Thursday, March 10, 2016

Harvest 2016

Yesterday, Wednesday 9 March 2016 was the first day of 'Harvest 2016' at Amisfield Estate, Central Otago, New Zealand.

Harvest time in the vineyard is the business end of the year.  Mornings start early. Just on dawn, teams of pickers arrive and move down the rows of vines under the nets.  At Amisfield, almost all the fruit is picked by hand.   The pickers are looking only for the best grapes, the ripest fruit.  They cut off and discard the 'shoulders' - the smaller bunches on a bunch of grapes - which taste less intense and receive fewer nutrients than the main bunch and therefore have less flavour.  Damaged fruit is discarded.  Good wine starts in the ground, but picking is just as important.

Follow the progress of our 'Harvest 2016' as we begin the massive task of harvesting our Estate at Pisa.  Picking will take place until the end of April as different parcels ripen at different times, and sometimes two picks are required to make sure that the fruit is at its ripest.  By the time they're finished, the team has picked the vineyards dry and then the focus shifts inside for a bit, while the grapes are being turned into wine.

Join us on the Amisfield blog, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for these behind-the-scenes stories and images.

Day 1 - our vineyard crew hand picking pinot noir and chardonnay grapes for our bubbly base!

#nzv16 #nzvintage2016 #nzwine  #amisfieldvineyard #amisfieldwinery #amisfield

The 2016 Vineyard crew

Chopper driving one of our little grey Ferguson tractors delivering our first pick to the winery
Early pick chardonnay bunches - a blend of 3 clones for our bubbly base 
Early pick pinot noir bunches - clone 927 a special sparkling clone

These grapes will one day be our limited edition vintage Brut, this is made in the Méthode Traditionelle style and combines our cool climate and unique glacial soils with an equal blend of pinot noir and chardonnay.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Amisfield Bistro house charcuterie

The Amisfield Kitchen has been preparing our very own house charcuterie for quite a few years now. This method of preserving food has become an integral part of our culture and is now a permanent offering on our a la carte menu.

Amisfield Sous Chef and our very own charcuterie expert, Outrega 'Tre' Anderson has mastered this craft and his personal style is influenced by the Italian style of this butchering technique. Currently featured on the Amisfield house charcuterie board are: salami, beef bresaola, mortadella and rillette. All served with kalamata tapenade, our housed baked grissini and grilled Amisfield sourdough.

Most of the charcuterie recipes in our book Amisfield: food, wine & stories from Central Otago make more than what could be eaten in one sitting. These recipes are to be enjoyed as an accompaniment to a glass of wine and to have on hand to be consumed whenever you desire.

This process of curing your own meat can be completed by any home cook. Having the right equipment, as well as patience, will make it more enjoyable to attempt our recipes at home.

Equipment & supplies include:
meat mincer
standard pate mould (1.5 litres capacity: 30cm x 10.5cm x 8cm)
sausage casings (ask your local butcher)
butcher's twine
pink curing salt (ask your local butcher)

Use a cool, dark and well ventilated space, such as a cheese safe or drying cabinet, to store your charcuterie while it ckures. Hung charcuterie will keep for 6 months.

Beef bresaola
Makes 1 kg
The quality of your bresaola relies on the marbling of the beef, so look for a well-marbled fillet – we use Wakanui.

1.5 kg beef fillet
25 g sea salt
30 g soft brown sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1 tsp curing salt (pink salt)
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 sprigs of rosemary, leaves chopped
1 bunch of thyme, leaves chopped
1/2 tsp juniper berries, crushed

Trim the fillet of all silverskin and fat, and cut into 3 equal portions. Mix together the remaining ingredients for the curing mixture. Rub half of the mixture onto the fillet portions, wrap tightly in plastic film or place into a plastic bag, removing as much air as possible, and leave in the fridge for 1 week. Store the remaining curing mixture in an airtight container.

