Thursday, July 30, 2009

Domaine Etienne Sauzet 2005 Montrachet

I was just going over my blogs to date, and I know this is going to seem really naff, but when I posted the Bastille Day blog back on the 14th, I was going to make a week of French wine entries, but thanks to Perth and the bloody swine flu (don’t worry, you can’t catch it through cyber space, or....) that idea went south. So, my bright idea is to add one more blog for Bastille Day, but with a twist; it will be in French as well, or en anglais ainsi.

So here we go.

Domaine Etienne Sauzet 2005 Montrachet. If you are thinking,’ hmm, that sounds like a nice drop then.’, go to the kitchen sink, fill a glass of water to the top and throw it in your face (water, not the vessel people). Montrachet is where Chardonnay goes to heaven, it is when you have 17 holes in one in a row and when you withdraw $200 from an ATM and it gives you $2000!

The 2005 Etienne Sauzet is quite simply perfect. Perfect!!

The 2005 vintage in Burgundy was, yes I know I am repeating myself, perfect. In viticulture terms everything that happened, happened when it should have; it rained when it was supposed to rain, it was warm when it was supposed to be warm and it rained again when it was supposed to rain.

The colour is straw yellow with absolutely no dullness in sight. On the nose there is lemon, crushed gravel – something like river-bed pebbles – which is very minerally. After a while there comes granny smith apple telling you there is very little MLF. In the mouth there is an instant hit of soft spice, lemon tart and the one that makes it special, liquorice powder.

Wines like this are really once in a life time – truly. There is perfect balance, endless length and seem less complexity.

Drink till 2020
Drink with lobster


Domaine Etienne Montrachet de Sauzet 2005. Si vous envisagez, ’ hmm, que des sons comme une goutte nice alors. ’, passez à l'évier de cuisine, remplir un verre d'eau vers le haut et jeter dans votre visage (eau, pas le peuple du navire). Montrachet est où Chardonnay va vers le ciel, c'est lorsque vous avez 17 trous dans un dans une ligne et quand vous retirer $200 un distributeur de billets et il vous offre $2000!

La 2005 Etienne Sauzet est tout simplement parfait. Parfait!!

Le millésime 2005 en Bourgogne a été, Oui je sais que je suis moi-même, répétant parfait. En viticulture termes tout ce qui est passé, est arrivé quand il devrait avoir ; il plu lorsqu'il était censé pluie, il était chaud quand il était censé pour être chaud et il plu à nouveau quand il était censé pluie.

La couleur est jaune paille avec absolument aucune dullness en vue. Sur le nez, il n'y est citron, gravier concassé – quelque chose comme lit du fleuve cailloux – qui est très minerally. Après un certain temps, il arrive granny smith pomme en vous disant qu'il y a très peu MLF. Dans la bouche, il existe un succès immédiat des épices douces, Tarte au citron et celui qui le rend spécial, poudre de réglisse.

Vins comme ceci sont vraiment une fois en un temps de vie – vraiment. Il est parfait équilibre, longueur interminable et semblent moins complexité.

Boisson jusqu'en 2020
Drink avec homard

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hochkirch 'Maximus' 2006 Tarrington Pinot Noir

Hochkirch, I recently found out is the original name of the western Victorian town of Tarrington. This area was essentially populated by German immigrants in the nineteenth century, and if you head out that way, around Hamilton and Tarrington, you will find a lot of their German roots still there, like the six Lutheran churches I counted in Hamilton; that's a few I reckon.

Another German throw back is Hochkirch Wines in Tarrington – it’s all coming together now isn’t it. Hochkirch have been producing biodynamic wines for some time now, and they have been doing it rather well I might say. One thing that makes this label ever so German is not the name, but the little insignia of the eagle crest on each side of the label; very German don’t you think?

But the wine. The Hochkirch ‘Maximus’ 2006 Tarrington Pinot Noir has a great pinky red look about it with obvious translucency. The nose is instantly gamey with a hint of freshness at the back coming through as strawberry. The mouth has a soft hit of spice up front with a long savoury run down the middle of the palate that is held up by crisp acid. Right at the end, when you think it is time to pack up and go home comes a lovely whack of beetroot and beetroot leaf which is really strong and, what reckon, really obvious; obviously!

Nicely balanced, great length with what I think is surprising complexity about it. All in all, a great wine.

Drink with lamb assiete
Drink till 2014

Sunday, July 26, 2009

St. Jude's Cellars - Brunswick Street Fitzroy

It’s the gospel hour on cooked and bottled, and being Sunday and all, we’re going to talk about causes – lost causes.

