Winemaker’s Dinner at Dida’s Victoria Park

The week started in style with a magnificent six course degustation menu at Dida’s Victoria Park. Whilst you don’t need a reason for such luxury to start the week, we had Matt Dicey – Winemaker for Mt Difficulty in town to host the event. The meal was prepared by Dida’s Head Chef, Vincent Marshall and matched with older vintages from the Mt Difficulty range.

Over the years I’ve had some of the best food and wine matches at Dida’s (also some big misses), we give our team the freedom to create menu’s that they think will work, it’s great for creativity. So when introducing the night, I’m always conscious to invite those attending to join us on the adventure, exploring what could be a match made in heaven. As we concluded the evening, one of the many guests who enjoyed this meal, pointed out to our Head Chef, that I had given them a caviet at the beginning – something I clearly had not needed to do, as throughout this meal, every single course matched the wines with perfection.

After a palate refreshing glass of Daniel le Brun on arrival, we started with menu with the Mt Difficulty Target Gully Riesling 2009, when the 2009 was released, Mt Difficulty had started on the path of releasing a richer, sweeter style, but had not developed it into the sweet low alcohol style that the 2011 is. With 3 years bottle age, the wine was at a lovely point in it’s evolution. This was matched with Marlin carpaccio, a hint of truffle, melon and mint salsa. The salsa had just the right amount of chilli and the match was an perfect place to start.

Next up was Mt Difficulty Chardonnay 2008, a rich style, Matt describes it well as ‘funky’ – there’s a lot going on in the glass! It is quite a compelling style, in fact so loved by one of the guests, he stood up, mid dinner and purchased all the stock we had (including older vintages). This was matched with an Almond crusted goats cheese, serrano and beetroot coulis. Beetroot does not normally match all that well with wine, so with some interest we tasted. Vinnie had added just the right amount of raspberry to the beetroot to make the match work so well.

The last of the white wines for the night was the Mt Difficulty Central Otago Pinot Gris 2011, I’d not tried the current vintage recently and was delighted with the style and direction Matt described. Definitely more towards Alsace, a hint of residual and a nice weighty finish. This was matched with the Snapper ceviche, mandarin and witlof.

Finally we were onto the red wines, first up was the Mt Difficulty Pinot Noir 2010, I had tasted this wine recently at home and unusually tried it in the wrong glass and was at the time feeling more like a Spanish wine. My faith in this wine was restored, the team at Didas had off course, opened the wine and let it breath, poured it into a Riedel Pinot Noir glass (the Oregan Pinot Noir glass) and served it at the perfect temperature. This was matched with Venison fillet, a gorgonzola croquette and a fig reduction. All well matched, the fig reduction was sublime.

For the last course, we were served five spice duck crepe with a lovely tart pimento and roast tomato salsa. The wines alongside were the Target Gully Pinot Noir 2003 and 2009, both stunning wines, I just wish there was some 2003 to buy.

All in all, a great night, wonderful wines, company and of course the food.