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Ashley and Vince discuss what’s coming up at Elephant Hill

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Elephant Hill’s relaxed degustation style at the 2011 event is unique in Hawke’s Bay

The 2012 Degustation Series is back at this Te Awanga winery with the first event on the 29th June. I was fortunate enough to book a group of us into this last year and so asked the guys what the format is for this year. “We’re keeping the same successful format as last year and have upped the dishes another notch” says Ashley. The mid winter degustation last year took place in the main restaurant on one long table stretching from one side of the restaurant to the other. Our group sat alongside other local groups which gave the unexpected benefit of comparing taste sensations (and jokes) across the table. Romantic couples on a first date take note.

Robert Scholes runs the front of house at Elephant Hill and will again be directing the degustation ensuring everyone knows what’s in the seven courses of dishes as they are presented. Looking through the proposed menu for the 29th, I can’t wait for the sneak preview Vince has organised of a couple of Ashley’s dishes.The first dish we try is cauliflower soup, poached scampi with crisp pancetta matched with Elephant Hill’s most premium range of Viognier, the Airavata. “These wines are not usually available here by the glass, the degustation series is an oppoprtunity to taste and see something different” says Vince. The soup is deliciously creamy as is the scampi in contrast to the pancetta. There’s a knack to de-tailing and eating the scampi with a spoon I haven’t mastered yet, should I have used a fork I’m not sure?

Next up is the Goats cheese tortellini, beetroot cream also matched with their top Sauvignon Blanc Airavata. As this is just a taster, we stuck with

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Goats cheese tortellini, beetroot cream

the 2010 Chardonnay , at $95 a bottle the Airavata will have to wait until the degustation, as will their award winning ‘Rania’ dessert wine. As you can see from the photo the tortellini has taken on the pinkish red beetroot colours but the real joy in this dish is the goats cheese inside.

This is the only restaurant in Hawke’s Bay that solves the ‘getting there and home’ as part of the experience. Transportation to & from Elephant Hill is included to Havelock North, Hastings and Napier and adds an extra level of service. Meet up before the meal at one of your groups places and the rest is taken care of.

Take a closer look at the Degustation Menu here.

Also on the cards at Elephant Hill once they reopen on the 27th June, is something very special if you enjoy your wine. “Our sommelier Matt is running wine classes where the whole library will be accessible.” says Robert, “this isn’t the cellar door experience, you’ll be tasting wines you wouldn’t normally get. Lining up Elephant Hill against Spanish Tempranillo for example.” These are to be held in the private barrel cellar in July, August and September and at $25 a head including bite sized food pairings, these spaces won’t last long. Read the Regional Wines 2012 Vintage report to hear why winemaker Steve Skinner is thrilled with the 2012 Syrah, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer.

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Private dinner parties in the cellar at Elephant Hill, available on request

Also something of an undiscovered gem is the private underground cellar that is available on request for private dinner parties. If you’re looking for a cosy place to settle in for the night while being waited on, the glass encased Barrel cellar is worth considering. All you need is the excuse for a dinner party.

During the day, Elephant Hill’s lunchtime deals make a return for Hawke’s Bay locals. When the weather is blue sky clear, the view from the restaurant is stunning and the extra drive out there gives you time to take it all in.

Book 7 course Degustation dinner series – $155 with free transport there and back.

Lunch for locals in July and August – $35 for a main and a glass of wine. Book 06 8726060‪ ‬

Wine Education classes in the Barrel cellar – $25 Includes bite sized food pairings

 

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