St. Jude, one of those whacky 12 apostles, is commonly known as the patron saint of lost causes for his insistence that man live a squalid life and that the faithful should persevere in the environment of harsh, difficult circumstances, just as their forefathers had done before them. Geez, that sounds like fun.

Progressing two millennia, our lost causes have made their way to Brunswick Street in Fitzroy and created St. Jude’s Cellars, a little (quite large space actually) bistro come bar come cafe come wine shop has popped up at the old site of the Hideout Cafe.

From the get-go, St Jude’s Cellars is quite a sleek looking operation with polished concrete floors and a stark white ceiling. On my first visit I was fully expecting to greeted by some beautiful young thing in a monk’s apron, but of course, this is Brunswick Street, so the young pretty thing greeted me with a nod while tasting a newly opened bottle of wine in their best retro style t-shirt that probably set them back $150, but enough on haute couture.

Even though I have been there about 3 or 4 times, there is one item on the menu that I keep ordering; the Reuben sandwich – veal silverside, sauerkraut, gruyere and Russian dressing between two pieces of rye. I just love it.

They have a day menu there which changes often, with most of the dishes resembling mezze style plates with wild mushrooms with fetta, Thai style fishcakes, braised red cabbage and marmalade – another favourite and curried Spring Bay mussels. The dinner menu has a few winter staples such as roasted rabbit and braised ox cheek. The kitchen is also lucky enough to have Shona, who I worked with at Vue de monde, who is also currently doing a few other gigs around Fitzroy to fund a three month starge at Noma in Copenhagen.

The wine is a major pull for me here with a great wine shop selection that you won’t find at BWS or Dan’s. The great catch is that you just add $15 on the sticker price and have it in the restaurant or at the bar. My last visit entailed a couple of glasses of Sutton Grange 2008 Viognier from Bendigo in central Victoria, with a Rueben of course. I enjoyed the wine so much I bought a bottle for home (blog to come).

St Jude’s Cellars is a real bit of class on Brunswick Street that has unfortunately gone the way of nachos and thick crusted pizza’s since the demise of Interlude, Guernica and Bistro Inferno. Do yourself a favour and walk in for the Reuben and a glass of something something. And do engage the staff; they may wear expensive retro gear, but they are informative and good for a chat.

St. Jude’s Cellars – 389 Brunswick Street Fitzroy

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Season of Stout - 'Prickly Moses' Otway Stout

The very oddly named – and let’s be honest, every new beer or wine has a strange moniker – ‘Prickly Moses’ Otway Stout is pure and simply gorgeous; GORGEOUS!!!!!

Another great find from Blackheart and Sparrows down on Lygon, this stout is cram packed with flavour, and only 5% a/v, which compared to a few stouts I’ve had lately is very low.

This sexy stuff is chock-a-block full of coffee mocha and toffee flavours which go on and on. Made in the Macedon Ranges out at Barongarook, which is where my vineyard will be (that or a bistro – I’m taking bets for which one), the brewers use rain water from Cape Otway for a natural clean feel.

You will be stretched to get a better stout out there, and at $18 a six pack, this is great value. Fair dinkum! Drink with oysters natural or classic beef lasagne.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rate the plate with a Birk!!

With all of the restaurant reviewers out there leaving their mark with chef’s hats and stars and cute little box’s tied up with string – catchy hey – I thought I would come up with my own little moniker for what’s hot and what’s yesterday’s hollandaise.

Pop quiz; what do chefs rely on most of all in the kitchen. Is it:

A. Cigarettes
B. Beer
C. A and B
D. Birkenstocks

If you said C you would be correct, but for this exercise the correct answer is D; Birkenstocks. Under every great chef lies a comfy pair of Birks; yellow ones, red ones, floral ones and plastic ones; every restaurant in Oz has at least one pair of Birks (not the idiot kind of Birk in most cases) in the kitchen. So, with every food entry from now on there will be the following (as above).

1 Birk = so so
2 Birk’s = pretty good
Gold Birk = very sassy
Hooters Girls wearing Birk’s = you’ll be lucky to get a table by the time your un-born child graduates from uni
.... and Birk with socks = stay away

Tally Ho

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Whats The Story?

Once upon a time there was this guy and a vineyard and some grapes. There was also a never-ending story, a story of a lovely lady and something about a love story that went south.

