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Amuse: Fish Guts are Never Fancy

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Amuse: Fish Guts are Never Fancy
Text by Kristina Held / Photo courtesy of Cloudy Bay

AN INTERVIEW WITH WINEMAKER NICK LANE

In each issue of our magazine we like to sit down with a chef or other culinary personality and pick their brains on all topics food-related. Just as we all want to know what our favorite musicians listen to when he isn’t cranking out chart-topping records, we also want to know what our beloved chefs are noshing on in their spare time. Or what was the worst thing they ever ate. Or what may be lurking in their refrigerator. You get the point.

Recently, Nick Lane, winemaker of New Zealand’s Cloudy Bay wine, sat down with me to discuss some of these rousing points. He may not be a chef, but he certainly knows a thing or two about food…and whole lot about wine.

Photo courtesy of Cloudy Bay
Cloudy Bay winemaker Nick Lane

The Local Palate (TLP): What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
Nick Lane (NL): Right now, there would be a bottle of half-drunk chardonnay, some slightly overripe vegetables, and…leftovers! There would probably three or four cheeses, and probably a whole lot of other stuff stuck in the back, which I probably should have thrown out a long time ago.

TLP: What is the best thing since sliced bread?
NL: My meat slicer is the best thing since sliced bread. I lived in France for a while so I developed a strong passion for charcuterie. And I was in Spain a while ago and indulged there. Anything from France, Spain, Italy, is all good.

TLP: What did you eat and drink for dinner last night?
NL: Oh, for dinner last night I had some local clams. They were really nice. Then I had pasta with pulled pork and collard greens, which I’ve never had before. They looked really scary. But they were really nice, really nice. They were all boiled up and didn’t look that appetizing, but they were tasty.

TLP: And to drink?
NL: Hmm, let me get this. I started off with a beer. And then I had a glass of chardonnay, and then [my friend and I] shared a bottle of Oregon pinot noir.

TLP: What is the worst thing you have ever had to eat? To drink?
NL: To eat, it was salted sea cucumber entrails, which is a fancy word for fish guts. To drink, it was New Zealand 0% beer.

Photo courtesy of Cloudy Bay
Pinot Noir Harvest / Photo courtesy of Cloudy Bay

TLP: Describe your favorite wine memory.
NL: I think my favorite wine memory was when I first went to France as a teenager. I had one red wine one night and then the next night a different red wine, and although I was only seventeen, I realized the difference. It was like a light bulb went off in my head. It was like, ‘Yeah, OK, that wine is different from that wine.’ And from that moment on I decided I wanted to become a wine maker. Not a beautiful moment, but very symbolic.

TLP: What gives you juice?
NL: I would like to say my children, but they seem to wear me down—they make me stay in bed longer. I think the opportunity at Cloudy Bay to make a whole bunch of different styles of wine—all the way from sparkling wine to sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot, and sweet Riesling—just the massive variety. Each of those wines are exciting in themselves, but what’s really, really fun is how totally different they are.

TLP: What three guests would you invite to a dream dinner?
NL: Let’s see. David Attenborough. Scarlett Johansson. She’s beautiful. And who else? After that I don’t really know—maybe someone like my grandfather.