Match of the week | Mature Marlborough chardonnay with modern Japanese food

Match of the week

Mature Marlborough chardonnay with modern Japanese food

I don’t often go to wine lunches or dinners, preferring to experiment with a range of wines from more than one country and producer with the food I’m eating but I couldn’t resist the temptation of trying New Zealand producer Astrolabe’s wine with the food at Sake No Hana in London's St James's.

The restaurant describes its food as 'modern authentic Japanese'. Although the presentation is classic the flavours and saucing are bold which is maybe why the 2014 Astrolabe Province Marlborough chardonnay stood out as the surprise star of the meal.

It was outstandingly good with a dish of aubergine with roasted sesame miso sauce, a tataki of beef with sesame and egg mustard sauce, tuna with truffle and black cod with yuzu and pretty good with the tempura prawn and beef with shiitake mushrooms. The only dishes it didn't work quite so well with were a very simply prepared tuna tartare and the sushi which went better with their lighter pinot gris.

When I came to think about it afterwards I was struck by how many of the ingredients were umami-rich with miso, sesame and truffle playing a key part in the flavour of the dish - which was, of course, the element that made the chardonnay, which was barrel fermented and aged in French oak, shine.

The fact that it wasn’t the most recent vintage helped too - the wine had had almost 4 years in bottle. And was served cool rather than icy cold which tends to numb the flavours in a mature wine like this.

Astrolabe also suggests the more conventional food pairings of poultry, pork and light game, creamy seafood and pasta dishes, mushroom risotto and paella (though I’m not quite so sure about the latter!)

Hic! wine merchants still has the wine for a very reasonable £15.75 if you feel inspired to try it for yourself or £17.80 from Armit Wines.

I ate at Sake no Hana as a guest of Astrolabe.

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