Hit & Miss: Quartz Reef NV Brut Methode Traditionelle with Scallop Ceviche & Dry-Roasted Hazelnuts

Wine: Quartz Reef NV Brut Methode Traditionelle
Origin: Central Otago, New Zealand

Taste: Crackling with high-strung acidity and lean fruit, this wine was unforgiving – both on Days One and Two. Downright pungent with freshly-grated lemon zest on the nose, its palate was a bit brusque with a chalky texture hovering between crushed water cracker and blanched almond sliver.

Expectation: Entirely different from this artisan’s heavenly vintage 2002 bottling I tried in Austria in 2012, I was a bit at a loss as to what to do with it, even with a vibrantly acidic seafood dish.

Near-Hit: Scallop Ceviche with Jalapeño, Pomelo & Toasted Fennel Seeds
On Day Two, I tried a scallop ceviche “cooked” in lemon and lime juices along with jalapeño, pomelo and toasted fennel seeds. My hope was that the citrus would marry with the wine’s zealous acidity while the toasted fennel seeds would tie into the wine’s hint of autolysis. It worked well enough, but the wine’s structure still dominated everything.

Miss: Dry-Roasted Hazelnuts
I initially thought this would be a great refresher after a long trans-Atlantic flight. On Day One, I popped the cork to go with a nibble of dry-roasted nuts before dinner, thinking the wine’s leesiness would marry with the nuts. However, the wine was far too tart. It didn’t work with the nuts, and it didn’t work alone.