A spectacular day and what better way to enjoy a little Autumn sunshine than among the vines at Villa Maria. Villa Maria was founded way back in 1961 and since then it has become New Zealand's most awarded winery and the do make several lovely drops. With the vines turning russet and red it put me in the mood for a little Pinot. We opted for the Private Bin Marlborough Pinot, fruity and bursting with ripe cherry and raspberry ending with a little spice, just perfect for an Autumn afternoon among the vines.
It was also the perfect accompaniment for our entree of wild mushroom risotto with truffle oil. They pretty much had me at truffle oil, they actually had all of us. This was sublime...creamy, earthy wild mushrooms and that wonderfully decadent hint of truffle oil. I could have eaten this over and over and over again, seriously the best risotto I have ever eaten.
For the main event a little crisp skinned pork belly with kumura puree, apple cider jus and beetroot and braeburn jelly. The pork belly was full of flavour, the puree silky smooth, and the jelly a little fruity, however I would have like a little crispier more crackling like skin as for me that is the real treat with pork belly.
I find desserts don't always live up to expectations, sometimes they can seem somewhat of an after thought. Well not here, we were spoilt for choice with 3 classics on offer; individual tart tatins, creme brûlée and warm chocolate pudding. Now usually creme brûlée would be the winner for me, being a long time favourite but for some reason the tart tatin was calling my name. And I am very glad that I followed my instincts. How can I describe it? The pastry was light & golden, caramelized a little around the edges from the caramel like apples and to top it all off a little vanilla ice cream, just beginning to melt atop the warm tart tatin, and a little drizzle of creme anglaise. One heavenly dessert and it would be worth the trip alone.
So if you are up for an afternoon among the vines and are in Auckland, a trip out to Villa Maria would be an afternoon well spent. Bookings are highly recommended and it was packed to the rafters the afternoon we were there so I would definitely take their recommendation to book ahead.
118 Montgomerie Rd
Ph 09 255 1777