MCC Long Room Wine and Food Society - April 2013
The annual dinner held in the Members Dining Room on April 23 – a traditional black-tie event – celebrated 26 years since the society was established in 1987 and a good time was had by all.
The function featured wines from our cellar as selected by wine and food master Paul Kinross who ranged far and wide in presenting tipples from the Yarra Valley, Rutherglen, Napa Valley in USA, Chile and the Wairau Valley in New Zealand.
Each year the society presents two awards at this dinner – Chef of the Year and Apprentice of the Year.
The winning chef was Shaun Crosling who has worked for Epicure since 2001. Shaun also won the award in 2008 and has cooked for the society eight times, most recently at last September’s luncheon.
The Apprentice Chef of the Year was Emily Petrelli who has just completed her first year as an apprentice in the pastry kitchen at the MCG. Emily is proving very talented, having been awarded top prize in the state final of the Nestle Golden Chefs Hat Award. She later represented Victoria in the national final and was awarded a silver medal for her dessert.
The evening commenced with canapés in the Long Room where we enjoyed venison carpaccio with pine nut gel, a rock lobster dashi and the very moreish spanner crab and ginger cones with potato popcorn.
All of these offerings went well with the Domaire Chardon Vintage Brut 2006 (alc.12.5%), a lovely combination of freshness, complexity and character blended from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes.
After canapés we moved into the Members Dining Room where we were treated to an entrée of steamed blue eye cod with baked potato consommé. This was quite a different dish but it rated very well with our scoring panel.
The two whites with the entrée were a Pfeiffer Marsanne 2003 (alc.13%) featured a full-bodied creamy palate with flavours of honeysuckle and citrus, while the Stags Leap Napa Valley Viognier 2008 (alc.13.8%) from one of the pioneers of Californian winemaking showed flavours of grapefruit, fresh apricot and white peach.
For main course we relished grilled Black Angus beef mignon, braised beef cheek and forest mushrooms ragout with a Shiraz jus. How does the chef get this beef just right for so many diners at the same time? And, boy, we do enjoy a good steak with a good red or two!
We weren’t let down by this brace of international reds – a Stags Leap Napa Valley Petite Syrah 2005 (alc.13.8%) and a De Martino Single Vineyard Carménere 2006 (alc.14.25%). The Stags Leap had ripe black fruit, black currants and cocoa on the nose and a long, chewy, bitter chocolate finish while the full-bodied Chilean wine showed well-defined flavours of cherries and black chocolate with a silky texture and a long finish.
The white Savourine goat’s cheese from the Yarra Valley was served with spiced fig compote and fig and ginger crispbread. We do enjoy the cheese that the chefs continue to present and this was no exception.
With the cheese we matched a Warrabilla Reserve Durif 2005 (alc.15.5%) which has a rating of 94 points from James Halliday, rated by James Halliday 94 pts. Established in 1990 by Andrew Sutherland Smith, this is a five-star winery renowned for producing the best example of Durif the region has to offer.
Oh, for another serve of the dessert, a Raspberry and Bailey’s mille feuille featuring crunchy hazelnut puff pastry, verjuice jelly and Tanzanie origin chocolate. This dish certainly has the wow factor and received a big accolade from the members.
It came with a Forrest Botrytised Riesling 2005 from New Zealand’s Wairau Valley and showed lovely citrus fruit, apricot and spice flavours.
So the annual dinner came to an end and with it went our thanks once again to David Mercer of Epicure and his team. We also are indebted to the MCC’s Greer Dutton for her work in coordinating all the functions of the Long Room Wine and Food Society.
MCC Long Room Wine and Food Society - March 2013
This outstanding, sold out luncheon was a tribute to the talents of Epicure chef Patrice Merdy who was born in Versailles, migrated to Melbourne and returned to France to study and complete his apprenticeship. He later cooked in many prestigious restaurants and at one stage worked alongside renowned chef Robert Castellani.
The wines came from Brokenwood, established in 1970 in the Hunter Valley and founded by a trio of Sydney-based solicitors – Tony Albert, John Beeston and James Halliday, who paid a then record price of $970 per acre for a 10-acre block that had been planned as a cricket ground for the local community but instead was planted with Cabernet Sauvigion and Shiraz.
The first vintage was picked in 1973 with the grapes being carried to the winery in buckets in the back seat of Len Evans’s Bentley. Brokenwood has had steady growth ever since, and these days sources grapes from Coonawarra, McLaren Vale, Cowra and the Forest Edge vineyard in Orange and in 1997 the company purchased an interest in the Indigo Vineyard at Beechworth.
Brokenwood was represented at the luncheon by winemaker Geoff Krieger who has worked in the industry for more than 30 years. Geoff joined Brokenwood wines as general manager in 2004 and now is a partner in the company. Apart from producing the wine, he also is involved in marketing both within Australia and in exporting to 23 countries.
Canapés were served in the Percy Beames Bar where we were treated to Gateaux Piment – dahl with coriander, chilli, parsley, scallions and aniseed with sweet dipping sauce. Next was a beignet of Sydney Rock Merimbula oysters with chilli and saffron hollandaise foam. Excellent! Finally came the duck liver parfait with port and thyme wine jelly and sourdough ficelle.
Accompanying was a Brokenwood Cricket Pitch White 2011 (alc. 12%), a blend of Sauvigion Blanc and Semillon from grapes sourced from Cowra, Orange and the King Valley together with Semillon from the Hunter Valley. Fruit from outside the Hunter is processed to the primary juice stage before transport to the winery in the Hunter Valley for fermentation and blending.
Moving on to the Long Room for luncheon, we were presented with an entrée of Coquilles Saint Jacques – lightly poached WA scallops, white wine and dill veloute sauce served in a large seashell. This dish was absolutely brilliant.
Two whites complemented the entrée. The Brokenwood Maxwell Semillon 2006 (alc. 11%) came from a gold-winning vintage and was harvested by hand. The fruit was crushed, chilled and pressed immediately. This wine is a good example of why the Hunter is famous for their Semillons, featuring lemon and lime fruit with notes of lemongrass, together with acidity softly integrated.
The Brokenwood Pinot Gris 2012 (alc. 13.5%) was really appreciated by the members judging by the orders for this wine with classic Alsatian characteristics. A brilliant, very pale straw colour with aromas of ripe pear and tropical fruits, it showed a clean finish with a spice aftertaste.
As we moved into the main course, diners may well have thought they were in France with the Rabbit Bourguignon which came from a Ballarat rabbit farm and was accompanied by juniper berries, star anise and red wine, duck confit potatoes, carrots and sour cherries.
The reds accompanying started with a Brokenwood Cricket Pitch Red 2010 (alc. 13.5%), a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Shiraz and the balance of Merlot and Petit Verdot. Very dark purple and with a ripe black cherry bouquet, the flavour profile is a blend of blackberry and plum with a good helping of black pepper mixed in.
The Brokenwood Pinot Noir 2010 (alc. 14%) was the result of the addition of the Indigo vineyard at Beechworth which has given the company a greater range of quality wines and this Pinot is an excellent example. Light to medium weight, the palate delivers good power with flavours of ripe dark cherries, cedar and spice.
The cheese was English blue stilton, known as the “king of English cheese”, with red onion and fennel leaves. It takes its name from a village just south of Peterborough which was the coaching stop on the Great North Road. Recent research has revealed that a cheese called “Stilton” was made in the village in the early part of the 18th Century. The cheese was sold from the Bell Inn in the village and its fame spread up and down the Great North Road.
The Brokenwood Shiraz 2009 (alc. 13%) was selected to go with the cheese. It carried a 96 score from James Halliday who described it as having “every bit of the intensity and structure expected of this wine with a mix of cherry, blackberry, French oak and a lilting finish thanks to spot-on acidity.”
After all that we still appreciated an appealing dessert. Patrice treated us to Goulburn Valley pears, poached in vanilla bean and saffron Riesling syrup with candied fruit and pistachio cassata with glace biscuit.
Matched with the dessert was the Brokenwood Sticky-Wicket Semillon (alc. 10%) made from specially selected parcels of Semillon grapes that included some botrytis, or Noble Rot as it is sometimes known, and it was a luscious dessert-style wine.
We thank chef Patrice for a fantastic French experience and winemaker Geoff Kriegar from Brokenwood for the excellent wines, not forgetting David Mercer and all the Epicure staff. As happens in the Olympics, the bar just keeps going higher and higher!
Wine and Food Society Luncheon - February 2013
A roll call of more than 200 attended the first full function for members and guests for 2013 – the February luncheon in the Percy Beames Bar and the Members Dining Room, the Long Room being reserved for MCC general use as Victoria was playing cricket on the ground.
We were fortunate to have MCC chief executive Stephen Gough as our guest speaker and he provided an enlightening address on what is happening at the Melbourne Cricket Club.
Once again the food and wines were excellent. Aaron Duffy, Epicure’s head chef of members’ dining at the MCG, was in charge of the menu and Stuart Blackwell, senior winemaker at St Hallett, presented the products of their Tanunda winery.
Aaron Duffy is well known and regarded by the society and before his MCG posting had extensive experience overseas. Along with chef de cuisine – pastry Deniz Karaca, he recently defended Epicure and MCC’s title in winning the gold medal at the Clubs Victoria 2012 Chef’s Table Awards.
Established in 1944, St Hallett commissioned new “state of the art” production facilities under Stuart Blackwell as winery manager in 1988. In recognition of his contribution to St Hallett since 1974, the company named their top red Blackwell Shiraz and repeated the honour with the recent release of the Blackwell Semillon.
The canapes of steamed sesame prawns, Peking duck pancakes and lobster dashi were outstanding, particularly the prawns. Everyone enjoyed St Hallett’s The Black NV Barossa Sparkling Shiraz (alc.13.5%) to go with the nibbles. St Hallett blend this sparkling red wine from specially selected older wood-aged Shiraz parcels.
Each year new parcels of wine are chosen during barrel tasting for the Old Block and Blackwell Shiraz. After maturing in oak alongside the existing older material until blending for the next bottling, they deliver a wine of deep intensity, dark ruby purple colour and multi-layered fruit flavours characteristic of Shiraz in the Barossa.
The entrée was a mosaic of Australian seafood with tomato jelly, fennel pollen and saffron water dressing. The quality and presentation of this dish was really appreciated. We enjoyed two Rieslings with the entrée, which perhaps reflects the increasing popularity of the variety.
St Hallett’s Eden Valley Riesling 2012 (alc.11.5%) came from a brilliant year in both the Clare and Eden Valleys for Riesling. A brilliant, very pale straw colour, on the nose it showed citrus and steely mineral. The palate supported the flavours of lemon and lime with a clean crisp finish.
St Hallett’s Eden Valley Riesling 2009 (alc.11.0%) gave us the opportunity to compare the two different years and of course brought about discussion and differences of opinion. James Halliday rated this one 95, showing the additional three years of maturity, similar in style to the other wine with citrus fruit and the hallmark of fine acidity.
The main course was High Country pork belly with apple preparations, Meredith goat’s cheese, roast Mt Buffalo hazelnuts and crispy-skinned quaver. The pork belly was succulent and tender and not short of flavour, and the dish suited the two reds.
St Hallett’s Garden of Eden Shiraz 2011 (alc. 13.5%) was bright crimson with remarkable depth and complexity while retaining finesse, elegance and flavour, while the Faith Shiraz 2011 (alc. 14.0%) is one of the winery’s best sellers. It featured dark berries and some subtle oak richness and could be best described as a medium-bodied wine, rich and balanced with good length.
The cheese that followed was a pleasant education to most of us. It was whole baked Vacherin Le Duc with truffle honey and croutons. A soft-ripened cheese from the Jura region of France, the cheese is wrapped in a strip of spruce bark. It was baked and served as a spread onto biscuits or almond bread.
Accompanying the cheese was the wine of the day, the St Hallett 2010 Blackwell Shiraz (alc. 14.5%). Each parcel of Shiraz is individually matched to one of a selection of American Oak barrels in which the wine matures for two years, gaining texture and power prior to release. This Shiraz is big and bold with fruit power – an outstanding Barossa red wine.
Dessert was a delicious Marc de Champagne mousse with almond crunch, raspberry sorbet and basil-scented raspberry coulis. This hit the spot with the St Hallett Anniversary Tawny to finish.
Our thanks are conveyed not only to chef Aaron Duffy but to all the kitchen and waiting staff of Epicure, together with a special mention of David Mercer and the society’s wine and food master Paul Kinross.
We also appreciated the information provided by Stuart Blackwell from St Hallett and the opportunity to enjoy some excellent wines.
We will all be back in March.
Wine and Food Society Luncheon - January 2013
The New Year opened up with the traditional Old Bottle Day held in the Long Room, an event restricted to members only that allows the members to present some of their most precious and priceless possessions.
Once again Jeremy Oliver, the acclaimed wine judge and author, gave the members the benefit of his expertise and provided a commentary as well as judging the outstanding reds and whites that were enjoyed by attendees.
Jeremy commented that the whites were outstanding. However, the wines were predominately reds and he made the point that the reds get better year by year. We don’t know if this is a reflection on the education that the members are receiving from the society or that the red wines are maturing better as the members get older!
This was the first time that the Old Bottle Day has enjoyed the full menu of five courses including the chef’s selection of hot and cold canapés, which were excellent. Thank you, EPICURE.
The 91 members in attendance were greeted with two wines from the Seppelt stable – a Seppelt Amontillado Sherry and the Salinger Sparkling.
The Amontillado Sherry DP 116 from the Barossa had won five gold medals but the use of the name Amontillado Sherry was phased out as a permitted term on December 31, 2009. This sherry was a golden/brown colour and presented sweetness on the mid palate, then a long, dry, fresh finish. James Haliday rated it 94 points.
The Seppelt Salinger was a Pinot Noir Chardonnay and was also rated 94 points by Halliday. The pinnacle sparkling wine from Seppelt, the style has lifted citrus aromas and the mouth feel is long and creamy.
The members certainly enjoyed the entrée of double-baked cheese soufflé consisting of Heki gruyere, Meredith Dairy chevre, Grand Padano, cured ham and truffle dressing. Wow!
The main course supported the reds around the table. It was a delicious char-grilled grass-fed beef medallion with Yellingbo confit tigra tomato tatin, dauphinoise potato and pickled ladyfinger eggplant together with a salad of cherry tomato, cos hearts, frisse, rocket, white salad onion and raspberry vinegar dressing.
It was then on to the fine Victoria cheese served on platters with cabernet paste, dried apricots, candied walnuts, lavosh and crackers.
Finally came the citrus cheesecake comprising crunchy almond biscuit base, tarragon-infused orange sorbet and burnt orange caramel. The members did get the full treatment.
Now to the important topic of the day – the winners. As mentioned, Jeremy Oliver spoke in glowing terms of the outstanding wines that were presented and how this made the judge’s job all the more difficult.
He settled on the following:
Whites 3rd placing Arras 2004 Sparkling from Tasmania
2nd placing 1997 Tahbilk Marsanne
1st placing 2002 Leo Buring Waterdale Riesling
From Russell Snibson
Reds 3rd placing Beaume Clos De Mouches
French red blend 1976
Courtesy Alicia Simonson
2nd placing Chateau Montrose 1990 from Barrie Laws
1st placing 1982 Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz
Presented by our wine and food master, Paul Kinross.
The presentation bought to the close a great lunch although discussion on the wines continues. We thank Jeremy Oliver and Epicure’s David Mercer and his team for their splendid contribution to the Old Bottle Day and we look forward to another top year for the Long Room Wine and Food Society in 2013.
Wine and Food cocktail party - December 2012
The committee of the society had requested that this year’s cocktail party feature more seating and more canapés. Well, David Mercer and his team at Epicure certainly responded to the request magnificently and without a doubt turned on the most successful cocktail party to date. The word must have got around as nearly 400 attended with all of the waiting list receiving an invitation.
The tradition of a feature oyster night continued with three stations featuring Coffin Bay, Tasmanian and Sydney Rock oysters being freshly shucked by staff who were hard pressed keeping up with demand. The oysters were displayed on ice and offered with accompaniments of lemon and lime wedges, a shallot and sherry vinaigrette, spicy Thai dressing, rye sourdough and freshly cracked pepper.
Members really appreciated the various wines from the society’s cellar that were also located at three separate stations. There were 14 reds to choose from and perhaps the members’ number one choice was the Tatachilla Shiraz that the Epicure staff continued to decant until it ran out well into the night.
Twelve whites certainly provided the basis for much discussion, with perhaps the Amadio Riesling the pick of the bunch. The third wine station was for the sparkling lovers, either on arrival or throughout the function.
The cold canapés were:
- Poached Spencer Gulf prawns in a mini cape seed loaf, watercress, Lilliput capers.
- Free range pork and parsley terrine with fig and ginger relish, sweet pickled radish, crisp brioche croute.
- House-made corn bread, guacamole, cucumber, tomato, coriander salsa.
The hot canapés were:
- Seared Hervey Bay scallop with garden pea puree, black pudding crumbs.
- Smoked Wimmera duck with beetroot relish, crisp pastry.
- Corn lamb hash with horseradish cream, baby mint.
- Pan-fried chicken slider with crisp smoky bacon, frisee, lime mayonnaise.
- Roasted pumpkin and cous cous croquette with Moroccan spices, currants and saffron, minted yoghurt labne.
Grazing dishes were a Murray Valley lamb cutlet and a petite Greek salad with Yarra Valley feta and sherry emulsion.