After a week, unwrap each fillet portion, wipe off the rub and pat dry. Rerub the portions with the remaining curing mixture. Wrap with plastic film, and leave in the fridge for another week.

To stop unwanted bacteria growing, soak butcher’s twine and the cloth you will use to pat dry the fillet portions in white vinegar. Squeeze out the excess vinegar before patting dry.

Remove the fillet portions from the plastic, pat dry, and leave on a wire rack to air-dry at room temperature for 3 hours. Tie with butcher’s twine and leave to hang in a cool, dark and well-ventilated space for 3 weeks or until the bresaola has lost one-third of its weight through moisture loss.

Duck rillette recipe
Centuries ago, preserving meat in fat in this way was a necessity but now we do so for the fantastic flavour.

For the rillette
Serves 8 - 10

140g sea salt
10 black peppercorns
5 juniper berries
2 bay leaves
2 bunches of thyme
2 whole ducks
2.5kg duck fat
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 90ºC.

Place the sea salt in a bowl with the peppercorns, juniper berries, bay leaves and half the thyme. Use your hands to work the mixture, bringing out the flavours of the thyme.

Cut the ducks in half and remove the guts from the carcass, and then the backbone. Pat the ducks dry and evenly rub them with the seasoning. Place in a container and leave overnight in the fridge.

Next day, wash off the seasoning and place the ducks in a deep roasting pan with the remaining thyme. Cover with the duck fat, then cover the tray with aluminum foil and cook for 9 hours. Allow to rest at room temperature for at least 3 hours.

Remove all bones, cartilage, and skin from the ducks and shred the breast and duck meat into a large bowl. Add the Dijon mustard and drizzle in 1 cup of duck fat. Season with salt and pepper. Place in the fridge and stir every 10 minutes until the mixture cools completely.

Served with grilled sourdough and topped with cooked seasonal local stone fruit - some seasonal options are:

Pinot cherries
250 g cherries, pitted
3 cloves
1 star anise
½ cinnamon stick
zest of 1 small orange
50 g sugar
1 cup Amisfield pinot noir

For the pinot cherries
Place all the ingredients in a roasting pan and cook for 30 minutes.Remove from heat and allow the cherries to plump up and cool in remaining

300 ml Amisfield verjuice (or 300 ml Amisfield pinot gris with juice of 3 lemons)
200 g dried apricots
5 sprigs of thyme

For the apricots
Bring the verjuice to a simmer in a saucepan. Add the apricots to the pan and cook until soft. Remove from the heat and add the thyme. Allow the apricots to absorb the liquid and get plump, about 2 hours.

All recipes from Amisfield: food, wine & stories from Central Otago.  Available to purchase Online or from our Bistro & Cellar Door.  RRP: $60.

All images from Amisfield_Kitchen Instagram

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Expressions of Pinot Gris

Each new harvest it is nice to have a new challenge or winemaking exploration to develop. In 2015 we thought it would be interesting for us and for our international harvest staff to see an ancient style of wine that is having a bit of a resurgence in popularity. So it was decided we would have a go at making orange wine. Orange wine has a tradition dating back thousands of years to the country of Georgia. It is essentially white wine made like a red wine in that the white grapes are fermented on skins for an extended about of time. The winemaking is very hands off in that there is no fining or additions to the juice or the wine.

Amisfield Burn is our interpretation of an orange wine and is another expression of our pinot gris grapes.  One of our harvest interns was instructed to punch out the heads of two 228L old French oak barrels so to effectively make two open top fermenters. Two parcels of pinot gris grapes were fermented with one using whole bunches and the other being destemmed. The ferments were long and slow and tasting the juice was intriguing with flavour profiles unlike any other white wine we produce. The grapes were lightly punched down each day to help extraction as well as keeping the fermenting grapes moist at all times. Without temperature control on the natural ferments the aromatics were very complexing, both fruity yet chemical in nature. After three weeks the ferments ceased at complete dryness and then we left the wine on full skins and/or stalks for another three weeks. Tasting the wine each day we could follow the evolution and maturity of the phenolic profile on the palate. The wines were hand pressed together into one old French barrique and allowed to complete malo-lactic fermentation naturally. The wine was racked just once and as tradition dictates, was bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Tasting this wine with the Amisfield chefs, we found this wine expressed itself uniquely to each of us. With hints of dried berries, ginger spice, nuttiness and some floral notes, it lends itself to be drunk over time and with consideration.  This wine needs to be complimented with food, we recommend a tasting plate of sorts with various salty and savoury layers.

