8 December 2020 - CoTD Bill Alexiou-Hucker (more to come)

 

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Food review by James Tinslay

This being the final Society lunch for 2020 (and what a year it was), the Foodmaster, Bill Alexiou-Hucker, was in the kitchen as is customary. This was the first lunch of the year since early 2020 where numbers exceeded twenty-five. We ended up with having forty-eight on the day and it was good to get back to somewhere approaching normal.

Of the six wines served today, each table had four in common, and the others were odd single bottles from the wine fridge that were randomly dropped on each table.

Appetisers:

The lunch being a lunch run by Bill, of course, we had two plates of starters! The first plate had three morsels on it. The first two being served on toast one with olive tapenade and the other with fish roe. The third was a cucumber slice with yoghurt and pistachios.

Next up was an amazing serving arrangement for octopus, octopus carpaccio. Normally the word carpaccio is related to raw food but in this Greek variation, the octopus is braised and then pushed into a plastic soft drink bottle (after the top part has been cut off) and frozen. Freezing helps to further breakdown the texture of the octopus. The plastic bottle is then cut off and then the octopus is then thinly sliced. The flavouring is dependent on the spices or herbs added during the braising process and it is an amazing looking dish. It also tasted wonderful.

In this case, there was 6 kg of octopus cooked in red wine, olive oil, gelatine and rocket.

Main:

Bill stuck to Greek cuisine today by serving Greek pastitsio (or pastichio) which is the Greek version of the lasagna. He described it as Greek peasant food. It is made with bucatini pasta, a thick pasta like spaghetti with a hole running through the centre. To get a better idea of the look of this unusual lasagne refer to the photograph. With the pasta was an egg béchamel mix and the meat sauce was made up of pork and beef. The dish was served with a simple Greek salad.

An interesting variation on Italian lasagne with a lot of flavour.

Bill thanked the new REX chef, Rob Doll, for his assistance today and the wonderful start he has had assisting members when they are in his kitchen.

Cheese:

The cheese selected by James Healey today was new to just about everybody, it was Fiore Sardo. This Italian cheese hails from Sardinia and is a hard cheese made from raw sheep’s milk and lamb rennet. The cheese was very granular and whilst part of the pecorino family had a far more punch and flavour and aroma. Most notable was the smoky flavour as the cheese is briefly smoked. A most unusual cheese but some found the texture too dry.

The cheese was served with figs that Bill had poached in ouzo which made them a stunning accompaniment.

Coffee:

The coffee today was an old Society favourite, Yirgacheffe from Ethiopia, an Arabica bean. These beans were sourced from Forsyth in Naremburn and produced a medium-bodied coffee that attracted no comment.

Awards:

There being no opportunity for a Chef of the Year awards dinner, today was used as an opportunity to present those awards.

Firstly, there was a special award presented to Paul Thorne by our Society member, Steve Liebeskind as President of the Federation of Wine and Food Societies of Australia. The award of the Federation of Wine and Food Societies of Australia Award and Medal was presented to Paul for his significant contribution to the lunch booking platform and arrangements during the pandemic restriction on numbers. Much manual work was involved in ensuring numbers remained at twenty-five, especially with the temporary provision of two wine lunches per month.

For the Chef of the Year 2019, there was two seafood entrants and four non-seafood entrants. The results were as follows:

Chef of the Year – Nick Reynolds with Paul Irwin as runner-up and others with outstanding meals being Denis Redfern and Steve Liebeskind.

Seafood Chef of the Year – Matthew Holmes with Grant Montgomery runner-up.

Congratulations to all winners.

President Nick Reynolds closed the lunch noting the annus horribilis that was 2020 but pointing out that we are unique with our member cooking protocol. He thanked all members for their understanding of lunch number restrictions and other implications of COVID.

Wine:

1 December 2020 - CoTD Peter Fitzpatrick

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Food review by James Tinslay and wine review by Chilly Hargrave

Chef of the day for this second last lunch of the year was Peter Fitzpatrick assisted by David Madson and James Tinslay. And, at least for the time being, this was the last COVID lunch limited to 25 members with the number rising to 50 for the final lunch of the year. We are hoping that this will a post-COVID normal in 2021.

Appetisers:

On the starter plate today, there were three different appetisers. The first two were both quiches, one satay and the other salmon served hot and cold, respectively. The pastry had been cooked ‘just right” and both were tasty. The other dish was Greek-style meatballs made with 80% lamb and 20% pork. The serving sauce was a middle Eastern spiced yoghurt, giving a dish, some cultural sharing.

Main:

Peter is a keen meat smoking man and he had smoked 6.3 kg of pork loin for about five hours in his home smoker. For plating, the pork had been sliced in substantial sized steak portions where you can see the ingress of the smoking rub into the meat to about 1 cm depth with the tasty crunch on the perimeter of the pork slice. The pork slice was accompanied with jus and some homemade apple sauce on the side.

For the green, a rather exotic salad (some likened it to a Caesar salad) with the ingredients of gem lettuce, baby rocket leaves, slivered toasted almonds, pecorino, mangoes and croutons. The dressing was lime juice, sesame oil and Tabasco. The result was a very satisfying salad that could have been served as the main course. But of course, not at our Society!

Cheese:

James Healey had selected Maffra cloth-aged cheddar from the heart of Gippsland for our lunch today. Maffra has always been enjoyed when it has been served previously and today was no different. The cheddar is matured to an optimal age of between 15 to 24 months and had a soft, crumbly texture with a long smooth palate.

The cheese was served with almonds and dried apricots.

Coffee:

The coffee was Kenyan washed process Maganjo AB Single Origin from Nyeri Kenya, roasted by Gabriel Coffee, Chatswood. Gabriel Coffee gave the coffee tasting note descriptions of blackberry, black tea and citrus peel.

Wine

Two aged Tyrrell’s Semillons were served as starter wines. Both (in the traditional low alcohol, high acid style) were still in good condition - a testament to screw cap and the judicious use of SO2. The 2006 (10.7%) showed extremely well with its freshness, length and acid tension. The 2004 (10.2%) was starting to show a lot of secondary buttered toast aromas and flavours. It was starting to dry out and the acid dominated.

Four Chardonnays were presented with the two main courses of fish and pork. The 2015 Domaine Leflaive Mâcon Verzé showed many of the characters we generally see in Mâconnais whites - rich fruit, full flavour and obvious oak. It was well made with struck match notes and little phenolic grip. Unfortunately, it was sealed with cork which hadn’t assisted its development.

A pair of Shaw and Smith Chardonnays followed. The room was informed that they were from the 2014 vintage and that one was Tolpuddle (Coal River) and the other was M3 (Adelaide Hills) - no more. It was a rather difficult exercise as they came out of the same cellar with the same winemaker. The first (the Tolpuddle) showed obvious oak with flinty aromas and citrus fruit. The acid was high (suggesting no or little malolactic) with a fine, long palate. The second (the M3) was a fuller, richer fruit style, although the pale was a little fat and lacked the tension of the Tolpuddle. Both bore the winemaker’s fingerprint.

The final Chardonnay was a 2012 Vincent Girardin Meursault ‘Les Narvaux’ was the favourite of many in the room(s). This is an interesting vineyard that sits above the village and hence many of the Premier Cru of Meursault. It is not one itself but is a highly regarded lieux dit (named place). Although showing some honeyed development (under cork again), it had excellent use of oak supporting the fruit on both the nose and the palate. It was long and linear with some ripe fruit and a great acidity.

