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Auckland, North Island, New Zealand
Wine tour operator, wine writer and lapsed physiotherapist. "Nature abhors a vacuum. I personally hate dusting."


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Okahu Estate Chambourcin 2007 - nom nom

I recently had dinner with a bunch of friends - who I hadn’t seen for a long while.  Anyway – it was very enjoyable.  And as is often the case they brought along some interesting wines to share over dinner.

One wine was a total surprise, and one I’d never heard of before.  I never claim to be a ‘wine expert’ or a ‘connoisseur’ though some people are under the sad delusion that I am - merely because I have been in the wine business for ten years.  It was a Chambourcin from North Auckland’s Okahu Estate. Chambourcin is allegedly a hybrid - made from American native grape crossed with a French variety.   Yennyhoo – who cares, it’s fab.
It had a deep ripe and spicy black fruit flavour with a long lasting palate.  I should have taken notes – but honestly, who does in the moment when laughter, conversation, good friends and wine are combined.

All I know is – it was a stunningly good wine and intriguingly different.

Okahu Estate was begun by local identity Monty Knight – starting in 1984 and going on to win NZ’s first Gold and Trophy for Syrah in the 1996 Royal Easter Show.  On the 3 Ha (7.5 acres) vineyard he also grows Pinotage, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Chambourcin. Okahu has also done well with Chardonnay, and Viognier is the latest variety planted.  The elevated vineyard site slopes west nor west, with impressive rural views, out to the sand hills of 90 Mile Beach and Shipwreck Bay. The Cellar Door offers free tastings of their wines, plus a range of local sauces, olive oil, honey, chutneys, nuts, cheese, jellies and jams.  Three tiers of wines, starting with Shipwreck Bay, then premium Okahu, and finally the flagship Kaz Shiraz.

Phil hosts wine tours in Auckland

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sunday Chutney Sunday - the Tomato Chutney Recipe

Today is Chutney Sunday.  It was commemorated by the Irish band, 2U and sung by Bozo – in ‘Sunday, Chutney Sunday’ (Relish Records ©1992). 

Yesterday I chopped 15 pounds of tomatoes and 30 onions with the help of our charming Swiss homestay student Sofi. “At least we can say we cried together,” she joked.  Her suggestion of submersing the onions after peeling them was a good idea and helped reduce the tear gas scenario somewhat.
After that, I sprinkled salt of the three pots of tomato/onion mix and left them for 12 hours to sweat it out.  This morning – drained the liquid and added the final ingredients.  Right now – I have three pots bubbling away merrily and the house ‘stinking’ of vinegar (according to Miss 9).

Then it’s a matter of reducing the mix over a few hours and finally thickening it with flour and mustard before bottling. 

Like a good wine, chutney improves with age. About 12 months is right – all the flavours blend together and the chutney is just right for cold meats, with cheese, or curries.

Here’s the recipe:

Phil's World Famous Tomato Relish

2 pounds (1Kg) tomatoes, chopped: finely as you can be bothered.
3 chillies cut finely
4 onions, chopped finely
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 cups brown sugar
3 tablespoons plain baking flour
2 1/4 cups malt vinegar,
then 1/4 cup malt vinegar

Put tomatoes and onions into a non-metal bowl. Sprinkle with salt and leave for 12 hours. Drain off liquid formed. Put vegetables, sugar, first measure of vinegar and chillies into a preserving pan. Boil gently for 1& ½ hours, stirring frequently.

Mix mustard, curry, flour and second measure of vinegar to a smooth paste. Stir into relish. Boil for 5 minutes. Pack into hot sterilised jars (heat in oven). Makes about 4 small jars.

For extra flavour:  
Ginger dry or fresh (grated), cumin, cinnamon, cloves, 5-spice, and fennel:  ground – about 3 tsp of each
Garlic: 6 cloves - fresh, peeled & sliced.
(All added with the mustard, curry, flour mix.)
I get a bit ‘creative’ with amounts – but that should be right for two pounds of tomatoes 

Phil runs food and wine tours in Auckland New Zealand.