You see, there are all sorts of stories out there; short stories, long stories, good stories and not so good stories. This is a good story; The Story ‘Orphan’ Shiraz 2005 from the Grampians in Western Victoria.

I found this little ditty at Blackhearts and Sparrows on Lygon Street, Brunswick (, just down the road actually. Now that I am no longer working at The Point, I have to watch what I spend on wine, so when I saw The Story for only $20, I went brilliant – and it was.

Now it’s an odd name I’ll give you that; but hey, when was the last time you drank a label - Penfolds drinkers excluded. The colour is deep red with absolutely no translucency. The nose has a big smack of liquorice all-sorts with a sting of eucalypt in the tail. In the mouth there is another whack of liquorice, but this time just the black kind, with black olive tapenade there also.

So give it a go. Head down to Blackhearts or go online direct to ‘The Story’.

Drink with lamb shanks
Drink till 2013

Monday, July 20, 2009

Swine Flu drowning

Well, its been 7 days here in Perth, and all I can say is 'oink oink' - stupid swine flu.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bastille Day and Domaine-de-la-Romanee Conti 2005 La Tache

Bastille Day. The day when every non French person wants to be French and go, ‘haw haw haw’ in a French accent.; we’ve all done it and we will do it again.

To mark this day, I will blog about what I think is France's, and most certainly the worlds greatest wine house, and what has been my wine highlight for the last 12 months, the 2005 Domaine-de-la-Romanee Conti La Tache. That’s right, you read it correct. What a wine I tell ya!!

I got to taste this last year when a group came in to the restaurant with BYO; bloody BYO I thought. Then they showed me the wines. The entire DRC 2005 – all of them!! Richebourg, Romanee St. Vivant, Romanee Conti, Echezeaux, Grands Echezeaux and the Montrachet. Along with these were also Lamy-Piot Montrachet, Etienne Sauzet Le Montrachet and Bourchard et Fels Montrachet. Bloody Hell!!

As the Sommelier at The Point, I was charged with opening all of these wines to taste and test; this was a definite perk of the job. It was a blind taste so then I had to wrap all the bottles in foil and carefully, very carefully, pour the wines in the appropriate glassware.

At the end of the evening, the group graciously gave me a more than fair sample of each wine where they asked my opinion of each wine. It was a unanimous vote that the DRC Montrachet was the pick of the night – sexy stuff I tell ya! With this done, some of the guests made way with what was left. What happened next still puts a smile on my face. The host said that I could take home what was left – fair dinkum.

That night I took home about a third of a bottle of the La Tache, a quarter of the RSV, a couple of mouthfuls of Romanee Conti, a third of Lamy-Piot and a third of the Etienne Sauzet; that’s a fair wet dream in anyone’s language. The thing was that some of the wine had already been poured in to a glass for me, with the bottles being thrown way by the other staff. All I could do was decant what was left in to whatever I could find; this took all of my MacGyver skills I had.

They were all falafalling brilliant!!! But alas, they did not last too long.

Today I am in Perth with my family, and alas, there will be no La Tache, but I am sure there will be something decent from Baron’s on Beaufort Street, but back to the wine.

There is only one word to do the nose true justice and that is mucho fantastico as the aromatic breadth here is simply stunning with red and black cherry, cassis, plum and subtle earth notes replete with the same Asian spice array of aromas as the RSV displays but here the floral aspect, particularly rose petal, is much more pronounced. After 2 hours it was even more amazing; super ripe aromas of cherry, currant, tobacco and smoky, nutty oak, with traces of vanilla and sweet butter.

On the palate, a vivid freshness of fruit, pungency of spice and flowers, and melting away of what in point of analytical fact are abundant tannins, all engender an almost white wine dynamic of fruit-mineral call-and-response and clear, incisive penetration of flavours to every recess of the mouth. Finishes with wonderfully broad, ripe tannins.

To quote the great Sammy Hagar of Van Halen, ‘That’s what dreams are made of....’ There is nothing else to say but bisou bosou.

Drink with anything you bloody well like
Drink till it finished

Monday, July 13, 2009

Stout Season - 3 Ravens Black Real Live Ale

Beer is yum; der!!

It is hard not to go past a beer when you don’t know whether you want a Pinot Noir or Viognier or whatever. So being winter and all, the beer to be drinking is stout, the lovely dark warm ale. What I have been doing lately is finding myself trying heaps of the stuff, so, like the soup season, I’m going to do a stout season too.

Now we all know that food and wine go hand in hand, but what about beer, or more importantly, stout? There is one match that I think is one of the best ever, be it wine or beer, and that’s stout and Christmas Pud.