This was a most enjoyable and interesting winemaking exploration of the year and in 2016 we hope to develop on this and have ordered the most traditional fermentation vessel - a Spanish clay Amphora.

Dr Stephanie Lambert, Winemaker
Amisfield Burn Pinot Gris 2015
Amisfield Burn Pinot Gris 2015 is now available in a 375ml bottle, exclusively from our Cellar Door and Online, $25.00 per bottle.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Phil Price sculptures adorn Amisfield

A transformation has taken place in the Amisfield Bistro courtyard with the recent addition of two beautiful sculptures from world-renowned New Zealand born sculptor - Phil Price. Price is widely recognised as being the most highly regarded kinetic sculptor of his generation. Price has evolved his practice using cutting edge materials, incorporating highly refined engineering in conjunction with elegant design. His work is primarily inspired by the natural world.
New Angel, 2014/2015
High temperature epoxy and carbon fibre, industrial urethane paint stainless steel, and rolling element bearings, edition 2 of 3
Stretched Ovoid, 2013/2015
High temperature epoxy and carbon fibre, industrial urethane paint stainless steel, and rolling element bearings on Timaru Bluestone base, edition 3 of 3
All artworks at Amisfield Bistro are courtesy of Nadene Milne Gallery.  Nadene Milne Gallery represents many of New Zealand's most influential and highly respected contemporary artists.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Amisfield Wetland Restoration

One of Amisfield's cornerstone sustainability projects has been the development of New Zealand's first wetland winery waste water recycling plants, which is testament to our ongoing commitment to sustainable management practices throughout our business.
Wetlands are amazingly efficient and diverse ecosystems that have the ability to stabilise and purify the natural environment. With every winemaking facility there comes the responsibility to manage the resulting waste water which can include residues from the juices and cleaning materials. On average 4L of water for every Litre of wine produced is used in the cleaning process accompanying the winemaking. Ten years ago when Amisfield’s winery was being considered on our rural site the obvious conclusion was to draw on one of natures great filtration processes and construct a purpose built wetland on site.

Constructed wetlands are highly controlled environments that mimic natural processes by careful and controlled water flow through specifically selected aquatic plants.  These aquatic plants are biofilters in that they have the ability to filter out all toxins through their stems, roots and leaves.  Within our system we predominately use the sedge-Jointed twig rush (Baumea articulata) as well as the native Raupo (Typha orientalis).

Waste water from our winery is pumped up to two holding tanks which then slowly flows down an aerator into the wetland. By controlling the flow and retention time of the water through the wetland with the construction of separate flow cells we are allowing time for the plants to clean and purify the water.  This now clean and clear water may be reused in the irrigation of our shelter belt above the winery and for watering the wild flowers on the embankment.

Frogs have also found a home in the wetlands and are great environmental indicators as their presence confirms that the water is pure, clean and suitable for re-use in the vineyard.

Last week our vineyard are busy restoring our wetland, below is a pictorial of the process so far.
Amisfield wetland
After a few years the aquatic plants are overtaken by grasses which choke the air supply, as seen in the foreground of this image:
Overrun treatment cell
The digger rakes the old vegetation out:
Taking old vegetation out
Duncan and Jo replant the water treatment cells with the aquatic plants.
Replanting one of our wetland water treatment cells
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