Having listed the menu we must acknowledge the chefs and the kitchen staff on the mammoth task of putting this magnificent feast before us, not only in quality but also in quantity. There was plenty throughout the whole function. And let’s not forget the Epicure people who waited on us that evening. Sam and her team worked the whole room all night, which is no easy task with 400 demanding people in the Long Room.
For those who may have commented that the cocktail party only suits the oyster lovers, I can assure you that David Mercer and his chefs certainly scotched that theory! Well done to all the Epicure team and to our wine and food master Paul Kinross for giving us the opportunity to enjoy more of the excellent wines from the society’s cellar. We’ll all be back next year for the annual cocktail party.
Meantime, the president of the Long Room Wine and Food Society, Alex Gillon, wishes everyone who has enjoyed a fabulous year at the various functions a very happy Christmas and good health and happiness in the New Year.
Wine and Food Luncheon - November 2012
The European community may be in dire straits but the Italian flag was flying high at our traditional international luncheon in November when 240 members and guests commenced proceedings at the Percy Beames Bar.
Guest chef was Christophe Serre, who graduated from Tecomah Culinary Academy in Versailles while working at Laperouse restaurant in Paris. He followed up with extensive experience in the UK before arriving at the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne to become senior chef de cuisine.
In November 2011 Christophe joined Epicure and the ’G as chef de cuisine – functions. How fortunate were we to have a European chef to head up our Italian luncheon.
The Italian wines were selected by Peter and Natasha Johns who promised: “Today we will take you on a journey through some of Italy’s most famous regions for wine production and sincerely hope that it whets your appetite to explore further.”
When we came up the elevator we were greeted by a glass of Zardetto Prosecco Rinassendo (alc.11.5%). Members will remember having been first introduced to Prosecco at the May 2009 luncheon with this lovely wine from the Italian family Dal Zotto.
Prosecco is becoming very popular in Melbourne, particularly with the younger generation. The Zardetto was well acclaimed by all as a delicate and lively sparkling that featured balance and freshness.
The wine really complemented the canapés which were interesting, innovative and an opportunity to experience new flavours and combinations. They certainly would have been time-consuming to prepare. The chef commented later that eight people had been working since Friday to prepare this lunch.
The starters were parmesan and tomato lamingtons, chickpea chips and roasted garlic cream and pistachio and cured ham praline prawn sticks. Where else would you get this combination? Obviously the chef’s European experience was already coming to the fore.
The entrée of seafood ravioli comprised vanilla-poached yabbies with a tarragon cream emulsion and it’s just as well we aren’t offered second and third helpings, because this dish was simply super-superb!
The accompanying whites started with a Fattori ‘Danieli’ Soave Classico 2011 (alc.12.5%). The colour was intense straw yellow and the nose gave hints of jasmine, while the palate showed definite citrus fruits.
The second white was one of the best of the lunch, the Fattori Valparadiso Pinot Grigio 2011 (alc.13.5%). The grapes are harvested very ripe, undergo skin contact and then are deliberately oxidised to remove the pink colour from the wine. The palate is full and generous with a rich texture and intense fruit, finally crisp with a mineral edge.
The main course was the true Italian roasted veal fillet with Milanese risotto, olivette and heirloom vegetables and osso bucco sauce. The veal was tender, juicy and flavoursome and cooked to perfection. The plate presentation was most unusual with the vegetables in an individual basket.
The red wine for the veal was a Poggiopiano Chianti Classico 2009 (alc.14%). Chianti is Italy’s most famous red and Sangiovese is a fruity wine with long, even flavours. Sangiovese is the most widely planted grape in Italy.
The second red was a Pira Langhe Nebbiolo 2008 (alc.14%) from the hilly sub-region around the Piedmont town of Asti. Piedmont is in the north-western corner of the Italian Peninsula and is arguably Italy’s finest wine region. The wine was spicy with slight leather tones.
The Edel do Cleron cheese with crusty sourdough baguette was a real surprise. It is a traditional French cheese made from gently pasteurised cow’s milk, banded with a strip of bark and aged to develop the oozy, runny character of the real cheeses called Vacherin du Haut Doubs.
Undoubtedly the best red wine went with the cheese, a Poggiopiano Rosso di Sera 2005 (alc.14%). This Chianti blend is based on historical winemaking of Tuscany and the primary constituent is the dark-skinned Sangiovese grape which is blended with one or more Italian varieties. It was full bodied with tastes of blackberry, chocolate and black pepper.
How about the dessert of seven-layer chocolate cake, coffee syrup and amaretto cherry? Well, Christophe really knows how to get to our sweet side and the amaretto cherry came right through the dish.
The accompanying wine, a Fattori Soave ‘Motto Piane’ 2010, was very different to our dessert wines. It was made entirely from Garganega grapes and dried for 40 days on straw mats. The result is a wine that offers balanced acidity and just enough sweetness to satisfy post-dinner cravings.
Once again we enjoyed a most memorable and educational lunch. We appreciated the comments of Peter Johns of the Déjà Vu Wine Company on the wines shown and his Powerpoint presentation on where the grapes were grown.
Thanks are also extended to guest chef Christophe Serre for providing such an outstanding European-flavoured menu. I think if we ordered this in some of the restaurants where he has worked overseas it would be quite a blow to the holiday budget!
Wine and Food Luncheon - October 2012
We were welcomed in the Percy Beames Bar and presented with a very pleasant glass of Pirie sparkling (alc.12%) from the Tamar Ridge stable and the news that the chef of the day was Blair Humphrey, chef de cuisine of the MCG corporate suites and a winner of Victorian and national competitions as well as being a previous winner of the society’s Chef of the Year award.
Tamar Ridge was represented by senior winemaker Tom Ravech. Brown Brothers of Rutherglen and Milawa fame purchased the Tamar Ridge vineyard and label in August 2010 from Gunns Limited.
The Browns had been considering the impact of global warming, drought, high temperatures and the need to source grapes from a cooler district. Other factors included the growing acceptance of pinot noir and their belief that Australia’s best sparkling wine will be made in the Victorian High Country and Tasmania.
Blair’s choice of canapés hit the mark. We enjoyed Coffin Bay oysters with ruby grapefruit emulsion, broad bean veloute with Yarra Valley crème fraiche and sumac and Szechuan-crusted High Country pork belly with chilli caramel.
What a treat was the entrée of coconut-poached King George whiting with Bass Strait crayfish coquette, saffron aoile and dried vine tomato. To say we don’t get that at home would be an understatement.
The main vineyard at Tamar Ridge is the Kayena vineyard and is the source of the two classic whites that accompanied the entrée. First was the 2010 Tamar Ridge Riesling (alc.12.5%) with favours of lime juice and fresh Meyer lemon over acidity that give an insight into the staying power that this wine possesses.
The 2009 Tamar Ridge Chardonnay (alc.13%) was the style that modern chardonnay fanciers are seeking. Colour was bright pale gold with green tinges and the rich fruit flavours were supported by oak but not dominated by it.
Obviously our chef Blair knew that the feature wines were to be pinots, so his choice for the main course was traditional confit duck leg with braised aromatic lentils, silver beets and beetroot glaze.
Bowls of duck fat-roasted kipfler potatoes with Murray River salt flakes were just superb. To my mind, duck is either very good or very bad. This duck was very good, and so was the Tassie Pinot.
First came the 2010 Tamar Ridge Pinot Noir 2010 (alc.14%) with aromas of ripe cherries, mulberry and cinnamon spice. The well-balanced palate has upfront dark berry fruit and a silky mouth feel that is long and flavoursome.
However, the pick of the pinots had to be the 2007 Kayena Vineyard (alc.14%), truly an outstanding Pinot Noir although this was a dramatic year for many Tasmanian vineyards with the most severe spring frosts in 30 years causing widespread damage. Nevertheless, many riverside vineyards along the Tamar produced yields above average.
For the cheese, Blair chose to stay in Tasmania with the award-winning cheddar produced by the Pyengana Dairy Company. The Healy family has been producing English-style cheddar cheese in the Pyengana Valley for more than a century over three generations.
The family farm, situated east of St Helens, also runs the Holy Cow Café in the heart of the valley. The traditional cheddar was served with burnt fig jam and oat biscuits.
The second “wine of the day” was the 2008 Brown Brothers Patricia Shiraz (alc.14.5%). The Patricia range from Brown Brothers is named in honour of the matriarch of the family and the name is only used for their very best wines.
Ross Brown was given the task of telling Patricia that the family had decided the best wines Brown Brothers could produce were to be named in her honour. She burst into tears saying “they better be bloody good” and then added “you are on eternal notice”.
The 2008 Shiraz lives up to that promise. James Hailiday scored 95 points and both the 2008 and 2009 won gold at the Hobart Show. The 2008 is a clear red purple with fragrant bouquet of red and black fruits, medium bodied but a very long and lively palate.
The dessert was just right for such an outstanding meal and featured an impressive presentation of vanilla crème with yuzu jelly, orange and contreau cake and crunchy chocolate. Did the members appreciate this!
Accompanying was the 2011 Tamar Ridge Botrytis Riesling (alc.9.5%), a luscious dessert style with fresh apricots, honeydew and bright citrus flavours and finishing with a lingering fresh acidity.
Congratulations to Blair Humphrey. This was the sixth time he has cooked for the society’s functions and he certainly produced a menu which complemented the fine Tasmanian wines.
Our thanks also go to Brown Brothers of Tamar Ridge and especially to senior winemaker Tom Ravech for his assistance and commentary on the wines on the day.
Wine and Food Luncheon - September 2012
This excellent function featured the most sought-after Penfolds wines and thus attracted a record attendance of 257 members and guests, necessitating a move from the Long Room to the Members Dining Room.
A highlight of the luncheon was the address by MCC president Paul Sheahan who complimented the society on the high standard of our functions and made particular mention of the recent trip to Singapore by society members. He congratulated the society on the detailed organisation that made this event so successful.
With the Long Room now hosting us for canapes and the sparkling wine, we had the opportunity to catch up with many old friends in a venue that provides a brilliant start to a top function.
Epicure chef for the day was Shaun Crosling, who was presenting his skills for the sixth time. In 2008 Shaun was adjudged the Long Room Wine and Food Society Chef of the Year, so it was not surprising that we were treated to a well-balanced, quality meal.
Penfolds was represented by winemaker Matt Woo who started working in the wine industry in 2002 in the laboratory at Rosemount Estate, where he developed extensive technical experience prior to joining Wolf Blass in the Barossa in 2005, a winery that specialised in blends.
In 2007 Matt took up part-time studies at Charles Stuart University and in 2010 joined Penfolds, where he is responsible for red table wines and their fortified collection.
Shaun Crosling’s canapés were adventurous to say the least, comprising caprese salad moderna, a melon and prosciutto crostine and vegemite and cheese toasted ice-cream. The three canapés were very different to what members are used to, and it would be fair to say “out of their comfort zone”.
The Heemskerk Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2008 (alc.12%) was a welcome starter. Sourced from the Coal River Valley in Tasmania, it was awarded the trophy for the best sparkling wine at the 2012 Perth Royal wine show. Made using a mix of old and new French oak, the wine was elegant and displayed all the finesse of a classic cool climate pinot noir.
The entrée of grilled West Australian scallops with giant sauce vierge served with cherry tomatoes was a real treat. The dish carried classic presentation and quality that would be hard to find at any restaurant.
The Koonunga Hill Autumn Riesling 2011 (alc.11.5%) was a classic choice to go with the scallops. Produced in the Barossa Valley, the Autumn label was once used by the legendary Grange creator Max Schubert so that he could raise the profile of Penfolds whites to the respected level of their reds. The Autumn Riesling showed classic varietal characters on the nose of fresh citrus, lime and floral blossom.
The Penfolds Reserve Bin 07A Chardonnay 2007 (alc.12.5%) was rated at 95 points by both James Halliday and Jeremy Oliver. Halliday noted that the Bin 07A showed the continuing evolution of Penfolds white wines as they become steadily finer and more elegant, fruit to the fore with seamless oak behind and marrying intensity with delicacy.
The main course of King Valley beef tenderloin, deconstructed beef wellington, parsnip puree and new season asparagus was fantastic. To produce so many dishes of beef at the one time shows an extraordinary skill. The beef was tender and succulent and it wouldn’t surprise if it had been cryovac packed.
The reds to go with the beef were what Penfolds is renowned for. First was the Bin 28 Shiraz 2008 (alc.14.5%), the wine named after the famous Barossa Valley Kalimna vineyard purchased by Penfolds in 1945.
Its partner, the 2006 Kalimna (alc.14.5%) was two years older and invited some interesting discussion. There was similar colour to the 2008 and characteristics of spice, blackberry and plum but with a moderate palate length and slightly different tannins.
The Shaw River Lady Julia buffalo cheese, produced by Australia’s only water buffalo dairy in Western Victoria, had been enjoyed previously. This cheese takes two years to make and it carries the characteristics of buffalo milk in its whiter colouring. It was served with Port-soused dried fruit, crackers and roasted walnuts.
Feature wine was the Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2008 (alc.14.5%), an outstanding red wine matured in 1460-litre vats of very old oak for 15 months. There is a small portion of cabernet to improve the structure. Lovers of this venerable style were well satisfied.
The dessert was a Victorian pear and almond crumble with crème fraiche ice-cream. Even after such a glorious meal this dish was not left on the table and was washed down with the Penfolds Cellar Reserve Viognier (alc.10.5%). Produced in the Barossa, this sweet/dessert wine finished off the meal nicely.
We again thank Shaun Crosling and all the team at Epicure for providing an outstanding luncheon and also thank Matt Woo of Penfolds. To simply say we enjoyed the wines would be an understatement.
Wine and Food Luncheon - August 2012
For our luncheon on August 29 we once again gathered in the Percy Beames Bar which is becoming the traditional home of canapés and a base for catching up with old friends.
Guest chef for the function was Aaron Duffy who has become well known to our members and is Epicure’s head chef of members’ dining at the MCC. Aaron and the chef de cuisine – pastry, Deniz Karaca, had recently defended Epicure’s title by winning the gold medal at the Clubs Victoria Chef’s Table Awards for 2012. The wines were from the society’s cellar and they were very good.
We started with Sydney rock oysters with wakame and pickled ginger dressing, which were warmly appreciated. Then we experienced gougeres, a volute of celeriac and saffron with crème fraiche. Gougeres is a classic French cheese puff originating in Burgundy and is traditionally served with gruyere, the king of Swiss cheese.
With the starters we really enjoyed the Seppelt Salinger Pinot Noir Chardonnay (alc.12.5%) sourced from the cool climate regions of Henty, Adelaide Hills and Tumbarumba.
For the main meal we moved into the Long Room where we enjoyed an entrée of Yellingbo olive oil confit fillets of South Australian rockling with squid ink and potato foam and country bacon crumble. Delightful flavours and the dish matched the wines very well, although squid ink and potato foam presented an unattractive colour which didn’t seem to go with a fish dish.
The Scotchmans Hill Chardonnay 2005 (alc.13.5%) showed grapefruit and melon flavours, a buttery palate, some oak and a mineral finish with citrus acids. Scotchman Hill is located on the Bellarine Peninsular overlooking Corio Bay. The dense volcanic loam is not dissimilar to the legendary Merri Creek soil used in the MCC cricket pitches.
The Voyager Estate Chenin Blanc 2007 (alc.13%) came from some of the winery’s first plantings in 1978. It is an easy-drinking aromatic white, not overly wooded but retaining the ripe fruit flavours typical of the crisp, clean Chenin Blanc style.
The main course was a braised shoulder of Murray Valley lamb with gratin of herb crust, fricassee of Victorian wild mushrooms and dauphine potatoes. Most members were happy with the slow-cooked lamb, but the old farmer still thinks that the best lamb starts at the forequarter chops and goes backwards from there. The accompanying vegetables were excellent. So were the reds.
The Ingoldby Reserve Shiraz 2001 (alc.14%) from McLaren Vale Shiraz scored 91 points by James Haliday who described it as rich, ripe, supple and mouth-filling with dark chocolate, blackberry and plum. Ingoldby was established in 1973 by Jim Ingoldby but is now part of the Treasury Wine Estates portfolio.
The 2005 Annie’s Lane Copper Trail Shiraz (alc.15%) was well appreciated by the members, some of whom thought it outstanding. Annie’s Lane is now also in the Treasury Wine Estates portfolio located in the Clare Valley.
The cheese was yet another new addition to the long list that has been presented over the years at our luncheons. Sourced from the Yarra Valley Dairy which was started by Mary and Leo Mooney in 1995, this Yarra Valley White Savorine was baked in paperbark and served with garlic croutons. It’s a semi-matured goats’ cheese, firm and dense with a slightly moist, creamy texture.
The accompanying wine was a Warrenmang Black Puma Shiraz 2004 (alc.15%) from the Pyrenees vineyard and hospitality complex founded by the Bazzini family. Halliday scored this shiraz at 94 points and Jeremy Oliver at 95 points. We were blessed.
The dessert of baked apple and caramel with milk chocolate ice cream, caramelised walnuts and milk foam was terrific. The members appreciated a light dessert following another most successful five-course meal (including the canapés),
With dessert we enjoyed the Chateau Reynella 16 Y.O. Rare Old Tawny (alc.19.5%) which has been described as a half bottle from heaven. It was magnificent and went well with the chocolates and coffee.
Once again we thank Aaron Duffy and all the staff from Epicure who put in so much work to make these functions what they continue to be – brilliant!
As all the wines were sourced from the society’s cellar, we must also move a vote of thanks to Paul Kinross and David Fyffe who found and purchased an outstanding stable of wines.