‘... that’s crazy man’ I hear you say, but hey, it works and it really is mucho fantastico. But it’s not Xmas so I reckon you can’t go past beef with black bean sauce, or number 73 from your local Chinese takeaway.

Today’s stout is 3 Ravens from Thornbury in Victoria, just one suburb over that way (I’m pointing east). A lovely chocolaty coffeeie black stout that really does drink easy NB a six pack between two people is not enough!! There is not much else to say but go and get some, its YUM!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Season of Soup - Minestrone with Foster e Rocco 2008 Heathcote Sangiovese

Minestrone soup – this one I used to think was the hardest of the lot. Actually, I used to think soup in general was difficult and messy to make. It just turns out soup is mess, not difficult in its preparation.

The classic Minestrone from Lombardy includes pancetta for the salt kick. In Milan the recipe varies according to what is on hand, which is handy I guess. My recipe is pretty basic, and like the Milanese, variations come and go with what is in the pantry.

It’s hearty and filling and really is a few meals in one. And this is a great meal to have in the fridge or freezer when it comes to leftovers.

Tim’s Minestrone
· A good couple of glugs of olive oil
· Bacon or pancetta or cacciatore sausage or salami or cooked spicy lamb sausage
· 1-2 onions finely chopped*
· 2 garlic cloves; crushed
· 2 celery stalks; peeled and chopped
· 1-2 carrots; chopped
· 1 zucchini; chopped
· 1 litre of stock; chicken or veg
· 2x400g cans crushed tomato
· 2 cups of water
· 1x420g can cannellini beans; rinsed and drained
· 2 cups of finely shredded cabbage
· ½ cup of pasta shells
· 1 handful of chopped parsley
· Crusty bread

*when cutting onions I find wearing swimming goggles helps avoid the tears. It may look funny, but it works!

Heat oil in a large pot and cook of meat. Try and burn the bottom of the pan; this leaves crusty bits which add heaps to the flavour. Once cooked set and leave aside. Sauté onions and garlic for a couple of minutes and add carrot (I always add carrot about 3 minutes before other veg just to cook through a bit more), zucchini and celery and cook until tender.

Return meat to pot with stock, tomatoes and water and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for ½ an hour. Stir in beans, cabbage and pasta and cook for about 10 minutes or until pasta is cooked. Add parsley and serve with bread.

The wine:
This is a fairly rustic dish so I thought of a rustic wine. White I believe would be no good with this because of the heavy flavours from the meat. We had a Sangiovese from Heathcote, Foster e Rocco, a wine made by Adam Foster and Lincoln Riley.

Both guys are sommeliers like me, with Adam just having started at The Lake House in Daylesford and Riley having been at Taxi for a few years. These guys have constructed a very nice little wine here, and they haven’t over worked it like a lot of Australian Sangioveses. This wine has got a good lot of earth and acid to keep it grounded and food friendly.

The colour is deep red with a pink hue, telling me it spent a bit of time on skins. The nose starts out as morello cherry, which is typical with Sangiovese, and then longer in the glass shows a good hit of dark chocolate. The mouth is very true with the nose; morello cherry followed by chocolate. All in all, a very nice wine.

Drink till 2013

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Erin's 40th at Esposito@toofeys - part 3

Sorry for the delay...

So, the final savoury course to come out was the roasted porterhouse with puree potatoes. This was wrapped in alfoil and cooked for 12 hours at 65°C so the meat would be pink all the way through and without losing any mass i.e. not being dehydrated.

Now you heard me sprout on about having to cater for dietary requirements in the first instalment of Erin’s birthday. One of these was for Sharon Mitchell who is vegetarian – or should I say was vegetarian. That’s it, we brought her back from the dark side with this beautiful piece of meat. Sharon had never had steak before this day, and one bite has ensured that she will be savouring beef for a long time to come. She loved it that much; she polished off half of another from her table. I love stuff like that – fair dinkum.

The wine that was served with this was the Yannick Amirault ‘Le Grand Clos’ Bourgueil Cabernet Franc 2006 from the Loire Valley in France. This is a wine that I had used quite often in the past at both Vue de monde and also recently at The Point. Wonderful and intense colour with absolutely no translucency whatsoever. This wine is perfect with rare meat because it has a savoury backbone of chocolate rather than ripe fruit that an Australian Cabernet Franc will give off. The tail of this wine was very long, with a grainy, soft acid finish.

