Wednesday, January 16, 2013


If New Zealand's not on your bucket list, it should be. Google it's gorgeousness. I was back there recently, this time the location was Queenstown, Adventure Capital of the World. I stopped off at the legendary Amisfield Winery...

There are few moments more seductive than sitting outside on a summer's day, overlooking a stunning landscape while tucking into the finest seasonal food and wine on offer. That's why you come to Amisfield Winery, the views are rugged, the hospitality is not.

Located just outside the gold miners village of Arrowtown, Amisfield Winery is revered by both local and an international clientele. Last time I dined here, we shared the restaurant with the late Colonel Gadaffi's son and his eclectic entourage.

I was seated and watered by a cheery young thing, who at first glance looked like she had suffered a wardrobe malfunction. However after seeing the other waitresses dressed similarly, I realized the dungaree look was meant to be 'off the shoulder'.

Having studied the menu, I opted for 'Trust the Chef' as recommended online and by the wait staff. It was a good choice. Chef Jay Sherwood decides what he'll cook you on the day, based on what's seasonal and what's good.

I ordered a glass of the 2009 Fume Blanc to start. More Chardonnay than Sav thanks to the aging in oak barrels and it pared well with the first two dishes. The first being the duck roulette, served on wood with grilled sour dough and plum jam. Smooth, tasty and devourable like a rich man's marmite.

The second dish was gazpacho. The chilled soup was perfect for a hot, still day and I discovered the silky oily- ness was caused naturally by the tomatoes being left overnight with salt on before blending.

First glass down, I opted next for a three glass wine taster and chose the Saignee Rosé, the award winning Rocky Knoll Pinot Noir and for dessert, a glass of the sweet Noble.

The third dish was cooked salmon with crispy capers and shaved fennel accompanied with a garden fresh salad and manuka honey dressing. Again served on wood, it was light and full of flavor and a perfect pare for the Rosé.

The fourth dish was roasted ribeye with crème fraiche and horseradish served with an ample side plate of minty potato salad. The benefits of being early I suppose, but I was fortunate enough to get a good number of roasted end slices – char grilled and delish. The Pinot Noir was a good complement.

Dessert was a light panna cotta, the intense berry jam sitting underneath the fruit was a wonderful kick of flavor.

Some two hours and $98 later my leisurely lunch at Amisfield Winery came to an end. It was every bit as pleasing as I had hoped and wild horses won't stop be returning next time.

© 2013 Jackie Maw Tolliver 

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