If you’re visiting New Zealand’s exquisite Marlborough region, wine aficionado or not, Brancott Estate Heritage Centre is a must-visit. It would be an injustice to call the space anything less than a spectacular architectural feat, with state of the art -well- everything and sweeping views not just of the area, but on a clear day, New Zealand’s North Island some 80kms away too.
Of course, if you are bit of a wine fiend, Brancott offers a tasting experience you’ll seldom have the opportunity to do elsewhere. Here, you can try five wines, all made from the same grape variety under the same head winemaker, but grown in different areas and thus different conditions around Marlborough. Even if you’re only a casual connoisseur this is a tremendously interesting experience that allows you to see (well, okay taste) first-hand the astonishing difference temperature, soil and so forth plays in the winemaking process.
If you’re not lucky enough to be visiting Marlborough anytime soon, fear not because head chef Francis Nolan was kind enough to share with us his fresh seasonal vegetable risotto recipe which we can attest is absolutely delicious. Wash it down with a bottle of the Brancott Estate Letter Series ‘B’ Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (approximately $21.99 AUD). Perfection!
Ingredients for risotto
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 ½ cups risotto rice
- ½ cup chardonnay
- 3 – 4 cups of seasonal vegetables, chopped (use whatever is in season, but they used capsicum, mushroom, asparagus, courgettes, and peas)
- 3 – 4 cups of vegetable stock (recipe below if you’re feeling so inclined)
- 150g butter
- ¼ cup of parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: pine nuts and goats cheese to serve
Ingredients for vegetable stock
- 1 gallon cold water
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium leek (white and green parts), rinsed and chopped
- 1 medium rib celery, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
- ½ medium turnip, chopped
- ½ small tomato, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 3-4 fresh parsley stems
- 3-4 whole black peppercorns
- 1 whole clove
Begin with preparing the vegetable stock, start with heating the oil over medium heat in a heavy–bottomed stock pot or soup pot.
Lower the heat, add the onion, leek, carrot, celery, turnip, tomato and garlic, and gently sauté, with the lid on, for about five minutes or until the onions are softened and slightly translucent. Don’t brown the vegetables.
Add the water along with the bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, parsley and clove, bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer. Simmer for 30-45 minutes. Skim off anything that rises to the surface, then just let it simmer away.
Remove from heat; pour through a strainer into another large pot or container.
To make the risotto
Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Fry the onion until just starting to brown. Add the garlic and rice and stir gently but continuously for a minute or two. Add the chardonnay and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes. Finally stir in the vegetables and three cups of stock.
Let the risotto simmer for 15 minutes stirring regularly, or until rice and veggies are cooked. As the liquid starts to reduce, you will need to increase stirring to ensure that the risotto doesn’t stick to the pan or burn. Add more stock as needed to prevent the dish becoming dry, or sticking. Add in butter and continue stirring constantly. Once the rice is cooked, stir in the parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste.
Brancott Estate Heritage Centre is located at 180 Brancott Road, Fairhall, RD2 Blenheim 7274 Marlborough. It’s open between 10am and 4.30pm seven days a week (excluding public holidays).