Wine and Food Luncheon - July 2012
The society’s 266th function was a ripper. In our 25th year we were delighted to have Western Australia’s most prolific and oldest producer – Houghton Wines – on show in the Long Room.
Houghton last year celebrated its 175th anniversary and this year marks the 75th consecutive vintage of their hallmark product formerly known as Houghton White Burgundy. Following designation issues, this hugely popular drop, made principally from Chenin Blanc, is now their White Classic.
Houghton winemaker Ross Pamment (he’s only the company’s 13th) has quite a bit of territory to cover with vineyards from Swan Valley to Margaret River, Gingin, Pemberton and in the Great Southern region, meaning he spends a lot of time at the wheel. He tried a light plane on one occasion but the accountants weren’t impressed and it’s been a long road ever since.
Ross was born and raised in the Pilbara’s Port Hedland where getting anything to grow – much less vines – was a daunting task. But he grew up enjoying mum’s cooking and liked to have a go in the kitchen himself, so when he ventured south the food scene blended with the wine set and soon enough his direction was set. Off to Charles Sturt he went to study oenology.
Renee Guymer was our Chef of the Year in 2006 and her main course brought back memories of corned beef being served when it was in vogue several years ago. The talented chef offered a simple but very tasty slice of roast beef accompanied by Brussels sprout leaves with pieces of bacon and spears of roast potato. Mum would have been proud.
However, some with Escoffier expectations thought it less adventurous than normal, albeit enjoyable. Others were glowing with praise. A lady guest from Tasmania thanked the chef for that “superb slow food” while another guest said simply “I loved the feed”.
We had started the day in the familiar surrounds of the Percy Beames Bar with a nice selection of canapés – a Jerusalem artichoke soup shot, a soy-lacquered duck parcel and a yummy lamb, eggplant and miso pie.
Accompanying was a choice of either the well-regarded Sir James Pinot Noir Chardonnay Cuvee Brut or the Houghton White Classic. Both wines hit the spot.
Entrée was served in the Long Room where we tackled a delicious bouillabaisse replete with mussels, whiting, pippies, prawns and squid. Helping us along were a 2011 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (alc.12.5%) and a 2009 Wisdom Pemberton Chardonnay (alc.13.5%), both perfectly suited to the task.
Next was the beef and a brace of good reds, ideal on a chilly July afternoon in Melbourne. On our left was the 2010 Houghton Wisdom Cabernet Sauvignon (alc.14%) with good body and flavour from the Margaret River grapes.
Even more robust was the 2007 C.W. Ferguson Cabernet Malbec (alc.14%) on our right. This lovely wine comprised 25 per cent Malbec and with a bit of age on it was a very interesting drop. The Malbec and 46 per cent of the Cabernet came from Frankland River with the balance of the Cabernet from Mount Barker.
The cheese, a Milawa Gold washed rind with chilli Mount Zero olives and spiced tomato chutney, drew mixed reviews with one suggestion lauding the components but wondering whether the whole was better than the sum of its parts.
No matter, it went extremely well with the 2008 Gladstones Cabernet Sauvignon (alc.14%), another good red from Houghton’s Margaret River vineyards. The grapes come from 37-year-old vines and “only the best” French oak is used.
Dessert was brilliant. We relished Riesling-poached pears and vanilla crème royal with crunchy almond and leatherwood honey ice cream and verjuice syrup – worthy of a lengthy descriptor and simply delicious. Accompanying was a Houghton Late Picked Sweet Verdelho.
At meal’s end Renee spoke glowingly of the effort put in by her kitchen crew and answered many questions with confidence. It was good practice. Next evening she would be doing it all again – same food, same wines – for those attending the society’s annual waiting list dinner in the Members Dining Room!
Wine and Food Luncheon - June, 2012
The society’s June luncheon was a very fine example of how high we set the bar, no matter who is cooking or where the wines come from. Every function is different but the standard is always maintained.
Guest chef was Shane Freer who has travelled extensively and worked throughout Europe and Australia, cooking in such prestige establishments as Le Gavroche in London and Fanny’s in Melbourne. He joined Epicure in 2000 and has been head chef of major events such as the Australian Golf Open, the Masters Golf and the Melbourne Grand Prix.
The wines came from Flametree in Margaret River where 2003 Winemaker of the Year, Cliff Royal, plies his trade. Cliff was winemaker at Voyager Estate for 12 years before moving to his present position and has been a senior judge at the Melbourne Royal and Perth Wine shows over a number of years.
Appropriately, we started in the Percy Beames Bar with something different – a Flametree Sauvignon Semillon 2011 (alc. 13%) instead of the usual sparkling. This was a 70/30 blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Fine fruit flavours and fresh acidity are a hallmark of the 2011 vintage and this wine so far has garnered one silver and two bronze medals.
The canapés were excellent and there were plenty of them. We savoured roasted chestnuts with jamon, a wild mushroom croquette with red cabbage and aioli and crisp fried prawns with avocado dipping sauce.
Moving on to the entrée, we enjoyed snapper fillets roasted in umami on a cumquat glaze and cauliflower a la grecque. The presentation of this dish had to be seen to be believed, and the flavour of the snapper fillets was terrific.
Two whites accompanied. First was the Flametree Chardonnay 2011 (alc. 13.5%). From a fantastic vintage for Margaret River Chardonnay, the wine is a blend of two vineyards from the Wallcliff and Wilyabrup sub-regions. The Wallcliff area has been described by James Halliday as the golden triangle of Margaret River Chardonnay.
The second wine was a Flametree S.R.S. Chardonnay 2010 (alc 13%) that is rated 96 points by Halliday. It is from the Wallcliff region and has already won two gold medals. The fruit was handpicked and barrel fermented in French oak, 33% new and the remainder in two and three-year seasoned wood.
The main course was slow-braised lamb shanks with pearl barley, Brussels sprouts and a thyme jus. Many of our members order lamb shanks when they are dining out as they rarely receive them at home, and we were very impressed with the flavours and textures of this dish.
The first red was a Flametree Shiraz 2011 (alc. 14%). The grapes were sourced from five different vineyards in the region, with the Wallcliff vineyard showing pepper and spice while vineyards further north showed more dark fruits and concentrated fruit flavours. It was aged in older barrels to keep the oak influence in the background.
Its partner, the Flametree S.R.S. Shiraz 2010 (alc. 14.5%), was made from grapes from two Frankland River vineyards. This lovely, deeply coloured wine has a core of ripe fruit and a firm tannin backbone.
The cheese was specially commented on by both the chef and our members. It was a Tete de Moine served from the girolle with walnut loaf, Sangiovese vinaigrette and poached tamarillo. Chef Shane Freer really knows about presentation and this dish was no exception, presented in delightfully delicate rosettes.
The cheese is from Switzerland and is distinctive in character and unique in taste. It was first created in the Bellalay Monastery 800 years ago and is produced from natural, untreated milk from mountain cattle that are never fed on silage. It is produced in village dairies in the area of origin in accordance with the stringent protection of designation-of-origin specifications.
The red wine with the cheese was the Flametree Cabernet Merlot 2007 (alc. 14.5%), a winner of a silver medal and three bronze medals and rated 94 points by James Halliday. It won the Jimmy Watson Trophy in 2008 and many rated it the wine of the day, albeit narrowly.
Next came dessert – a bittersweet valrhona chocolate and pear tart with coffee anglaise and caramelised hazelnut praline. Once again, it was a fine example of the detail and experience that Shane put into this menu.
The sweet was accompanied by a Flametree Botryis Rieisling 2010 (alc. 10.5%), which we heard was a once-in-a-lifetime event for a winemaker to get the chance to make a wine with such amazing botrytis and high levels of sugar. Rich, thick fruit flavours are complemented by wonderful fresh acidity.
So ended another outstanding luncheon and all accolades go to chef Shane Freer and winemaker Cliff Royal but not forgetting our wine and food master, Paul Kinross, who puts these functions together.
Wine and Food Luncheon - May 2012
May is a month for the Taureans and it’s most appropriate to report that we were very bullish about the food and wine at this function.
Guest chef was Sam Calderone who began his apprenticeship with Spotless in 1990 before working at the Hotel Regent, Crown Casino, Hayman Island and the Melbourne Convention Centre. He joined the MCG culinary team in July last year and presented a fabulous menu that the wines really complemented throughout the lunch.
Best’s Wines was established in 1866 by the pioneering Henry Best who sold out to his neighbour Frederick Thomson in 1920. Fourth generation Viv Thomson and his son Ben, continue to combine traditional methods with modern technology in creating wines of renown and integrity.
Viv is well known as one of Australia’s leading authorities on wine, and has for many years acted as an Australian National Wine Show judge.
We gathered in the Percy Beams Bar for an excellent range of canapés including a lamb croquette with romesco sauce or a beef and Guinness pie served with tomato relish.
However the members really went for the Thai-marinated king prawns with roasted chilli and coriander mayonnaise. The final offering was an eggplant, capsicum and goat cheese tart with basil oil and micro herbs.
Viv Thomson loves his burgundies, so it was not surprising that we started with his Best’s Great Western Sparkling Shiraz 2009 (alc. 14.5%). This was reintroduced at Best’s in 2006 after almost 40 years’ absence.
Winemaker Adam Wadewitz discovered that certain blocks within the region lend themselves to sparkling Shiraz style. The grapes were picked early, made in vats and had no oak treatment at all. Sealed under a crown seal, this sparkling has been rated at 96.
Moving to the Long Room for the main meal, we were treated to an entrée of roasted barramundi fillet with bok choy, shitake and laksa broth. This was an excellent starter to follow the canapés.
Viv Thomson told us that, while many were made too dry, he believed Rieslings were the best of white wines and backed up his assertion by showing two – a 2011 and a 2010.
Best’s Great Western Riesling 2011 (alc 11.5% - Halliday rated 97 points) was a very pale straw, amost water-like, colour while the nose exhibited intensity of lemon and lime, with the palate boasting flavours of lime, citrus and orange rind.
Best’s Great Western House Block Riesling 2010 (alc 10.5%) came with a story. The fruit flavours were so good in 2010 that the grates were picked early to produce a different Germanic style often called Kabinett style. This was rated a great year for Great Western Rieslings.
The main course was a Murray Valley lamb rack served with artichoke puree, baby vegetables, chateau potato and truffle jus. Epicure selects Murray Valley lamb for its quality restaurants as the flavour and texture of the lamb is excellent. Ours was cooked medium to rare.
Accompanying the lamb were two reds. Best’s Great Western Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (alc. 13%) was made in the regional style being rich in mocha and berry fruit with a solid mid-palate weight and concentrated fruit.
Best’s Great Western Bin No. 1 Shiraz 2010 (alc. 14%) reflected an excellent year for grape growing in the Stawell district. This wine displayed vibrant aromatics with classic cool climate pepper and spice and a generous mid palate, rolling tannins and integrated oak.
The cheese at these functions continues to be different and most interesting. Pyengana Cheddar is produced in Tasmania by John Healy using original methods established by his great grandfather at the turn of the century. The name Pyengana comes from the Aboriginal language meaning “meeting place of rivers”.
This clothbound cheddar is one of Australia’s oldest specialty cheeses. Its open texture can be crumbly and the general aroma displays summer grass, herbs and honey. Two Bin 0 Shiraz vintages went with the cheese.
Best’s Great Western Bin No. 0 Shiraz 1990 (alc. 13.5%) was a well-matured Grampian Shiraz. The palate was rich and well balanced, long and dry but the flavour consistent with the tannins.
The 2010 Best’s Bin No. 0 (alc. 13.5%) is made in an ageworthy style and has been the undisputed icon of Great Western Shiraz for many decades. This wine won two trophies at the Sydney Royal Wine Show.
The dessert of citrus cheese gateau with crunchy almond base, thyme-infused orange sorbet and spiced orange jelly was delicious. Even though we had eaten so much, you couldn’t knock it back! We enjoyed the sweet with Best’s Vic Late Picked Chenin Blanc (alc. 10.5%).
Added to the evening was a mystery wine which had the members really guessing. They were outside their comfort zone in attempting to come up with the answer – Best’s Pinot Muniere 2009 (alc. 13%), a wine that’s exclusive to Best’s Great Western cellar door.
In summary, we extend our thanks to Sam Calderone and Viv Thomson for an outstanding lunch. The quality of the Long Room Wine and Food functions just goes from strength to strength but you wonder, could they get any better?
April 2012 Dinner
The celebration of the 25th Anniversary year of the Long Room Wine and Food Society was held in the Members Dining Room with more than 300 members and guests and, by special invitation, representatives of sporting sections and interest groups of the Melbourne Cricket Club.
The menu was presented by the MCG Culinary Centre’s chefs de cuisine and they produced a fine menu to complement the wines, which were from the society’s own cellar. David Fyffe kindly agreed to comment on the wines, which was most appropriate as not only is he well experienced and qualified but he could relate to the wines when they were originally purchased for the cellar.
President Alex Gillon opened the evening with a brief history of the society MCC president Paul Sheahan later spoke of the society’s success and outlined the continued development of the parent club.
Most appropriately, the function commenced in the Long Room for the pre-dinner canapés. Serving stations were placed around the room serving freshly sliced smoked salmon with Melba toast, Lilliput capers and Yarra Valley Salmon Roe. In one word – brilliant.
Another tasty canapé was the Queensland spanner crab brandade served with lemon and chives between crisp potato discs. Also passed around were baby Cumberland sausages served in a soft beer baguette with onion marmalade and hot English mustard. In total, quite an offering given the four courses that were to follow.
The sparkling accompany the canapés was a 2005 Domaine Chandon Vintage Blanc de Blancs (Alc. 12.5%). This was a blend of cool climate Yarra Valley fruit along with grapes from Strathbogie and the King Valley. The high Alpine regions produce Chardonnay base wines with tight palate structures, vibrant fruit characters and high acidity. This was an excellent starter.
We moved to the main dining room for the entrée of clear southern rock lobster bisque with poached SA yabbies, crystallised sea lettuce and fennel pollen. Two whites accompanied – a Chateau St Jean Conoma Chardonnay 2008 (Alc. 13%) and a Jeanneret Riesling 2006 (Alc. 13%).
Chateau St Jean estate is located in the Sonoma Valley, California. Founded in 1973, it has long been recognised as a leader in vineyard-designated wines. This medium-bodied Chardonnay blends grapes from four different vineyards to craft a blend producing flavours of honeysuckle, peaches and citrus, leading to an exceptionally long finish.
Jeanneret was established in the Clare Valley in 1994 and we all are well aware that great Rieslings come from that region Clare Valley. This was no exception and David Fyffe declared it the wine of the night, featuring an attractive lime and lemon nose, with a crisp lime citrus acid finish.
The main course was special – roasted NSW Tajima Wagyu Beef with mushroom pithivier, baby vegetables and Shiraz jus. Wagyu beef is very expensive and sells at an enormous premium to the Japanese. Totally fat-free and yet very tender with a Shiraz jus, it was just what the doctor ordered.
Two interesting reds were matched with the beef. We savoured a 1998 Tahbilk Shiraz (Alc. 14.0%) and a 2001 Best’s Great Western Bin No.0 (Alc. 13.5%). David Fyffe suggested the Tahbilk might have been just over the top and some tables found a big variation in the various bottles, so there were differences of opinion. However, it was a powerful, long and intense mix of black fruits and spice with fine tannins.
The Bin 0 was an outstanding classic Great Western Shiraz. History has it that Best’s early records indicate that the numbering system was developed by local general merchants who used it as a means of classifying the quality of the wine, Bin No.0 being the highest quality sold for around two shilling a bottle in 1900. No.1 cost slightly less and finally No.5 was the rough stuff for the unlucky, needy workers.
The wine showed elegant but powerful flavours of blackberry and plum with an earthy leather overlay, integrated with a velvet-smooth tannin structure and giving a long aftertaste.
The cheese was Timboon L’artisan Mountain Man with burnt fig jam and oat biscuits. We enjoyed cheese from the same producers at the October 2001 lunch. Timboon cheese is under the direction of Matthieu Megard whose family has been making cheese in France for three generations.
The extravagant Mountain Man is a triple cream light-textured washed rind. In the society’s last 44 menus we have been able to enjoy new and/or different cheeses at nearly every function.
With the cheese came our 2005 Long Room Wine and Food Society 20th Anniversary Shiraz from Heathcote Winery (Alc. 14.9%). This beautiful Heathcote shiraz has a splash of Viognier to enhance its complexity and lift its perfume. Grapes were predominately sourced from the estate vineyard blocks to create a wine of intensity, length and richness typical of Central Heathcote.
We do love our desserts and the Java mouse and lavender honey cremeux with grapenut soil and tarragon-infused orange sorbet didn’t disappoint. It was great!
The dessert wine was a Seifried Nelson Riesling Ice Wine. Seifried was established in 1973 at Nelson which is the sunniest region in New Zealand. Since that time the firm has grown to encompass six vineyard sites across a variety of soils as each vineyard was selected and developed with varieties and clones most suited to the locations.
An important additional feature of the evening was the announcement of the society’s “Chefs of the Year 2011” award as voted by Long Room Wine and Food Society members. The outstanding meal for 2011 was the October luncheon prepared by four apprentices based at the MCG.
Congratulations to Tony Kulafi, Martin Raupach (who was 2011 Spotless Apprentice of the Year), Rhys Hill and Michael Maloni.
We were also pleased to have as our guest Eliza Brown, whose magnificent All Saints winery at Wahgunyah was adjudged the society’s 2011 Winery of the Year for its superb range of wines presented at the June luncheon.