For the cheese, we had two Bordeaux reds from the renowned 2000 vintage. One from the east (right bank of the Dordogne) and the other to the west (left bank of the Garonne). The Chateau L’Enclos from Pomerol was a disappointment to many at the first wine lunch. We opened 4 bottles and 3 were corked (2 very badly). The TCA became More obvious after pouring. The second lunch did well as neither bottle was corked, although that did allow some more of the Brett to show through. Château L’Enclos is an interesting property as it is one of the few in the area that actually has a chateau. Generally, it’s just a modest house. Typically, these wines are very Merlot dominant with this being no exception at over 80% (with a little Cabernet Franc and Malbec). It was very much in the old ‘claret’ style with plum fruit and dry, grainy tannins. Probably not a great future ahead of it.

The 2000 Clos du Marquis is the second wine of Château Léoville-Las Cases - a well-known and highly regarded Second Growth. Many say that their second one is one of the best to be found in Bordeaux. A blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and a touch of Cabernet Franc, it showed the expected cassis aromas with attractive oak. The aroma was nonetheless showing some development as was the palate. The tannins were very soft suggesting at its peak. Some mentioned that they considered this to not be a good example and queried the history of its cellaring by the Society.

24 November - CoTD Nick Reynolds

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Food review by Matthew Holmes and wine review by Chilly Hargrave

Appetisers

Nick Reynolds was in the kitchen today, skilfully assisted by Steve Sparkes who prepared pickled cucumber with smoked salmon, mascarpone cheese, black sesame seeds and dill. The delicate serves made for a taste treat to start the day’s proceedings.

On the same plate Nick provided an appetiser of Scotch Eggs via Peking, with boiled quail’s eggs wrapped in duck breast mince, five-spice powder, ginger and spring onion served with Peking Sauce. Roger Straiton reminded us that Scotch eggs were not from Scotland, rather they originated in the Whitby area of Yorkshire in the late 19th century. Their name in those days was 'Scotties', allegedly because they were made at an eatery by the name of William J Scott & Sons.

Main

Nick presented a perfectly cooked crispy skin Blue Eye with scallop, served on a deep-fried potato galette, asparagus and a lemon soubise sauce with dill oil. The dish was beautifully plated. Both appetisers and main course were very well received as evidenced by the smiles on members faces and the empty plates being carried away.

Cheese

James Healey provided Beaufort Cheese, which was served with iceberg lettuce and Japanese toasted sesame dressing. The cheese came to the table in good condition and was ably complemented by the dressing.

Coffee

The coffee was Kenyan washed process Maganjo AB Single Origin from Nyeri Kenya, roasted by Gabriel Coffee, Chatswood.

It was Wal Edwards’ birthday today and bringing 104 years of experience to bear, he reminded us that one should “love mates and female mates and that we should give first to get back”.

Wine

Two aged Tyrrell’s Semillons were served as starter wines. Both (in the traditional low alcohol, high acid style) were still in good condition - a testament to screw cap and the judicious use of SO2. The 2006 (10.7%) showed extremely well with its freshness, length and acid tension. The 2004 (10.2%) was starting to show a lot of secondary buttered toast aromas and flavours. It was starting to dry out and the acid dominated.

Four Chardonnays were presented with the two main courses of fish and pork. The 2015 Domaine Leflaive Mâcon Verzé showed many of the characters we generally see in Mâconnais whites - rich fruit, full flavour and obvious oak. It was well made with struck match notes and little phenolic grip. Unfortunately, it was sealed with cork which hadn’t assisted its development.

A pair of Shaw and Smith Chardonnays followed. The room was informed that they were from the 2014 vintage and that one was Tolpuddle (Coal River) and the other was M3 (Adelaide Hills) - no more. It was a rather difficult exercise as they came out of the same cellar with the same winemaker. The first (the Tolpuddle) showed obvious oak with flinty aromas and citrus fruit. The acid was high (suggesting no or little malolactic) with a fine, long palate. The second (the M3) was a fuller, richer fruit style, although the pale was a little fat and lacked the tension of the Tolpuddle. Both bore the winemaker’s fingerprint.

The final Chardonnay was a 2012 Vincent Girardin Meursault ‘Les Narvaux’ was the favourite of many in the room(s). This is an interesting vineyard that sits above the village and hence many of the Premier Cru of Meursault. It is not one itself but is a highly regarded lieux dit (named place). Although showing some honeyed development (under cork again), it had excellent use of oak supporting the fruit on both the nose and the palate. It was long and linear with some ripe fruit and a great acidity.

For the cheese, we had two Bordeaux reds from the renowned 2000 vintage. One from the east (right bank of the Dordogne) and the other to the west (left bank of the Garonne). The Chateau L’Enclos from Pomerol was a disappointment to many at the first wine lunch. We opened 4 bottles and 3 were corked (2 very badly). The TCA became More obvious after pouring. The second lunch did well as neither bottle was corked, although that did allow some more of the Brett to show through. Château L’Enclos is an interesting property as it is one of the few in the area that actually has a chateau. Generally, it’s just a modest house. Typically, these wines are very Merlot dominant with this being no exception at over 80% (with a little Cabernet Franc and Malbec). It was very much in the old ‘claret’ style with plum fruit and dry, grainy tannins. Probably not a great future ahead of it.

The 2000 Clos du Marquis is the second wine of Château Léoville-Las Cases - a well-known and highly regarded Second Growth. Many say that their second one is one of the best to be found in Bordeaux. A blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and a touch of Cabernet Franc, it showed the expected cassis aromas with attractive oak. The aroma was nonetheless showing some development as was the palate. The tannins were very soft suggesting at its peak. Some mentioned that they considered this to not be a good example and queried the history of its cellaring by the Society.

17 November 2020 - CoTD Matthew Holmes

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Food review by James Tinslay and wine review by Chilly Hargrave

Matthew Holmes was back in the kitchen today with some assistance from Nick Reynolds.

Entrée.

In our seated Covid position (which we all hope will be amended soon) we were served to starters on a single plate.

  • Broccoli and pea soup with sour cream and bacon garnish, parsley and a pinch of chilli
  • Burrata bruschetta using a semi sourdough topped with snow and fresh peas, broad beans, parsley and mint, radish and chilli, drizzled with chardonnay vinegar dressing.

As always the photographs say more than the words, and both of these were very interesting and presentable. The soup had an intensity of infused flavours that were very pleasing. The bruschetta had been served on what looked like an ancient Egyptian sailing vessel which was attractive to the eye. It had an abundance of interesting flavours and was very satisfying.

Main course.

Matthew called the main course, a Greek-inspired pie but I did see it as spanakopita.  It had feta, goat and pecorino cheeses combined with young leaf spinach, roasted pine nuts, onions and dill, all wrapped in filo pastry. Accompanying was a tzatziki dip homemade without the usual garlic.

Ignoring the protein from the cheese, this was a vegetarian main course, a challenging decision by Matthew to present to the carnivores of the Society. He got away with it the main with a couple of comments that they would have liked more food. Matthew would not have been surprised at those comments!

I thought the ‘pie’ was an intriguing version of spanakopita and better than I have tasted in some Greek restaurants. The presentation was terrific with a medley of cherry tomatoes, olives, red onion, fresh oregano, sparsely dressed with lemon and garlic olive oil.

Cheese.

James Healey presented the cheese, and we were back to Australia again with a Berry’s Creek Gourmet Cheese Tarwin Blue, a product we have enjoyed in the past. The cheese hails from South Gippsland and the maker, Barry Charlton, who specialises in blue cheese is often referred to of the master of blue cheese. This cow’s milk cheese is inoculated with a combination of three strains of starter cultures and one blue mould spore. It matures for a minimum of two months and we end up consuming a rich and buttery cheese interspersed with dark blue veins with a developed distinctly creamy blue finish.

The cheese was accompanied by sesame lavosh crackers and red grapes.

Coffee.

