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Get to know the range of Ara Wines from Marlborough in New Zealand, with an exciting promotion in venues across the capital.
When New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc hit the UK 30 or so years ago, nobody had seen anything like it. Fruit-filled and hyper-aromatic, it had astonishing varietal expression. It was Sauvignon Blanc, in the immortal words from cult film Spinal Tap, with the volume turned up to 11. But the past decade has seen a shift. Wineries are looking for more subtlety and texture, more mouthfeel and minerality, and less in-your-face exuberance. And right at the forefront of this evolution is Ara Wines.
Ara (pronounced ‘are-ah’) is a relatively young company, but, occupying a large estate at the western edge of Marlborough’s Waihopai Valley, it’s an important one. For starters, it makes all of its wines from one single vineyard – albeit a 400-hectare one; it has impeccable green credentials; and it has Jeff Clarke heading up the winemaking team. Clarke was in charge at Montana for many years, but he’s now responsible for creating the new, more subtle Sauvignon Blanc from Ara.
Having a large single vineyard gives Clarke myriad different ‘blocks’ of fruit to play with, each with different characteristics. The same grape variety might be aromatic in one site, but mineral in the next; rich and fruity in one area, restrained and structured in the block next door. Clarke blends these together to produce the final wine. So when you try the Ara Single Estate Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, you taste not just what nature has put in, but also decades of experience from one of the giants of the wine industry. And with a Pinot Gris recently added to the range, it’s an exciting selection to explore: modern New Zealand, from ancient land, crafted with expertise and love.
The following London venues are offering Ara wines paired with exceptional food:
Elegantly airy with a touch of mid-century modernism, Harry’s also boasts a delightful internal courtyard for sunny days. Try Ara’s One Estate Sparkling Sauvignon with fillet of sea bass with salsify, green beans, creamed potato and béarnaise sauce.
Diners who order the smoked salmon with beetroot and horseradish crème fraîche, the salmon fettucine with goats’ cheese, ruby chard and herb cream, or the tempura-battered cod fillet with chips and tartare sauce, will have the opportunity to match their dish with a glass of Ara One Estate Sauvignon Brut NV for just £3 (a saving of £3.25).
This Kiwi-owned coffee-roaster in Shoreditch is great for brunch or a casual lunch. Try Ara Single Estate Sauvignon Blanc with the prawn pappardelle.
Pair some of Ara Wines' most notable varietals with a three-course Christmas menu at Ozone Coffee Roasters. Diners will be welcomed with a glass of New Zealand bubbly, before sitting down to a meal featuring options such as green-chilli-and-sweetcorn pancake with cured salmon, crème fraiche and capers (which would go down a treat with a crisp glass of Ara Single Estate Sauvignon Blanc), or braised lamb rump with truffled mashed potato and Savoy cabbage (an ideal match with Ara’s Single Estate Pinot Noir). For dessert, try Shirl’s boozy Christmas cake, served with a slice of Cheddar – the perfect foil to Ara Single Estate Pinot Gris. The menu is available throughout December and costs £35; booking is essential.
This friendly restaurant and wine bar in Mayfair is also owned by New Zealanders and offers a regularly changing seasonal menu. Try the tasting plate that’s served with four different samples of Ara wines.
Diners can enjoy a platter of nibbles paired with three generous wine samples, all for £30 for two. Discover how Ara’s One Estate Sauvignon Brut NV matches up to smoked-eel mousse on pumpernickel bread with horseradish cream; sample an elegant combination of smoked salmon and caviar with a glass of 2011 Single Estate Pinot Gris; or try Ara’s full-bodied 2011 Pinot Noir against venison tataki with dashi lime and ginger dressing.
This advertorial was published in the autumn 2012 issue of Square Meal Lifestyle.