The perfect wine legacy
Story and photos by DEBBIE CHANRespecting tradition: Vegar believes in preserving his great grandfather's legacy.
|Respecting tradition: Vegar believes in preserving his great grandfathers legacy.|
It all started when Peter Vegars great grandfather left Croatia with a grape cutting to escape the poverty and to fulfil his dream of living the perfect life in a vineyard.
Encountering obstacles and swimming through storms, he finally ended up in New Zealand and now three generations later, his vineyard is thriving and alive through the continuous efforts of his great grandsons.
"We still have a few rows of grapes planted from my great grandfather's cutting and obviously it is of Croatian variety. We do make wine out of it but it is exclusively for our family only," said Vegar who is now the managing director of the Matakana Estate vineyard. Matakana was one of the first 15 winemakers of New Zealand.
Producing some 40,000 cases yearly, the family runs vineyards in four different regions, Gisborne, Marlborough, Matakana, and Hawkes Bay. Each region has distinctive types of grapes that thrive very well, the shiraz, riesling, and pinot noir in Marlborough, cabernet merlot in Hawkes Bay, chardonnay in Gisborne and pinot gris in Matakana.
"The personality of the wine should reflect the personality of the vineyard and the winemaker so our wines distinctively reflect the soil of the region," Vegar explained.
The brand's philosophy is that great wines are made in the vineyard and that each member of the staff from the grape pickers to the wine makers contributes to the great taste of the wines.
"We have a friendly joke that goes around the company where we congratulate everyone on producing a good wine and it is actually a great way to give the staff a sense of ownership in the vineyard," he said.
The Vegar brothers are individually very involved in every single aspect of the operations of the vineyard and that gives them a good sense of control over the production of the wine.
|Appetising: The American lobster and fruits tomato salad with Wafu dressing was an interesting seafood course that really brought up the flavours of the Chardonnay.|
"Our wines are very different because it has the 'twinkle in the eye' factor which surprises and intrigues consumers when they drink it. For example, our Savignon Blanc has a about 10% of semillion component in it giving it the old meet new element," Vegar explained.
For the past three years, critics have begun to notice the vast improvement in the production of pinot noir wines from New Zealand and Matakana has done a great job in attesting to the fact. Although relatively difficult to grow, Vegar and his team, through trial and error, have found good soil for the grapes to thrive.
"The wine will continue to be a great challenge for us and the vineyard."
To show that the wines are well matched with food, a wine pairing dinner was held at Ozeki, Kuala Lumpur matching the wines with Japanese cuisine.
The lively fruit flavour of the Sauvignon Blanc was matched with a seafood appetiser platter, Zensai Moriawase. The appetiser platter consists of snow crab spicy creamy gratin, bean curd paste and mozzarella cheese with deep-fried Hokkaido baitfish, Botan prawn tartar and Japanese salted seaweed with olive oil.
The Chardonnay was paired with the American lobster and fruits tomato salad with Wafu dressing while the Pinot Noir was paired appropriately with the Ootoro steak Wasabi Sauce, which is a premium grade tuna belly steak. The rich Kobe Beef Yaki and Foie Gras went well with the relatively heavy Cabernet Merlot.
The dinner was wrapped up with a fusion dessert dish of marinated Pakistan mango with amaretto and green tea ice cream cocktail.
Formatted for CROWN by Marko Puljić
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