Also announced was the winner of the annual Long Room Wine and Food Society encouragement award, which this year went to Cale Otto, a second-year student from Roseworthy College (he topped first year). Cale was nominated by the dean of the college.
In summary, we thank Epicure for a special night and thanks also go to the committee members of the Long Room Wine and Food Society who selected many of the wines all those years ago.
Once again, “Oh what a night.”
March 2012 Luncheon
March saw us back in the Long Room and in “hot competition” with the club’s AFL Season Launch Luncheon held next door in the Members Dining Room, so parking was at a premium.
The wines featured were from the stable of McWilliam’s and the function opened our eyes about the various labels that many wouldn’t have known were owned by McWilliams, who operate through 16 different brands. There is always a lot to learn and experience in both wine and food.
Our chef for the day was Marco Doganieri, who has extensive experience in several fine dining venues around Victoria and overseas. McWilliam’s was represented by CEO Jim Brayne, who told us that the company was a privately owned business that was founded in 1877 by Samuel McWilliam at Sunnyside in Corowa, NSW.
Today McWilliam’s produces grapes in every major winegrowing district in Australia and also in lesser-known areas such as Young and Tumbarumba, the latter being responsible for the brilliant Chardonnay we enjoyed. In 2009 McWilliam’s was awarded 40 trophies and 889 medals at wine shows across Australia, so they’re kicking plenty of goals..
Once gain we kicked off (a term no doubt used in the opposition football lunch) in the Percy Beames Bar with canapés comprising coconut chicken crepe, a thirteen spices sweet potato empanada and – the feature event – the salt-crusted prawns with tequila mayonnaise. Wow!!
With the canapés we were treated to a glass or two of Taittinger Brut Reserve NV. Aged for four years in cellars where it develops maturity and well-developed aromas of peach, white and vanilla pod, the palate was lively and fresh with excellent balance. This was an outstanding champagne and set the standard for the lunch.
The entrée of Tasmanian Huon Salmon and Hervey Bay Scallop with cauliflower puree, crisped chorizo crumbs and parsley oil was most enjoyable. It was accompanied by two whites, a Mount Pleasant Cellar Release Elizabeth Semillon 2005 (Alc. 11.5%) and a Barwang 842 Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2009 (Alc. 14%).
The Semillon, from the well-known Hunter Valley vineyard, has won two trophies and two gold medals. It was a typical Hunter Semillon with attributes of lemon, lime, passion fruit and hints of cut straw. This is what the Hunter does best and being seven years old it was most appreciated.
The Chardonnay (winner of a trophy and three gold medals) pays homage to Tumbarumba’s highest vineyard planting at an altitude of 842 metres. This was a superb cool climate chardonnay for which the district is becoming famous.
Next came the main course – a loin of venison with wild mushrooms, spiced red cabbage, congo potato and sour cherry jus. The venison was tender and cooked to perfection. It also carried virtually no fat, so it helped the calorie equation. The wild mushrooms added to the flavour of the dish.
For the red wines accompanying the main course we moved from Margaret River to Coonawarra with an Evans & Tate Metricup Road Shiraz 2009(Alc. 14%) followed by a Brand’s Laira Blockers Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Alc. 14%).
The 2009 vintage in Margaret River produced exceptional ripening conditions resulting in richly flavoured wines with fantastic varietal intensity and this wine was no exception. Ripe plum and mulberries filled the nose with a hint of mint and oak maturation and we enjoyed a wine of balance and integration.
The Brand’s Cabernet, also a trophy and gold medal-winning wine, featured grapes from Heathcote, Hilltops and Coonawarra. A Cabernet with classic varietal definition, James Halliday gave this wine 95 points.
Following the main course we settled in to the Shaw River Lady Julia Buffalo Cheese which hails from Western Victoria near the town of Yambuck. It’s a bit hard to come by as it takes about two years to make. It carries the characteristic of buffalo milk in its whiter colouring and the taste is quiet pronounced, packing a punch like a great aged cheddar should. Served with quince paste, our chef had gone to a lot of trouble to acquire this cheese.
As is often the case, the premier wine is served with the cheese and this was no exception. On show was the multiple award-winning McWilliams 1877 Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2006 (Alc. 14%) and many of us were surprised to learn that the grapes were sourced from the Riverina. The blend featured an intense palate, rich blood plum and blackberry fruit flavours combined with brown spice, influenced by use of elegant French oak. It was a well-structured wine with a long and memorable finish.
We were delighted with the caramelised fig and sour cream mousse with poached grapes and spice-infused red wine jelly. Figs are in season at the moment but they never seem to make the table at home. So the figs, accompanied by a McWilliam’s Morning Light Botrytis Semillon 2008, approached what some of our members believe is their birthright, especially when the sticky has won four trophies and six gold medals!
Once again, the March luncheon could be described as a classic event with outstanding wines and food that clearly illustrated that Marco and his staff had put a lot of thought into the menu. The results said it all.
February 2012 Luncheon
Members and guests gathered for the second function of 2012 started in the Percy Beames Bar before enjoying wines from five-star rated Adelaide Hills winery Amadio, which is celebrating 75 years of winemaking success, and food prepared by Epicure chef Jerome Mulryan.
Once again many members rated this function “as good as it gets” and they were very impressed with the way the wines matched the food, as well as the address by company CEO Danniel Amadio explaining how he has developed a large export business when other wine producers have been struggling.
Amadio has focused on the export markets in the US, Canada, China, Sweden and Malaysia and in 2008 their wines accounted for 7 per cent of all Australian wines exported to China.
Chef Jerome Mulrayn began his career in 1996 in Sheffield, England working in boutique hotels. In 2005 he travelled to Australia for a working holiday, initially in leading hotels in Far North Queensland. He moved to Melbourne in 2005 and worked at the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins before joining Epicure in his current role of sous chef.
The canapes were served mainly from stations featuring chicken, seafood and pork dumplings with Asian flavours. For the adventurous, there also was a Volcano “fiery” sushi on offer. The starters were accompanied by an Adamio Grande Reserve Pinot Chardonnay Brut NV (12.5% Alc).
This sparkling was produced in the Methode Traditionalle style, aged on lees for 15 months for greater complexity and intense development with hints of lime, citrus and honey. It was adjudged “Top Sparkling” at the 2010 Intercontinental/Advertiser South Australian Wine of the Year awards.
Moving on to the Long Room we were treated to an absolutely outstanding entrée of vanilla and rose petal Port Lincoln kingfish with apple balm, radish and crisp rocket. The presentation and flavours was acclaimed by members. We all know of Port Lincoln for whiting, but this kingfish dish was suburb.
We enjoyed two white wines with the entrée. First was the Amadio Hand Picked Riesling 2011 (12% Alc) from the Clare Valley and Adelaide Hills which showed pale straw hues with aromas of elderberry and jasmine.
The Amadio Pinto Grigio 2011 (13% Alc) won silver at the Adelaide Wine Show in 2011 and is a true Pinot Grigio. Matured with a slight sweet nuttiness and soft roundness, it’s mildly creamy with fresh mineral zest and a pleasant crispy acidity that’s not excessive.
The main course was another treat – sage-roasted veal tenderloin with soft white polenta, log-grown mushrooms, olive jus and wafer. The dish lived up to the menu’s promise. It was tender veal enhanced by the sage flavour to produce all that our self-appointed connoisseurs seek to match with a good red wine. The accompanying wines were well chosen.
The Amadio Sangiovese 2008 (14% Alc) was an authentic sangiovese showing licorice and dark cherry with earthiness. One wine writer had noted that it was “a pretty smart red that needs a meaty platter to do it proper justice.” Thus it went well with the veal.
The “mysterious” Amadio Anglianico 2010 (14% Alc) came from another Italian grape that most of our members are not familiar with. Similar in style to sangiovese, the wine is full of flavour but has darker fruit characteristics than its Italian counterpart – more black cherry as opposed to raspberry and riper red fruit flavours.
The cheese was Berry Creek Mossvale blue and Gorgonzola Dolce Latte with fig flavours. Berry Creek Cheese hails from South Gippsland and has won a number of show awards since 2009 when they started exhibiting, including a gold medal for the Tarwin Blue in the World Cheese awards in Spain.
The Mossvale Blue featured on our menu won a gold medal and was Champion Cheese of the Sydney Royal Show in 2011. Think of a good red to go with the cheese, and that’s what we got!
Amadio Block 2A Shiraz 2007 (14% Alc) is an exemplary Shiraz with intense varietal characters of black mulberry, spicy plum, forest fruits and mocha that immersed the palate with soft tannins and an intense long finish. This outstanding Shiraz had won gold at Vienna International 2010 and was rated in the top two Shirazes of 1900 entries from around the world.
The dessert was an interesting “Jewel of elderflower-scented plums with yoghurt crème patisserie” accompanied by two fortified wines, which capped off a fine lunch.
The stickies were an Amadio Reserve Quartet Blanc NV (14% Alc) and an Amadio 18-year-old Tawny Port (18% Alc). The Quartet Blanc was an exotic blend of Viognier grapes from France, Fiano and Arneis grapes from Italy and Riesling from Germany. With fine spirit added, it presents as an elegant, smooth fortified dessert wine style and won a gold medal at the 2010 Vienna International Wine Show.
The Tawny Port showed chocolatey and coffee hints, while the palate was appealing with berry fruit and sweetness upfront that dissipated into a quiet, mature mid-palate.
Jerome Mulryan presented his full complement of chefs at the end of the meal, which allowed guests to record their praise for an outstanding meal. The quality of this function reflects the recent success of Epicure chefs in competitions, and the dedication that goes into our functions.
In conclusion, the success of Amadio wines at the recent AWC Vienna 2010 International Wine Challenge should be noted. Amadio was awarded nine medals from nine entries, three gold and six silver for an incredible 100 per cent strike rate.
The Vienna 2010 is the biggest wine competition in the world with 10,951 wines from 1733 producers representing 36 nations over five continents. All bottles were tasted and evaluated anonymously.
The year started with the famous “Old Bottle Day” held in the traditional Long Room. This annual event is restricted to members only, and encourages the self-appointed connoisseurs to bring along a white or red wine to enjoy with other members, together with much discussion.
Once again Jeremy Oliver, well-known wine judge and writer, had the difficult job of appraising all the wines and providing excellent comments on the wine and Australian winemaking.
Jeremy made mention that the global warming is having a definite effect on the various locations of Australian wineries with Tasmania getting the benefit of the change.
He also commented on the change of alcohol content noting that Australian vintages used to be 11-12% but nowadays 13% was considered low in Australia. Jeremy also commented that the standard of wines that the members bring to this function is increasing every year. Perhaps the wines are maturing as members get older!
Jeremy’s selections for the best wines of the day were:
1st Ian Johnson
2001 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay
2nd Bryan Humphris
2002 Tin Shed Eden Valley Riesling
3rd Barry and Maureen Moore
2001 Jasper Hill Semillon (a very rare wine, noted Jeremy)
1st Gordon Spence
1991 Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet
2nd Russ Snibson
1998 Drumborg Seppelts Cabernet Henty Winery
Eq.3rd Greg Thompson
1980 Balgownie Cabernet
2001 Pipers Brook Late Harvest Reisling Cuvee Clark
Congratulations to Gordon Spence on his 1991 Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet being adjudged wine of the day. Jeremy commented on the excellent Cabernets that had come forward this year, noting that Shiraz wines had won the coveted trophy for the previous three years.
The members’ day began with canapés in the Percy Beames Bar together with a “sparkling” provided from the society’s cellar.
The Long Room menu featured an entrée of free range Szechuan Peppered Chicken Thigh with Crisp Vegetables and Sticky Soy. It was followed by the outstanding Char-grilled Limestone Coast Beef with Pommes Anna, Buttered Broccolini, Fennel and Salsa Verde, accompanied by a leaf salad.
We finished with traditional fine Victorian cheeses with Cabernet paste, dried muscatels, fresh strawberries, candied walnuts, lavosh and house-made out biscuits.
So the Long Room Food and Wine Society kicked off the 2012 year with a magnificent function, largely thanks to Jeremy Oliver. Our members greatly appreciate his contribution and we also thank Epicure for a quality meal befitting the occasion.
November 2011 Luncheon
It was the end of Spring and what a good time to have spring lamb with wines from Australia, New Zealand, USA and France featured on the society’s annual International Day. The wines surprised some members with their quality and characteristics given so many of us are “dyed in the wool” drinkers of Australian wine!
Our wine and food master Paul Kinross did a fine job in selecting such interesting wines to complement the menu presented by Sam Calderone, who began his apprenticeship with Spotless Catering in 1990. He later worked at the Hotel Regent, Crown Casino, Hayman Island and the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Now back with Epicure, Sam is currently sous chef in the MCG Culinary Centre.
We gathered in the Long Room for bubbles and nibbles before adjourning to the Members Dining Room. Canapes were very good, comprising smoked salmon blinis, chicken and pistachio terrine on brioche with red currant jelly, a small beef and Guinness Pie with a tomato and chilli chutney and finally a capsicum, asparagus and smoked cheddar tart. We didn’t need any more than that!
With the canapés we sampled a Dominique Portet Brut Pinot Noir Chardonnay (alc. 13%) from the Yarra Valley – the Australian representative wine for the day. The Brut Rose was a blend of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay. It was a savoury sparkling wine with fresh strawberries and rose petals on the nose before a fresh, dry, creamy finish.
The adventurous entrée was a duo of vitello tonnato with beetroot-cured ocean trout, burnt lime and crispy chilli salad. This combination was well received for the flavours and not too filling as we were looking forward to the Spring Lamb. We headed off to New Zealand for the whites to go with the entrée.
The Amisfield Pinot Gris 2010 (alc. 13.4%) came from a small specialist producer of Central Otago located at Lake Hayes, which is 15 minutes’ drive from Queenstown. The Pinot Gris yields are kept low to provide concentrated fruit flavour and complexity derived from a range of soils within the vineyard. The grapes were hand-picked and whole-bunch pressed, with 30% French barrel fermented resulting in elegant spice, stone fruit pear and quince.
The Kumeu River Esate Chardonnay 2008 (alc. 13.5%) come from Waimauku, near Auckland, and the vinery is famous for wedding receptions. One of the features is an incredible bell tower, traditionally rung 12 times at weddings to offer well wishes for the first 12 months of married life. Once again the grapes were hand-picked and whole-bunch pressed and barrel fermented using about 20% new French oak. Its pronounced passionfruit, ripe white peach and green mango flavours are encased in a creamy texture and lead to a long finish.
Our main was a Dukkah-spiced Murray Valley lamb rack on eggplant puree with roast potato, pumpkin and cherry tomatoes on the vine. The lamb was full of flavour, tender and cooked to perfection. Spring lamb, Murray Valley and an excellent chef with two surprisingly good wines from the USA ensured our members were happy!
The lamb was accompanied by two wines from California’s Sonoma Valley – a Chateau St Jean Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (alc. 14.2%) and a Chateau St Jean Cinq Cepages Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (alc. 14.4%).
Chateau St Jean was founded in 1973 and has built a reputation for making wines of power and elegance, with the Cabernet Sauvignons having won many awards over the years. The 2005 comprised 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. The wine was barreled for 15 months in French oak (2/3rd) and American oak (1/3rd). It was concentrated and structured with sweet, dark berry and elegant, round tannins.
The 2004 Cabernet was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot aged separately for two years in French Oak and then blended to create a rich Bordeaux-style wine. It offered aromas of cedar, tobacco leaf, black currants and cherries, a medium to full-bodied red with soft, silky tannins and a moderately long finish.
The Milawa Capricornia goat cheese with fig and walnut loaf, quince paste and grapes was well received at our table. The Milawa Cheese Factory in north-east Victoria is owned by David and Anne Brown. All the cheeses are hand-made at the historic Milawa Butter Factory by traditional methods, without preservatives and using non-animal rennet.
With the cheese came the Chateau du Cedre Cahors Wine from south-west France (alc. 14%). The first wine from this 27-hectare estate was bottled in 1973. In the early nineties the estate moved to organic farming, banning all herbicides and managing to be free of all chemical spraying agents by 2002.
The 2008 Cahors is a blend of 90% Malbec, 5% Merlot and 5% Tannat. It is described as a classic year for Cahors and continuing the high standards set by previous vintages. It is a big, bold wine with copious qualities of layered fruit. It is almost black in colour with full fruit flavours, firm in structure with fine tannins.
We love our desserts and there was no disappointment in the classic crème brulee with fresh seasonal berries and almond biscotti. To add to the enjoyment we stayed in France for the
Chateau Broustet Sauternes 2005 (alc. 14.0%) from the Bordeaux region. The 39.5-acre vineyard is planted 63% Semillon, 25% Sauvignon Blanc and 12% Muscadelle. The wine was a bright, full yellow with perfumed aromas of peach, orange juice and mirabella. Sweet and dense with ripe acidity finish.
We were privileged to hear Dominique Portet’s commentary on the wines as he took us around the vineyards of the world and thank Sam Calderone for his excellent summary of the dishes. Sam showed his appreciation of the support staff by bringing them out of the kitchen to give us the opportunity to acknowledge a good effort all round.
October 2011 Luncheon
In October we welcomed the wines from Cullens of Margaret River, represented by managing director Vanya Cullen whose wines have been noted for their quality and consistency since the first vineyard of 18 acres was planted in 1971.
Cullens have maintained family ownership throughout and the biodynamically grown grapes are sourced exclusively from their Cullen Estate and Mangan vineyards.
