Lake-side Cooking at its Best

Winemaker, Jamie Marfell, awaits with a glass of new Wild Valley Sauvignon Blanc in hand. He’s soon joined at Stoneleigh Vineyard by chef and restaurateur Sean Connolly, to chat about his first Wild Valley challenge. While savouring the smooth finish of the wild-fermented wine, Jamie tasks Sean to find the ideal complement to the wine’s pronounced citrus and stone fruit flavours. Eager to meet Jamie’s challenge, Sean heads south-west on a journey to lake Rotoroa in the Nelson Lakes National Park of New Zealand’s South Island – to find the perfect match for the wine.

On the beautiful shores of Lake Rotoroa, Sean meets Mike – a skilled trout fisherman who is well-acquainted with the local area. On a crisp winter’s morning, Sean and Mike set their sights on catching either a brown or rainbow trout and begin by trolling lures by boat. Failing to tempt a fish from the pristine depths, our pair soon switch to a shore-based approach, as Mike breaks out his fly rod in a favourite spot. Despite close encounters with the elusive trout, the fish win the day, forcing Sean to utilise his plan B.

Disappointed but not defeated, Sean opts to create his dish using another of New Zealand’s most prized indigenous ingredients: Ora King Salmon. Starting with a bouquet of fennel, dill and parsley, Sean envelopes the pale orange flesh with aromatic herbs, before placing it above a freshly-lit fire. Cooking the salmon over white-hot coals, Sean makes a start on his citrus dressing.

Combining sweet orange segments with the briny tang of olives and the brightness of spring onion, he crafts an elegant garnish, capable of balancing the rich flesh of the fish. Finished with a generous drizzle of olive oil, Sean’s whole baked salmon with citrus dressing makes for an outstanding accompaniment to the complex texture and crisp acidity of the wild-fermented wine.

Chef Sean Connolly Fishing for Trout
Chef Sean Connolly Lakeside Cooking
Whole Baked Salmon with Citrus Dressing Paired with Stoneleigh Wild Valley Sauvignon Blanc
Trout Fisherman

While New Zealand’s unpredictable wilderness may have got the better of Sean on this occasion, both chef and angler are more than happy with the plated result – and raise a glass of Wild Valley Sauvignon Blanc to the one that got away.