Easter – no bunnies here!
After the thrill of Easter eggs and frill of Easter baskets comes the meal to celebrate the spirit of new life. For some more orthodox religions, this also means the breaking of the fast in a traditional feast with all the trimmings. Where ever you live, whether Northern or Southern hemisphere the milder weather is welcomed. Like we just needed another reason to celebrate!
Easter menu’s range from traditional ham, roast pork or lamb with seasonal vegetables to more modern styles. Don’t forget the seafood/fish feasts for Good Friday (this, I confess, is when we aim to have fish and chips by the beach as a family). Dessert is always the height of anticipation on any celebratory menu and may well be a simnel cake or at least the last slices of it or a simple repast of hot cross buns. These never last long in my house for some reason and perhaps if they did, I would turn them into a bread and butter pudding with a Topaque or Liqueur Muscat sticky caramel sauce.
Whatever your plans, here are a few wine suggestions to make your Easter more memorable ……
Fizz – every celebration needs bubbles!
For starters, with the milder weather it is time to bring out bubbles with body. You might enjoy a d’Arenberg DADD NV ($28) which has rich ripe fruit and will be a crowd pleaser or go straight for the Champagne and enjoy a glass of briochy Laurent Perrier NV ($57+). The creamy vanilla and apple notes of the citrusy Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blancs 2007 (USA) is perfect to share amongst friends. And for dessert you have a wide choice. Chandon NV Cuvee Riche goes wonderfully with dessert and the odd egg but in my mind, nothing beats something red and bubbly. The seductive blackberry, liquorice and cinnamon of the Leasingham Classic Clare 05 Sparkling Shiraz ($50+) is sure to please, just as would the velvety depths of a Grant Burge Sparkling Red ($25).
If you have seafood in mind, then white wines are simply perfect providing you are careful with the seasoning. The spicy fullness of Chermoula requires something with more body and intensity such as Pinot Noir.
A crisp Hunter semillon such as Chalkboard 2012 Semillon ($10) or McLeish 2007 Semillon ($23) naturally go with ‘nudie’ oysters. Good all purpose whites earn their keep matching a wide range of foods from seared scallops to cheese soufflés. The O’Leary Walker Polish Hill Riesling 2012 ($20) is pleasingly full of flavour with the softer acid will appeal to even those with hearts hardened to riesling. The ever pretty Knappstein Three 12 ($22) announces its arrival with fresh fruit salad and finishes with perfumed musk.
For meatier dishes such as Roast chicken or lighter styles of pasta, you can bring out the big hitters – the chardonnays. There are plenty excellent ones on the market but it is worth spending a little more to get a good one (and if Aunt Sylvie keeps reaching for a top up – then move the bottle to the other end of the table to make sure everyone gets to share!). The Cumulus Chardonnay 2011/12 ($30) is fresh and creamy and the Shaw + Smith M3 Chardonnay 2010 ($40) is harmonious in delivering ripe apricot and pineapple just to the right spot. The creamy Ponzi Reserve Chardonnay 2009 (USA) from Willamette Valley plays like silk over the tongue with ripe lush tropical fruit and cinnamon finishing firm and savoury.
If you are going the more traditional route of roast lamb, then a pinot noir is the place to start. Like chardonnay, it is wise to spend more on your pinot however, in saying that Windy Peak Pinot Noir at $15 is pretty hard to go past. You would not go wrong either with one any of the Stonier pinots starting at $28. The evocative texture of the Rex Hill Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2010 (USA $35) is rich and smooth with plenty of fresh cherry fruit if you like the bigger oak styles.
There is an abundance of good shiraz around and if you like them sweetly fruity then look no further than St Hallett Faith Shiraz 2011 ($17). Or the unusual blend of the Dandelion Vineyard Lion’s Tooth of McLaren Vale Shiraz Riesling 2010 ($28) which bewitches with lashings of pepper, cloves, blackberry with a hint of vanilla.
Never underestimate the food worthiness of an elegantly built Cabernet. The Houghton Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($19) is one of my current favourites for the price. Another is Frankland Estate Olmo’s Reward ($38). If you are looking for something a little bit different, why not try David Hook’s Barbera 2011 ($30) – kind of a displaced Italian in the Hunter but those Italians really know how to work with food!
And something for dessert:
Sometimes good things come to a sticky end and this is where dessert wines come in. Moscato is good for fruity desserts as are the Botrytis wines such as Morning Light Botrytis Semillon. Australia also has some particularly good fortified that you really cannot go wrong with. Pick up a bottle of Topaque or a Liqueur Muscat and you can simply pour it over ice cream or ,match it to a gooey sticky pud, or a gorgeous chocolate Easter egg – or just drink it on its own!