Our coffee was sourced by Nick from the Ona stable, Nicaragua El Suyatal, Natural. The notes from ONA described it as having “incredible spice and red wine aromatics. Your palate will burst with this coffee’s plum and raspberry qualities, with a unique botanical like floral tone on the finish”.

A tightly presented lunch with all the hallmarks of Matthew Holmes being in control of the kitchen and the food.

Wine

A couple of Rieslings to start. Frankland Estate in the Great Southern region is highly regarded for its Riesling (and Shiraz). The 2017 Isolation Ridge had a rich fruit note, probably more bath salts than the traditional citrus. It was showing some development and la key the vigour one might expect.

The Holm Oak (in deference to the CoTD) Tamar Valley Riesling was a completely different style. It showed plenty of earthy funk from a natural ferment and obvious apricot, botrytis aromas. The palate was oily, almost waxy, in the Alsatian style. It finished extremely dry with the expected cool climate high acidity. It needed some residual sweetness to bring it into balance.

Two Chardonnays were served with the main course. The 2016 Seppelt Drumborg Chardonnay from the Henty region in south-west Victoria was a class wine. It showed fine, citrus fruit and flinty struck match aromas. The palate was restrained with excellent balance of flavour, oak and acidity giving real tension on the finish.

The 2015 Tyrrell’s Belford Chardonnay was a much different proposition. With big oak aromas and wild ferment funk, it was a little overdone. The palate was similarly dominated by oak with a firm tannin finish. Hard to find the fruit. A blockbuster that had appeal for some, but generally considered over the top.

A pair of Shiraz were poured to accompany the cheese. A 2011 Tyrrell’s Vat 9 had rich plum fruit with balanced oak. The palate again had the fruit power with fine tannins and an acid finish. The 2007 Rosemount (sold to us cleanskin as Balmoral) was somewhat disappointing. A nose dominated by oak (almost to rancio) with a little spicey fruit showing through. These characters followed onto the palate with a dry tannic finish. Alcohol heat followed.

 

10 November 2020 - Nigel Burton

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Food review by Nick Reynolds and wine review by Chilly Hargrave

Chef of the Day at this week’s lunch was Nigel Burton. He was ably assisted by Hilton Chapman.

His original concept planned since earlier in the year was put to one side due to the challenge of matching food with the Piemontese Nebbiolos that our Winemaster had scheduled for an appearance. More on that after the coverage of Hilton’s appetisers.

Hilton’s appetisers are improving with each appearance he makes in the kitchen. Today he served us three different appetisers, with two of these each having two variants. The first was based Kibbeh Nayee, a dish that traditionally is made with lamb. In this Greg Malouf inspired dish, we were presented with a mix of raw salmon, French eschalot, bulghur wheat, and chilli. This was served on a slice of cucumber with everyone getting two pieces, one with a mint leaf, and one without. The second appetiser was Babaganoush, the Middle Eastern “eggplant caviar.” Served on Chinese soup spoons, Hilton once again gave us two variants, one plain and one garnished with pickled eggplant. The final appetiser was a Pea and Mint soup made with vegetable stock, leek, garlic, zucchini.  This was served cold and textural. Members praised Hilton for the appetisers, and we hope that one day we can entice him into the kitchen as a Chef of the Day.

In meeting the Nebbiolo challenge, Nigel decided to take us to Milan, which is north-west of Piedmont. His Osso Bucco was served with saffron-infused Milanese risotto that Nigel augmented with lavish amounts of Pecorino. This risotto is traditionally served in Milan all’onda (like a wave), which means that it should flow gently when the plate is tipped. Some members commented that the flow seemed to have been stopped by the cheese, which made the risotto quite substantial. The meat in the Osso Bucco was tender but not to the stage of falling off the bone. It was served with ample sauce from the liquid in which the meal was cooked, carrots, snow peas, and the traditional Gremolata garnish/sauce (lemon, parsley, and garlic). The meal was well received and very filling, an effect which is a crowd favourite. True to Nigel’s intentions, the Northern Italian dish matched the wines very well

Perhaps for the first time in Society history, Nigel presented the cheese as a component in a Pasta Salad that also included onions, olives, pickled cucumber, and tomato. The dressing was tasty, which was fortunate because the cheese that accompanied the salad could best be described as something of a blank canvas upon which flavours could be built. The cheese in question was Buffalo Mozzarella from Shaw River in the Western Districts of Victoria. Matt Holmes, who was presenting the cheese on behalf of the Cheesemaster, informed us that the cheese was handmade from milk from buffalo that were specially imported from Italy.

Today’s coffee was a washed Honduras Caballero Lot 20 from Ona coffee. The tasting notes indicated a fresh crisp lime zest and green apple notes accompanying sweet florals and delicate stone fruit. In line with the recent trend, the coffee dosage was increased. Unfortunately, this led to a muddying of these flavour notes. Next time we’ll pare back the dosage a bit.

Wine

A pair of 2007 Hunter Semillons with the entrées were testimony to the quality and endurance of this wine style. The Tyrrell’s Belford was still pale in colour suggesting a high free SO2 at bottling. The aromas were a mix of primary and secondary characters. It was still bright and fresh on the palate with high acid. It had the citrus flavours of the best wines in the best vintages. On the other hand, the Lindemans Bin HR 0755 was more developed with more colour and some honeyed notes. 

Today’s wine lunch theme was Barolo (and Barbaresco). A red Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) wine produced in the northern Italian region of Piedmont. It is made from the Nebbiolo grape and is considered one of Italy’s great wines (if not greatest). Five townships (Barolo, La Morra, Castiglione Faletto, Monforte d’Alba and Serralunga d’Alba) account for roughly 90% of Barolo production. Although production codes have always stipulated that vineyards must be located on hillsides, most recent revisions of the codes categorically exclude valley floors, humid and flat areas and those without sufficient sunlight. 

By law, Barolo must be aged for at least 38 months before release and 18 months of that must be in wood. In the past Barolo tended to be very high in tannin, often requiring a decade to soften. In the late 70s and early 80s a new generation of winemakers developed a ‘modern’ style of Barolo based on improved viticulture and grape quality, less extractive winemaking and the use of more new oak for maturation - the ‘Barolo wars’? The views and processes of the ‘modernists’ and ‘traditionalist’ have merged over time until the Barolo of today is a softer wine but of increased quality and consistency. 

After one hundred years of debate, a new (and unique) classification in Barolo was introduced to recognise the sub-zones within various townships. Unable to use the term Cru (registered already by the French) in 2010 the Barolo Consorzio named them MEGA (or MGA) from the descriptor Menzionne Geographiche Aggiuntive (additional geographic mentions). There are 170 of these MGAs within 11 village designations. The Barbaresco Consorzio were first with this classification having introduced the system in 2007 with a further 66 sub-zones based around the 3 major towns (Barbaresco, Neive and Treiso). It is, however, only 35% of the area of Barolo.

In all great wine regions vintage has a significant impact on style and quality. Barolo and Barbaresco are no different. 

Vintage 2012: climatic conditions combined to make a successful growing season, an extremely cold winter (with plenty of snow) gave way to a cool spring followed by medium-hot weather over summer with a hot spell in August. September was a bit cooler which allowed aromatic concentration. In general, the wines of 2012 are fragrant, of a lighter style with high acidity and lower alcohols.

Vintage 2010: a memorable and highly regarded vintage depends on ideal conditions and this was certainly the case in 2010. With a cool September, it was one of the longest growing seasons on record. This allowed a full phenolic maturation of the grapes and the evolution of fruit characters. Small berries after poor set in spring contributed further to a classic style of Barolo - less about the aroma and more about the structure and the tannins.

