Wine & Food Pairing With Middle Park Hotel & Craggy Range Winery

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MELBOURNE | The City Lane was recently invited to attend a food and wine pairing event, hosted at Middle Park Hotel and featuring a range of 11 different wines from New Zealand boutique winery, Craggy Range. To pair with the wines, Head Chef of Middle Park Hotel, Sam Hiroki, took us on a 7-course culinary journey using high-quality produce sourced from New Zealand, showcased in dishes inspired by his time growing up in the Land of the Long White Cloud.

Over this 5-hour event, we were exposed to Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Rose, Pinot Noir, Syrah, a Bordeaux blend and Riesling. For each wine varietal, we compared those produced from different regions in New Zealand. We were quite fascinated with how different each wine tasted when compared with each other, and also when taken with food.

Since 1997, Craggy Range has remained a leading family-owned and operated winery business whose respect for the land on which their grapes are grown is clearly expressed in the aromas and complexity of their wines. They have vineyards in Hawke’s Bay, Marlborough and Martinborough, all of which are considered the best wine growing regions in New Zealand. Their reputation is quickly expanding on a global scale, particularly thanks to their range of Syrah (Shiraz) wines, whose concentrated fruity flavour makes it an ideal accompaniment to both richly raw salmon and smoke-infused lamb.

Our night started with a modern and deconstructed version of the traditional British sandwich, the butty. Vinegar-flavoured Monteiths battered whitebait was presented on the plate with a fluffy piece of white bread, Green Goddess dressing and a pinch of salt. Paired with two types of sauvignon blanc – one from Martinborough and one from Marlborough – we found the dry flavours in the latter better complimented the salty flavours in this dish, but this really depends on individual preference. Other highlights included the raw Hiramasa kingfish paired with chardonnay, Green-lipped mussels paired with pinot noir, and the hay-smoked lamb rack paired with both a Bordeaux blend (Sophia) and Syrah (Le Sol). This progression through courses told a story about both the chef and Craggy Range wines, which simultaneously enriched our palates and our emotional senses.

This event is just one of many to come in Middle Park Hotel’s plan to reinvent their public image and get to know their locals better through events like this. As well as a boutique hotel, they are also a bar and restaurant venue, catering to all occasions whether you are looking for a casual meal out, or a large group function. Through their food, they aim to honour the ‘paddock to plate’ philosophy, regardless of whether you are dining in their finer dining room or their more casual pub area. Dishes range from classic pub grub to more contemporary seafood and wood grilled meats. Respecting the ingredients and where they come from is what chef Sam Hiroki and his team firmly believe in.

We would definitely recommend getting involved in one of their upcoming food-and-wine matching events if you are seeking a different type of dining experience that extends beyond the usual pub meal, where you will not only learn about the history of a region of the world, but also taste some spectacular food, and drink some elegantly pure and textural wines.

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