With the last savoury course done, Erin’s BFF (not the other ‘f’ word as I found out) Sharon Clements got up and made a great speech about all of the things we didn’t know about Erin; there were a few eyebrows raised let me tell you!! After this I also got up and said a few words about my Erin; it’s funny how much you love someone isn’t it.

The day was progressing perfectly, with some hard and soft cheese coming out to the tables. There was no wine match for this course as I thought that there would be plenty of Yannick Amirault left for everyone, and there was. This was followed by a pre-dessert of semi freddo white and milk chocolate dish which was accompanied with Mount Horrocks ‘Cordon Cut’ 2008 Riesling – a sweet wine that is not too cloying or large in the mouth.

And now for the cake. From the ‘French Lettuce’, Erin got a lemon chantilly cream dynamo of a cake – spankingly good I tell you! With this we finished off the Mount Horrocks and just sat around and soaked it in.

The day was coming to an end and we really didn’t what it to finish. A lot of our guests started their farewells; hugs and kisses all round. It was the type of day where you could have just kept going and going with new courses coming out at regular intervals, but baby sitters had to be relieved, and it was a school night as well. With pleasantries being made, a decision was made to head to Atticus Finch on Lygon Street to finish off the day. About a dozen headed up there with plenty more wine, beer and scotch consumed (just what I heard of course, I also had to relieve a babysitter you see).

I honestly cannot think of a better lunch or dinner with family and friends. The whole day was perfect; the food, the wine, the restaurant and the company. Since then, all of the people who attended have asked when are we going to do it again (something Erin says everyday as well), and you know what, it was fantastic, and if it wasn’t for the expense, yes we would do it every weekend, because that’s the way you should eat and drink – lots of courses over a long period of time – that’s what savouring is all about.

And just think, there is only about 18 months until my 40th.....

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Erin's 40th at Esposito@toofeys - part 2

So where were we....

The big day had finally arrived and all that was needed to do was to get frocked up and then pick the cake up from French Lettuce in Carlton; job done.

On arrival Erin and I had our first drink for the day, a glass Prosecco, and got down to opening and checking the wines with Erin organising the place settings; done, done and done.

Our guests started arriving, and all I asked of Erin was not to hang around the door of the restaurant – you know how easy bottle-necks form. So after we broke up the first bottle-neck the mingling started, and before you knew it, everyone who needed to be there were happily sipping their aperitifs and chatting about whatever they were chatting about. So with everyone there, we got started.

Now one of the main reasons for doing a dego was that Erin was always banging on about how she had never seen me in action, doing the sommelier thing and all, and also not seen me work a group, something that I would do on almost a nightly basis at The Point. This day I was responsible for the food and wine matches and also the introduction and explanation of the food and wine – for Erin and our family and friends. This was not a garden variety group let me tell you.

So, on with matches.

The amuse of Tathra oyster and Manzanilla worked because both flavours are essentially palate cleansers – the salty glycerol of the oyster and again salty, yeasty texture of the sherry.

The first savoury course I think is always the most important. Degustation events are all about savouring and catching the attention of your taste buds. If you don’t achieve this in the first course, it’s going to be a tough trick to bag it after the first. This is why I went with two wines with two different flavour spectrums. So, in having two different flavours in the glass, you need two different flavours on the plate, and this was achieved with the abalone and chicken consommé.

The Bual Madeira is a wine that grabs your attention straight away; a massive spice hit on the nose followed by that brandy spirit hit. In the mouth, the wine deceives the nose by being soft and rich, with an almost fragrant feel. The longer in the mouth, the wine builds in flavour and mouth feel, becoming warmer and warmer with a toffee finish. The Bindi Sparkling was courteous of my friend Michael Dhillon from Bindi. With only 100 magnums produced, the two bottles of the 1994 Blanc de Blanc could not have been fresher with lovely citrus and bready notes in both nose and palate. The idea was the Madeira with the consommé to break through the oiliness and the sparkling with the abalone, with the sparkling lifting the saltiness of the abalone.

Next we had the mud crab with a wine that I just love, the Chateau Jolys Jurançon. This is a style of wine that I dearly hope will one day challenge the Savvy B domination in this country. This wine has an elegant white floral nose that is further pronounced in the palate along with citrus and soft acid, something that I wanted when matched with mud crab. This match was for the wine to accompany the flavour of the crab, not compete with it.