Vintage 2008: a difficult growing season throughout caused many vineyard issues. A wet July in particular brought problems of rot and disease. A fine, warm August pushed the fruit to phenolic ripeness. After all this, those vineyards that maintained vigilance produced wines that were surprisingly good. They were rich, concentrated and intense, but with a more sophisticated structure with balanced acidity and tannins. 

First up were 2 vintage 2012 Baroli from Massolino. Founded in 1896, the Massolino winery and vineyard located in and around the village of Serralunga d’Alba. They have a wonderful resource of over 20 hectares including some of some the most renowned sites. All of their wines are aged in large casks so in this sense they are ‘traditional’, but the fruit aroma and purity bring a modern feel to the wine.

The standard Barolo is drawn from 7 sites in Serralunga and spends 24 to 30 months in the large Slovenian oak casks. A complex wine with rich plum, cherry fruit and big velvety tannins. The Barolo ‘Parussi’ is curiously an MGA in the adjoining village of Castiglione Falletto known, with Monforte, for some of the highest tannins in Barolo. The vineyard almost adjoins Serralunga and today’s wine was a much more complex style. Rich fruit of tar and rose petal was supported by new oak. It showed more power, depth and tannin that its younger sibling.

The next bracket of two wines were not revealed prior to tasting. Both MGA wines, one was a Barolo, the other a Barbaresco. The difference between these 2 regions is generally identified as Barolo having a higher level of tannin. Barolo may have bolder, fruity notes, while Barbaresco may present with more florals and a wider range of flavours. One interesting quote I read suggested that “Barolo tends to be more expensive, whereas Barbaresco is more acidic”. Go figure!!


The exercise of identifying the two wines by region proved rather difficult for the room. Perhaps I should have supplied the prices or acid levels. The first was a Barolo from the village of La Morra. The Marcarini family have been making wine in here since 1850. The single vineyard ‘Brunate’ is typically muscular with dark fruits and spice and great longevity. Production is a 45-day fermentation and maceration in cement and stainless steel before 24 months in large oak. The 2010 wine tasted showed a lot of oak rancio in the more ‘traditional’ style. These aromas carried onto the palate with ripe fruit and grainy, firm tannins.

The Barbaresco was again an MGA from the vineyard of Pora. This is arguably one of the key historic vineyards of Barbaresco as it was part of the property of Domizio Cavazza (recognised as ‘The Father of Barbaresco’). Prior to his involvement, Barbaresco was considered very much the poorer brother of Barolo. The 2010 Gigi Bianco is matured in small oak barrels, much of it new. This showed on the nose with high quality oak supporting cherry fruit notes. The palate was fine and elegant with good structure and length. Softer tannins than in the previous wines.

Prunotto was originally started in the 19th century in the village of Serralunga. It was finally purchased by the Antinori family of Chianti fame in 1994 and is housed in a large facility constructed near the city of Alba. Today’s wine was the 2008 and as with all Barolo before the introduction of MGAs in 2010 it was their top wine. Sourced from Bussia and other Langhe vineyards it opened with a little Brett, but that seemed to diminish on pouring. The wine was restrained with an attractive minerality. Tannins were a little green, but grainy and soft with a good line to the finish. Very much in the older style it was the preferred wine for many. 

The 2008 Ceretto Barolo ‘Zonchera’ was originally the top wine from the winery often sourced from La Morra. Since the introduction of single vineyard wines in 2010 this label is no longer produced. It showed the influence of maturation in large, old Slovenian oak with some rather stale notes on the nose. Like the Prunotto this was slightly green although the tannins had similarly softened. Comment must be made that both last two wines showed significant bottle variation with aldehyde characters obvious in some. They certainly have little future in front of them and fortunately there are only a few left in the cellar.

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27 October 2020 - CoTD James Tinslay

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Food review by James Hill, wine review by Chilly Hargrave

Society scribe, publicity and general factotum (at least that what the writer thought they said) James Tinslay was in the kitchen today for our monthly wine tasting. He was assisted by a front row of Keith Steele, Peter Fitzpatrick and David Madson.

Entrée.

Shortly after taking our seats, our entree was served comprising:

  • Canadian scallops, kohlrabi, green apple, light soy and creme fraiche on spoons
  • Prawns, mayo, celeriac, cayenne, cream cheese in pastry cups
  • Curried egg on papadums (Keith Steele’s signature canapé)

A diverse serving with good flavour, texture and presentation, that went well with our entree wines both Semillons.

Main course.

Our main today was Shish Tawook Lebanese marinated boned chicken (skin on) marinated for four days with sweet paprika, garlic and lemon juice, tomato paste and thyme. The chicken was tasty with good spice flavour, not so much as to overwhelm our palate. It sat on a bed of mash 60% cauliflower, 40% potato with lots of butter, spring onions and heaps of parmesan surrounded by a luscious jus. We were told the jus was made with five chicken carcasses roasted with celery, carrot and onion at 220C for 1.5 hours. Then into stockpot reducing for about ten hours. Shiitake mushrooms were added to the jus at the club

The vegetables on the plate were in-season asparagus and duck fat roasted potatoes

A wonderful main course that came to the table at a perfect temperature, well-executed with a lot of thought of food to match Barolo wines on taste today.

Cheese.

We welcomed our Cheesemaster James Healey back to lunch after a brief sojourn in Northern parts of our state.

Cheese today, in theme with wine, was ‘Occelli al Barolo’ an Italian cheese made from a combination of cow and sheep‘s milk. The cheese is coated with a “grape must” which is a by-product of the Barolo winemaking process, the grapes on the rind are edible. It is described as bitey, creamy, sweet, wine, buttery and sharp all at once.

A note on this cheese states that it can either be a mixture of pasteurised cow and you or just cow or sometimes cow/goat. Today the colour and flavour suggested it was a cow and ewe combination. It was simply served with ‘trail mix’ a combo of almonds, raisins, pumpkin seeds.

 Coffee.

Our coffee was sourced by Nick from the Ona stable ‘Nicaragua Finca Betania, washed’. A classic washed processed coffee refreshing and bright with tasting notes ranging from green apple and lime to pair and clean white peach a perfect springtime coffee.

We upped the dosage of the coffee and comments were made appreciating the flavour and intensity of the brew.

Lunch was closed with a presentation of Champagne to Royal Exchange chef Leo Rachid who is leaving the club to work as a chef in the new Crown complex.

We took the opportunity to thank him for his work with us and our chefs who were always complimentary of his help and advice in the kitchen as well as presenting meals as a marquee Chef of The Day on numerous occasions.

Wine

A pair of 2007 Hunter Semillons with the entrées were testimony to the quality and endurance of this wine style. The Tyrrell’s Belford was still pale in colour suggesting a high free SO2 at bottling. The aromas were a mix of primary and secondary characters. It was still bright and fresh on the palate with high acid. It had the citrus flavours of the best wines in the best vintages. On the other hand the Lindemans Bin HR 0755 was more developed with more colour and some honeyed notes. 

Today’s wine lunch theme was Barolo (and Barbaresco). A red Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) wine produced in the northern Italian region of Piedmont. It is made from the Nebbiolo grape and is considered one of Italy’s great wines (if not greatest). Five townships (Barolo, La Morra, Castiglione Faletto, Monforte d’Alba and Serralunga d’Alba) account for roughly 90% of Barolo production. Although production codes have always stipulated that vineyards must be located on hillsides, most recent revisions of the codes categorically exclude valley floors, humid and flat areas and those without sufficient sunlight. 

By law, Barolo must be aged for at least 38 months before release and 18 months of that must be in wood. In the past Barolo tended to be very high in tannin, often requiring a decade to soften. In the late 70s and early 80s a new generation of winemakers developed a ‘modern’ style of Barolo based on improved viticulture and grape quality, less extractive winemaking and the use of more new oak for maturation - the ‘Barolo wars’? The views and processes of the ‘modernists’ and ‘traditionalist’ have merged over time until the Barolo of today is a softer wine, but of increased quality and consistency. 