The menu looked enticing and the quality of the dishes was impressive, but even more impressive was that it was all made possible by four Epicure apprentices working at the MCG.
Tony Kulaf, a third-year apprentice, had recently won a competition that allowed him to spend a month in Paris. In his second year he was adjudged “Apprentice of the Year” for Spotless.
Martin Raupach is a mature-age second-year pastry apprentice who won two chocolate showpiece competitions earlier this year, while two first-year apprentices, Rhys Hill and Michael Maloni, completed the kitchen foursome.
Well done boys, you did an excellent job.
The canapés could only be described as very special, and some of our oyster lovers could have easily spent the afternoon in the Percy Beames Bar devouring freshly shucked Coffin Bay oysters with traditional dressings and condiments.
Apart from those delicious oysters, we enjoyed Huon smoked salmon with crème fraiche, salad onions and Yarra Valley salmon roe. Also on offer were Peking duck with hoisin sauce and finally crunch pickled carrots and bean shoots with coriander, mint and chilli with a spicy dressing.
With all that you needed the Cullen Margaret River White 2010 (alc.12%), a blend of Sauvigion Blanc and Semillon with a small amount of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Riesling, which added to the complexity and a touch of richness to the middle palate without changing the basic structure of the wine.
The entrée was ale-braised farmed Gippsland rabbit with herb orecchiette, braised juices and parmesan crisp. It was very well received – a real surprise to those who said they didn’t like rabbit. Matching the rabbit were two whites from different vineyards.
The Cullen Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010 (alc.12%) was 66/34% Sav Blanc/Semillon, aged for five months in French oak, which is a Cullen specialty. The combination provided a subtle and complex blend of citrus and guava fruit aromas with a background of spicy oak.
The Cullen Mangan Sauvignon Blanc Semillon (alc.13%) was a 62/38% blend. The grapes were hand-picked and the wine was of pale straw colour showing attractive lime aromas and a touch of tropical fruit and minerality.
The two whites provided an excellent opportunity to compare the characteristics of the fruit grown on the gravelly soils of the Mangan vineyard versus the more loamy soils of the Cullen vineyards. Our so-called experts voted in favour of the Mangan vineyard.
Then it was onto the main course with some French inspiration coming through the apprentices who served up a sous vide Northern Rivers veal medallion and some slow-cooked shoulder with dried tomato pomme puree, greens and Mount Zero olive crumbs.
Complementing the main were a 2009 Cullen Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot (alc.13%) and a nice blend – the 2009 Cullen Mangan Malbec Petit Verdot Merlot (alc.12.5%). The first wine comprised 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot and a small volume (5%) of Petit Verdot to enhance the characteristics. It showed a bouquet of plum and currant with a palate of ripe cherry and firm but soft tannins, with great length.
The Mangan blend was made up of 65% Malbec, 27% Petit Verlot and 10% Merlot, three varieties well suited to Margaret River. The Malbec was dominant in fruit and colour, with the Petit Verdot providing length and texture while the Merlot gave the wine structure. The palate of mulberry and black cherry was backed by excellent fine tannins. The wine was fermented and aged for 12 months, predominantly in used French oak to retain the fruit freshness.
The Western District cheese – L’artisan Timboon Fermier raclette-style – recalled the “Mountain Man”, a washed rind cheese at an earlier luncheon. It is apparent that the young French cheese maker Matthieu Megard is putting his stamp on the cheese industry, producing cheeses of international standard. We appreciate Epicure introducing us to such products.
With the cheese came the day’s highlight, the Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (alc.12.5%). This is an outstanding Cullen wine comprising 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Malbec.
Vanya Cullen referred to 2009 as the Mozart vintage because the quality and vibrancy of the fruit produced in 2009 were so good. Fresh red currant flavours with a touch of plum were in perfect balance with firm tannins, great length and persistent flavours.
The dessert was wild strawberry cheesecake with Aceto Balsamico jelly, lemon basil sorbet, wild strawberry paper and chocolate soil. The members were wild about this dish as their ratings indicated.
The final wine was a Cullen Late Harvest Chenin Blanc 2009 (alc.9.5%). Once again the hand-picked fruit was of exceptional quality, reflecting the vintage, as was evident in the wines throughout the function.
The colour was medium gold, sweet in the mouth and perhaps a touch low in acid. In 2009 Cullen decided to make a concerted effort to produce an exceptional dessert wine from a small block of Chenin Blanc, so this wine is a limited release.
Once again we thank the Epicure apprentices and Vanya Cullen for a memorable luncheon.
Special Kitchen Dinner - October 2011
On October 14 we were guests of Epicure for dinner in the Culinary Centre of the MCG. This was the idea of Epicure’s David Mercer to celebrate his firm’s award by Clubs Victoria as the Best Club Restaurant in Victoria for 2010-11.
Epicure went to great lengths to ensure that members would appreciate a fantastic menu accompanied by a selection of wines from leading wineries. The chefs were well known to Society members – MCG executive chef Peter Haycroft and our Chef of the Year for 2007, Jeremy Woods.
The chefs accompanied us on an inspection of three huge preparation kitchens and David followed up with a fascinating insight into the organisation for grand final day when 90 chefs and more than 2000 staff are involved in preparing and serving about 9000 meals.
On arrival we were greeted with a Yarra Burn Blanc de Blanc 2004 (alc. 12%), an all-chardonnay dry sparkling produced by winemaker Mark O’Callaghan who is well known for his sparklings of elegant structure and complex depth.
The entrée was a gem, a Spencer Gulf prawn layered with Western Australian blue swimmer crab with potato crisps, crayfish oil and dill. This went really well with the two Rieslings.
First was a Saltram Mamre Book Riesling 2005 (alc. 11.5%). The fruit was sourced from the Eden and Barossa valleys. It was harvested at night, pressed and cold settled then transferred into stainless steel tanks to undergo cool ferment. The rich palate displayed citrus and melon characters, clean acidity and elegant length.
The other contrasting wine was an Alkoomi Frankland River Riesling 2008 (alc. 12%). WA’s Great Southern region has climatic conditions similar to Bordeaux. These grapes also were picked at night in France and the wine’s pale straw colour carried powerful aromas of sweet citrus and lime blossom.
We then moved onto the main course of a roasted Limestone Coast fillet of beef, tender and flavoursome and served with beetroot relish, hand-picked green beans and butter-roasted potato with a port wine glaze. Who wouldn’t love beef of this quality cooked to perfection and matched with two excellent red wines. No wonder Epicure won that prestigious award.
The first red was a Tyrell’s Vat 8 Shiraz Cabernet 2004 (alc. 13.5%). Rated 94 by James Halliday, it showed the elegance that Tyrell’s achieved with all its 2004 reds, supple and smooth blalckberry and cassis fruit with minimal oak interference. Tyrell’s was established in 1858 and produces 500,000 cases per year.
The other red was the Yarra Ridge Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 (alc. 14%). Yarra Ridge was the brainchild of lawyer Louis Bialkower who purchased the property in 1982 and produced some outstanding wines before selling to Beringer Blass in 1993. Then in 2005 the former Yarra Ridge was purchased by a partnership headed by Rob “Sticks” Dolan, hence the up-and-coming label “Sticks”.
The Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ‘97 was pressed just prior to the end of fermentation and transferred to new French oak followed by 18 months of barrel fermentation. The colour is medium red purple, with a clean attractive red berry bouquet with nicely integrated oak with a long finish and excellent tannins.
The cheese was Timboon Mountain Man, accompanied by quince paste and oat biscuits. Timboon cheese is under the direction of Mathieu Megard whose family has been making cheese in France for three generations. Three years ago Mr Megard heard that National Foods had closed the Timboon cheese factory down, so he seized the opportunity to re-open one of the region’s biggest tourism attractions.
The cheeses he makes include the extravagant Mountain Man, a triple-cream, light-textured washed rind, which was accompanied by the Wolf Blass Platinum Shiraz 2000 (alc.14%). This was the outstanding wine of the evening, a stunning shiraz with fruit sourced from two cool climate vineyards in the Adelaide Hills. It was black crimson in colour and had a superb nose. No surprise to see it rated 98.
To finish we enjoyed a noir chocolate mousse with a raspberry sorbet, burned orange caramel and a brandy snap. How often do we say that an excellent occasion should finish with a Campbells Muscat (alc.17.5%), of deep amber with tawny hues, rich and fresh raisin fruit aromas with great depth? It showed intense fruit with balance and elegance and a luscious lingering finish.
In conclusion, I quote Epicure’s Food Philosophy:
“Great cooking is about selecting the finest quality produce and using it when it is at its best – in season. Where possible, we source and use quality, local produce that is environmentally sustainable, from a known source and cruelty free.”
Thank you, Epicure, for an excellent evening.
September 2011 Luncheon
There was a buzz at the ’G for this function as it was held on the Wednesday prior to the grand final, but this didn’t prevent Epicure and guest chef Shaun Crosling from presenting another outstanding lunch at the headquarters of Australian football.
Following his apprenticeship at the Regent in Melbourne, Shaun moved to the UK gaining experience with Michelin Star establishments such as The Oak Room in London, Le Talboorth in Essex and Scotland’s Greywalls. Shaun has been at the MCC for 10 years and this is the fourth grand final week luncheon he has created.
We met at the Percy Beames Bar for an excellent variety of canapés – French onion upside down soup, salt and pepper turkey with cranberry yoghurt and bubble and squeak with dill sour cream. Another feature spread around the space were the large bowls of sweet potato crisps with green salt.
The wines were from the Society’s cellar and came from a variety of wineries, some with considerable ageing. We were greeted with a Barossa Valley Estate E & E Sparking Shiraz 2001 (alc. 14.2%), made from 100 per cent shiraz and aged in equal proportions of French and American oak of which 30 per cent was new. It was later blended and aged for an additional 12 months in old French oak prior to bottling. The palate was rich dark fruit, coffee and spice and showed the benefit of 10 years’ cellaring.
The entrée was an intriguing plate of a duck filo cigar and giant couscous salad with Middle Eastern accompaniments. The dish went very well with the two white wines.
Yering Farm’s Run Rabbit Run Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (alc. 12.5%) was from the well-known Yarra Valley winery which was Victoria’s first vineyard, planted in 1838 by the Ryrie brothers and later developed by Paul de Castella who extended the vineyard and cultivated varieties from France.
The Sauvignon Blanc was described as an everyday drinking wine, pale straw colour with a touch of green, delicate tropical characteristic and smooth acid balance. However, we are being flooded with excellent sav blancs from New Zealand which are setting a high standard.
The Trinity Hill Viognier 2005 (alc.14%) was from the Hawkes Bay area, in New Zealand’s North Island, about 200km north of Marlborough. It was hand-picked and gentle pressed and fermented in new and old oak barrels, showing flavours of citrus peel and honey but had little of the grip you expect from viognier.
Next came an excellent main course of roasted veal fillet with horseradish pomme puree, minted peas and beetroot relish. The veal was tender with full flavour and we really enjoyed it. The first red was a Lost Valley Hazy Mountain Merlot 2004 (alc. 14%). The vineyard is situated in the Goulburn River area of Central Victoria on granite soils that drain into the King Parrot Creek. The Merlot was crimson purple with subtle characters of well-ripened fruit and structured oak. The palate was fine with soft tannins.
The second red was a Yering Range Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 (13.5%). The palate showed cool climate fruit and a bouquet of plum with a hint of cedar ageing, resulting in medium fine tannins before a good long finish.
The Victorian produce continued with two fine cheeses – Yambuk Buffalo cheddar and Timboon triple cream served with Mildura drunken figs and Rochester pears. This is another instance of the Epicure chefs sourcing some very special and interesting produce for us. They say the “Buffalo” is Roger Haldane who milks buffaloes on his dairy farm at Yambuk near Portland in Western Victoria.
The Bulgarian and Italian Buffalos were imported by plane from Denmark and it’s taken a long time to build the herd up to the 600-odd it is today. The buffaloes only milk between a third and half of a traditional dairy cow. Their milk is streets ahead in butterfat, going as high as 10 per cent compared to three per cent for dairy cows.
With the cheese was one of the best wines of the day, the Pirramimma Shiraz 2002 (14.5%). Pirramimma was founded by Alexander Johnston in 1892 in McLaren Vale and has been owned and operated by the Johnston family ever since. The vineyard soils vary from sandy on the rise to rich dark loam on the flat. More than 60 per cent of the vineyard is planted to premium red wine varieties. The estate is now 250 hectares of which 180 are planted to grapes.
James Halliday scored the 2002 Shiraz 95 points. Produced from premium grapes and matured for two years in new oak, the wine was a strong red colour with berries and spice bouquet. The palate showed an intense depth of lingering, full-bodied fruit and a clear yet lingering tannin finish.
Finally we enjoyed the dessert of sour cream bavarios, fair trade mocha and chocolate brownie, espresso ice cream and amaretto anglaise. It provided an opportunity to match this fabulous dish with a dessert wine from France, the Chateau du Pavilion Sainte Croix du Mont 2003 13%). This was made from late-picked and often Botrytis-affected grapes due to the unique climate along the banks of the Garonnne River.
The Croix du Mont was produced from a blend from 85% semillion and 15% saugivnon. It had a brilliant golden colour with aromas of peach, apricot and honey. So ended another outstanding meal, although perhaps some of our cellar wines didn’t quite come up to expectations.
August 2011 Luncheon
The Long Room Wine and Food Society’s August luncheon presented to members and guests an interesting and fascinating combination of food and wine, this time a Chef with Scottish experience and wines produced by a Tasmanian icon.
Aaron Duffy is Epicure’s chef de cuisine for members’ dining at the ’G. Previously he worked in most of the five star hotels in Edinburgh before joining the Balmoral Hotel in 1997. He has worked under great chefs such as Nico Ladenis, Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay.
The menu certainly allowed him to display his skills and a willingness to be different while still managing to complement the northern Tasmanian wines from Josef Chromy.
Winemaker Jeremy Dinnen spoke passionately about his company’s founder and owner Josef Chromy. After escaping from Czechoslovakia in 1950, Josef established a number of butcher shops which led to Blue Ribbon Meats, a company that grew to a turnover of $80 million with 560 employees.
The meat company was sold in the mid-1990s and Josef Chromy moved into property development and the wine industry. He bought Rochecombe and Heemskerk vineyards before selling them and establishing Tamar Ridge, which he also sold before purchasing the Old Stornoway Vineyard at a receivership sale in 2003. In 2005 he built a new winery and established a new label. This picturesque location 10 minutes’ drive south of Launceston is well worth a visit.
On arrival we were greeted with a most pleasing Josef Chromy vintage Sparkling 2008 (alc. 12%). With a fresh, rich creamy palate showing green apple fruit and toasty yeast complexity, members agreed this was a good starter.
The chef having decided on two entrée, the only canapés were orange and beetroot reverse jellies, which may have missed the mark. However the entrees of a veloute of Tasmania black sea urchin and scallop and a mosaic of free range chicken with foie gras, sweetbreads, shitake and Tasmanian black truffle mayonnaise certainly created much discussion re their fine quality and presentation.
The Josef Chromy white wines matching these entrees were a 2010 Pinot Gris, 2009 Chardonnay and the ZDAR Chardonnay 2006.
The Pinot Gris 2010 was harvested ripe in order to gain rich flavours and texture and the fermentation was carried out with relatively neutral yeast to show the varietal characters. The palate was generous and nicely balanced (alc. 13.7%). The Chardonnay 2009 (alc. 14%) was pale golden straw after 12 months in French oak. It showed citrus and nectarine flavours and the palate was rich and full.
The ZDAR Chardonnay 2006 was a special wine. ZDAR represents the pinnacle of winemaking at the estate and only exceptional parcels of wine are reserved for this label. This wine won the Gold at the Sydney International Wine Competition. It boasted an elegant bouquet of stone fruit and gentle vanilla spice and great texture throughout the palate with toasty oak and a long, lean finish. James Holliday rated it 94 points (alc.14.7%).
With the luncheon’s Tasmanian flavor, chef Aaron decided on a main course of Wimmera duck tournedo with confit, spiced lentils, roast and puréed celeriac, which allowed members to have some of the Pinots that the island is famous for! The Josef Chromy Pinot Noir 2010 and the J.C. ZDAR Pinot Noir 2008 didn’t disappoint.
Pinot Noir is the noble red grape of Burgundy capable of ripening in a cooler climate, which Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot will not reliably do. It is unpredictable and difficult both to grow and to vinify, but results in some of the finest reds in the world. An enormous amount of pinot goes into sparklings.
The J.C. Pinot Noir 2010 was deep red with cherry plum and light spice characters on both nose and palate (alc. 13.2%). The 2008 ZDAR represents the best of pinots with deep red cherry and raspberry fruits complexed with French oak and spice and mocha notes. Only a very small amount was made to ensure the consistency and quality (alc. 14.5%).
The cheese was creamed Pyengana cheddar with pretzel and Vegemite (unusual for the Long Room!) accompanied by the J.C. Cabernet Sauvignon 2009. This Bordeaux-style red, although fractionally thin on depth of fruit, displayed a nose unmistakably cabernet, floral and leafy with aroma of vanilla and with a fruit profile showing red and black berries.
The dessert was what we definitely don’t get at home – Bourbon vanilla mousse, Victorian almond chiffon cake with cumquat and mandarin chutney and pistachio ice cream, matched with a J.C. Botrytis Riesling (alc.9.8%). The Reisling grapes were picked when the balance between delicate floral and citrus characters and the richer marmalade flavours of Botrytis was optimum.
