8 November 2016


Roger Straiton was on the pans with assistance on canape assembly from Scott Witt and Kham Signavong. A very healthy 47 members and guests were present.

Canapés. Two canapés were served. Firstly, lightly pan cooked asparagus spears wrapped in prosciutto. A very popular snack at any time the prosciutto was of top quality. Then came “pinwheels” of puff pastry filled/wrapped with smoked ham, parmesan and mustard. Novel and very moreish.

Aperitif wine. The main wine was a Society favourite, Denmar Chardonnay 2010. Given the numbers, a range of single bottles were served and the mandatory Lustau sherry. If you are vigilant the single bottles, usually the last of older purchases, can be good fun.

Main course. Roger gave us a traditional veal scallopini served with mashed potatoes and peas a great accompanyment to just about anything even roast potatoes. The sauce was wonderfully rich. It included not only the usual stock and mushrooms but 500g of Roquefort and 3 bottles of masala. A real meal for the boys.

The wines.

  • Chrismont La Zona Barbera 2010 (screwcap, 13%)
  • Marina Coppi Castellania Barbera (Piedmont) (cork, 14.5%)
  • Allegrini Valpolicella 2011 (cork, 13%)
  • Marc Bredif Vouvray Brut N/V (cork, 12.5%)

We have previously enjoyed both the Barbera wines. The La Zona is at peak and soft. Some felt it was past its best. However, earthy aromas of meat and spice were still evident. The real McCoy from Piedmont was deeper in colour, richer with more complexity but still soft. A good educational coupling on Barbera.

One red (Veneto) and one sparkling (Loire) with the cheese. The matching was more than interesting. The red (Corvina and Rondinella) was the entry level and hence was lighter, soft but still elegent. The Vouvray had, as is common, very slight residual sugar. This did not detract from the cheese matching.

Cheese and coffee. James Healey provided Taleggio from Lombardy a cow’s milk cheese. Mild and creamy it was a first class fromage. It did decide to go for a “wander” (see photo above) given the high ambient temperature of the dining room.

Mr Coffee, Spencer, was up to his old tricks serving different blends using Illy and Lavazza. Whilst commercial blends they are Arabica and at the high end. Interesting contrast in style.

A well-attended lunch with good commentary excellent food and wine.

Wine tasting 25 October 2016

bill1bill2bill4bill5There was a decidedly cosmopolitan note to the tasting last Tuesday, with the Wine Master providing 2 whites from Oz and France and 4 reds from Italy, USA, Australia and France in a wholly masked lineup in which only the countries of origin were disclosed. Before that exercise, we were regaled with an eclectic array of aperitif wines including a 2013 Seppelts Jaluka chardonnay, a Warramate merlot rose, and a Tyrrells Stevens Semillon, as well as the omnipresent, and always welcome, Lustau sherry, this time the Oloroso. From the kitchen, chef of the day Bill Alexiou-Hucker, with a backing team of Peter Squires and Peter Manners, brought forth an assortment of canapes: a marvellous arancini rice ball made on 3 types of mushroom, some hand-made wheat tortillas containing a mild and slightly chili-boosted salmon ceviche, and refreshing cocktail sticks comprising fetta cheese, olive, mint and watermelon, a seemingly odd combination which actually worked very well together.

Then it was on to the tasting, with most identifying the whites as a SA riesling and a Vouvray chenin blanc from the Loire, but opinions divided on the grapes and ages of the reds. The unveiling, mercifully announced before comments were invited, was:

1995 Leonay Eden Valley Riesling, well-aged and with definite kerosene notes, but terrific fruit and length and a joy for lovers of the style;

1995 Bredif Vouvray, unexpectedly sweet although not identified as demi-sec, showing a pure honey nose and soft fruit characters, but no match for the food;

2011 Cos Classico from Sicily, a yummy food wine with good drying tannins and elegant fruit (a blend of Nero d’Avola and Frappato grapes) and probably the best received as a food match;

2011 Zinfandel from Sonoma in California, deceptively soft (many thought it a merlot) and juicy, with good length but lacking individuality;

2002 St Hugo Coonawarra cabernet, a great example of an aged Coonawarra with rich perfumed nose and sweet but balanced fruit and tannins – for many, the best wine on the table;

2002 Ch Leoville Barton, a 2nd growth Bordeaux from St Julien which pleased some but disappointed many – form a lesser year with fruit dropping out, a bit flat and showing brett dirty characters.

