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    MCC Long Room Wine and Food Society - February Luncheon

    The society’s February function is the first for the year for members and guests and started with the traditional gathering in the Percy Beames Bar before adjourning to the Long Room for luncheon. The chef of the day was Sam Calderone, who had cooked for us previously in May 2012 and June last year. Sam is a sous chef in the MCG Culinary Centre, having joined Epicure in 2011.

    The wines came from the Coonawarra region which is famous worldwide for outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon based on the terra rossa soils of the area. However, the wines provided some interesting and pleasant surprises. Two wineries were invited to join us, the whites coming from Patrick of Coonawarra and the reds from Zema Estate.

    Patrick was established by Patrick Tocaciu on the home block in the seventies and has been expanding since that time. The business is now managed by his son Luke Tocaciu, who is rapidly receiving acknowledgment from the industry and consumers alike. Luke represented the winery at the lunch.
    Zema Estate sprung from humble beginnings in 1982 when Demetrio and Francesca Zema purchased a small block in the Coonawarra. After many years of hard work by the whole family including sons Nick and Matt, Zema Estate has grown enormously while still strictly adhering to their policy of estate-grown, hand-pruned, minimally irrigated, hand-crafted and estate-bottled.

    Highly regarded winemaker Greg Clayfield represented Zema at the function. Greg was adjudged International Winemaker of the year in 1988 and joined Zema in 2006.

    There were four canapés to greet us on arrival. We could choose from a zucchini, red capsicium and gruyere tart, a terrine of cured salmon, snow pea spout and fennel pollen on a rye croute, a homemade beef, Guinness and smoky bacon pie with tomato chutney or Chinese roasted pork belly and baby herbs. We all know how much work there is in preparing canapés and we did enjoy these tasty starters. All of this was complemented by the Patrick Mother of Pearl Chardonnay Pinot Sparkling (alc.11%). This traditional blend was fresh and fruity with a medium straw colour.

    On moving to the Long Room a real treat awaited – the entrée of ocean trout tartare with chilled cucumber and tomato consommé. This was something really different and was praised for the presentation and in particular the flavours of the consommé.

    Many thought this was the outstanding dish of the day and so were the white wines that went with it. Not many of us associate outstanding Rieslings with Coonawarra, but Patrick Wines certainly added to our education.

    The 2012 Patrick Riesling (alc.11%), a winner of three gold medals and a trophy, came from both the Coonawarra and Wrattonbully vineyards which produced this wonderfully complex wine.
    The 2010 Patrick Riesling (alc.11%) was voted the preferred of the two Rieslings. It had been cellared for three years prior to release and shows an intense aromas of lemon butter and a distinctive toasty character. It was amazing that both wines were so low in alcohol.

    The main course, titled “Duo of Duck”, comprised roast duck breast and confit duck tortellino on soft polenta with baby vegetables and red wine jus. Duck is always viewed differently by the members as to whether it is cooked rare, medium or well done, but there was no difference of opinion on the presentation and accompaniments that went with the dish. They were excellent.

    For the main course Zema Estate provided two reds, both Cabernet Sauvignon from the famous terra rossa soils of Coonawarra. The 2009 Cabernet (alc.14%) was made from fruit which was harvested at its optimum maturity and matured in hogsheads for 14 months.

    The 2006 Zema Estate Family Selection Cabernet (alc.15%) was deemed the outstanding red of the lunch and was the right choice to go with the duck. The 2006 vintage featured a sustained warm and dry ripening period which produced outstanding fruit.

    The cheese was a cloth-bound cheddar served with fig and walnut log, quince paste and fresh grapes. It was excellent, typical of the cloth-bound cheddars which are so popular around the world, featuring a creamy yet nutty flavour. Fresh grapes with wine are always a great choice.

    The 2006 Zema Estate Family Selection Shiraz (alc.15%) was selected to go with the cheese. Featuring a deep dark purple colour with reddish hues, it showed a typical Shiraz touch of spice and black pepper with underlying ripe berry fruit.

    We finished with a magnificently presented dessert of mocha and lemon cremeaux with lemon sorbet and cappuccino ice cream. This was an excellent dessert to balance the meal – sweet, light and full of lemon flavours. It went well with the 2006 Patrick’ Jessie Botrytis Semillon (alc.11%) which Halliday rated 92 points.

    The lunch also appreciated the address by the club’s CEO Stephen Gough who spoke about what has happened in recent times at the MCC and what we can look forward to in 2014.

