The Wairau Valley
The highly sought-after Wairau Valley is an ancient riverbed nestled between two mountain ranges and bordered to the North by Cook Strait. Broadly speaking, this finite sub-region of Marlborough covers cooler, drier inland sites, barren stony, early-ripening sites to sea-breeze moderated coastal sites. Soils are more gravelly to the north nearer the riverbed. Within this, wines reflect the individual vineyard and producer strengths but all have the hallmark pure fruit intensity and body.
Ara own 13 vineyards in the Wairau Valley and maintain strong long-term relationships with some of the Valley’s best growers. This means Ara consistently have the finest grapes from the region each vintage.
Our favourite meals
Asparagus, Spinach & Lemon Risotto
This recipe is from the kitchen of renowned New Zealand chef, Annabel Langbein who has been ever so generous in allowing us to reproduce it here.
2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup risotto rice, eg arborio
½ cup white wine
4 cups hot vegetable stock
1 tsp salt
ground black pepper
finely grated zest of ½ a lemon
1 tsp thyme leaves
about 20 spears of asparagus, tough ends snapped off and discarded, spears cut into 3-4cm lengths
1 large bunch rocket or spinach, tough stems removed
1 cup shelled broad beans (optional)
1 packed cup (80g) grated parmesan
½ cup toasted sliced almonds
1-2 tsp lemon juice, to taste
Heat butter in a medium-sized pot. Add onion and garlic and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add rice, stirring over heat for a minute or two until it starts to toast a little. Stir in wine and allow it to evaporate fully before adding stock, salt and pepper, lemon zest and thyme.
Once stock boils, reduce to lowest heat, cover and cook for 15 minutes, lifting lid occasionally to stir. If the mixture looks at all dry at this point add a little water – it should be very sloppy. Stir in asparagus, cover and cook another 3 minutes. The rice should be just tender and creamy. Stir in rocket or spinach, optional broad beans and most of the parmesan and almonds. Just before serving add lemon juice and adjust seasonings to taste. Serve sprinkled with remaining parmesan and almonds.