Wine / Fishing for the right wine

“The question was what wine would go with a reputedly strong fish and vegetables with an equally strong chilli flavour,” writes wine columnist RICHARD CALVER

TATHRA wharf is a special place. It has spectacular views to the open sea and back to the arc of yellow sand that forms the sweep of the bay.

Richard Calver.

It is also a great place for amateur fishermen to try their luck, including yours truly. Indeed, my piscatorial skills underline the notion of not being in the fishing profession. But I must, as a lawyer, give a nod to the catfish:

Q: What is the difference between a catfish and a lawyer?
A: One is a bottom-dwelling, scum-sucking scavenger and the other is a fish.

Anyway, the idyll of catching dinner was recently realised when, after a day of throwing back undersized Taylor and rock cod, my fishing buddy caught an Australian barracuda or snook. It yielded two medium-sized fillets sufficient for dinner. I caught nothing.

The fillets were quickly fried in very hot oil not less than 45 minutes after the snook was off the hook. Served with a vegetable dish of previously baked and reheated aubergine, tomato and fresh green chilli, the question was what wine would go with a reputedly strong fish and vegetables with an equally strong chilli flavour. I had anticipated that we would need a white wine to go with fresh-caught fish (seriously!) and had grabbed an unknown WA verdelho from my wine club’s latest offering.

It was an inspired grab. The 2016 Peos Estate Four Kings Single Vineyard Verdelho is an ideal wine to match with fuller-flavoured or spicy foods.

The grape variety was introduced to Australia in the 1820s and was used in the production of fortified wines. It originated from the Portuguese island of Madeira. But at present the variety is generally known for its “tropical” characteristics because winemakers are producing fruit-driven, full-bodied dry white wines.

My friend who was responsible for catching the snook remarked that the wine had a toasty, almost nutty flavour that complemented the food.

I contacted Peos Estate where the owner, Vic Peos, said that the versatility of the verdelho variety is remarkable.

“The full tropical flavours come with a later pick. We tend to pick it so we get a medium style where the minerally flavours come through,” he said.

“The name Four Kings comes from the locale in Manjimup. Canberra might think it’s the truffle king but this area is the biggest producer in the southern hemisphere.

“We are an hour’s drive from Margaret River and the property down the road was named the four aces, which is now the name of our top of the range wine. But when we started to export to China we added the name and the next level wine, the Four Kings. Our entry level wine is, in comparison, the Four Jacks.”

If only we’d had some truffles to go with the snook and the Verdelho. Even those from Manjimup rather than the very special Canberra truffles!

Cook a man a fish and you feed him for a day. But teach a man to fish and you get rid of him for the whole weekend.

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