Gordon Russell: My Favourite Wine and Food Match

Gordon Russell: My Favourite Wine and Food Match

Two of the most common questions I‘m asked as a winemaker are “what’s your favourite wine”? and “what’s your favourite wine and food match”? To the former I kind of shrug my shoulders as its impossible to answer.  I tend to communicate something along the lines of “it depends on the food I’m eating, the time of year and who I’m drinking it with”.

To the latter though I have a definitive response, my favourite match is our Winemakers Reserve Chardonnay with crayfish. This however is a story of more than just food and wine. My friend and owner of our Chardonnay block in Bay View, Brian Howard, is a keen hunting and fishing type and when conditions suit, he often sets sail and drops crayfish pots off the port of Napier. This is a seemingly productive fishery as every so often I get the call, “Gordie there’s a couple in the fridge for you”.

That evening’s drive home from work to Bay View is tinged with anticipation. A quick detour at the Bay View BP leads me to Brian and his wife Lesley’s home in Buchanan Street. Here on the outskirts of Bay View Village where prior to the 1931 earthquake the Esk River flowed into a tidal estuary lies a most unique vineyard. Its marine based soils lend the fruit and resulting wine a distinctive saline note, one that will find a match with dinner later that evening. 

Into the garage and into the beer fridge I go, uplifting the newspaper package and replacing it with a bottle made from the ground under which I stand. Sometimes the package is still wriggling and I know that I will first have to cook my bounty when I get home, sometimes Brian has done this part for me.

Both households that evening get to experience a match like no other. A big rich, smoky and saline Chardonnay with the rich and succulent flesh of a crayfish caught that morning by the vineyard owner. Whether it’s served as salad, as taco’s or as a pasta dish, I know of no better food and wine experience.

Crayfish and Parmesan Spaghetti Recipe

Wine match: Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Chardonnay

Serves 4



  • 350g spaghetti
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup white wine
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • Flesh from 1 raw crayfish, cut into chunks
  • ½ cup cream
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup shaved parmesan to serve


  1. Cook the spaghetti as per packet instructions.
  2. In a large frying pan heat the oil. Add the garlic and ginger cooking for 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the spring onions, tomatoes, wine, lime and crayfish cooking for 3 or 4 minutes until the crayfish is just cooked. Add the cream and spinach heating through. Toss through the hot spaghetti, grated parmesan and season.
  3. Serve hot, garnished with extra parmesan and freshly ground pepper.
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