The winemaker recommended that due to its crisp freshness this wine should be matched with both light and rich desserts from sorbets through to chocolate cake. What a way to finish off another good food, good wine and good company lunch.
July 2011 Luncheon
Function No. 255 held on July 27 kicked off with canapés in the Long Room before moving to the Members Dining Room for a fine luncheon featuring wines from Wynns and a special meal Prepared by Jeremy Woods, who was adjudged Chef of the Year in 2007 for the Long Room Wine and Food Society.
Since being awarded the Best Apprentice Chef in South Australia in 1989, Jeremy’s experience prior to joining Epicure in 1996 includes stints at the Adelaide Hyatt Regency, Dolder Grand Hotel in Zurich, Brown’s, the Windsor Hotel and the Grant Hyatt. He later was senior chef at Stephanie’s.
Wynns was established by John Riddoch, the “Squire of Penola” who moved to the district in 1890 and subdivided 800 hectares of terra rossa soil from his holding, calling it the “Coonawarra”. The triple-gabled winery and surrounding vineyards were built and planted in 1891.
The emphasis was always on Cabernet Sauvignon on the rich terra rossa soils, and it wasn’t until 1990the Shiraz was first released from the Coonawarra. Sue Hodder was appointed the estate’s senior winemaker in 1998 and in 2010 was Gourmet Traveller’s “Winemaker of the Year”.
The canapés were different and distinctive from other lunches, featuring seafood of seemingly unlimited freshly shucked Coffin Bay oysters, with traditional dressings and Spencer Gulf prawns served on ice with fresh lemons and limes. Also on offer were a St Helens winter crayfish bisque shot and a roasted pepper and Persian feta tartlet.
This combination was consumed together with the Seppelt Salinger Pinot Noir Chardonnay 2006, a blend of 54% pinot noir, 52% Chardonay and 4% Pinot Meunier sourced from the cool climate regions of Henty, Adelaide Hills and Tumbarumba. The wine was matured on lees for three years (alc. 12.5%).
The entrée of Barraumundi braised with star anise and cassia bark with crisp chilli and garlic relish was accompanied by a Wynns Riesling 2010 and Wynns Chardonay 2010. The Reisling (alc. 12.5%) was of riper characters and attractive fruit softness, with a dry and brisk palate, and described as the best Wynns Riesling for some time.
Approximately a third of the Chardonnay (alc. 13.5%) 2010 was matured in seasoned French oak barrels. A bright, pale straw colour and of medium weight, the palate displayed flavours of peach and tropical fruits with a clean, dry finish.
The main course of Limestone Coast beef, slow-cooked osso buco and oven-roasted sirloin with black cabbage and horse radish cream created plenty of discussion at our table as the sirloin was well appreciated by all. However, there was difference of opinion on the osso buco.
No matter, we all appreciated the 53rd vintage of Wynns Estate Cabernet 2008 (alc. 14%), produced using only the top 20-25 per cent of the fruit available and matured for 17 months in a combination of 31% new French oak, 53% seasoned oak, 2% new American Oak and 14% seasoned American Oak. It showed fine-grained, perfectly integrated tannins with a long aftertaste of blackcurrant, spice and cedar.
The Wynns Shiraz 2009 (alc.13% and rated 91) also went nicely with the main course and many thought it punched well above its weight.
The cheese was also from Limestone Coast. A Callendale Vintage Cheddar and Lady Musgrave Double Brie with oat biscuits were beautifully matched with the Wynns Glengyle Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (alc. 14%). This wine, rated by James Halliday at 95 points, was an extremely limited release. It was matured for seven months in 72% new French Oak and the remainder 13% French and 15% American oak barrels
The dessert was a highly regarded praline-coated caramel bavarois with poached pear, pear ice cream and brandy snap. Most of us hadn’t had a brandy snap for years, and with the sweet we welcomed the Baileys of Glenrowan Founders Series Muscat. The Rutherglen district and Muscat is world-renowned so this was a good finale to a most pleasant occasion.
Our thanks are extended to Epicure’s Jeremy Woods,and Sue Hodder of Wynns for another superb luncheon. Members may be interested to know that Wynns is now part of the newly structured Treasury Estates, having formerly been part of the Foster’ Group wine holding.
June 2011 Luncheon - The 24th Birthday of the MCC Long Room Wine and Food Society
A booked-out luncheon in the Long Room started with canapés in the Percy Beames Bar before we were treated to an excellent lunch prepared by chef Renee Guymer that was supported by wines from All Saints Estate of Rutherglen, presented by CEO Lisa Brown.
The lunch could be best summed up by our table’s rating of the dish of the day. One-third voted for the entrée, another third opted for the main course and the remainder favoured dessert. The message was that the entire menu in quality, presentation and flavours was superb.
The canapés were blue swimmer crab, served on a crisp potato with coconut chilli, seared Wimmera duck breast with buttered brioche, pomegranate jelly and candied walnuts, while the final offering was a cauliflower risotto with Milawa Capricornia, chive oil and toasted almonds.
The All Saints Sparkling Shiraz NV (alc. 13.9%) is a cellar door special wine, richly complex, full of cassis with supple tannins and made using traditional sparkling wine methods. The sparkling was appreciated with the canapés.
How good was the entrée of poached Murray River yabby tails and Murray cod ravioli, lemon and chive with burnt butter sauce and crisp fennel? For the yabby fans this was as “good as you get”.
The main course was slow-cooked, Asian-inspired Otway Ranges pork shoulder accompanied by parsnip cream, spiced apple, sautéed Asian greens and light star anise jus. The slow cooking resulted in an excellent texture, while maintaining the Asian flavours.
The cheese continued the theme of ingredients coming from the north-east, in this case the Milawa Gold washed rind cheese with cabernet paste, frosted grapes, sliced walnut sourdough and wafer crisps.
The dessert continued to impress as sweet lovers enjoyed a sticky date pudding with a rich toffee sauce, macadamia dulce ice cream and house-made caramel marshmallow.
Little wonder that our table was impressed because Renee Guymer had put a lot of thought and effort in producing a menu of detail and quality. Renee started working with Spotless/Epicure at 15 and after completing her apprenticeship in various restaurants around Melbourne, returned to the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2004. Well played, Renee.
All Saints Winery is an icon in Victorian winemaking history. Established in the 1880s, its castle-like winery was built by two Scots, George Sutherland-Smith and John Banks, but the vineyard had been established earlier and All Saints Estate won the first gold medal for an Australian wine in 1873 at the London International Exhibition and continues to win trophies and receive rave reviews today.
The wines with the entrée were Alias 1 and the Family Cellar Marsanne. The 2008 All Saints Alias I (12% alc.) draws inspiration from Southern France. It is a complex blend, predominantly of Semillon, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay but with additional input from varieties such as Muscadelle, Viognier and Riesling. Twenty-five per cent of the barrels were new and were made from three-year seasoned oak from France.
The Marsanne 2007 is the top-of-the-range variety from vines grown from cuttings acquired from Chateau Tahbilk in the 1960s. It has a firm structure with pear and quince flavours enhanced by 15% Viognier making it intensely aromatic with characters of apricot and honeysuckle.
The main course brought out the Rutherglen reds, starting with the 2007 All Saints Estate Alias II (alc.14%). Alias means to conceal one’s identity by an assumed name. Hence the vision is to produce something different and interesting and totally out of the ordinary.
A bottling of only 500 cases ensures something different. The Alias II is a blend of 95% Shiraz and 5% Muscadelle, from which Australian Tokay is made. Like the best of the Rhone reds, the grapes of both varieties were picked and fermented together in an open tank, hand plunged and pressed off the wine in an 1873 vintage basket press. The 2007 Alias 11 was rated one of Winestate’s best wines of 2010.
The 2007 All Saints Family Cellar Durif (14.2% alc.) is a Rutherglen classic described as “an iron fist in a velvet glove”. Durif is a cross between Shiraz and the almost unknown Paloursin variety. It was developed by Dr Durif a little over 100 years ago, intended for the warm dry climate of Southern France. Durif has plenty of colour and can be extremely tannic if not handled carefully so it is a winemaker’s challenge.
The wine accompanying the cheese was the 2008 All Saints Estate Limited Pierre (14.4% alc.), named in honour of Peter Brown on what would have been his 60th birthday. The wine comprises Merlot, Cabernet, Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, the varieties fermented separately in the old open concrete tanks at the castle. They were hand plunged then gently pressed out in the old basket press and aged in the best oak prior to blending and bottling.
For dessert we moved on to a real treat with All Saints Estate Rutherglen’s Grand Musket 25 years (18% alc.) and their Rare Tokay 50 years (also 18% alc.). We thank Lisa Brown for giving us the opportunity to sample these real gems of All Saints and Rutherglen, which produces the world’s best in fully fortified wines.
The Grand Musket is a ripper with luscious aromas of ripe raisins, a full-bodied palate and a deeply flavored lingering finish. It is made from Muscat grapes from the Estates Wahgunyah vineyard planted in 1920.
They say the Rare Tokay 50 years old is best enjoyed with blue cheese or desserts such as tiramisu, or with fig pudding covered with butterscotch sauce. I would drink it with anything at the end of a meal!
Thanks to All Saints and Lisa Brown for our enjoyment, and Renee Guymer for an excellent meal.
May 2011 Luncheon
Function No. 253 was held in the Long Room with canapés served in the Percy Beames Bar beforehand. The consensus among guests was that the quality and presentation of the luncheon was excellent and a real credit to the chef, Shane Freer.
Shane has been with Epicure since 2000, heading the kitchen at major events such as the Australian Open in Sydney, the Masters Golf and the Melbourne Grand Prix. Shane has travelled and plied his trade extensively throughout Europe and Australia, working at such restaurants as Le Gavroche with the famous Roux brothers and Fanny’s with Greg Brown.
The wines featured a brace from the Yarra Valley – Giant Steps and Innocent Bystander – the former named for proprietor Phil Sexton’s big move from the Devil’s Lair winery he established in Margaret River to Victoria, the latter after John Coltrane’s first solo album. Steve Flamsteed is the winemaker.
The lunch opened with some tasty canapés – a green apple tarte tatin, quail enoki and shitake mushroom pastry and lamb shank croquettes with lime aioli. The shanks were rated as AAA by all. The starters were presented with an Innocent Bystander 2010, a gentle sparkler that’s a blend of Muscat Cordo Blaco (65%) and Black Muscat (35%). The wine is a mere 5.5% alcohol (like many beers), a pale rose colour with a slight fizz and a bit of sweetness.
The entrée of Galantine of free-range chicken with salad of red quinoa was excellent and the presentation impressive. The chicken was accompanied by an Innocent Bystander Pinot Gris 2010 (crisp and flavoursome, alcohol 13.5%) and a Giant Steps Chardonnay 2009.
The chardonnay grapes had been rescued from the fires, coming from the coolest and lowest slopes of the Sexton Vineyard (alc. 13%), and the wine was interesting and generally well received given the circumstances.
Main course was a carved Limestone Coast beef fillet and a venison pastry (described at one table as a deer sausage roll!) which came with braised red cabbage, parsnip and baby carrots. The tender beef had been marinated for 1½ days with soy and ginger.
Two reds accompanied, the first of which, an Innocent Bystander Sangiovese 2009 (alc. 14.5%), was the highest rated wine of the function. Drawn from the classic Tuscan variety, the wine is 93% Sangiovese (Gateway Vineyard McLaren Vale) 7% Cabernet Sauvignon (Yarra Valley). A relatively warm year in McLaren Vale resulted in excellent tannin ripeness and a good colour from an extremely low crop.
The second red was a Giants Steps Pinot Noir 2008 from the Sexton Vineyard (alc. 13.9%). The Pinot was from a warm year with very little water in the Yarra Valley. Harvested by hand picking before the heat wave in early March, the fruit had intense flavours and soft tannins and was on oak for nine months.
Next was the cheese, which could be classified as brilliant. It was a Devils Foot Appenzeller-style cheese with poached quince, fruit loaf and crackers. Made in a Swiss style, it was adjudged Best Cheese at the 2007 Brisbane Cheese Show. It was simply outstanding! With the cheese came the Giant Steps Harry’s Monster Sexton Vineyard 2006 (alc. 14%), comprising Cabernet (62%), Merlot (27%) and Petit Verdot (11%), the noble Bordeaux blend.
We all enjoyed the dessert, appropriately named Raspberry Eton Mess, which came with new-season almond crumble and fig ice cream. The origins of this dish, chef Shane explained, go back to the 1830s when it was dished up at Winchester College’s annual cricket match.
Accompanying dessert was the Innocent Bystander Cordon Cut Viognier (alc. 8.8%) from the Gateway Vineyard in the McLaren Vale. On the nose you found lychees, while the palate was initially sweet but with a crisp finish, admirably suited to the Eton Mess.
Once again Epicure through Shane Freer, winemaker Steve Flamsteed and the waiting staff are congratulated for an excellent lunch enjoyed by all.
April 2011 - Annual Dinner – Robert Rouch Reports
Function No. 252 was a black-tie event in the Members Dining Room with canapés served in the Long Room. This was a special evening featuring the announcement of the society’s Apprentice Chef of the Year, Blake Rogers, and the Winemaker of the Year, Colin Campbell.
In the annual Spotless apprentice chefs’ competition Blake took his involvement seriously and practiced many times to perfect his menu, noting: “It gives me a sense of joy when I know that I have succeeded in making other people happy with what I have made and presented.”
The contribution to the industry of Winemaker of the Year, Colin Campbell of Campbells in Rutherglen, is well documented. Perhaps the ultimate accolade was the perfect score of 100/100 for Campbells Rare Rutherglen Muscat, the Merchant Prince, the first Australian wine to be awarded a perfect score by the authoritative Wine Spectator magazine. In an optimistic reply to the society’s award, Colin said his philosophy is that every year will be a better year.
A great bonus for our annual dinner was having the esteemed James Halliday as guest speaker. As one of the founders of Brokenwood in the Lower Hunter and thereafter founder of Coldstream Hills in the Yarra Valley, James is the ultimate authority on virtually every aspect of the wine industry. He spoke about its development, pointing out that in 1985 Australia imported more wine that it produced, but by 1987 that had all changed and growth had been dynamic.
However the industry has suffered many ups and downs due to drought, severe and unusual heat waves, bushfires in the Yarra Valley and overproduction. One of Australia’s traditional key markets, the UK, is now being challenged by cheap wine from Chile and South Africa. However, the winners are the consumers and James claimed that a $20 Australian bottle of red would be equal to the best in the world.
The MCG Culinary Centre’s chefs de cuisine were responsible for the evening’s meal and wines came from the society’s cellar except for a well-received pinot noir from Coldstream Hills.
The Long Room canapés included freshly shucked oysters from an oyster station. Also on offer were a lemon and harissa-marinated blue eye brochette with herb aioli, a carmelised shallot and blue cheese tartlet and a spicy chicken and ginger sausage roll with chilli jam.
The canapes were served with a Yarra Burn Blanc de Blanc 2004. Yarra Burn, established 30 years ago by society vice-president David Fyffe, was the first to produce Yarra Valley sparklings. The Blanc de Blanc was crystal clear and an excellent starter with the canapés.
Unusually, there were two entrees – seared Hervey Bay scallops and a Spencer Gulf prawn on lemon risotto followed by a Wimmera duck tasting plate consisting of air-dried breast with confit leg bonbon, smoked mousse, fig gel and toasted brioche.
The first entree was served with a 2010 Mt Avoca Sauvignon Blanc and a 2006 Barossa Valley Semillon. The duck deserved a good pinot and it was accommodated nicely by the 2009 Coldstream Hills, perhaps the outstanding wine of the evening. Ironically, the Halliday-founded winery had to source its grapes from Tasmania, the Mornington Peninsula and western Victoria because of a difficult 2009 vintage in the Yarra Valley.
The main course was a Murray Valley lamb duo – a seven-hour braised shoulder with celeriac puree, onion and thyme marmalade and a roasted rack with white bean cassoulet and burgundy sauce. The rack of lamb was brilliant but there’s a query whether a $45 per kilo cut should be complemented by a $17 per kilo shoulder, especially after two entrees. The wine accompanying the main course was a very good Tintara Shiraz 2004 from the McLaren Vale.
Next was the cheese, a Locheilan Kulindi Cheshire with Maggie Beer quince paste and oat biscuits that was matched with a Houghton Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 (alc. 14.5%), one of the first wines the company produced with grapes from that famous district.
Dessert was a soft-centered mocha truffle flourless chocolate cake with lemon sorbet and salted rosemary caramel sauce. It was accompanied by a De Bortoli Noble One 2007 (alc. 10.0%), a leading dessert wine since 1982 that has racked up 108 trophies and 385 gold medals both nationally and internationally.
To finish we enjoyed a classic Campbells Muscat (alc. 17.5%). James Halliday described Campbells as the “Monarch of the Glen”, having celebrated the company’s 140th birthday at Rutherglen on April 23 this year. The Campbells Muscat has been acknowledged as a hallmark of fortified wine throughout the world, so with Colin receiving our Winemaker of the Year award it was more that fitting that the annual dinner should conclude with one of his finest offerings.
March 2011 Luncheon
It was with much anticipation that the 251st function of the society held on March 30 was featuring Peter Lehmann of the Barossa wines, a brand well known for their overall quality, and the luncheon certainly didn’t disappoint.
Lehmann’s national public relations manager Malcolm Stopp told his audience how pleased his company was to be back in the Long Room to present their wines (their last appearance was in July 2001). The wines presented in March came from vintages ranging from 1999 to 2010.
