Note Chicory is a bitter green leaf available from select greengrocers. If baby chicory is unavailable, substitute the tender leaves of mature chicory or another bitter green.
The boisterous flavours of new spring vegetables call for the equally rambunctious aroma wallop of a good Kiwi sav blanc - all that tropical fruit, fresh-cut grass, gooseberry and lemongrass typical of savvy from Marlborough - rioting across your tongue.
Asparagus has a great and natural affinity for sauvignon blanc: you often find flavour strains of the former wafting through a mouthful of the latter. But the other ingredients in this dish make what would normally be a straightforward combination a little more convoluted: the deep savoury nuttiness of the hazels and the bitter tang of chicory augment the forceful, youthful nature of asparagus, adding extra layers of texture, astringency and richness. You'll need either a particularly full-flavoured young savvy to stand up to the taste overload, or a sauvignon that's been given the full box of winemaking tricks: barrel ferment, wild yeast, lots of lees-stirring, the lot.
Luckily, the 2009 vintage produced some particularly punchy sav blancs in Marlborough, and an increasing number of producers in that fast-expanding region are beginning to be a lot more adventurous in their winemaking.