Riverby Estate Sali’s Block 2008 Riesling Marlborough

Riverby Estate Sal's Block 2008 Riesling MarlboroughOn our recent Melbourne trip, our lovely host pulled this New Zealand Riesling out of the cellar and wow! It’s 10 years old from the Marlborough region and is produced by Riverby Estate. It had those aged Riesling characteristics yet still plenty of freshness to suggest it still has some years left in it.

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Amisfield Winery ‘Trust the Chef’ Degustation Lunch – Queenstown, New Zealand

Recently I suffered a serious case of jealousy as my parents attended a wedding in Queenstown and while they were there, they got to experience the Amisfield Winery “Trust the chef’ degustation menu. The menu is offered as a shared dining experience and is NZ$65 per person for only the food, NZ$80 per person for the food and a glass of bubbles & dessert or NZ$120 per person for the food with 4 matching wines and dessert.

My parents opted for the NZ$120 option which is definitely what I would do too, what can I say, the love of good food and wine runs in the family! So since I couldn’t experience this amazing lunch for myself I asked my Mum if she would do a quick Q&A about the experience to determine if it’s worth the dosh and seeing as it’s the only winery in New Zealand that Wills & Kate visited it would be good to know if it really is royally amazing!

So firstly, a big thank-you to my Mum for taking the time out to make us all jealous!

What were your first impressions of Amisfield Winery?
It’s in a fantastic location which overlooks Lakes Hayes, and it was simply beautiful on this particular autumn day, with stunning colours of red and yellow trees.  There are lovely wide steps up to the cellar door and restaurant, which gives you the impression of a country lodge.  When you enter to your right is the cellar door and to the left is the restaurant with a huge window overlooking Lake Hayes.  If you go straight ahead past a huge fireplace and a few comfy chairs is the outside eating area with a reflect pool in the centre.

What was the dining experience like?
There was no need to dress up, but you also wouldn’t look out-of-place dressed up. The day we went there were people dressed up and others in smart casual jeans etc. The tables were laid out with nice cutlery, napkins and of course nice wine glasses.  That country lodge exterior flowed through inside the restaurant with a lot of stone and timber.
Amisfield Winery Trust the Chef degustation
In terms of the “Trust the Chef” experience, how big was your group and did everyone choose the same price option? How did it work with such a big group?
Our group had 20+ people and even with that size it worked. We had sharing plates in the centre of the table, one plate for about 4 of us. There was plenty of food per person and about 2 bottles of each wine per course. Not everyone in the group had the $120 option like us, some were beer drinkers and some only had bubbles however the waiter seemed to handle it well and nothing was a problem. We also had someone in our group who was pregnant and asked to have her steak well cooked which was also handled with ease by the Amisfield staff.

If you were dining for just a party of 2, would it be better?   
I would like to try it again with a smaller group and it will definitely be on my list for my next visit to Queenstown. You need to have 2 people minimum to do the experience.

What was your favourite dish on the menu and why?
Artichoke and pea risotto it was superb the flavours were to die for and it went well with the Pinot Gris.

What was your favourite wine?
It would have to be a toss-up between the bubbles and Noble Sauvignon Blanc.
Amisfield Winery rose wine
Would you recommend the experience to others and is it worth the money?
Definitely loved every bit of it; the food, the wine, the location and the service couldn’t be faulted.

What was your “Trust the Chef” menu?

  • Grilled sourdough with duck rillette and prune jam
  • Artichoke and pea risotto with feta and chives
  • Manuka smoked salmon with dill cream and crispy capers?leaf salad  with manuka honey and verjuice dessing
  • Slow roasted ribeye with horseradish crem fraiche and potatoes dill and tarragon
  • Chocolate fondant  with raspberry jus ice cream and mandarins or Feijoa with pistachio ice cream & an apple strudel or poached pear with pecans and ice cream

Is it easy to get to from Queenstown city centre?
15 kms for the centre of Queenstown.  We took a taxi which cost us $70 one way. It was expensive however we both wanted to drink and it’s better than a drink driving conviction!

Do you have any last things you’d like to mention?
It is definitely a must to do if you are in Queenstown but you do need to book in advance you can do it via their website or phone.

A HUGE thank-you to my lovely wine-loving Mum for sharing her experience at Amisfield in Queenstown. I am sure you have all made us incredibly hungry and thirsty now Mum! For more information, please check out the Amisfield Winery website here.

Check out some of my Amisfield Wines tasting notes:

  • Amisfield 2011 Pinot Noir
  • Amisfield 2013 Pinot Gris
  • Amisfield 2012 Dry Riesling

Amisfield Winery hat