What dego would be worth its salt if there were not game there. What game you say? Barramundi I say! Barramundi is the game of the deep, with almost earthy texture about it, followed by a long clean flavour of sea and salt. With a fish like this, you need a wine that is a stand out amongst its peers. The Tapanappa ‘Tiers’ 2007 Chardonnay from the Adelaide Hills may be a new label, but it is sourced from possibly the best Chardonnay vineyard in Australia.

The ‘Tiers’ Chardonnay had belonged to Petaluma until recently, with Petaluma having recently belonged to Brian Croser, possibly the most respected winemaker in Australia. The Tapanappa label is a partnership with Lynch-Bages of Bordeaux and The Bollinger family in Champagne – a handy alliance you might say. This wine is all white Burgundy, citrus, grapefruit, stonefruit, liquorice and custard, and thats just the nose. The palate is similar with flavours that just seem to go on forever, and yes, the liquorice powder hit at the end was sexy sexy sexy. I think this wine was easily the favourite amongst the group. This whole match was just down to savouring two gorgeous flavours simultaneously. This was a no brainer.

Three courses to go, stay tuned....

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Erin's 40th at Esposito@toofeys - part 1

Fortieth birthdays are big occasions. This is obvious. People get dressed up, go and get their hair done (for an ungodly amount of money), buy a new pair of shoes or two and generally get caught up in the event. And why not! This birthday marks quite a mile stone in peoples live, similar to the 18th and the 21st birthdays. Yet the 40th is a birthday that is full of reflection, as opposed to starting a journey with a UDL can.

Six weeks ago, 24 of our friends and immediate family gathered at Esposito@Toofeys in Carlton and celebrated my true love’s 40th birthday. But this was no ordinary get together for lunch. With the help of Maurice Esposito in the kitchen and his front of house manager Michelle, 26 diners were treated to an 8 course degustation with matching wine (Maurice was kind enough to let me bring in our own wine) that was quite simply perfect.

About six weeks out from the day, I asked Erin what she wanted to so for her birthday. There was plenty of thought. There was little too-and-frowing. There were not too many options; party at our place – Nope, drinks at a pub/bar – nope, dinner at a restaurant? If we were going to do this, then it would have to be done properly. How about a dego I asked. OK Erin said. Done, now I just have to find a venue.

Toofeys was the second place I contacted with the first venue categorically stating they did not need our business, even though they averaged about 8 covers for Sunday lunch – obviously they did not need the $3,500 that was spent.

Next thing was to meet with Maurice and Michelle and work out a menu. With 20 odd people, there are always going to be some dietary requirements; vegetarians, pregnant women, gluten free and just plain ‘I don’t like that’ so all of this was laid out. Twenty minutes later we had the skeleton of the menu and of the wines also. Simple. And here it is with the matching wines -

Erin Taplin May 29th, 1969 with
Esposito at Toofeys May 31st, 2009

Tathra oyster; red wine vinegar, ginger, soy and sesame
Valdespino Manzanilla Delicioza, Jerez Spain

Chicken consommé with goats’ cheese tortellini, seared Greenlip abalone
Henrique’s & Henrique’s Bual 15 year old Madeira and
Bindi Sparkling Blanc de Blanc 1994, Macedon Ranges, Victoria

Mud Crab with green apple, avocado and spinach essence
Chateau Jolys Gros Manseng Sec 2006, Jurançon France

Wild Barramundi with braised fennel, salad of surf clams, baby mint
Tapanappa Chardonnay ‘Tiers’ 2007, Adelaide Hills SA

Porterhouse roasted, potato puree, exotic mushrooms and 50 year old balsamic
Yannick Amirault ‘Le Grand Clos’ Bourgueil Cabernet Franc 2006, Loire Valley France

Cheese: Bruny Island white mould cows’ cheese and
Healey’s Pyengana Cheddar

Callebaut white and milk chocolate semi freddo with chocolate sorbet
Mount Horrocks ‘Cordon Cut’ Riesling 2008, Clare Valley SA

As I commented before, Maurice kindly let us bring our own wine, something that saved us a pretty penny let me say. Matching wine and food is what I do, and I was very pleased that Maurice let me have some say in how the menu was constructed in order to get the most out of the wines. A lot of chefs will simply flat out refuse this, for what would a sommelier know about designing menu’s. Yeah, what would we know, we just bullshit our way through a service to sell booze!

Now the invitations. Invitations I learnt, are a serious matter. You just don’t send an email or a text and say, ‘hey, want to join us for lunch’. This is where the male and female brain is different – I would have probably done that. If I did my name would be mud.

