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Wine Talk

Recipe: Fish cakes with chermoula paste (South Africa)


South Africans tend to love a bit of spice in their food and some years ago, we enjoyed this dish as a light lunch after a tasting at Catherine Marshall's in Stellenbosch.

Chermoula paste is middle eastern in origin and available from good supermarkets but it's definitely worth making your own.

Not only is it great with these fish cakes, it also works wonderfully as a topping for grilled fish.

Enjoy these with a bottle of two of Cathy's fresh and zesty sauvignon blanc, now with 12.5% off!

 Fish cakes with chermoula paste



1 x half bunch of coriander, chopped

1 x half bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped

3 x garlic cloves, crushed

1 x tsp toasted ground cumin

1 x tsp sweet paprika

1 x pinch of cayenne pepper

4 x tbsp olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


800g hake fillets (or sustainable white fish alternative)

4 x potatoes, peeled and boiled

15ml chermoula paste

2 x eggs

80g breadcrumbs

Seasoned plain flour for coating

Vegetable oil for frying.


  1. Blend the chermoula ingredients in food processor and taste, adjusting seasoning to suit.
  2. Grill or poach the fish, then flake with a fork, being careful to remove any skin and bones.
  3. Mash potatoes and add to fish, mixing with 15ml of chermoula paste and enough breadcrumbs to bind.
  4. Shape into fish cakes about 2cm thick.
  5. Dip in the seasoned flour and pan fry in hot oil until golden for about 5 minutes on either side.
  6. Serve with a simple green salad (Cathy added mint and basil leaves to hers for extra delicious freshness).

Enjoy with Catherine Marshall sauvignon blanc, for tropical fruits and minerality that matches brilliantly with the zingy fich cakes.

Recipe: Asparagus and mint risotto (New Zealand)


A delicious and satisfying dish doesn't have to mean meat or fish.

This fresh and flavoursome risotto, with tender asparagus and fragrant mint would fuel even the heartiest eater weighing on them.

That includes the tropical Tin Cottage Sauvignon Blanc we used to flavour the food (we drank the rest) – try it yourself, even better with 10 percent off selected sauvignon blancs currently!

 Asparagus and mint risotto recipe


175g asparagus (trimmed and sliced into 1.5cm lengths)

1.5 litres chicken stock

4 x mint sprigs

2 x tbsp chopped mint leaves

2 x tsp fennel seeds

2 x tbsp olive oil

1 x small onion (finely chopped)

1 x stick of celery (finely chopped)

500g risotto rice (carnaroli if possible)

125ml Sauvignon Blanc

30g unsalted butter

90g freshly grated parmesan

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Put chicken stock, asparagus ends and mint sprigs into a saucepan and bring to boil, before reducing heat to low, covering and keeping hot.
  2. In a large saucepan, toast the fennel seeds over a high heat, stirring for around one minute or until fragrant.
  3. Transfer seeds to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, then – once cool – roughly grind.
  4. In the same saucepan, heat the olive oil then add the onion and the celery and cook over moderate heat for around five minutes until softened.
  5. Add rice and fennel seeds and stir until coated with oil, then add wine.
  6. Stir for a couple of minutes until absorbed, then add enough hot stock to just cover the rice.
  7. Cook and stir until stock is absorbed, then continue to add stock one ladle at a time, stirring constantly until rice is just tender – this should take about 20 minutes.
  8. Stir in the sliced asparagus and cook, adding more broth as necessary, until the asparagus is almost tender and the rice is al dente and bound in a creamy sauce.
  9. Stir in the butter, parmesan and chopped mint, then season with salt and pepper.
  10. Serve in warmed bowls, with more parmesan if desired.

Enjoy with the rest of your Tin Cottage Sauvignon Blanc while your veggie friends beg you for the recipe.

Great value alternatives to Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc


Without doubt, Sauvignon Blanc has become New Zealand’s flagship grape variety, mainly making its home in the South Island’s Marlborough region.

For years, the iconic ‘Cloudy Bay’ brand has commanded high prices – but for me, the quality level is not what it was and other labels now offer greater value.

To get the most enjoyment out of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, it can help to get a better understanding of this iconic grape.

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Why is Sauvignon Blanc such a superstar in NZ?

Since it was first planted there in 1973 – and in the 40-odd years since – it has accounted for the lion’s share of New Zealand’s wine exports.

New Zealand growers have never tried to bastardise quality in favour of a fast buck – the general quality produced throughout the country is high.

A part of Sauvignon Blanc’s mass appeal is an abundance of aromatics and fruit flavours on the palate – essential for a variety with such powerful acidity.

Working with restaurants on a daily basis, we’re constantly reminded that most ‘by the glass’ offerings are driven by price alone.

That’s not true of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, where quality is the driving factor in the majority of cases.

It’s not the easiest of food partners – shellfish and seafood certainly work, as does asparagus – but the high acidity levels make it a great aperitif wine.

New Zealand wines have the gooseberry fruit and pepper (bell pepper) found in Sauvignon worldwide.

But they also tend to have more tropical characters too, making them so much more drinkable in volume.

Plus, Sauvignon is very much an aromatic variety, with bold fragrance and flavour components.

And when these are grown to New Zealand quality levels, they really hit you between the eyes, giving the impression of more bang for your buck.

What to look for when buying Sauvignon Blanc

Firstly, as with any cooler climate wines, vintage can make a big difference.

Happily, both 2015 and 2016 have been kind to Kiwi Sauvignon – although 2015 was lower in yield.

These wines will never be the cheapest and it’s always worth spending that little bit more to ensure quality.

But there are some great value alternatives to Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc – here are three that are just as good in our eyes (and less expensive).

Bladen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Bladen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Dave and Cristine MacDonald’s Bladen Estate is one of the founding ones of the Marlborough region.

You’ll have to go a long way to beat the quality and style of their generous Sauvignon Blanc, with its gooseberry, grapefruit, nettle and floral hints.

These give way to a plentifully fruited palate with minerals, grapefruit zest and herbal notes and a long clean finish.

It’s perfectly balanced and – at under £13 a bottle – offers great value.

The Doctors' Sauvignon Blanc

The Doctor’s Sauvignon Blanc

Marlborough’s Forrest Wines have created a range of lower alcohol wines that lack nothing in terms of flavour and enjoyment.

They won’t tell us the special techniques they use in both the vineyard and the winery but have admitted that special clones have been chosen for the project.

Their classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc leaps from the glass with red capsicum, passionfruit and fresh herb aromas.

It’s full and satisfying to taste, with that crisp and refreshing tropical Marlborough finish – all at a modest 9.5 percent alcohol.

Waipara Springs Sauvignon Blanc

Waipara Springs Sauvignon Blanc

If you’d like to try something that’s not from Marlborough you can’t go far wrong with the wines of the Waipara Valley.

Although more famous for Pinot Noir and Riesling grapes, Sauvignon Blanc fares really well there – this example from Waipara Springs winery won’t disappoint.

Aromas of passionfruit, nettle and capsicum dominate the nose and these in turn flow through onto a bright palate.

Salivating acidity couples with chalky minerality to bring depth – mouthwatering at little more than £10 a bottle.

You either love it or you soon will…

If you’re already a devotee of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, enjoy the quality of these Cloudy Bay alternatives and let us know what you think.

And if you’ve not tried it yet, give a bottle a go and you’ll likely become a convert before it’s empty.