The trajectory of modern New Zealand wine has been nothing short of impressive. From being a country known for its dairy and lamb in the 1980s to catapulting onto the world wine stage in just over 40 years with its crisp grassy Sauvignon Blanc wines followed by its lush fruit-driven Pinot Noirs, our little corner of the world has carved out quite the reputation for its premium wines.
A key part of the pioneering landscape were the French Missionaries who laid the foundations for the distinctive wines hailing from New Zealand’s oldest winery, Mission Estate. Their legacy of viticultural techniques honed to draw out the vines’ potential in unforgiving wastelands such as the Gimblett Gravels, paved the way for Mission to earn a place on the international stage with award-winning wines such as their Mission Jewelstone.
Meanwhile, across the other side of the globe, another country has been gathering momentum in a similar vein but on the world’s fine dining scene. The Netherlands now boasts over 100 restaurants laying claim to one or more Michelin stars. Bringing the ultimate endorsement of “the exceptional” in terms of creativity and commitment in Dutch gastronomy, it is hardly surprising that some of The Netherlands’ most ambitious and creative haute cuisine chefs are looking to wineries in New Zealand for something inspirational to complement their gastronomic art.
The following fine dining destinations are just a small sampling of the growing number of outstanding Michelin-starred establishments in The Netherlands, who in their search for the “perfect pairing” are finding the answer in the distinctive vintages of Mission Estate’s wines.
The brainchild of Chef Fred Mustert, restaurant Fred opened its doors in the heart of Rotterdam in 2008 and was awarded its first Michelin star in 2010. Basing his cooking style on classic French cuisine but with his own twist, Mustert favours over trends, “the most beautiful freshest products” and local ingredients guided by the seasons with straightforward, light and refined cooking based on acids. Fred has selected the Mission Jewelstone Chardonnay and Reserve Sauvignon Blanc to preside on his wine list as the ultimate accompaniments to his relaxed, elegant gastronomy.
De Keuken van Arragon
Located in a forest in the Drenthe Fluitenberg, Chef Herco van Arragon is the creative genius behind De Keuken van Arragon, championing “unashamedly contemporary cuisine”. Utilising modern techniques and seasonal vegetables from his grandfather’s garden, everything is homemade from scratch including the bread, chocolates and ice cream. The restaurant is therefore without a fixed menu, promising diners something unexpected every time. The Kitchen of Arragon also promises an immaculate wine list curated by Sommelier Cynthia from a generous and diverse selection of wines from around the world that celebrates the Mission Estate Pinot Gris and Mission Reserve Sauvignon Blanc.
On the edge of Zenderen, Het Seminar holds court in a former monastery, offering a “from-ground-to-mouth” gastronomic experience utilising the best that nature and the season has to offer with vegetables from the restaurant’s own gardens, fruit from their own orchards and meat from livestock grazing in their own fields. Intent on producing the most natural, sustainable and unique dishes, Het Seminar is without a standard menu. Rather, everyday they make one menu that is tailored to the harvest and the best ingredients available at the time. Likewise, their wine list cherishes fine wines that demonstrate an ongoing commitment to sustainable viticulture and winemaking practices, showcasing from New Zealand, the Mission Reserve Syrah.
De Karpendonkse Hoeve
Ingrid van Edghem’s restaurant, De Karpendonkse Hoeve, is one Michelin establishment that has evolved into something rather novel on the fine dining front. Now an in-home dining experience service, the shift reflects van Edghem’s desire to get “back to the heart of cooking: palatable flavour combinations, the menu and fresh ingredients… The things that really matter.” The now fully online KH@HOME offers a selection of dishes made daily from the freshest regional products with influences from all over the world. Always one to keep things dynamic, the dishes are often executed by other chefs whom Van Eeghen regularly invites to showcase their cooking abilities. Delivered straight to your doorstep, this unique establishment strives for “a worldly dinner in your own familiar environment”, completing the experience with an equally top-notch selection of paired wines of which Mission’s Estate and Reserve wines are favourites.
While European fine dining establishments across the globe are taking big inspiration from some of the best wines New Zealand has to offer for their haute cuisine, you needn’t actually travel far to experience a world-class dining hotspot that couldn’t be more tailored to bringing out the best that Mission wines have to offer.
Nestled in the lush Taradale Hills, boasting sweeping views of Napier City to the coast beyond, Mission’s very own highly-awarded restaurant holds court. With Executive Chef Ricky Littleton at the helm, with his wife and Restaurant Manager Hannah, The Mission Restaurant offers contemporary fine dining with a European influence using only the freshest and finest locally-sourced seasonal ingredients. Housed in an elegant Grand Maison that is set amid beautifully manicured gardens on Mission’s stunning vineyard location, Littleton’s culinary creations can be enjoyed al fresco on the outdoor terrace or in a more intimate setting within.
Littleton’s latest Winter Menu, seasonally updated with mouthwatering offerings such as the entrée of twice-baked goat’s cheese souffle with caramelised onion, candied tomato, green apple and walnut, and the main of salt and pepper squid with nashi pear, cashew nut salad and harissa and citrus dressing are curated to complement the complexities and characteristics of Mission’s wines and draw out the subtleties of the different vintages. Needless to say, the diners are spoilt for choice when it comes to the Wine List, featuring gems such as the 2021 The Gaia Project Rosé, the 2018 Huchet Chardonnay, and for the ultimate in sublime, the 2014 Jewelstone Antoine.
Perfect pairings are rare, and certainly one of the great culinary pleasures if not truly joyful moments in life. Rest-assured a trip to Northwestern Europe to experience that perfect marriage of food and wine à la Mission is not required.