Our good friend Fiona Sproles ( in absolutely no time came up with a fantastic invitation – just brilliant. Erin had requested everyone hold May 31, they obliged, and all we had to do was wait.

.... to be continued

Monday, July 6, 2009

Arrivo 2006 Adelaide Hills Nebbiolo

I really like good wine. I also like the idea of good wine, even when the wine is not that great. If this does not make sense, I’m sorry, what I am trying to say is that when something is average, it is easy to picture the average whatever being really good. That was hard.

So without further delay, Arrivo 2006 Nebbiolo from the Adelaide Hills should have been spankingly good, but was only just good – nothing more, nothing less unfortunately.

I was really looking forward to this wine. There has been plenty of press about this new producer from SA, all good as well. And the variety Nebbiolo, my favourite variety (red that is), is all about sex and lust and elegance and wackiness and just plain too much yum. But it wasn’t to be.

‘Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him well, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest’
Hamlet, act 5 scene 1 – William Shakespeare

You see, it says Nebbiolo so here was I quite excited thinking I’m going to get a bargain(?) at $55 and drink something comparable to Barolo – lovely word isn’t it? I think I was a bit disappointed, but I did raise the bar quite high don’t you think?

Anyway, on to the wine. The colour was very Pinot stylie; very translucent and very hazy. The nose was the highlight for me – dried beetroot and wild raspberry, but it took its time; give this fella quite a bit of time in a decanter. The mouth was very closed, tight, lean, crisp clean acid and not much more.

This is a wine that needs to be open a good day or two before drinking – fair dinkum. And it is not Barolo, so don’t go in there with your hopes to high.

Drink till 2020
Drink with slow braised meats or aged parmesan

Epis 2007 Macedon Ranges Chardonnay

Another ripper from the Macedon Ranges.

This wine to me is all old school. It is only a couple of years old, but it already has got a heap colour development, with an already golden hue about it.

The 07 vintage up in Macedon was quite warm, with some vineyards copping a bit of smoke taint for their troubles; not sure if Epis was affected. The nose on this wine is bright grapefruit up front, with a smack of stonefruit quick to follow – nectarines and locuts stood out for me. The initial mouth feel was very warm, with cream and mascarpone being the obvious. I don’t know if there was any MLF, tipping there was and tipping quite a bit too, but this wine seems to be developing quite fast.

The saving grace however is the little bit of liquorice powder at the end; what a lovely way to finish.

Awkward balance, good length, wonderful complexity, but just too heavy for a young Chardonnay.

Drink with coq au vin
Drink till 2012

By the way, you will notice there is no photo of the wine. My daughter somehow managed to delete quite a few photos from the camera while she was 'taking photos' of her little brother; true story!!

Jasper Hill 'Georgia's Paddock' 1996 Heathcote Shiraz

There are wines in the Australian psyche that are truly Aussie; Penfolds Grange and Bin 389, Wynn’s Black Label, Lakes Folly Cabernets and De Bortoli’s Noble One. These wines I would put in to the bracket of the ‘Triple M’ category; mainstream wines that have the ‘everyman’ appeal.

Then there are the wines that rock the boat, or do not necessarily play by the rules. These are wines that are a bit more edgy in style, marketing and flavour; Bass Phillip, Nicholson River, Domaine A and Jasper Hill. These are the producers that I will put in the alternative pile, the ‘Triple J’ wavelength.

Unlike the former, these last four producers undertook their lot by throwing caution to the wind; Bass Phillip with Biodynamics and a gravity fed winery, Nicholson River fermenting Riesling in oak, Domaine A growing Cabernet Sauvignon in Tasmania and Jasper Hill growing dry grown, or more simply, with no irrigation. And it is Jasper Hill more than any of the other wines that have pushed its way in to semi mainstream, and still coming with a large price tag.

Ron Laughton has been making wine in Heathcote since the mid 70’s, primarily Shiraz with his ‘Georgia’s Paddock’ which is 100% Shiraz and ‘Emily’s Paddock’ which is a blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Franc. Dry grown fruit relies entirely on what comes out of the sky, and with the current drought not looking like going away, growing conditions remain tough up in Heathcote, with Ron resorting to donning a weed-spray backpack full of water and walking the rows spraying his vines – that’s hard work.

Recently I had the pleasure of sharing a bottle of Jasper Hill ‘Georgia’s Paddock’ 1996 Shiraz with Arnaud, my former assistant at The Point restaurant. Now Arnaud is a young Frenchman with knowledge of Australian wine. He has already come to the conclusion however, that Barossa Shiraz is crap – smart fellow this one hey? So when we happened across this gem, he was quite taken aback by not only its power, but also elegance for a wine that has spent the best part of 12 years in a bottle.

