Butterworth Estate Wine meets RNZYS – an evening of hospitality excellence

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On the 17th of June, nearly sixty members and their guests enjoyed attending the first Butterworth Estate Winemakers Dinner in the Quarterdeck at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

Butterworth Estate was founded by world-famous sailor Brad Butterworth, when he took over Martinborough winery Julicher. A relationship between Butterworth Estate and RNZYS was formed in 2019 when RNZYS commissioned a range of wines to celebrate its sesquicentennial anniversary.

Following the range of prestigious events that accompanied the 36th America’s Cup, RNZYS Operations Manager Mark Sorenson struck up a conversation with Butterworth Estate General Manager Nick Hewitt to create another.

Both parties saw a great opportunity to extend the excitement and splendor into the winter, and to showcase the Squadron as not just a leader in yacht racing, but in exquisite hospitality.

While brainstorming ideas for the dinner, it was quickly realised that a trip to the Estate in Martinborough was necessary to tie the wines and the food together. So, Nick invited Mark and RNZYS Executive Chef Jean Brito to Martinborough for a winery tour and a stay in the newly renovated original on-site cottage. The trip included personal tours of the winery with Winemaker Martin Bell, learning how each element, from Te Muna’s famed gravelly riverbed to its winter frosts, influence the wines there. Special care was taken to taste Martinborough’s finest local fares – tastes which were reflected in the menu included kina butter, Te Muna lamb and farmhouse cheeses. 

The five-course degustation menu was top-notch, wowing guests and incorporating each of the matched wines into its corresponding course. 

Paired beautifully with the 2019 Sauvignon Blanc, the first course was a favorite amongst guests as it was playfully served as five different amouse-bouche.

salmon -Ōra King- / vanilla / nashi pear

nasturtium / mezcal / ceviche / cucumber / kohlrabi

amaranth / fried coconut soup / sage / pineapple

caviar / white chocolate / blini / cauliflower

kina butter / rēwena bread / pāua

The second course of scallops, celeriac, spiced tomato confit, and rice cracker was matched with the 2020 Regatta Rose’s notes of fresh berries and vanilla custard. 

Course three took us to Jean’s roots in Mexico with duck confit, corn masa tamal, salsa verde, and fecotta cheese, complimented by notes of lime blossom in the Dry Riesling from 2020.

For the Main Course, Butterworth Estate’s hallmark 2018 Pinot Noir was perfect with lamb two-ways, pommes maxim, lavender custard, capsicum, and winter truffle.

The dessert course was a range of farmhouse cheeses and petit fours to be washed down with plenty of wine refills.

The evening’s formalities included remarks by Brad Butterworth himself, detailed tasting notes from Winemaker Martin Bell, and Chef Jean Brito’s insight into how each course was inspired by the wines and the terroir of Te Muna. Both new and established members of the Squadron were in attendance – all dressed in their best for the occasion. The dinner was a true celebration of the power of cuisine, viniculture, and great company – and a follow up is already being planned for this summer.

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