After one hundred years of debate, a new (and unique) classification in Barolo was introduced to recognise the sub zones within various townships. Unable to use the term Cru (registered already by the French) in 2010 the Barolo Consorzio named them MEGA (or MGA) from the descriptor Menzionne Geographiche Aggiuntive (additional geographic mentions). There are 170 of these MGAs within 11 village designations. The Barbaresco Consorzio were first with this classification having introduced the system in 2007 with a further 66 sub zones based around the 3 major towns (Barbaresco, Neive and Treiso). It is, however, only 35% of the area of Barolo.

In all great wine regions vintage has a significant impact on style and quality. Barolo and Barbaresco are no different. 

Vintage 2012: climatic conditions combined to make a successful growing season, an extremely cold winter (with plenty of snow) gave way to a cool spring followed by medium-hot weather over summer with a hot spell in August. September was a bit cooler which allowed aromatic concentration. In general, the wines of 2012 are fragrant, of a lighter style with high acidity and lower alcohols.

Vintage 2010: a memorable and highly regarded vintage depends on ideal conditions and this was certainly the case in 2010. With a cool September, it was one of the longest growing seasons on record. This allowed a full phenolic maturation of the grapes and the evolution of fruit characters. Small berries after poor set in spring contributed further to a classic style of Barolo - less about the aroma and more about the structure and the tannins.

Vintage 2008: a difficult growing season throughout caused many vineyard issues. A wet July in particular, brought problems of rot and disease. A fine, warm August pushed the fruit to phenolic ripeness. After all this, those vineyards that maintained vigilance produced wines that were surprisingly good. They were rich, concentrated and intense, but with a more sophisticated structure with balanced acidity and tannins. 

First up were 2 vintage 2012 Baroli from Massolino. Founded in 1896, the Massolino winery and vineyard located in and around the village of Serralunga d’Alba. They have a wonderful resource of over 20 hectares including some of some the most renowned sites. All of their wines are aged in large casks so in this sense they are ‘traditional’, but the fruit aroma and purity bring a modern feel to the wine.

The standard Barolo is drawn from 7 sites in Serralunga and spends 24 to 30 months in the large Slovenian oak casks. A complex wine with rich plum, cherry fruit and big velvety tannins. The Barolo ‘Parussi’ is curiously an MGA in the adjoining village of Castiglione Falletto known, with Monforte, for some of the highest tannins in Barolo. The vineyard almost adjoins Serralunga and today’s wine was a much more complex style. Rich fruit of tar and rose petal was supported by new oak. It showed more power, depth and tannin that its younger sibling.

The next bracket of 2 wines were not revealed prior to tasting. Both MGA wines, one was a Barolo, the other a Barbaresco. The difference between these 2 regions is generally identified as Barolo having a higher level of tannin. Barolo may have bolder, fruity notes, while Barbaresco may present with more florals and a wider range of flavours. One interesting quote I read suggested that “Barolo tends to be more expensive, whereas Barbaresco is more acidic”. Go figure!!


The exercise of identifying the two wines by region proved rather difficult for the room. Perhaps I should have supplied the prices or acid levels. The first was a Barolo from the village of La Morra. The Marcarini family have been making wine in here since 1850. The single vineyard ‘Brunate’ is typically muscular with dark fruits and spice and great longevity. Production is a 45-day fermentation and maceration in cement and stainless steel before 24 months in large oak. The 2010 wine tasted showed a lot of oak rancio in the more ‘traditional’ style. These aromas carried onto the palate with ripe fruit and grainy, firm tannins.

The Barbaresco was again an MGA from the vineyard of Pora. This is arguably one of the key historic vineyards of Barbaresco as it was part of the property of Domizio Cavazza (recognised as ‘The Father of Barbaresco’). Prior to his involvement, Barbaresco was considered very much the poorer brother of Barolo. The 2010 Gigi Bianco is matured in small oak barrels, much of it new. This showed on the nose with high quality oak supporting cherry fruit notes. The palate was fine and elegant with good structure and length. Softer tannins than in the previous wines.

Prunotto was originally started in the 19th century in the village of Serralunga. It was finally purchased by the Antinori family of Chianti fame in 1994 and is housed in a large facility constructed near the city of Alba. Today’s wine was the 2008 and as with all Barolo before the introduction of MGAs in 2010 it was their top wine. Sourced from Bussia and other Langhe vineyards it opened with a little Brett, but that seemed to diminish on pouring. The wine was restrained with an attractive minerality. Tannins were a little green, but grainy and soft with a good line to the finish. Very much in the older style it was the preferred wine for many. 

The 2008 Ceretto Barolo ‘Zonchera’ was originally the top wine from the winery often sourced from La Morra. Since the introduction of single vineyard wines in 2010 this label is no longer produced. It showed the influence of maturation in large, old Slovenian oak with some rather stale notes on the nose. Like the Prunotto this was slightly green although the tannins had similarly softened. Comment must be made that both last two wines showed significant bottle variation with aldehyde characters obvious in some. They certainly have little future in front of them and fortunately there are only a few left in the cellar.

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20 October 2020 - CoTD Charles "Chilly" Hargrave

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Food review by James Tinslay

On the pans today we had Charles ‘Chilly’ Hargrave our Society Winemaster. Chilly was assisted by James Hill. Whilst an experienced cook it was Chilly’s first foray into cooking for a Society lunch

Entree

As a starter, we had a magnificent looking terrine, thinly sliced on the plate. The protein in the terrine was pork neck, pork belly and bacon. The three different pieces of meat gave a somewhat complex look to the terrine with the effect of the sliced pistachio adding to its visual appeal. As well as pistachio, the terrine included allspice and chermoula and the meat had been marinated in brandy and muscat. The terrine was simply served with cucumber, rocket and cornichons.

The comments were very positive, with some feeling that some moisture such as mustard or dressing would have worked very well.

Main course

The main was again beautifully presented with the core being stuffed chicken thigh wrapped in prosciutto baked and stuffed with garlic, basil, mozzarella. The chicken held together remarkably well with the assistance of the prosciutto. As interesting as the chicken was the mushroom risotto cake. The hearty flavour of the risotto was mainly the influence of porcini mushrooms soaked in chicken stock. An excellent accompaniment that could have been served as a main on its own, given its flavour. The vegetables on the plate were in-season asparagus and lightly roasted baby tomatoes. A wonderful main course.

Cheese

The cheese today had been requested by Chilly and was presented by James Hill. It was a Marilla washed rind, semi-soft cheese aged to approximately 6 weeks before its release. Inspired by the Irish cheese, Gubbeen, this beautiful cheese is a product of the single herd on the pristine micro-dairy in Kiama on the south coast of NSW. The cheese has a beautiful vibrant rind with a lovely tangerine to pink hue and a soft buttery interior which develops a rich nutty and slightly mushroomy profile as it ripens. The wheels are approximately 1.7 - 1.9kg.

Some tried to unravel the identity of the cheese and Taleggio was a popular choice. However, the Australian source of this beautifully soft cheese evaded the best of us.

The cheese was accompanied by pear, verdicchio and other salad components.

Coffee

Coffee today was sourced and presented by Nick Reynolds. The single-origin coffee from ONA goes by the enticing name of Honduras Mogola, Supernatural. Who knew there was supernatural coffee!! This natural Catuai from Mogola, Honduras has a wide range of tasting notes. Aromas of dark plum and rich red wine are accompanied by cherry, pomegranate, hazelnut-like notes and a spiced rum quality on the finish. Nick has upped the dosage of recent weeks to give the servings a bit more power and intensity.