All these helped to wash down a great meal from Bill & Co: medium octopus, braised on its own to extract the juices and soften it, then stewed in a sauce of tomato, white wine, garlic and chopped parsley until tender and soft, and served with simple thin-sliced boiled potatoes. A definite Mediterranean dish with plenty of real flavour and good with most, but not all, the wines.

Then the cheese, a real challenge for the salt-sensitive. It was a Pecorino Romano, a hard sheep’s milk cheese from around Rome, this one obviously quite young and crumbly, no doubt with some good lactic characters underneath but overwhelmed by the salt content. A plain green salad with a non-intrusive dressing accompanied it, along with the tasting wines.

Equanimity was restored with the coffee, a medium roast bean grown in Panama using the rare Ethiopian Gesha variety. It came to the table as soft but rich in the mouth with subtle citrus notes to keep it on the back palate. All hail to the absent Spencer Ferrier for sourcing it.

Luncheon 18 October 2016

ab1ab2ab3ab4ab5It was a welcome return to the kitchen by Peter Manners, with an assortment of assistants: Neil Galbraith, Tony Scott and Bob Swinney. None of them notably Germanic, they nevertheless produced some authentically German-style food for Oktober (evidenced by the German flags on the tables). To start, two varieties of sausage, frankfurters with toothpicks and a fiery German mustard hit; and kranskywurst, a slightly larger sausage served in slices on rice crisps. The aperitif wines, due to a breakdown of the fridge, were a mix of reds, both local and foreign, of various styles and quality, most of which went well with the sausage

We then sat down to a cup of what was described as “Fischsuppe”; and it was as advertised, with chunks of fish, fresh and smoked, and mussels lurking under a creamy very tasty broth. The accompanying wines, served mainly to match the main course, were a 2009 Hahndorf Hill blaufrankisch from the Adelaide Hills and a 2011 Tiefenbrunner lagrein which despite its name came from the Tyrol district of northern Italy. Both unusual grapes, the blaufankisch, an Austrian variety, regarded as somewhere between a pinot noir and a cabernet franc, this one showing nice forward fruit with some fresh acid and tannins to support it, while the lagrein was a touch extracted and overripe. Both were better with the Kasseler Rippenspeer which followed, a classic German celebratory dish of baked smoked pork loin, served in thick and juicy steaks with an excellent sauerkraut made with caraway seeds and some apple to sweeten the vinegar pickle, baked sliced potato finished off with duck fat and some sliced, not too tart, beetroot. It was all very mittel European, with plenty of smoky pickled flavours and good presentation on the plate.

For the cheese, we crossed the Alps into Switzerland to enjoy a real Le Gruyere, made in large wheels with a pronounced rind indicating some age and a wonderfully dense sweet nutty paste. With it, a choice of colours in the shape of a 2009 Vasse Felix chardonnay from WA and a 2006 Macquariedale Thomas shiraz from the Hunter. Both very good wines, but the white, with good acid length and cashew nuts on the palate, was a better match with the cheese, although the red, made organically, showed quite rich sweet but soft fruit with Hunter drying tannins to balance which also did the cheese credit.

The lunch concluded with coffee made from Yurgachef beans from the home of coffee in Ethiopia, and a stimulating finish it was, with rich roasted bean character in the mouth followed by a clean citrusy finish.

Luncheon October 11th

aasaas2aas5aas4aaas1aaasEarlier this year, Steve Liebeskind won both Chef of the Year and the Chris Alexiou Seafood Trophy for his smoked poached salmon in broth. Last week, he was back in the kitchen to give us a dish of barramundi in a Thai coconut sauce – and by crikey he may have done it again!