The colour was still quite deep, with no sign of fading or breaking up. On the nose was bright eucalypt; very Heathcote. In the mouth came savoury chocolate, cedar, a little bit of prickly plum and acid a plenty, which once again tells me that there is still plenty of kick in this bad boy.

Wonderful balance of secondary flavours with this wine with enough complexity and length for this wine to still be stunning in many years to come.

Drink till 2026
Drink with lamb shoulder in onion sauce

Friday, July 3, 2009

Willow Creek 'Tulum' Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay 2007

Now sometimes there is just the wine to talk about.

This bottle of Willow Creek ‘Tulum’ Chardonnay came my way when I hosted the crew from Willow Creek at The Point’s private cellar dining room when I was the sommelier there. The wine was a sample, so being polite I had a look with my staff, and you know what, we all liked it, except for Leanne who likes a woodier, fatter style of Chardonnay. Unfortunately, though, there were far too many Chardonnays on the list lying idle due to the epidemic of Savvy B’s.

The wine had a pale straw about it which tells me that there is plenty under the hood (essentially, this wine will age very well). The nose was bright grapefruit up front with stonefruit coming after a while. In the mouth there was that instant smack of grapefruit like on the nose, with long, long acid dominating the middle palate. The length just went on and on, and then, just when I thought it had finished, the little bit of flavour that I love in Chardonnay came along – liquorice powder.

There is great balance, great length and wonderful complexity about this wine. So, the next winelist I will be running (and it may not be too far away), be sure to look out for this gem.

Drink with prawn cutlets with chilli
Drink till 2014

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Season of Soup - Chicken noodle soup with Cave de Beblemheim ‘au chateau’ Alsace Pinot Gris 2007

With shadows growing longer and longer earlier in the day and noses become runnier and runnier, we retreat in to the kitchen for a bit of luvin in the form of soup. Soup has been for so long the one dish in winter that is not only remedial, but in so many forms can bring many smiles to the dinner table. Did I also say how easy they are to prepare.

Like all food, soup goes wonderfully well with wine. Be it vegetable, bisque, consommé or whatever, wine is suited to a gamete of soup styles.

This is going to be the first in a series of soup and wine matches, a ‘Susan’ series if you may – ‘...this goes with that at Susan’ you may remember.

So, without boring you anymore, I will kick off this series with Erin’s favourite – Chicken noodle soup!!
Prep time – 20 minutes
Cooking time – 40 minutes
· 2 tbs (or there abouts) olive oil
· 1 onion, finely chopped
· garlic
· 1 carrot, diced
· 1 stick of celery, sliced thin
· 2 potatoes peeled and diced
· 1.5 litres of chicken stock
· 300 grams chicken breast, minced
· 1 egg
· Parmesan cheese, grated
· 50 grams ≈ dried spag, broken up in to little bits
· Handful of flat leaf parsley
· Toasted croutons

Heat the oil over a medium heat without burning or boiling oil. On same heat slowly cook onion and garlic until they are translucent for about 10 min. Add rest of veg and cook for 5 min.

While this is happening, ball the minced chicken, egg and parmesan cheese and sit in fridge for about 30 minutes to congeal the balls. The balls should be just smaller than a golf ball.

Add stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 min. Add chicken balls and pasta and cook for a further 8 min.

Add croutons and parsley and get stuck in!

Cave de Beblemheim ‘au chateau’ Alsace Pinot Gris 2007

This is a great little find from King & Godfrey in Carlton.

The colour is real Pinot Gris, coming through in pinkish greyish tones with a clear pink hue. On the nose comes white petal straight away with just a little bit of prickly acid. The mouth is once again all Alsace Pinot Gris; slippery glycerol, a bit of bees wax and clean long acid.

In Australia we seem to bastardise this grape and create wines that are either too thin or too big. Sometimes we should leave it to the experts, the French that is. Saying this however, I do believe T’Gallant from the Mornington Peninsula and Grey Sands from Tasmania are probably our best interpretations of this style of wine.

The reason for this match – the wines acid is ample enough to cut through the oiliness of the soup, not that the soup is acid, but the oily feel from the chicken, onion and garlic that is left after reducing all for so long.

So, I would drink the Cave de Beblemheim ‘au chateau’ Alsace Pinot Gris 2007 till 2016 and give it a 16/20.

Stay tuned for more soup adventures!!