It’s funny how a bit of hardship gets one digging deep. Probably the best thing about this past season is how, as a team, we have met more often, questioned our farming practices more acutely and generally rallied to further our quest for excellence in the vineyard, the cellar and in the market place.
As 2018 draws to a close we reflect on another absorbing year finishing off with a strong endorsement of our endeavour by the well-respected Richard Hemming, Master of Wine on Jancis Robinson's website, undoubtedly the most influential wine critic in the world in which Iona was rated very highly.
To lead the business to the next level in an exciting, challenging and fast changing environment will require different skills to mine and I have therefore decided to appoint Brad Gold as General Manager whilst moving to a supportive "Chairman" role, working with him and the team to take us to the next level.
With all the ubiquitous salads being served during the holidays sometimes I crave a warm, generous cooked vegetable dish. I have made a lot of melanzane in my life and my days of using about a litre of olive oil to fry 8 bringals cut into slices (only to have it all drain out again onto kitchen paper) are over. So try this and not only will you not have to lie in a darkened room at the end of the preparation but you may well even prefer it to the more "correct" version.
This is for when you are "gatvol" of having a house full of people and starting to seriously regret having asked the whole family to stay. You're already sick of food and even more sick of cooking. So you send them all off to have a pizza somewhere and you have your kitchen to yourself. Now you make yourself the best omelette ever and eat it at a properly laid table with a cold glass of Iona Cy. This is pretty much my favourite meal. If you keep hens as we do, go and collect some eggs ... Or buy free range. Simple dishes require good ingredients. Making any egg dish properly is always about temperature – but follow me and I'll show you a good time ...
I'm useless at snacks (this is what happens when you had a mother who blasted you if you let so much as a sprig of parsley pass your lips before a meal in case you "ruined your appetite"), and so I prefer to do this dish as a starter. It's essentially a "warm bath" of anchovy and garlic sauce into which you dip a variety of raw or lightly steamed vegetables. I use half a slightly baked red pepper per person as a little container for the warm sauce.
I'm including this Roast Duck recipe because it's what I would want to eat with Iona Pinot Noir 2015. Juliette and Jacqui, my trusty advisors who know much more about food and wine pairing than I do, tell me it should be seared Salmon – no question. But I'm writing this so I get to choose.
We all need a slow cooked meat dish in our repertoire. It basically means you can cook a meal for 12 people without exhausting yourself or ending up in the nut house. The genius of this recipe is that it is a complete doddle to make, it cooks while you sleep, literally – so you need to start this the evening before the day you need it, and has the advantage of being able to be two entirely different meals, depending on what you fancy. I will explain this at the end ... I am well aware that eating Pig is forbidden by most major religions but this one is for the Christians and their "Christmas" and of course any other universal soldiers out there.
Some folk are daunted by serving mussels at home, but if you have access to fresh mussels (frozen are horrible ... don't even go there) then I can't think of an easier way to make a really special but casual lunch. I get mine from the Gordon's Bay Fisheries and they are bullet proof. Served with Iona Sauvignon Blanc and some crusty bread this is Christmas holidays in a bowl.
So the wine doesn't actually go with the cake. I'm of the opinion that no dry wine goes with pudding – not even very bitter chocolate ones. I'm also determined to give you a dessert recipe because it is Christmas after all, and I happen to think this is a tip-top one. So having said all that, I suggest you just drink the wine while making the cake ...
The smell of toasted almonds and ripe blueberries are your pairing to this bright jewel of a wine and you can listen to Puccini's beloved opera of the same name in who's honour this cake was supposedly named if you really want to get into the spirit of things.
This recipe is just fantastic and so easy it's worth trying. If you're having a whole bunch of people over for lunch you can take the pressure off and make the pastry the day before and then the rest is a doddle.
I am not much one for desserts, strange considering my Namesake and great aunt, Rosie, would politely endure a meal as a means of getting stuck into the pudding course. She lived fiercely until she was 97 so it worked for her. The following dessert is so jam packed full of nutritious ingredients it would no doubt have added years onto her life, although taken a few off my mom and her her sisters who looked after her!
Last summer we had our daughter in law spend a few weeks with us. She is a complete health nut and one of the most uncompromising eaters I have encountered. The following recipes are inspired by some of the fabulous recipes she brought into our kitchen and cooked for us. Nourishing and delicious.
A summons from the Boss (or rather from the formidable women in our office – which is much more scary) to fill you in on our past season. Having rather deftly avoided the "Spring" letter, I'm in no danger of inundating the unwitting public with Newsletters. I give you my word they will continue to be erratic and infrequent.
It’s all well and good being on top of a mountain when it comes to grape growing, but when the wind is howling and the rain pelts down at such an angle that it actually “rains” under your front door and through the closed windows – emergency measures in the kitchen are called for. There’s nothing quite as consoling and warming as a steaming bowl of French onion soup.
The onset of a cold and wet autumn marked a swift and definitive end to one of the longest seasons I can remember. It was unusually wet with the highest Winter/Spring rainfall in nearly a decade. This meant excellent growth but required an enormous amount of labour in the vineyard.
Winemaking doesn’t end after harvest. During the winter months the cellar is buzzing with action, but more importantly is the vineyard: the winter months being the most important season in the vines physiological life cycle.