The 10-day event kicks off with the brand-new F.A.W.C! Day Out on Saturday, November 3, where you can hone your culinary skills with the likes of chefs Al Brown and Martin Bosley, and dish’s very own Food Editor Claire Aldous. Plus you can discover new tastes, wines and produce at the many food stalls, all in and around the beautiful setting of the Black Barn Vineyards.
Now in its seventh year, F.A.W.C is a must on every avid foodie’s calendar. The one-stop culinary festival brings together the best from across the region, with 60 unique food and wine events held in some of the Hawke’s Bay’s most stunning locations.
The F.A.W.C! Day Out also includes the 50 Shades of Chardonnay Masterclass with winemaker Tony Bish. Tony’s Urban Winery will also host FAWC’s Urban Champagne and Oyster Festival (Friday, November 2), and Tasty Trivia (Wednesday, November 7). dish caught up with Tony to get his best kept chardonnay secrets:
What should we be looking for in a good chardonnay?
Intensity of flavor, richness of fruit, and balance of other characters such as oak and acidity. Great wines should blow you away!
What are some of your favourite chardonnay/food pairings?
Chardonnay is an awesome match with kai moana, particularly whitebait fritters or crayfish! The more robust barrel fermented styles work well with pork or chicken dishes too.
What prompted your love affair with chardonnay, and why have you chosen it as your sole focus?
Several things prompted my love of chardonnay, but a trip to Burgundy and Chablis many years ago seeded the idea of focusing 100 per cent on this variety, the king of white grapes. Hawke’s Bay consistently produces world-class chardonnay, and for me this is the New Zealand home of this variety. By specialising in this one variety, I apply all my knowledge and efforts in one direction, enabling me to be creative and very focused.
Why do you think chardonnay has become so popular again?
Many people start their relationship with wine with fruity aromatic varieties such as sauvignon blanc and pinot gris, and then migrate towards the more full bodied and complex wines from Chardonnay. Chardonnay offers so much complexity in both winemaking and consumer enjoyment. As a winemaker, there are a huge variety of options available to direct the style of wine. This helps us create wines of depth, power and intrigue that in turn benefits our customers.
What, for you, is the key to producing great chardonnay?
Great fruit from old vines, meticulous work in the vineyard, creative winemaking and attention to detail, and balance, balance, balance.
You’ve taken an innovative approach to producing chardonnay, using egg-shaped tanks to produce your wine. What prompted this, and why does the shape matter?
Egg shaped tanks have unique convection currents that keep the yeast in suspension and also provide a huge surface area of yeast exposed to the wine over the maturation period. Yeast do two things in wine; firstly converting sugar to alcohol of course, and if given time, contribute significant texture and mouthfeel to wines as they yeast cells break down. This is what eggs do exceptionally well. Eggs were not available in New Zealand as an affordable cost winemaking tool, as freighting heavy concrete from other countries was prohibitively expensive. So I teamed up with NZ Tanks in Hastings to build our own version here. The Golden Egg chardonnay we produce from these is exceptional!