After combining the wines with an excellent meal created by Epicure chef Adriano Biondi, the 210 members and visitors were full of praise and appreciation. Adriano began his career in Carlton in 1997 at a small restaurant before moving on to hotels such as the Sofitel on Collins, where he became sous chef of the conference and events kitchen. He joined Epicure in 2009 as a sous chef and now works in the Committee Room.
The day commenced in the Percy Beames Bar with canapés of Wimmera duck liver mousse and cranberry jelly tart, roasted and pressed high country pork belly with spiced lentils and a truffled egg and parma ham shard. The accompanying wine, a 2006 Black Queen Sparkling Shiraz, was a cracker and only available for purchase at this lunch and at the Lehmann cellar door.
The wine was fermented on skins for seven to 10 days, pressed, matured in older French hogsheads for 12 months then aged on yeast lees for two years (alcohol 13.5%). Sparkling shiraz is a unique Australian wine style first developed in South Australia in the 1880s and later by Seppelt at Great Western in Victoria, where it became the home of the great sparkling shiraz, or sparkling burgundy as it was commonly known at the time.
The entree and the white wines were an excellent match. The trio of seafood comprised Tasmanian salmon ballantine and avocado puree, Spencer Gulf potato-wrapped prawn and seared, lime-marinated Hervey Bay scallop with tomato and cucumber. The contrasting wines were a 2010 Barossa Semillon and a 2005 Margaret Barossa Semillon, and while the Hunter is known as the home of Semillons, these were worthy competitors.
The 2010 Barossa Semillon was from selected mature Barossa vineyards. The fruit was picked early, crushed, chilled and the juice separated immediately from the skins to enhance delicacy. Following cold fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the wine was classified and bottled (alcohol 11%0.
The 2005 Margaret Barossa Semillon was a stand-out, having been named best varietal, best white wine and overall wine of the show at the 2011 Sydney Royal Wine Show. The wine is named after Peter’s wife Margaret, a renowned champion of Barossa Semillon. Released as a five-year-old, the wine is fruit-driven and deliciously dry (alcohol 11.5%).
Now for the main course, and what could go better with very good Barossa reds than slow-roasted King Valley beef, served with roasted fondant potato, buttered spinach, roasted shallots and rosemary-infused baby carrot with a light mushroom jus.
The 2006 Mentor Cabernet Sauvigon, claimed by Barossa winemakers as a classic vintage, is named in honour of the legendary Peter Lehman who believed that the Barossa offered more than just Shiraz. The grapes were selected from the Stonewell, Kabminye and Nuriootpa sub-districts of the Barossa Valley. Fermented and macerated on skins for up to two weeks, the wine was matured in French oak hogsheads for approximately 18 months (alcohol 14.4%).
The 2006 Eight Songs Shiraz is described as an elegant expression of Barossa Shiraz, possessing excellent colour, concentration and style. During the vintage the winemakers walk the vineyards, which typically yield less that 2.5 tonnes per acre, tasting the fruit and seeking the flavours that will create an elegant and distinctly softer style of Barossa Shiraz (alcohol 14.5%).
We appreciated the Pyengana Cheddar with fig textures, especially with figs selling for $27 per kg or $2.75 apiece! The cheese was accompanied by a very special wine, the 2006 Stonewell Barossa Shiraz (about $75 retail). We agree with the descriptor on the bottle – a wine of great style and power.
Sourced from extremely low-yielding, mature vineyards, the wine is matured in 90 per cent French and 10 per cent American oak for approximately 18 months. By this point of the luncheon we understood that 2006 was one of the best years in the Barossa. The Stonewell is generally rated at 96 out of 100, with alcohol 14.5 per cent.
The dessert was an apple tasting plate consisting of apple sorbet, apple jelly, apple and vanilla mousse, apple crisp and apple macaroon. Matching this enjoyable dish was a 2009 Botrytis Semillon. Winemaker Andrew Wigon was inspired to create a noble wine following a trip to France in 1981. The grapes were picked from the Semillon vineyard on the banks of the River Para (alcohol 11.5%).
Served with coffee and chocolates was the 1999 The King Vintage Port, a blend of 55 per cent Shiraz and 45 per cent Touriga Nacional, the great Portuguese variety. Fermented on skins for three to four days and then fortified with brandy spirit, the wine was aged in old barrels for 12 months.
The Hess Group is now the majority shareholder of PLW with over 85 per cent equity. Peter Lehman still retains just over 10 per cent and the remained is held in small parcels by shareholders reluctant to sever their connection with this great company. We congratulate Adriano Biondi and Peter Lehmann Wines for combining to present the society with a first-class function.
February 2011 Luncheon
Recently appointed committeeman Robert Rouch, formerly a man of the land, has taken over from wine and food master Paul Kinross as our luncheon reporter/reviewer. Robert’s first report covers the February luncheon – our 250th function – which featured wines from Angove Family Winemakers.
Guest chefs for our February luncheon were Epicure’s Jerome Muboyan and Amy Uren.
Jerome’s career began in Sheffield, England and after working in boutique hotels he travelled to Australia in 2005. This led to the Sovereign Resort Cooktown and the Sofitel Reef Casino Cairns, then on to Sofitel Melbourne on Collins. He started at the MCG in 2010 and his current role is sous chef.
Amy started an apprenticeship with Spotless in 2003. Amy has worked in a number of Spotless sites and also at a la carte restaurants and the Vibe Savoy Hotel. She is now based at the MCG, working in the Committee Room.
Angove Family Winemakers were represented by Victorian sales manager Craig Healey and Tim Boydell, director sales and marketing. The history of Angove wines date back to 1886 when Dr William Thomas Angove arrived from Cornwall, England and planted vines in the Adelaide Hills. The family vineyards were established in the early 1900s in the northern suburbs of Adelaide.
Members and guests met in the Percy Beames Bar and the canapés were excellent. We enjoyed confit Tasmanian ocean trout on herb blinis with crème fraiche and dill, then a members’ favourite – Peking duck in tofu rice paper rolls with hoi sin sauce – and finally chorizo-dusted scallops on a cauliflower puree.
The Angove Chardonnay Pinot Noir NV was an excellent starter, a full-flavoured sparkling with a creamy, rich complexity showing fresh flavours (alcohol 12%).
The entrée was Nori Tasmanian salmon, blue swimmer crab, fennel and celeriac remoulade, with school prawns drizzled with shellfish reduction and lemon foam.
The first of two wines serves with the entrée was an Angove Sauvignon Blanc 2009 from the Adelaide Hills, grown under cooler conditions and featuring freshly cut grass and a palate with fresh tropical fruit (alcohol 13%).
The second wine, an Angove Riesling 2010 from Clare Valley, was the popular choice of the whites, with the Clare Valley being renowned for Riesling and this wine showing lime and lemon aromas and a crisp, fresh palate (alcohol 13%).
The main course featured a roasted Murray Valley duo of lamb. We were fortunate to have such excellent meat with heavy lambs selling for $240 apiece in the eastern saleyards. The dish came with peas, lentils, boulangere potatoes, rosemary-infused jus and smoked vine tomatoes, accompanied by baby leek, sugar snap pea, green bean and baby carrot.
Wines selected for such a main course were an Angove McLaren Vale Shiraz 2008 and an Angove Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2008. The Shiraz was produced from grapes sourced from three areas within McLaren Vale. Maturing occurred in small American and French oak for 18 months, resulting in the depth of flavour and silky structure that is the the hallmark of McLaren Vale Shiraz (alcohol 14.5%).
The Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were crushed in 70-year-old, four-tonne, concrete open fermenters in the 100-year-old traditional cellars, techniques typically found in Bordeaux. Pressed then matured for 18 months in French Oak barrels, the style was a medium-bodied wine definitive of Coonawarra (alcohol 14%).
What about the cheese! King Island Double Brie and Tarago Strzelecki Blue were superb and came with burnt fig paste, muscatels and fig ginger crisps. The accompanying wine was Angove Nine Vines Shiraz/Viognier 2008, sourced from selected growers in the Riverland and Southern Flinders regions.
The Shiraz and Viognier were crushed together and Angove’s believe the co-fermentation of these two grapes is the key to the success of the wine, which was 94 per cent Shiraz and six per cent Viognier (alcohol 14.5%).
The dessert was a Moscato-poached Corella pear served with pink moscato and sangiovese sorbets on a bed of flaky pastry and caramel cream. What a beautiful mouthful.
The obvious dessert wine was the Angove Nine Vines Moscato 2010, claimed to be one of their best vintages of the past decade. The wine was crisp and fresh and perfect to accompany the dish (alcohol 8%).
An interesting finale was the Angove Premium Vintage Fortified Shiraz 2007. We don’t see much fortified Shiraz in the eastern states but it is very popular in WA. The addition of brandy spirit during fermentation enables the rich fruit character of ripe Shiraz grapes to be retained (alcohol 18.0%).
The day commenced with the 22nd Annual General Meeting of the MCC Long Room Wine and Food Society with a report on the past 12 months’ activities, our financial position and election of office bearers for the following year. At the committee meeting in the previous week Stuart Stockdale had been re-elected president of the Society and all other office bearers were elected unopposed.
Due to unforeseen circumstances the USA Wines planned for the day did not arrive at the MCG despite assurances that they were “on the dock”. However, after some quick work with Epicure we were able to substitute some very good alternatives from our cellar. These wines were matched with the food presented and were of exceptional quality.
At the conclusion of the AGM, canapés and sparkling wine were served in the Percy Beames Bar. Reports indicated they were a first-class selection of oyster Rockefeller freshly shucked with spinach gratin, a New England clam chowder shooter, crisp corn cakes with tomato, avocado and chive salsa and buffalo wings with blue cheese sauce and crisp green celery hearts. These delicious canapés were a great combination with the Yarra Burn Vintage Blanc de Blanc 2004.
Lunch was then served in the dining room with 223 members and guests in attendance. The entrée consisted of blue crab and yabby terrine with petite cucumber and a herb and red pepper salad. The wines accompanying were a 2007 Penny’s Hill Red Dot Pinot Grigio from McLaren Vale and a 2007 Mount Riley Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough in New Zealand.
The main course was complimented by many present who appreciated the quality of the vanilla-roasted Western District pork with hash potatoes and bourbon-infused sauce. The dish was matched with a 2005 Devil’s Lair Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot from Margaret River and a 2003 Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon from South Eastern Australia.
The cheese was a very enjoyable Cabot Clothbound Cheddar served with new season’s Yarra Valley strawberries and oat biscuits. The cheese was paired with an excellent wine - the 2001 Penfolds RWT Shiraz from Barossa Valley.
Another beautifully presented dish was pecan pie with apple sorbet and apple crisp. It was matched with a magnificent Baileys of Glenrowan Founder Series Liqueur Muscat NV.
During the day George Samios from Treasury Wines spoke brilliantly about a wide range of facts and figures concerning the US wine regions and how these were positioned within the world market. George’s speeches were both entertaining and educational and we thank him for his great talent in being able to adapt to the change of wines for the lunch.
It was a pleasure to have as our guest Mr Michael Thurston, the US Consul General, and it was most unfortunate we were unable to serve him the planned US wines. Also during the lunch we were privileged to have the company of MCC chief Stephen Gough who was able to provide his annual information on the changes and upgrades which were planned for the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The last formal item for the day was to introduce Peter Haycroft, who is now executive chef at the MCG. Peter and his team had presented us with this fabulous lunch which was the highest-rated of the year.
A trip to Tahbilk at Nagambie was the chosen venue for our off-site lunch this year. A day with a variable forecast turned into a very pleasant sunny day and was better out of the cool breeze. Apart from some mild irritation from road work, the bus trip to and fro was both comfortable and easy to enjoy in discussion with fellow travellers. Otherwise it was a good time to catch up with reading.
After arriving safely at Tahbilk, we were pleased to receive a short welcome and introduction from John Purbrick. We then split into smaller groups for a tour of the historic cellars on the banks of the Goulburn River. These cellars are very old and much of their wine is still made in the traditional ways. However, we saw evidence of where these have been updated with modern equipment and facilities while the very old buildings were still maintained in good working order.
After our tour of the cellars it was a short walk to the Wetlands Café for a very good lunch. Because the weather was fine the doors were wide open so we could have pre-lunch drinks and canapés on the veranda overlooking the river spur and the wetlands. The Sparkling Marsanne, crème fraiche pin wheel and zucchini fritter were all very tasty and most welcome after our tour of the winery.
We then sat down at tables for an entree of warm cauliflower and blue cheese quiche, dill pistou and a petite walnut salad. To compliment the food we received two varieties of their famous Tahbilk Marsanne from 2003 and 2010, allowing us to compare a recent vintage with one with a little age. Both these wines combined well with the dish.
Main course also featured local produce – a roasted rack of lamb with a russet potato gallette, sautéed beans and a red wine jus. Accompanying was the chef’s garden salad, house-baked bread and Tatura butter. This went beautifully with the 1998 and 2007 Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon. All were most enjoyable and presented interesting examples of their new and older wines.
Cheese was a combination of Alwyn hard goats’ cheese and Jensen’s red washed rind accompanied by fresh fruit, nuts, chutney and crisp bread. Some fine Shiraz from 1999 and 2007, again comparing a recent vintage with an older wine, was great with the cheeses.
To finish we were offered Toby’s Estate tea and coffee, a shortbread and a glass of 2002 LBVP, a nice Port to complete a delicious lunch.
During the day John Irvine was an amiable and efficient host and we heard from Hayley Purbrick about Tahbilk marketing and from senior winemaker Alan George. Chef Luke Watson also “faced the music” and enjoyed high praise for his offerings. We thank all the staff who helped to make our day a great success and help celebrate Tahbilk’s 150-year celebrations.
As in previous years, our September luncheon was brought forward a week to be part of the excitement surrounding the AFL Grand Final. But of course this year the week didn’t conclude on the Saturday with a draw forcing a replay in October.
This is only of passing interest because a very fine lunch indeed was presented by guest chefs Caleb Osterman and Daniel Swain. The weather on the day was good and the loud grand final rehearsals had been completed the day before so we could enjoy a delicious meal and drink some terrific wines from our cellar. Attendance was again strong, with 188 members and guests keen to be part of the festivities.
Pre-lunch drinks were served in the Percy Beames Bar in the atrium where a sparkling 1998 Blue Pyrenees Vintage Brut was drinking very well. Accompanying this excellent wine was a range of canapés comprising salty cod, caramelized leek and a blood orange sorbet en croute, a seared scallop on pistachio cream and chorizo crumbs, a spiced green gazpacho and oyster shot and “Spanish brunch” – shaved Jamon on scrambled eggs with red pepper relish.
We repaired to the Long Room for the entrée, a tapas plate featuring three tastes of Spain – a crispy red snapper fillet on a kingfish salpicon with crispy shrimps and saffron dressing, breast of poussin on braised white beans and dried ham and char-grilled octopus marinated in sherry with chorizo and tomato herb salsa. A shot of Sangria then cleansed the palate.
While we were savouring this brilliant dish we drank a 2006 Snobs Creek Sauvignon Blanc Semillon and a 2006 Lost Valley Sauvignon Blanc, both of which complemented the food nicely. Tables had been set with bowls of Manzanilla olives, breads and Spanish olive oil to reinforce the theme of the dishes presented.
Our main course was a Spanish-style duck plate containing sherry-braised duck leg on saffron, tomato chickpea crush with sherry reduction and a duck and date empanada on pea and green pepper puree. This fine dish was combined with a 2003 Snobs Creek Pinot Noir and a 2001 Five Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon. Following the main course we were challenged to identify a mystery red wine which turned out to be a 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot from Mount Langi Ghiran. After several questions the prize was finally won by members of table 11 who were very pleased to claim their prize of a dozen bottles of wine.
A Spanish Cheese – Valdehierro Manchego with fig paste and watercrackers – continued the food theme of the day. The cheese was accompanied by a highlight of the luncheon and a real treat, a 1998 Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine lived up to expectations and showed us why it was a Jimmy Watson winner in the past.
Dessert was a caramelised apple flan with almondcino and spiced cinnamon ice cream, a light and delicious dish served with a 2006 Hollick sweetie, The Nectar, and both were enjoyed by all.
This year we decided not to have a guest speaker, relying again on the excellent research and knowledge of vice-president David Fyffe to expand on the wines presented. We were also lucky to have committeeman Alex Gillon on hand to comment with authority on his Snobs Creek Wines that were shown on the day.
To wind proceedings up, our guest chefs spoke informatively and entertainingly about the superb dishes they had prepared. Both Caleb and Daniel were keen to thank the kitchen staff for their efforts in preparing and serving one of the best meals of the year.
The schedule decreed that it was time we returned to the Yarra Valley again, on this occasion sampling the wines from De Bortoli which were matched with delicious food from Epicure’s Shandelle Moore and Shane Freer.
Canapés were served in the Percy Beames Bar in the Pavilion atrium and even though it was a very cold day the temperature warmed as the food and wine was served. The canapés consisted of confit duck Waldorf salad in a crisp witlof cup, a Kilpatrick-style Hervey Bay scallop wrapped in crisp pancetta and twice-baked Milawa Blue soufflé with shaved fennel and petite herbs.
Accompanying the nibbles were two sparklings – De Bortoli Rococo Yarra Valley Blanc de Blanc NV and De Bortoli Rococo Yarra Valley Rose NV, which gave us some interesting contrasts when matched with the food.
