet available). Light straw color. Already showing rich tropical fruit aromas with pineapple and passionfruit leading the way. Similar to the nose, the flavors are succulent and driven by tropical fruits supported by subtle citrus and great acidity. Well balanced and should show well when released. Ideal for lighter desserts or with starters like ginger-pumpkin soup and grilled scallops.