Before the main event, we enjoyed a fresh zingy gazpacho in shot glasses, some superior gravlax with crème fraiche on bread rounds and an intriguing mix of shredded smoked chicken and cranberry sauce with chives and walnuts served in whitlof “boats” providing a touch of contrasting bitterness to the sweetness of the sauce. The aperitif wine was the 2010 Den Mar chardonnay from the Hunter, still fresh if a bit one dimensional, and the ever reliable Lustau oloroso sherry.

Steve, with help from Graham Fear, used wild barramundi, less mushy than the farmed variety, and baked individual fillet slices with a salted skin, served upwards to preserve a bit of crispness on bok choy, on a puddle of rich coconut-based sauce made on chicken stock with galangal, kaffir lime leaves, some enoki mushrooms and, of course, a red hit of sliced chilis to give it the real flavour of Thailand. The fish was very well handled and the whole dish sang with the hot sweet and sour characters required of the region. Always a challenge with spicy food, the wine choice was thoughtful, with a 2012 Hugel gewurtztraminer from Alsace providing plenty of perfume on the nose and sweet fruit, while a 2007 Barwang 842 chardonnay from Tumbarumba was an elegant, well-structured cool-climate wine with some wood evident which made it less of a match with the food, although a superior wine.

For cheese, it was up to France with a Pont l’Eveque washed rind cows’ milk cheese from Normandy. Served quite cool and firm in the French manner, it showed some good nutty washed rind notes, but without the runny lusciousness which a tallegio from Italy showed a few weeks ago. A green salad of mizuna and rocket leaves was dressed with sliced pears and white radish and a sweet vinaigrette. The accompanying wines were a 2010 Port Philip pinot from the Mornington Peninsula, showing good soft slightly funky fruit but lacking acid to give it length, and a 2007 De Bortoli shiraz viognier from the Yarra, good drinking with the viognier dressing up the shiraz into a spicy lighter style, showing that the Yarra can do shiraz.

The coffee was a monsoon Malabar from India, the touted exposure of the raw berries to monsoon rains giving it a reduced bitterness and a rich chocolate feel in the mouth.

Mixed Luncheon October 4th



Once again, the numbers were intimate, due no doubt to school holidays and misogyny, but the spirit was great, as were the wines and food.

From the kitchen, Peter Kelso with help from Martin McMurray produced a couple of tasty canapes: olive tapenade on sourdough rounds, and a tuna-based dip served in whitlof boats. Both were largely down to Catherine Kelso and were well received, as were a brace of aperitifs: Tyrrells Old Winery rose, a better example of the drier Oz edition of this style, and the Lustau amontillado sherry, reliably nutty and lingering.

The main course saw a Thai-influenced fish parcel, accompanied by jasmine and steamed asparagus. The parcel contained pink ling pieces with a softly spicy paste made on red onion, garlic and ginger with sesame oil, coconut cream and thai basil, with a hint of green chilis, wrapped in soft lettuce leaves, and baked in foil. Moist and flaky, but not the least mushy, the meal was light and stimulating. So were the wines, a 2010 Giesen sauvignon blanc with a typical but relatively subdued grassy NZ SB palate which went well with the asparagus; and a 2012 Cannoneau di Sardegna, a Sardinian wine made from Grenache grapes and still showing good savoury tannins although starting to tire.

The cheese was once again a beauty, and this time from Australia: a Tarago Shadows of Blue from Gippsland Vic, a lovely soft double-cream blue with mild mushroom notes from the mould and great richness on the palate. It was well served by a 2012 Bourgogne Cuvee St Vincent, still quite soft but with potential for further development , a 2013 Ch de Pizay from Morgon (one of the Beaujolais crus) showing soft but full and juicy berry characters with acid and tannins to balance; and ,especially, a taste of the 2009 Constable botrytis semillon from the Hunter, with intense forward sweetness and a long finish which balanced the richness of the cheese so well. Nashi pears, roasted walnuts and golden raisins were the simple accompaniment.

