The 2016 New Zealand Food & Wine Celebration took place at the New Zealand School of Food and Wine, directed by wine and food icon Celia Hay. The event took place between September 10th and September 12th and several experts from the Food and Wine industry conducted master classes, we attended gala dinners, participated in the tasting sessions for general public and we were present at the New Zealand Sommelier of the Year Award Gala.
On Saturday afternoon, our director, Sophie Cotter, and M=marketing manager, Javi Yébenes, led a wine tasting experience where the participants were asked to close their eyes, listen to Spanish music and Sophie's descriptions and then smell specific aromas captured in small vials on a map of Spain in front of them. This multi-sensory experience was very satisfactory for everyone and it was very interesting being able to fly away to the different Spanish regions without leaving your seat.
The wines took us to wine regions all along the Spanish coastline and Spanish islands and the line-up was the following:
Mestizaje Merseguera 2014 (El Terrerazo)
Sin Palabras Albarinho (Rias Baixas)
Ursula Monastrell 2014 (Valencia)
Vinatigo Vijariego Negro 2012 (Canary Islands)
Oliver Moragues 2013 (Mallorca)
Brao 2011 (Montsant)
Alvear Px Single Vintage 2013 (Montilla Moriles)
On Saturday evening, a fabulous dinner of intricate flavours and exciting combinations of ingredients with chef David Puig Zaragoza, Shizuka Scott of Maximal Concepts in Hong Kong paired with a great lineup of wines from Spain from St Vincent's Cave. The food was delicious and the pairings were very interesting and exciting.
The menu and wine pairing were fantastic:
Natural Oyster with cherry “Gazpacho” and compressed cucumber Menganito Verdejo 2015
Slow cooked egg with “Chorizo” and potato foam Bajondillo Garnacha 2014
“Caldoso paella” with sliced octopus and roasted garlic allioli Sardon del Duero Tempranillo 2014
Pigeon Bay Lamb Rack with “Romesco” sauce and leeks Oliver Moragues Crianza 2013
Churros with chocolate’ Alvear Moscatel
On Sunday afternoon and Monday evening, a tasting session opened to the public was set in the school's event's room, a great space for this kind of events, and the attendance was great, as well as it was the interest of most attendees for local and international wines.
We poured the same wines we chose for the Spanish Tapas Gala Dinner, substituting the dessert wine for an Alvear PX Single Vintage from 2013, 93 points Robert Parker, a very popular choice that sold out within minutes of being available.
Account managers Yann and Andrea presented our wines to the public and wine buyers and had a chance to discuss the latest developments of the local wine industry and compare it to the Spanish one with a few interested guests.
New Zealand Sommelier of the Year Awards 2016:
Young talent from the north and the deep south took top prizes in blind tastings, theory and practical assessments at this year’s New Zealand Sommelier of the Year Awards at the New Zealand School of Food and Wine on Sunday 11 September.
The Awards were presented at a 6 course tasting dinner prepared by Chef Lek of Saan Restaurant and students or the New Zealand School of Food and Wine.
The competitors in the Sommelier of the Year Competition were required to taste six wines which had their identities concealed, including international wines. This year the line-up included William Fevre Chablis, Ott Gruner Veltliner, Omaka Springs Pinot Gris, Cote du Rhone, Tongue in Groove Pinot Noir, Tinto Pesquera from Spain.
They also sat a theory exam and the finalist performed practical wine service in front of four judges where they were asked to open and pour a bottle of Louis Roederer Champagne, open wine under cork and then answer a series of challenging questions.
2016 Winners with judges L-R NZ Sommelier of the Year 2015 Maciej Zimny from Nobel Rot, Wellington, Celia Hay, Mathew Judd, former NZ Sommelier of the Year, Dion Wai, NZ Sommelier of the Year 2016, Lyndey Milan, guest judge from Sydney, Richard King, NZ Junior Sommelier of the Year, Cameron Douglas MS.
On Monday morning we had the privilege to attend to the "Fast and Fabulous" master class by Lyndey Milan, in which we learnt to cook delicious recipes with the help of the microwave, veggies from our garden and super easy and tasty appetizers and desserts.
If you attended this year's event we are sure you enjoyed yourself but, if you didn't, make sure to save the date for next year's, as it is a fantastic opportunity to learn from the best in the industry and enjoy yourself while learning.