Our Shanghai correspondent, Mick Knuppel, resurfaces and reports on the TarraWarra Estate Pinot Noir Australasia Duck Run
Well, well, the Shanghai branch of the Three Nations Duck Run saw in the New Year with style. Teaming up with Simon Napthine from Tarrawarra wines in Melbourne’s Yarra Valley, and Mr Wandering Palate himself in Singapore, as part of our agreed New Year ambitious project to create the dish in three worlds, my version adhered to strict instructions. Chinese ducks bought, intact despite my cleaver-wielding purveyor threatening some Tony Montana-like destruction upon them. Tick. The freshest Pineapple one can find. Tick. Organic coconut milk, Bok Choy, Chinese Broccoli and kaffir lime leaves. Further ticks.
Our guests arrived bearing red envelopes, stuffed full of cash…sadly, for the kids! I must remember this for next year’s Tri-Nations. With the kids running around wielding fists of 100 RMB notes in my face, sanctuary can only be found in the kitchen, creating what must be one the world’s simplest, tastiest, most beautifully spiced curries. The recipe is a snap: I spend a lot of time in said kitchen, but even a novice can create this stunning Duck curry. Timing is all. And loud music, New Order and Morrisey to go with a little Domane Wachau Gruner Veltliner were my accompaniments. Morrisey’s whining and complaining only served to juxtapose my joy watching the thick, spicy, heady sauce build flavor, the duck soaking up thick brew.
The Tarrawarra Pinots, the 2010 Estate, and 2008 and 2010 Reserves, had arrived safely, sent by Napthine, and all three decanted. If there was ever any doubt about the pairing of Duck and Pinot, this surely put an end to such discussion. The Estate opened with juicy, perfumed savory fruit, generous palate, with enough acid to carry what is a slightly robust young Pinot. Excellent as an entree into the Reserves. The 2008 is broad shouldered, a kind of centre half forward, back rower-style of Pinot…raspberries, forest floor, and some charry oak building a complex palate. This divided our guests, and I must admit I kept going back to it as it opened and evolved beautifully. It simply sliced through the Duck Curry; made to be. The 2010 Reserve, Tarrawarra’s current release, opened with bright morello cherry nose, red fruits and that hallmark of spice followers of this label love. It was really quite seamless as it too complemented the Duck Curry. Round, intense and beautifully balanced, it seemed to disappear very quickly…
There comes a time in any great meal when the silence seems to underline the wine and food. Yet our ‘silence’ was the sound of roti mopping up the last remnants of curry, the swirling of Riedels, gnawing of duck bones, and stupid grins. And really, what better way to begin 2012? The Three Nations kept each other updated throughout, and while no two (in this case, three!) curries can ever be exactly the same, our noble attempt matching the same wine with the same food was exactly what the year of the Dragon warranted. Being a Dragon, this is my year! Even if I didn’t get a red envelope…
Postscript: I returned to my Duck purveyor the next week, and showed her my photos of the Duck Curry, and my own handy blade work. Her beaming smile and ‘Hen Hao’ was priceless. She prepares great ducks.