Moving to a much-warmer Long Room for the entree, many were extremely complimentary of the tomato consommé with a poached Port Lincoln kingfish and ocean trout roulade, crème fraiche and caviar. The matching wines were a 2008 De Bortoli Yarra Valley Sauvignon and a 2008 De Bortoli Yarra Valley Chardonnay.
Main course was a roasted Northern Rivers veal fillet with braised veal shoulder tortellini, pea puree and baby carrots. An enjoyable dish and nicely complemented by the 2007 De Bortoli Melba Lucia Yarra Valley, a Cabernet Sauvignon with seven per cent Sangiovese, and a 2008 De Bortoli Yarra Valley Syrah.
An apple cider sorbet was an excellent palate-cleanser before the cheese, a Milawa Goat’s Camembert with muscatels, walnut loaf and plum paste. The cheese course was matched with a 2008 De Bortoli Yarra Valley Pinot Noir. Dessert comprised an individual mandarin bombe Alaska with burnt mandarin compote. Complementing the dish was the highly regarded 2007 DeBortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon and very positive feedback was received about this extremely tasty dessert and how well it combined with the wine.
During lunch it was a pleasure to have as our guest Steve Webber, senior winemaker from DeBortoli. Steve is a very talented winemaker and also a member of the family which owns the organisation, so he had no trouble outlining the history of the company and its operations in various vineyards around the country.
After lunch our guest chefs discussed how they and their staff had worked very hard over long periods to prepare the delicious food we enjoyed. Thank you, Shandelle and Shane.
The society held two July dinners again this year – the normal function for members on Wednesday the 28th followed next evening by a dinner for waiting list candidates and their guests. Both dinners featured wines from the Constellation group per medium of Tintara, which was part of the Hardy range before Constellation bought out the family’s interests.
The wine offering was somewhat different. All were red with the exception of the sparkling served on arrival in the Long Room, a 2004 Sir James Pinot Chardonnay which worked well with a tasty array of canapés comprising Tom Yum-infused prawn toast with nam jim dipping sauce, crunchy pork noodle dumplings with a warm cider and horseradish sauce and Pumpernickel bread topped with whipped goat’s cheese and fresh pear.
Dinner was then served in the Members Dining Room, commencing with a delicious entrée of
open red wine-braised rabbit pithivier served with a carrot and saffron reduction and micro herb salad.
It was accompanied by a 2006 McLaren Vale Shiraz and a 2007 McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon with comments from the floor praising the standard of the dish and the matching of the wines.
Main course was a duo of Onkaparinga venison – oven-roasted gourmet eye fillet and slow-cooked venison shank in chocolate sauce presented with a parsnip puree and wild mushroom fricassee and baby winter vegetables. A big meat dish by any measure, it was very enjoyable despite the richness. Accompanying were two single-vineyard reds, Tintara’s premier wines. They were a 2004 Upper Tintara Shiraz and a 2004 McLaren Flat Shiraz. To assist guests and staff, tables were restricted to eight with table mats featuring the names of the wines in the order they were served.
The third single-vineyard Shiraz – a 2004 Blewett Springs Shiraz – was served with the cheese, a twice-baked goat’s cheese soufflé with a reduced red pepper essence. It was an unusual way of serving cheese but the dish paired well with the Shiraz. All the single-vineyard wines had been decanted before dinner to ensure they were at their best.
Dessert was a rich coffee and caramel crème brulee served with a drunken Black Forest pear. The dish was accompanied by a glass of Chateau Reynella 16-year-old Tawny which, as Tintara chief winemaker Paul Lapsley explained, was a blend of wine components from many vintages with an average age of 16 years.
Throughout both evenings Paul spoke entertainingly about the fine wines we had tasted and with great knowledge of the history of the company as one of the oldest wineries in Australia. He covered his subjects very well because there was hardly a question asked on either night. It was a similar situation with guest chef Ian Pickersgill who had prepared a top-flight meal for about 400 guests over both nights. Service was excellent and we extend our thanks to all the Epicure staff who helped to make both functions a success.
The June luncheon was scheduled for the Long Room but first we enjoyed drinks and canapés in the Percy Beames Bar where there was sufficient sunshine peeping through to make the space nice and warm.
The Sir James Sparkling Shiraz was very enjoyable with a delicious array of canapés – a ragout of wild rabbit with thyme cream sauce in a pastry cup, a demitasse of forest mushroom fricassee topped with truffle foam and chicken pate with cranberry sauce on crisp sour dough. The excellent match of food and wine was enhanced by having a plentiful supply of both.
Lunch was then presented in the Long Room as we sat down to some introductory comments from president Stuart Stockdale. Entrée was a very tasty dish of sauteed Hervey Bay sea scallops on pan-fried chorizo, smokey baba ghanoush with romesco sauce and crisp pancetta.
The Rutherglen area is not so well known for its white wines but the Campbells offerings were very drinkable, and the 2009 Trebbiano and 2008 Viognier went extremely well with the beautiful scallops dish.
The main course was titled Best of Victorian Beef and consisted of Wagyu beef cheek tortellini tossed in parsley butter and served on celeriac puree, a beef and Guinness sausage served on creamy mash with caramelised onions and some Gippsland eye fillet with sautéed spinach and house-made tomato relish.
Accompanying were a couple of the more traditional Rutherglen red wines – a 2008 Campbells Bobbie Burns Shiraz and a 2006 Campbells The Brothers Shiraz. Another fine red wine in the 1998 The Barkly Durif was served with the cheese, a combination of King Island Dairy Stormy Washed Rind and Black Label Cloth Mature Cheddar with fig paste, muscatels, fruit loaf and crackers.
A delicious Bacchus Marsh pear and rhubarb strudel with brandy anglaise, vanilla bean ice-cream and caramel snap followed for dessert. This was matched with a beautiful Campbells Classic Rutherglen Muscat which is a wine most know from the area.
Guest of honour Colin Campbell, a fourth generation winemaker from his family, spoke of the Campbell family’s history on the land at Rutherglen and commented on the wines being served.
The company is celebrating 140 years in the industry and Campbells has recently formed an association with other family-owned winemakers in Australia which they believe will help with their efforts to maintain the standard of wine and increase sales. They recently embarked on a successful trip to the UK to help expand their export markets.
As expected, Colin’s in-depth knowledge of the wines was exceptional and delivered in a concise and interesting format. A series of questions followed and were answered in detail.
Guest chefs Stephen Moloney and Marco Doganiere were also concise and informative about the brilliant food they had prepared and answered several questions from members and guests and an inquisitive president!
I’m pleased to report another strong attendance for our May luncheon when numbers were similar to last year and 180 members and guests enjoyed drinks in the Percy Beames Bar before adjourning to the Long Room.
An excellent menu had been prepared by guest chefs Jeremy Woods and Greg McClure and the dishes combined beautifully with the wines from Dominique Portet in the Yarra Valley. The winery was represented by Dominique and his marketing agents Natasha and Peter Johns from Deja vu Wines.
Dominique spoke interestingly about his wines and the colourful trail from France to Taltarni in the Pyrenees region and his experiences with other wineries before establishing his own winery in the Yarra Valley.
While canapés were served in the Beames Bar we enjoyed intermittent sunshine and the last glimmers of a Melbourne autumn as we experienced a small amount of sun. On offer were crisp artichoke and crepe with fresh rosemary, locally caught salt and pepper calamari, Wagyu bresaola with porcini mushroom cream and red cabbage sprouts and a roasted pepper and Yarra Valley Persian feta tart. All went beautifully with the Dominique Portet sparkling – a NV Brut Rose Pinot Noir Chardonnay.
Entrée served in the Long Room was an Autumn-inspired seafood plate which contained a gratinated Smokey Bay oyster with sautéed spinach, a Spencer Gulf prawn with buttery bisque sauce and kingfish wrapped in pancetta on a pine mushroom ragout.
With this delicious starter we sampled two fine whites from the 2009 vintage – the Dominique Portet Fontaine Sauvignon Blanc and the Dominique Portet Yarra Valley Sauvignon Blanc. While wines from the same grape, they came from different areas and were subtly different on both nose and palate. Dominique discussed these nuances with aplomb.
Main course was one for the meat eaters – Victorian lamb presented three ways. There was a slow-cooked lamb shank with sticky sauce, a pink-roasted cutlet on braised lentils and a baby lamb wellington with baby carrots. Accompaning the meats were a 2008 Dominique Portet Fontaine Cabernet Merlot Shiraz and a 2007 Dominique Portet Yarra Valley Shiraz.
Cheese was a combination of Yarra Valley Black Savourine and Meredith Dairy Sheep’s Milk Blue with fresh pear and crusty bread. The wine served was a 2006 Dominique Portet Yarra Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Dessert was a slowly baked apple with date and walnut stuffing, rum and raisin ice cream and vanilla bean crème. It was a delicious combination of tastes and served with a 2003 Dominique Portet Tasmanian Curvee for those who could still stick to their task. To finish the day there was a choice of Genovese Fair Trade plunger coffee and a selection of Tea Drop teas with chocolate Baileys shots.
During the cheese course, Dominique spoke of the red wines presented and expounded on his early days in Australia and developing his winemaking skills. He talked about the different types of grapes and how conditions in different areas produced different tasting wines.
Near the end of lunch it was the chefs’ turn to enlighten guests about how they prepared the various dishes. They didn’t give away too many secrets and it never ceases to amaze how the kitchen team and wait staff manage to prepare and serve such fine food for such a large group.
Our annual dinner on the last Wednesday in April was again well supported with 294 members and guests enjoying the excellent setting of the Members Dining Room.
Guest chefs for the evening were Shaun Crosling and Jon Bussell who prepared a degustation menu of eight courses together with cheese, a palate cleanser and dessert. It was an evening of fine food, good wine and excellent speakers.
We started in the Long Room with French champagne and canapés, the first three courses of the degustation – Asian braised sticky pork belly with grated apple, a watermelon, tomato and basil kebab and grilled crab and coconut rice cake with chilli jam.
The canapés combined beautifully with the 1996 Lanson gold Label Champagne. Because the Society has grown considerably, our cellar stocks needed supplementing and Lanson’s 1998 vintage was purchased to top up requirements.
First course in the Members Dining Room was a vichyssoise of oyster, scented with Noilly Prat. Next came baked Kinkawooka prawns on iceberg lettuce, lemon and spiked mayonnaise. The sixth course was a seafood ceviche flavoured with tomato and coriander.
Accompanying the food were a 2007 Red Dot Pinot Grigio and a 2002 Dalwhinnie Moonambel Chardonnay Again, we needed a reserve wine and chose a 2005 Ciaverella Oxley Estate Chardonnay.
The next two courses were a salad of crispy duck tossed with watercress, ginger and sesame dressing followed by a char-grilled beef fillet on celeriac remoulade, served with rosemary-roasted potato and prune jam.
The red wines were a 1998 Elderton Shiraz and a 2002 Mt Avoca Shiraz. Before these courses were consumed we introduced the 2004 Penfolds Bin 389 which originally was planned to accompany the cheese, a Cropwell Bishop Stilton with a salad of macadamias, drunken raisins and port syrup.
A palate cleanser of Moroccan mint tea preceded dessert, a steamed apple pudding with fig ice cream, Chantilly cream and a spiced syrup. It was most enjoyable dish, served with a Lauriston Show Muscat which was a fine example of this wine style.
Our first speaker for the evening was former Foster’s Group CEO Trevor O’Hoy, who entertained the audience with an outline of his pursuits in life through many areas of the alcohol industry and the changes in marketing their products during his 30 years’ experience.
A small presentation and thanks were made by MCC president David Micklejohn who was present at the dinner with wife Wendy. We were fortunate to have as another special guest Tom Hardy, who recalled the early days of the Society and later spoke of the wines presented that evening.
At the Society’s March luncheon we were treated to a special menu from guest chef Blair Humphrey which had been prepared for the Clubs Victoria Chef’s Table culinary competition, with Blair representing the MCC. The food was served in the Long Room to 209 members and guests on a bright, sunny and warm afternoon and matched with wines from Swings & Roundabouts in West Australia.
Canapés were served in the Percy Beames Bar in the atrium. The three offerings were gazpachio shooters with salt and pepper shrimp, little filo parcels and blue eye brandade croquettes with saffron aioli. These were accompanied by a Kiss Chasey Premium White, a light and fruity still white wine.
We moved into the Long Room for the entrée, a local bouillabaisse which contained Victorian red mullet, flathead and mussels in tomato and saffron broth with scallop tortellini and tarragon. The wines were a 2009 Swings & Roundabout Sauvignon Blanc Semillon and a 2009 Swings & Roundabouts Chardonnay.
The main course was twice-cooked High Country pork belly with pig’s trotter croquette, young pea puree, green papaya salad and star anise glace. The wines matching this dish were a 2008 Swings & Roundabouts Shiraz and a 2004 Swings & Roundabouts Shiraz Viognier.
Then followed cheese, a Western Australian old vintage black wax cheddar with cabernet paste, dried muscatels, fresh pear, candied walnuts, lavosh and house-made oat biscuits. To complement the dish we enjoyed a 2008 Swings & Roundabouts Cabernet Merlot.
Dessert was a Yarra Valley chocolate tart comprising a slow-baked Kennedy & Wilson chocolate tart with passionfruit-poached pear. A Swings & Roundabouts “The Sticky” accompanied.
We extend our thanks to Paul Birch, operations manager for Swings & Roundabouts who is also a member of their winemaking team. His talk was both informative and enlightening about the company and their wines and how they were forging ahead in Margaret River. We were also entertained by Blair Humphrey who was most helpful in describing how some of his dishes were prepared. We wish him well in the Clubs Victoria competition.
During the day a special presentation was made to MCC committeeman Peter Mitchell upon his retirement from our committee after many years of service since the early days of the Long Room Wine and Food Society.
As in previous years, we decided to hold the February luncheon in the Members Dining Room with drinks beforehand in the Percy Beames Bar. It was a beautiful day with the sun shining through all the windows and the staff out on the oval preparing the ground for the forthcoming football season.
This is a major undertaking whereby they progressively remove the cricket wickets from the centre and transport them to their winter nursery in Yarra Park, ready to be reinstalled next summer.
At the luncheon we were pleased to savour wines prepared by students and winemakers at Charles Sturt Winery at Wagga, which is part of the university. The winery was well represented by head winemaker Andrew Drumm, and beautiful food was prepared by our guest chef Adriano Biondi from Epicure.
It was an interesting match of food and wines because we were presented with some unusual dishes and lesser known varieties of wine.
Canapés comprised a sweet pea panecotta with apple and walnut salad, parmesan-flavoured gnocchi with tomato fondue and crisp basil and a traditional Vietnamese rice paper roll. A very tasty Charles Strut University Pinot Noir Chardonnay accompanied. The wine was young and fruity and proved successful with the canapés.
Another interesting dish followed for entrée, a salmon and tarragon terrine with cherry tomato compote and beetroot vinaigrette. This was a terrific mixture of flavors and my tomatoes were sweet and delicious and added real flavour to the dish.
The entrée wines were a 2009 Charles Stuart University Chardonnay and a 2009 Charles Sturt University Pinot Noir Rose. The Chardonnay was young and fruity and not yet released to the public but had won several awards. The Rose was a little different to the norm. For fans of this style of wine it was an excellent example – not too sweet and therefore matched the food well.
The main course was a duo of pheasant, a combination of roasted breast of pheasant on white bean cassoulet and a confit of pheasant tortellini on pea puree, fondant potato and roasted shallot. Accompanying wines were a 2004 Charles Stuart University Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot and a 2008 Charles Sturt Shiraz. This was a relatively unusual dish and somewhat difficult to match with the wine, but the combination of the young Shiraz and the more mature Cabernet proved most enjoyable.
Cheese was Red Hill Portsea Picnic with spiced pear paste and whipped Red Hill Brie with house-made fennel seed lavosh. Matching the cheese was the 2006 Charles Sturt University Sparkling Shiraz, a pleasing choice for those partial to this style of wine.
The next course was perhaps the pick of the day. Dessert comprised an assiette of stone fruit, an apricot crumble, a peach tart and a mango and chocolate slice with vanilla bean ice cream. Charles Sturt University The College Muscat was a fine match, similar in style to the famous wines from Rutherglen.
Andrew Drumm demonstrated his skills as both winemaker and educator with a very informative talk about the wines and how students were taught to participate in all aspects of the vineyard, as well as being encouraged to use the range of grapes available to make different styles of wine.
Questions and answers were again a mine of information and we extend our sincere thanks to Andrew. Chef Adriano also showcased his talent in explaining the dishes prepared for his first opportunity to cook for the society.
Wednesday January 27, 2010
The society’s Old Bottle Day on January 27 ushered in new year proceedings with another full-house attendance in the Long Room. Restricted to members only, this function goes to a higher plane each year, attracting superb wines of various vintages, many of which would be out of reach at today’s prices.
With club wine consultant Jeremy Oliver again taking the reins, Chris Davie’s 1986 McWilliam’s Elizabeth Semillon was adjudged best white. But it’s the reds that are the stars of the day.
David Studham brought along a 1968 Seaview Cab Sav that probably cost three dollars but was in great shape. Other unlikely bottles also gave joy to their owners.
Not surprisingly, the top red was Peter Armitage’s 1996 Grange. Jeremy rates the ’96 on a par with the 2004 as the best of all Granges. Peter, 66 and even better preserved than his bottle, has been a society member for four years. Runner-up was Gavin Woodruff’s 1977 St Henri and third was Andrew Home’s 1992 Howard Park Cab Merlot.