This being our Chef of The Day’s first lunch for the Society, he was presented with a WFS NSW apron and congratulated by our President, Nick Reynolds.

An excellent lunch and our Foodmaster will not miss including Chilly on the cooking schedule for 2021.

Wine (more to come)

Ray Healey generously donated a 1971 Chateau Ausone, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru. Once again, older wines divide an audience with some feeling that the fruit and departed whilst others appreciated the almost 50-year-old premium Right Bank Bordeaux.

13 October 2020 - Steve Sparkes

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Food Notes by Nick Reynolds and wine notes by Richard Gibson

Steve Sparkes is one of our newest members, joining only after the initial CoVid-19 restrictions were eased.

He has helped three times in the kitchen already and today was his first outing as Chef of the Day.

Steve’s wife, Marina, is of Italian descent and Steve has a very strong interest in this type of cuisine. Today he demonstrated that he supports this interest with a very strong cooking ability.

Food

Steve prepared two Italian dishes for us today.

The first dish, which was served as an entrée, was Quail Tortellini in Brodo adapted from a Recipe by Lucio Galletto from Lucio’s in Paddington. Steve first cooked the quail in chicken broth and then shredded the meat. He then combined the meat with parmesan, English spinach, and a dusting of grated nutmeg. The Tortellini were hand-made with very thin pasta. The bones from the quail were returned to the chicken stock with the addition of more brown chicken stock. Steve created the base broth from this, which he then froze. This was then thawed in the refrigerator and strained through fine cloth to clarify to an almost consommé clarity. Today in serving, he added finely sliced brown mushrooms to the bowls, which were cooked by the addition of the hot broth, as well as four tortellini per serve, baby herb leaves, and some parmesan cheese. The Brodo was extremely flavoursome and so full of gelatine that it was lip-smacking while the tortellini was extremely flavoursome in their fine pasta parcels.

The second dish that Steve prepared for us was a variant on a recipe from the London-based Italian restaurant, River Café for Ossobuco alla Milanese. Steve specially ordered thick-cut Ossobuco for the dish, which were filling and substantial, particularly after the rich broth entrée. The Ossobuco was slow-cooked in the morning and combined with the normal tomato sauce enriched by onion, celery, tomato and parsley. The traditional accompaniment for Ossobuco Milanese is Risotto Milanese, which is saffron-infused. Being a purist, Steve wasn’t prepared to compromise the Risotto by cooking it at the venue. He therefore pre-cooked it and then let it cool in rounds. This is the Northern Italian method of using leftover risotto (the southerners tend to make Arancini). He fried the risotto cakes at the Royal Exchange and served them along with the Ossobuco, and a green bean and snap pea with hazelnuts vegetable dish from Yotam Ottolenghi. The dish was topped with the traditional parsley and garlic gremolata as well as enough sauce to moisten the meat.

Comments were extremely favourable about the food, with some saying that it was restaurant quality (or better). One particular comment was that it wasn’t overwhelmed by tomato as can sometimes be the case with Ossobuco. The flavours were extremely well balanced.

The Cheese of the Day, which was chosen by James Healey and presented by Mark Bradford, was a 6-month old cloth-bound Pyengana Cheddar, which was one of the cheeses that Steve suggested. His preference for this cheese was that it is Tasmanian, which is where he was brought up. The cheese presented very well today and was accompanied by a dressed mixed-leaf salad and a slice of a homemade date/fig/walnut/pistachio loaf that Steve made especially for today.

The coffee today was once again from Ona Marrickville. It was a seasonal blend from their Springtime Picnic range. The coffee combined flavours of sweet orange, caramelised citrus peel, floral honey with baked stone fruit that combined in a blend called Orange Marmalade.

The President presented Steve with his WFSNSW apron, which is given to people when they are Chef of the Day for the first time. With the quality of what was presented today, we hope we don’t have to wait too long before he cooks again.

Wine

The lunch theme was Northern Italian.

The Tortellini di Qaglia in Brodo was served with two Aussie chardonnays.

The family-owned 2018 Murdoch Hill Tilbury Chardonnay comes from a single vineyard in the Adelaide Hills (Piccadilly sub-region).  Michael Downer, the winemaker is one of the most exciting young winemakers in the Hills and uses a minimalist approach in his winemaking using whole bunch (handpicked) fermentation with wild yeast, partial malolactic fermentation followed by ageing in old French oak casks.

The nose displayed struck flint characters, lime and stone fruit and hints of minerality. 

On the palate a rich, peachy, acid-driven balance was found with the lees treatment adding to the complexity – overall it was an attractive, balanced, fleshy and lively wine which matched the tortellini very well.

The 2010 Montgomery Mulberry Block MR chardonnay comes from 20+-year-old vines in Albany WA and is barrel fermented and aged for 9 months in French oak. It displays a stone fruit and lemony nose, with reductive/struck match characters. On the palate, we saw a full-bodied, complex wine showing some flintiness and even a bit of spice with good length (and plenty of acidity).  The wine also complemented the tortellini and broth but the room was divided on which was the better wine. On balance it was probably the younger more acid-driven Murdoch Hill with the Montgomery perhaps beginning to show its age.

The main course was served with two Nebbiolos, one Australian and one Italian, Nebbiolo being a prominent varietal in both Piemonte and Lombardy.  Both were excellent matches with the beautifully cooked and flavoursome osso buco and risotto.

The 2014 Massolino Langhe Nebbiolo (under stelvin; 14% alc) is effectively an entry-level “declassified” Barolo, the fruit coming from younger Serralunga vines, the fruit from which will in time go into the Barolo commune wine. Smaller amounts of older vine fruit were also blended in to give the wine some more structure.  The wine was aged in large Slavonian oak barrels (like all Barolos) for 18 months (Barolos are aged for 24 months)  and undergoes circa 10 days maceration.

On the nose, the wine exhibited immediate fragrant floral characters and shows finesse. Upon opening up it revealed classic Langhe Nebbiolo aromas, displaying forest floor, wild berries and a spicy note. On the palate, we saw classic savoury, chalky minerality characters and Nebbiolo “tar”, balance and good length. Overall we experienced a delicious and refined wine from a good vintage which is drinking very well now and was perfectly paired with the osso buco and risotto.

The 2013 SC Pannell Adelaide Hills Nebbiolo (14% alc) has achieved a certain “cult” status as Pannell is one of the few new world producers that can turn Nebbiolo fruit into a wine that highlights the varietal characters of Nebbiolo and is sufficiently structured. The wine is made in the traditional Barolo style utilising open vat fermentation, extended maceration and pressing to achieve the required tannin profile. The wine goes through malolactic fermentation (in stainless steel) and is aged for circa 14 months in a mix of small old Hungarian oak barrels and large vats.

The nose displays perfumed cherry and blackcurrant characters (but perhaps lacks the roses and violets of Lange wines).  On the palate the wine was medium-bodied , showing an attractive balance of fruit, smooth tannins and acid albeit that the fruit is now fading a little resulting in the wine being a little ‘short’ – indicating the wine is perhaps past its best although still good drinking and well matched to the food.

The cheese course saw an elegant Cote de Rhone (14% alc) paired with a less forgiving  Barossa shiraz.

The Cote de Rhone is an entry-level wine from the famous Rhone producer Guigal but punches above its weight displaying all the characters seen in Guigal’s more highly feted wines.  The fruit was grown on 35-year-old vines and is a blend of Shiraz (49%), Grenache (48%) and Mouvedre (3%) made in the traditional style with temp controlled fermentation, long maceration experiencing an extended time on lees and is aged for 18 months in oak. 