    Once again this was a most successful function with special thanks extended to chef Sam Calderone and winemakers Luke Tocaciu of Patrick of Coonawarra and Greg Clayfield of Zema Estate.

    Also worthy of special mention is our wine and food master Paul Kinross who has a comprehensive program in line for 2014. And let’s not forget the Epicure and MCC people who make everything work – many thanks.

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    Wine and Food Society Old Bottle Day - Wednesday January 29, 2014

    The Old Bottle Day was the brainchild of committeeman Ian Kerville who in 1997 suggested that the society’s rule of not having a lunch in January be reconsidered. The theory was that people were at Sorrento, Lorne or maybe camping at Rosebud, but Ian thought why not do something a bit informal, so in 1998 a January luncheon for about 40 members was held with such success that it soon became an official function.

    To quote from The Lunch Group That Grew discussing the Old Bottle Day in 2000: “Alan Podger and Laurie Thompson decided to salute yesterday and had a bowl of Pimms-based punch for the unwary on arrival. I may have managed a sip or two of this awful concoction before repairing hurriedly to the delicious drops awaiting us at the table. It’s been a Pimms-free affair ever since.”

    Jeremy Oliver, an MCC member, keen member of the XXIX Club and more importantly a celebrated wine writer, author and wine judge, has been associated with the Old Bottle Day since its second year, amazing us all with his skills in tasting, appreciating and commenting on all the wines on offer before finally selecting his best whites and best reds.

    This year the 89 members in attendance were offered on arrival a choice of Seppelt Amontillado DP116 Barossa Valley (alc.22%), which carried five gold medals, or the Sir James Sparking Shiraz (alc.14%). Both wines were appreciated by the members as they went well with the chef’s selections of hot and cold canapés.

    The food was outstanding in presentation, quality and balance. We do hope the chefs from EPICURE get as much pleasure in preparing the meal as we do enjoying the result of their hard work.

    The entrée was Australian East Coast prawns with hot smoked salmon rillettes, squid ink and beach herbs. This dish deserved a quality white wine to complement it. Our group enjoyed a Best’s Riesling 2006 from the Great Western region which earned praise from Jeremy Oliver.

    The best of the whites were:

    1st – 1985 Hugel Gewertztraminer produced in the Alsace region of France by the Hugel & Fils winery, which was established in 1639. Courtesy of Dariel Saleeba

    2nd – 2004 Pipers Brook Riesling presented by Paul Finn.

    3rd – 1997 Tahbilk Marsanne presented by Judith Ryles.

    There were many more bottles of red than whites and perhaps more members could be encouraged to bring along a good white to go with such fine entrees.

    The main course was prime Riverina lamb rack served with cotechino sausage, carrot fondant and buttered spinach with redcurrant glaze accompanied by a summer salad of rocket, yellow and red witlof, lamb’s tongue lettuce, zucchini ribbons, green and purple basil, mint, radish and roasted pine nuts with a white tarragon vinegar dressing.

    The rack of lamb was tender, tasty and succulent, true to the menu’s description of “prime Riverina”.
    There was no shortage of outstanding reds to accompany this brilliant main course. Jeremy Oliver commented on how the depth of excellent red wines improves each year, a reflection of the members’ knowledge and their eagerness to be part of the function.

    The results in the red wine section were:

    1st – 1999 St Peters Shiraz from the Great Western region. The wine is recognised as an outstanding Victorian Shiraz produced by Seppelt, which was founded in 1851. Bruce McDonald brought it along.

    2nd – 1998 Mt Langi Ghiran Shiraz provided by Tony Height.

    3rd – 1983 McWilliams Pleasant Shiraz from Wal Nicolson’s cellar.

    Others mentioned were a 1991 Hill of Grace Shiraz and a 2004 Normans Museum Release Cabernet.
    After the announcements we enjoyed the Victorian cheese dish with Cabernet paste, candied walnuts, lavosh and crackers. This was followed by a dessert of yoghurt bavarois served with strawberry meringues, frozen strawberry yoghurt and basil sprouts.

    Could we have had a muscat to follow this wonderful lunch? Yes, but we had so many red wines to get through. It’s been said that this was the best-ever lunch we could remember for an Old Bottle Day.

    Thanks to all the EPICURE staff and the Melbourne Cricket Club and special thanks to Jeremy Oliver for his sterling job and constructive appraisals. He said the job gets harder every year with such high-quality wines being presented.

    So a New Year starts for the society with great expectations for the remainder of 2014.