Wine and Food report

Wine and Food May 2019 Report

Wednesday May 1, 2019

Function 339 was the Annual Dinner of the Society, was held in the Members Dining Room, and attended by 275 members and guests.  Drinks and canapes were also served in the Long Room.  

A glass of Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial greeted guests.  The champagne complemented the expansive five delicious canapés – seared Hervey Bay scallops with mango chilli salsa and micro shiso, mustard and fenugreek marinated paneer with minted yoghurt and mandarin pearls, confit duck and caramelized onion tartlets with cherry gel of micro cress, mini chicken tacos with pico de gallo, and potato string-wrapped prawns.  

Many comments were made complementing the standard and variety of the canapes, and how well they matched the champagne.  I continue to be amazed by some wine critics comments.  This champagne was described by a critic as having “aromas of citrus, flowers, hazelnut (sic) and smoke, and quite minerally/chalky with citrus and soda water flavours”.  Soda water, carbonated tap water, should be without flavour!  In any case it was well received by our attendees.

The dinner was formally opened by Chairman Rob Rouch who provided backgrounds to our guest chef Saurabh (Sonny) Uppal, and our guest winemaker/discussant, Wally Zuc.  Sonny’s work is well known to members from his previous meals for the Society.  Sonny has worked in luxury international and boutique hotels, as well as high production kitchens.  He considers himself a ‘gourmet foodie’ and thus simplicity is the essence of his cooking.  Judy and Wally Zuk bought their vineyard and winery in 1995 and renamed it Five Oaks, after the five magnificent oak trees that grace the property.  

For entrée, Sonny created a superbly flavoured and presented confit trout, crab, apple and fennel remoulade adorned with blood orange gel, avruga, and kipfler crisps.  Avruga is a Spanish caviar-like product with a herring base and the colour provided by squid ink) that is marketed as a caviar substitute, but does not contain fish roe.

The entrée was accompanied by the Castle Rock Riesling 2014 and the Main Ridge Chardonnay 2017.   To me, the riesling was a bit bland and seemed to be in a bit of a dip between a fresh and an aged wine.  Many others disagreed with my opinion.  I enjoyed the chardonnay more, in line with published ratings, but not by all in attendance.   

The main course was a high-risk dish by pairing two quite different meats - a rack of lamb with a goat curry bastille.  Most agreed it was a risk well worth taking.  Sonny is passionate about fusion cooking and modern cuisine and considers himself to be a ‘gourmet foodie’.  The goat curry, enclosed in pastry, was a rogan josh spiced one, chosen to complement the wine.  The polenta and vegetables provided the balance to the protein.

Peter Gago, Penfolds Chief Winemaker, comments that the Kalimna Bin 28 2008 that accompanied main course, is a showcase for warm-climate Australian Shiraz- ripe, robust and generously flavoured, and that the 50th Commercial Release may rival the 1998 Bin28.  The second wine with main course was the premium Jasper Hill Georgia’s Paddock Shiraz 2009 which Jasper Hill rates as from one of its finest vintages to date.  It was considered the wine of the day by most.

The cheese course was based on the Tasmanian Heidi Gruyere with fig paste, grilled peach and candied pecans and simply presented.  Many positive comments were made about the cheese and also its pairing with the wine – Five Oaks Cabernet 2012.  The wine itself was generally well received.

The dessert was a surprise.  The menu listed it simply as “textures of pomegranate”, which turned out to be beautifully plated and to include pomegranate ‘gravel’, a panna cotta with raspberry, and a sorbet.  Really different and most enjoyable.  This was accompanied by Hollick The Nectar 2012 - it is said that the gloriously sweet, concentrated wines that result from grapes infected by Noble Rot (Botrytis Cinerea) are indeed ‘The Nectar of the Gods’. The first botrytised wine made by Hollick was from the 1985 vintage and the team has developed quite a reputation for this style.

Members who did not attend missed out on something really special! 

Andrew O’Brien