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.