Coffee was of top quality, as were the 2 types of tea which Spencer Ferrier offered as alternatives (or in addition).

Luncheon September 27th


Wine tasting 27 September 2016

This month, a line up of 6 shiraz, 5 from Oz and 1 from Europe, all served masked. But first, the Tyrrells Vat 1999 was a pretty good aperitif, even if the cork seal meant inevitable bottle variation. A Lustau amontillado was reliably excellent, as were a range of aperitifs from chef of the day Leigh Hall: superior trout pate topped with capers, a tasty assemblage of goat’s cheese, pesto and a bit of anchovy, and a hot Spanish salami with avocado mash on bread rounds.

The tasting itself produced the usual range of opinions when wines are served masked, although all agreed that the choices were quite different in weight and palate. Probably the most favoured were the 3rd and 5th wines, and it was interesting that both were Barossas: members’ tastes haven’t changed.

In order, they were:

A 2011 from St Joseph, a Northern Rhone appellation, which attracted criticism for its lack of flavour and length

2011 By Farr shiraz from Geelong, a cool climate wine with elegance, but needing more time

2004 Torbreck The Struie, a Barossa monster in the house style, rich and developed, but balanced

2004 Yarra Yering Underhill, again lighter and with some green fruit characters which were offputting to many

1998 Hewitson, at its peak from a great year, although lighter and more tannic than the Struie

1998 Tyrrells House Block, with top fruit spoiled by dirty characters, perhaps from a touch of brett.

The accompanying food was an unusual match: individual pastry parcels of sea mullet with a tapenade on top, and nicely crunchy green beans. Fish with (big) reds was a brave choice, but the oily earthiness of the mullet, and the bite of the olives in the tapenade at least gave it a chance. Good marks for presentation, with a slightly caramellised slice of lemon atop the pastry parcels.

The tasting wines proved an ideal complement for the cheese, an Italian taleggio washed rind in beautiful condition with salty orange rind and a wonderfully nutty sticky paste. A simple green salad, with a big garlic hit in the dressing, accompanied it.

The coffee was a New Guinea Pearl bean, good rich mouthfeel and a nice note of citric bitterness in the finish.

20 September


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What a lunch. After numbers in the 30s we attracted some 48 members to the lunch. Denis Redfern assisted by Dennis Cooper did it proud by presenting us a classic Raymond Blanc main of lamb Provençal as served at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Oxford.

Canapés. Two canapes were served. Firstly, home pickled (four days) herring served on a sliver of lettuce on a round of black bread. Secondly an avocado dip seasoned with the usual plus shallots and lemon all served in pastry cups. Both much enjoyed judging by the empty platters.

Aperitif wine. Whilst the healthy numbers meant a number of odd bottles were served, the main starter was the Warramate Riesling 2011 from the Yarra. It was an off-dry style with enough acid to make it balanced. At its peak it was a style to which some were indifferent.

Main course. Whilst not having eaten at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons this was exclaimed as a faithful rendition of the original. The lamb had been heavily trimmed of fat before being well encased in Dijon mustard, breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic etc. It came to table beautifully pink served with classic ratatouille made from the usual suspects. As a throwback to our younger days the dish was accompanied by garlic bread. And guess what, it was much liked.

The wines.

  • Vinden Estate Basket Press Shiraz 2010 (screwcap, 13.5%)
  • Chateau d’Aydie Madiran 2009 (cork, 14%)
  • Timo Mayer Granite Pinot Noir 2012 (Yarra) 2013 (cork, 13%)
  • Soumah Chardonnay 2013 (Yarra) (screwcap, 12.7%)

The Vinden is a younger drinking Hunter style Shiraz. Some spicy character with a softness that made it a workman like drinkable style. The Madiran from the Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées region is predominately Tannat a hearty black grape. Whilst more time is required for it to reach its peak it was surprisingly approachable. This was a donation to the Society once again by Tony Scott. Again, the wine education element is an important function of our lunches.

