Celebrating our savvy (from the Marlborough Express, 5 November 2011)
A toast: Renwick wine consultant Belinda Jackson, left, and Blenheim food writer Jan Bilton celebrate the publication of their second joint book.
‘Tis (nearly) the season to be merry, and a newly published book points to Marlborough as one of the best places to celebrate it.
Celebrate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc,by Renwick wine consultant Belinda Jackson and Blenheim food writer Jan Bilton, tells the sauvignon blanc story and how Marlborough became its first major production base in New Zealand.
The authors met at a Blenheim cafe this week to promote the 144-page publication and say it was born when they met for lunch at the Allan Scott Family Winemakers restaurant last year.
December 8 to be exact, Belinda says, and when asked what they ate that day she replies, without hesitation: a caesar salad for her, a goat cheese tart for Jan.
Basil-infused goat’s cheese and an asparagus caesar salad are among the 30 titles listed in the book’s recipe index. Each was designed to complement 60 different sauvignon blanc wines and the wineries they come from.
“Locals want to know more about their wine and what to cook with it,” says Belinda, who for 25 years has worked in Europe and New Zealand, buying, selling, marketing and making wine.
She describes sauvignon blanc as New Zealand’s flagship wine and says the books sets out to be educational and informative but also relaxed and easily accessible.
Visitors and tourists to Marlborough looking for souvenirs are likely markets, too, and the book will be stocked at several wineries’ cellar doors.
It was the support of wine companies that allowed the women to easily meet the book’s publication costs, but important ground work had to be done before any were approached.
Wanting to represent the sauvignon blanc wines produced in Marlborough’s three wine sub-regions and identifying foods that best complemented them involved a lengthy period of tastings and comparisons, says Jan.
“It was hard work,” she grins.
Although made from the same variety of grapes, sauvignon blanc wines vary according to soil, climate, vine age and vineyard practices. Conditions can vary remarkably in Marlborough’s three sub-regions – Wairau, Southern Valleys and Awatere Valley. Neither woman will say which sub-region’s wines they prefer but Belinda does identify sauvignon blanc with more mineral complexity and a sense of “the place” as her favourites.
“And I enjoy the wild wines,” she adds.
Made from wild yeasts, they have more complexity, more texture – and they make brilliant food wines, she explains.
Jan agrees, but says food she eats dictates the wine she likes.
Wines selected for the book dictated the recipes she created to serve with them.
“[The recipes] have to be simple,” Jan says.
“The book is quite small so the recipes need to fit on the page.
“And we want people to flick through and think: `Oh, I can do this.”
Ingredients easily sourced in Marlborough have been used, but making sure they were accessible to overseas pantries was important.
“And we did take into account what some of the producers wanted,” Jan says.
She drew the line, however, at one winemaker’s request to include a jellyfish recipe for its Hong Kong market.
Belinda had agreed.
“There’s none available in Blenheim, so we settled for prawns,” she says.
Celebrate Marlborough is the pair’s second joint book, following Marlborough on the Menu published three years ago.
The new publication can be purchased from local book stores and some cellar doors.
- The Marlborough Express