The colour is dense ruby red/purple and the wine displayed red berries, spice and even lavender notes on the nose.  The palate was round and well balanced with smooth tannins and fruit (which is, however, beginning to fade somewhat).  On opening, a hint of oxidation was detected in one bottle but this blew off over time.  In summary, a very enjoyable elegant wine displaying finesse and balance which is perhaps drinking past its peak but was well matched to the Pyngana Cheddar.

The final wine was, appropriately, served last. Glaetzer has developed an enviable reputation for producing bold wines expressing the bigger style of Barossa Shiraz and the 2006 Bishop (14.4% alc) certainly delivered this in spades. 

The fruit comes from vines with average 60 years of age, and is fermented in open vats, experiences extended maceration and is aged for circa 15 months in new and old barrels (circa 70% French and 30% American).  The colour is dense and black (with some garnet on the edges). The nose displays forward black cherry and blackcurrant characters, cedar and spice - however, some “green”/capsicum notes were evident.

The palate was rich and opulent with explosive vanilla and blackberry flavours and very ripe big tannins.

This wine was not to everyone’s liking presenting as high alcohol, bold full-bodied plummy wine that is not yet in balance (and some members queried whether it would ever be in balance). It was more than a match to the Tasmanian cheddar.

Also served following lunch was a delicious aged NV Cuvee Brut Champagne from the house of Jacquart, which was generously donated by John Rourke and was probably the best match to the cheese.  The Cuvee is a blend of predominantly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from multiple vintages.  The Chardonnay gave the wine its freshness and delicate aromas whilst the Pinot added a nuanced level of structure all balanced nicely by a few years of cellar ageing.

Overall the wines were very enjoyable with smart pairings presented for each course which highlighted the differences between the wine styles.  Moreover, the wines displayed the benefits of the movement over recent years towards less interventionist winemaking techniques and adoption of organic principles.

6 October - CoTD Roger Straiton

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Food review by James Tinslay and wine review by Chilly Hargrave.

Roger Straiton returned to the kitchen this week unassisted by members but with the help of Leo and kitchen staff for serving. James Hill, who was running the lunch today pointed out to those assembled that it was the tenth anniversary of Roger’s membership of the Society.

Steve Liebeskind attended the lunch briefly to advise members of the Tour de Cure cancer charity that the Society Committee had agreed to support by way of members donating a bottle or two (or more) for a charity silent auction. They can be bought to REX and Steve will have then photographed and catalogued for the auction. A separate email on the matter had been sent to all members.

Entree

Roger started us off with a gazpacho, not red but white. The soup was quite liquid and was based on the usual suspect, cucumber. After that, he went to yoghurt, almond meal, garlic and sherry vinegar. The somewhat surprise ingredient was grapes which added a distinctive sweetness to the soup. There were also some plump green grapes floating in the service bowl. Comments were very positive even from one cucumber hater (me) who thought the dish was excellent. Roger explained that the recipe was based on a dish served in a restaurant in San Francisco.

With the gazpacho and the cheese, we enjoyed Iggy’s bread once again supplied by James Hill.

Main course

The main drew on a dish Roger had enjoyed at the Carved Angel at Dartmouth in Devon. The chef, Joyce Molyneaux was the first female chef in England to be awarded a Michelin Star. The dish could only be described as vibrant looking with a range of colours that instantly had one thinking of Indian. Roger was nicknamed Raj Straiton!

However, the dish was not Indian but was a chicken thigh dish based on red peppers or pimentos (no less than 2 kg) but then, included the usual Indian ingredients of coriander, cumin, onion, ginger and garlic, to provide a wonderful deep flavour without heat. Roger avoided any heat in the meal in acknowledgement to this being a wine lunch. The photo of the main says it all. The yellow rice was coloured with turmeric to give the plate that vibrant look. Broccoli was served as the healthy side dish and the plating was topped off with flaked almonds.

The dish was more than just enjoyable as it was such an unusual style of meal to serve at Society lunches.

Cheese

The cheese today was selected by the Cheesemaster, James Healey, who was absent and it was presented by James Hill. It was the Cabot Clothbound Cheddar from Vermont in the USA and whilst we had been served this a couple of times before nobody called it but no far off track guessing Australian cheddar. This crumbly cheddar is wrapped in cloth then coated in lard in its maturation time which imparts a nutty earthy aroma when the cloth is removed. It has a beautiful sweetness to the finish with a crystalline structure to the bite.

Coffee

Our coffee was sourced once again by Nick Reynolds from the Ona stable. Today’s was El Salvador Himalaya Red Caturra. The notes provided “The lot was dried slowly in the shade for thirty days on African beds to bring out the rich, honey notes, juicy apple tones and light tropical finish.

Look for hints of honeydew melon and passionfruit notes, which will develop and intensify as the brew cools down”. I dosed this quite generously but more still more quantity may have given it a stronger body and strength. A beautifully mild coffee.

Wine (comments based on the same six Penfolds Bin 389 served the previous week)

Special wine note: Ray Healey bought a bottle of the 1971 Grange which was carefully poured in most of the 25 glasses. It somewhat divided the room and despite it being a great year for Grange, some thought past it’s best. I suspect the division was based on those who like upfront fruit and those who enjoy old wines to appreciate the aged characteristics. We can never please everyone’s tastes and that if the point of wine discussion. Dan's has a bottle for a cool $2900! Thank you Ray.

Lustau Jurana Fino - very fresh and went well with the cool gazpacho.

Seppelt Drumborg Riesling 2016 - a powerful wine full of varietal character. Still young and should develop beautifully for those who like aged characters over youngish fresh fruit.

The theme for today’s wine lunch was Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz. Of interest is that 1994 to 2012 covers the tenure of John Duval (who took over from Don Ditter in 1986) and Peter Gago (just the 4th maker of Grange) who’s first vintage was 2003.

The mixing of Cabernet and Shiraz is an Australian classic combing the structure of the former with the richness of the latter. Not sure if he was first, but Bin 389 was created by Max Schubert in 1960 and it’s often called “Baby Grange”, but more often “Poor Man’s Grange.” It carries a South Australian appellation and is drawn from the major SA viticultural regions. Most commonly Wrattonbully, Padthaway, McLaren Vale and the Barossa, but also Bordertown and Langhorne Creek, and occasionally Clare. Labelled Cabernet Shiraz, it must by law contain more Cabernet (generally Sauvignon) than Shiraz. While Shiraz can express itself well in all of the regions mentioned above, Cabernet is a little fickle - a bit Mother bear, needing not too hot, not too cold. Certainly, it’s more favoured by a maritime climate. It is generally aged in American oak (perhaps one-third new) and often second use Grange barrels - hence the nickname.

Obviously, Penfolds has enormous Shiraz resources, producing Grange Bin 95, RWT Bin 798, Magill Estate, St Henri, Bin 128, Bin 28, Bin 150, The Noble Explorer, Century Vines etc. etc. plus numerous special Bins. High-quality Cabernet resources are much thinner on the ground. Consequently, Bin 389 normally has on,y a little more Cabernet than Shiraz. It is interesting to look at the 6 vintages presented to see which variety shows through.

The 2012 (Cabernet 54%, Shiraz 46%) was the only one of the six wines closed with screw cap. It certainly was young, albeit a little reduced. There was a complexity of fruit, oak and tannin. Perhaps too much tannin at this stage. Penfolds is renowned for the addition of tannin to provide structure and mid-palate. The vintage is described by low yields and small berries. A lot of concentration here, but still closed (another use of the word).

The 2004 vintage, following on after the hot, dry 2003, was a large crop and, after a cool summer, was consequently a very late harvest. Today’s wine showed a certain elegance with some green Cabernet (53%) notes overtaken by rich, plum Shiraz (47%). Quite a lot of oak still sitting on the wine.

