Wine chocs best of two worlds

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Wine and chocolates - two tasty favourites which can accompany each other well on special occasions.

Which got Clearview Estate's winemaker Tim Turvey thinking. He had the wine, and the winery's neighbour at Te Awanga, Anissa Talbi Dobson, had the chocolate.

So when she approached him about eight months ago and suggested a couple of Clearview's sweet wines and her hand-crafted chocolates might create a special viticultural confection, Turvey was intrigued.

"I've known Anissa for quite a while but wasn't really sure what she did. When she approached and suggested it I thought, 'yes, let's try it'."

He told her Clearview had the perfect candidates for the mission to create a unique blend of the grape and the cacao/cocoa seed - which he believes is the first of its kind in Hawke's Bay, and possibly the country.

The sweet fortified style Sea Red he pioneered 30 years ago, and later the sweetish Late Harvest Chardonnay, fitted the bill, and Talbi Dobson enthusiastically got to work to take up the tasty challenge.

"I had an idea that the dense berry fruits and plum favours of the Sea red would be enhanced by the taste of chocolate, and Anissa has been able to create the exact balance," Turvey said.

"We were so excited that we immediately gave her our other dessert wine - the Late Harvest Chardonnay to experiment with too."

And experiment she did, using skills learned from renowned chocolatier Paul Keruel after she quit her teaching job a couple of years ago and headed for the small town of Seguret, near Avignon, where she spent four months under his guidance.

A Moroccan-born Frenchwoman, she married a Kiwi, and had settled at Te Awanga where she started La Petite Chocolat, and got to know Turvey.

She did not want to give away any secrets about the chocolates, which emerged about three months ago and immediately made a splash at farmers' markets and at the winery's restaurant, but agreed with Turvey that the mix simply worked.

Having the best quality ingredients helped, she said.

"It did not take me long to work out the proportions of which chocolate to use with each wine. The sweetness of the wine, the Sea Red with its berries and plums, and the apricot flavours of the Late Harvest Chardonnay make a really smooth, fruity combination that adds to that of the chocolate."

It was a tasty coupling of wine and chocolate that had worked "beautifully," she said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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