The Forage experience has been pretty epic and on our last day in Cloudy Bay we visit all their vineyards located across the Marlborough region. Viticulturist Jim White leads the way through the hectares and explains Cloudy Bay’s winemaking philosophies and the year long passion and hard work that goes into making the final product.
The views are just incredible, the vineyards in the different areas produce a different grape for each of their wines, with no two areas being the same whether it be the mineral content in the soil or even temperature differences.
One of the problems the vineyards in the area face is frost and in order to keep the temperature high enough in the vineyards the wineries use wind machines that pull warmer air in to protect the crop. We all laugh when Jim tells us that sometimes they have to hire helicopters to help aid the movement of warm air and how at first everyone loved having joy rides but quickly got sick of them when they had to fly over each row at 3am.
Just as the skies open we break for a quick lunch of baguettes, macarons and GLORIOUS CHEESE AND WINE.
Wehee! Wine makes me happy! Tralalala
We make our way back to the Cellar Door where I can’t help but spin around in circles in basket chairs hanging from trees.
But wait it’s wine tasting time!
I was really surprised by how much I loved the tasting! I mean yes the wines were delicious but I really enjoyed listening to wine maker Tim Heath who was so down to earth and friendly. He was just chilled and relaxed and spoke with such passion but had pealers like ‘them skanky little grapes’ and ‘some of these wines are pretty freaky but hey they sure are tasty’.
We got to try some of the wines that were in the early and middle stages of fermenting where interestingly some tasted like cider.
We take a short break where I managed to convince another human to take a jumping shot wheeeeee starrrrfishhhhh!
We make our way upstairs to the private function room and watch the sunset. The table is gorgeous and has potted herbs in the center and we are told that we’re welcome to cut sprigs for our dinner. Famed New Zealand chef Simon Gault will be creating a degustation dinner for us using the ingredients that we had foraged the day before.
The tentacles of Cape Campbell Octopus have been thinly sliced and are super tender, a swirl into the balsamic vinegar brings out a slight acidic age that pairs well with the Pelorus Rose.
The Tio Point oyster pipe is a hit with the table, many of us had never seen such a pipe! The creamy oyster puree is wonderfully smooth and the crunch of the Iberico crumbs and the potato sphere combined with the lemon crystal was just freaking incredible.
Presentation is always everything, and as the domes are lifted we are greeted with ginger aroma. The salmon is perfect with the slightly sweet miso glaze and while the smoked red pepper pearls are delicious they sadly lack the pop of salmon roe.
Heh fancy surf n turf 😛 But holy moly see that pork belly? Deeeelicious! Perfect tile of crackling and omg hello tender abalone! Was interesting to see not too many people were familiar with abalone (or paua) but turned into fanatical lovers after this dish. That bright orange paint was this crazy intense mango puree that just punches you in the face with flavour and had us all scraping the plate clean!
The Modern Cassoulet was packed full of blue cod and butterfish topped with parsley, Cloudy Bay clams steamed in white wine and garlic, buttery crayfish and smoked chipotle green lip mussels. There was a lot of flavours going on and while everything tasted incredible I kinda wished I had partitions between the sauces to keep them from mixing.
It’s nitro puff time! A palate cleanser called the mandarin cheesel makes its way around the table and we laugh at each other’s expressions when we chomp on the tiny morsel and exhale like puff the magic dragon.
Our final course is the freaking tender Glazebrook lodge venison with a rich parsnip saffron puree and orange onion sauce. It threatens to push me over the edge into food coma territory but I just cannot stop eating.
“Windsong Orchard Plum bag” written on the menu has me thinking that perhaps we would be getting some plums au naturale so when discs appeared in front me I cautiously nibbled at the edge to find that it was edible rice paper filled with plum jam and pop rocks! Love pop rocks!!!
The deconstructed Manuka honey tiramisu is insane, the fig terrine and the puffs of sponge are gleefully dipped into the cinnamon ice cream for a flavour explosion.
With different ages, jobs and from different countries, we were brought together by awesome food and wine and have shared a truckload of new experiences and laughter. Rolling away and clutching our stomachs we bid farewell to our new friends. Thank you Cloudy Bay for this experience, it is one I will never forget.
ChocolateSuze was invited to Forage 2012 as a guest of Cloudy Bay