The 2002 wine (Cabernet 54%, Shiraz 46%) was from another cool and late vintage. Here the yield was low with smaller berries. It was more Cabernet focused than the previous two, with distinct blackcurrant, mint notes supported by some rich Shiraz fruit and astute oak use.

The 1998 vintage was one of the most highly regarded vintages of the nineties and often named as one of the great years. It was high yielding, but all varieties expressed wonderful fruit aromas. Cabernet was particularly esteemed. The Bin 389 showed characters of both varieties. Some minty Cabernet (58%) with plummy Shiraz (42%). However, it disappointed with its development and lack of depth. For many, the least liked of the six.

The 1996 assemblage is not identified on the Penfolds website, as for the 1994. This wine was more Shiraz than Cabernet with blackberry and cedar oak notes. The palate had great structure with complex fruits and an excellent tannin balance. One of the preferred wines.

The 1994 vintage was preceded by a cool summer resulting in a late vintage. Often this can produce rather green characters in Cabernet. In this Bin 389, these we’re certainly present but had softened to show hints of Bordeaux cassis. The Shiraz was much more in the background and tannins were fine-grained. Another favourite on the day.

29 September 2020 - CoTD Steve Liebeskind

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Food review by Nick Reynolds and wine review y Chilly Hargrave

Food

Today saw Steve Liebeskind in a welcome return to the kitchen. He was ably assisted by new member, Steve Sparkes, who since joining the Society during lockdown has become a rather regular assistant in the kitchen.

Steve L. is a dab hand at repurposing ingredients leftover from the other lunch components. Today he took the trimmings left over from the potatoes featuring in the main course and created a soup by adding broccoli, stock, lots of white pepper, lemon juice along with some milk and cream. The peppery nature of the soup led some to suggest that it contained celery.

The next dish was a vegetable terrine containing leeks, beans, red capsicum, carrots, pumpkin, cream, stock, and tomatoes topped with a green salsa. Unfortunately, the mousse that was meant to bind the dish together didn’t, creating a challenge for plating that was well met (see picture). It was tasty and a good opportunity for members to comment that they met their vegetable requirements for the next month in the two first courses.

The main was an extremely well-presented dish that was appreciated before the first bite in line with the maxim that “you first eat with your eyes.” Steve presented slow-cooked Mediterranean lamb shoulder (11-12 hours at 100 C). The spices used in the marinade then went into a vegetable roux, creating a slight mild curry effect that complemented the lamb extremely well. What some presumed were scallops were in fact potatoes that had been baked and then seared. As mentioned above, the trimmings from these went into the soup. The lamb was served on a pea puree with Dutch carrots that still had their skin, which made a very good texture contrast in the dish. The final component was a baked eggplant spread finely with miso. The dish was well commented on by the assembled members and a good accompaniment to our Penfolds 389 fest.

Steve requested a washed rind cheese today and our Cheese Master James Healey provided a Society favourite, Tallegio DOP, an artisan cow’s cheese from Lombardy, Italy. Steve accompanied this with a dressed green salad, further increasing members’ vegetable intake for the day.

The coffee today was once again sourced from Ona coffee. This time we had a coffee-inspired by owner Sasa Sestic’s 2015 World Barista Championship Coffee, which was created by applying the wine fermenting technique of Carbonic Maceration to coffee beans. The process when used with wine brings out fruity elements. It does the same with coffee, in this case creating the aptly named Raspberry Candy.

Today we celebrated Frank Liebeskind’s birthday and the dish Steve provided was one his brother requested. Frank, we compliment you both on your birthday and your choice of dish.

A Penfold’s wine tasting was also the perfect occasion to toast the memory of our recently departed member, Bob Swinney. Bob loved Penfold’s wine and would often provide many of us with samples from his wine cellar or bring a bottle along to drink while the rest of us had wines that he considered lacked the body and concentration of his favourites.

Marking the 20th Anniversary of the Olympic Games in Sydney, member John Goldsborough brought along the torch from the leg he ran in the Olympic Torch Relay. Many of us had not seen one in real-life and it was a great opportunity for members to have their picture taken with it, as seen with James Healey in the above photo.

Wine

Tyrrell’s Belford Semillon 2017 - starting to show some development

Lindeman’s Bin 1155 Semillon 2011 - still fresh and bright. In very good condition.

The theme for today’s wine lunch was Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz. Of interest is that 1994 to 2012 covers the tenure of John Duval (who took over from Don Ditter in 1986) and Peter Gago (just the 4th maker of Grange) who’s first vintage was 2003.

The mixing of Cabernet and Shiraz is an Australian classic combing the structure of the former with the richness of the latter. Not sure if he was first, but Bin 389 was created by Max Schubert in 1960 and it’s often called “Baby Grange”, but more often “Poor Man’s Grange.” It carries a South Australian appellation and is drawn from the major SA viticultural regions. Most commonly Wrattonbully, Padthaway, McLaren Vale and the Barossa, but also Bordertown and Langhorne Creek, and occasionally Clare. Labelled Cabernet Shiraz, it must by law contain more Cabernet (generally Sauvignon) than Shiraz. While Shiraz can express itself well in all of the regions mentioned above, Cabernet is a little fickle - a bit Mother bear, needing not too hot, not too cold. Certainly, it’s more favoured by a maritime climate. It is generally aged in American oak (perhaps one-third new) and often second use Grange barrels - hence the nickname.

Obviously, Penfolds has enormous Shiraz resources, producing Grange Bin 95, RWT Bin 798, Magill Estate, St Henri, Bin 128, Bin 28, Bin 150, The Noble Explorer, Century Vines etc. etc. plus numerous special Bins. High-quality Cabernet resources are much thinner on the ground. Consequently, Bin 389 normally has on,y a little more Cabernet than Shiraz. It is interesting to look at the 6 vintages presented to see which variety shows through.

The 2012 (Cabernet 54%, Shiraz 46%) was the only one of the six wines closed with screw cap. It certainly was young, albeit a little reduced. There was a complexity of fruit, oak and tannin. Perhaps too much tannin at this stage. Penfolds is renowned for the addition of tannin to provide structure and mid-palate. The vintage is described by low yields and small berries. A lot of concentration here, but still closed (another use of the word).

The 2004 vintage, following on after the hot, dry 2003, was a large crop and, after a cool summer, was consequently a very late harvest. Today’s wine showed a certain elegance with some green Cabernet (53%) notes overtaken by rich, plum Shiraz (47%). Quite a lot of oak still sitting on the wine.

The 2002 wine (Cabernet 54%, Shiraz 46%) was from another cool and late vintage. Here the yield was low with smaller berries. It was more Cabernet focused than the previous two, with distinct blackcurrant, mint notes supported by some rich Shiraz fruit and astute oak use.

The 1998 vintage was one of the most highly regarded vintages of the nineties and often named as one of the great years. It was high yielding, but all varieties expressed wonderful fruit aromas. Cabernet was particularly esteemed. The Bin 389 showed characters of both varieties. Some minty Cabernet (58%) with plummy Shiraz (42%). However, it disappointed with its development and lack of depth. For many, the least liked of the six.

The 1996 assemblage is not identified on the Penfolds website, as for the 1994. This wine was more Shiraz than Cabernet with blackberry and cedar oak notes. The palate had great structure with complex fruits and an excellent tannin balance. One of the preferred wines.

The 1994 vintage was preceded by a cool summer resulting in a late vintage. Often this can produce rather green characters in Cabernet. In this Bin 389, these we’re certainly present but had softened to show hints of Bordeaux cassis. The Shiraz was much more in the background and tannins were fine-grained. Another favourite on the day.

For his birthday Frank Liebeskind brought a 2013 Cadillac sweet white for a member’s toast.