The wonders of white wine with cheese were on show once again. However, firstly the Timo Mayer red. The label is new to many of us and comes from a tiny vineyard in the upper Yarra. It had a typical lighter bodied Pinot style with a touch of sweetness balanced by tannins. Good stuff. The Soumah Chardonnay was much appreciated as an excellent match to the cheese.

Cheese and coffee. Another favourite today with Buche d’Affinios from the Rhone-Alpes. Wonderfully ripe (a real pain to slice) it is a reminder of the high quality cheese Society members enjoy.

Coffee was a prestigious affair with Spencer introducing Rob Forsyth of Forsyth Coffee and Federico Halsband the MD of a Costa Rican importer. Rob supplies the large majority of our coffee through his store in Naremburn. He has done that for over 35 years and is a committee member and judge at the World Barista Championship. Federico gave a presentation about the coffee from Coast Rica and the unfair market conditions in this 100% Arabica bean country.

And of course we had coffee from Costa Rica. Two in fact, a Centro Americano and a Santa Cruz. There was marked difference in the cup for those who tried both.

A wonderfully attended lunch with quality in spades in all areas.

13 September

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Paul Irwin presented a high degree of difficulty/risk main course partnered by a time consuming preparation. Preparing individual pie bases by hand for 40 servings is not for the faint hearted but he pulled it off with the assistance of Steve Liebeskind in the kitchen.

Canapés. We started off with a fine duck liver pâté on bread rounds. The pâté was robust with a very pleasant touch of sweetness provided by Cointreau Blood Orange Liqueur. Very moreish. We then moved on to a sweet potato and cashew combination on bread rounds topped off with preserved red capsicums. A striking colour and flavour variance with fuller sweet and nutty flavours.  

Aperitif wine. Paul Ferman selected a La Cana Rias Baixas Albarino 2012 (12.5%). The Rias Baixas DO specialises in Albarino which is becoming more familiar to Australians thanks to chains like Dan Murphys offering a number of labels. The wine sees no wood and in its youth is firm and steely with a nice acid structure well suited to food. At three years of age this wine has a pronounced yellow colour and had softened considerably. It divided the room with opinions. It did stand up to the full flavoured canapés but some may have liked it more in its youth.

Main course.  With a degree of difficulty of about 8 on the sports scale the duck pie was a great success. Paul made the pastry from scratch and then formed each shell by hand. Then of course he used 12 ducks which he hand dismembered/dispatched (although I think they were deceased when received them), then roasted the bones for the stock along with carrots, celery, rosemary and thyme. The resulting ragu had a wonderful depth of flavour and consistency. The shell did not get soft and collapse but remained firm. Paul, in retrospect, said he will ensure that they are a little more malleable next time. A puff pastry hat topped the pie. The pie was served with roasted vegetables in duck fat (hence the plates were well cleared), a sour apple sauce and spinach leaf.

The wines.

  • Jamshead garden Gully Syrah 2011 (Great Western) (cork, 14.4%)
  • Olivers Taranga HJ Reserve Shiraz 2008 (screwcap, 15%)
  • Taturry Mosselini Syrah (Mornington) 2013 (cork, 13.6%)
  • Rosemount Balmoral Shiraz 2007 (screwcap, 15%)

All in all these were a bunch of big wines as requested by our chef to match the full flavour of the duck ragu. However, the first pairing was quite different. The Jamshead was a more modern style of GW red. Big but elegant and not showing hotness despite the alcohol. The Olivers was their flagship and it was huge but soft in that McLaren style way. Unashamedly old-fashioned.

With cheese another dichotomy of style. The Taturry had a Pinot-like build with modern Syrah showing. The Rosemount was bigger as befits a Balmoral and drinking very well at 9 years of age. Spicy and soft if not a great year in the Vale.

Cheese and coffee. No one could quite recall the last time we had Australia’s own Heidi Gruyere from Exton, Tasmania. From a 10 kg wheel the cheese was in perfect condition. A sweetness and nuttiness flavour with a firm body. Great choice James Healey. This was served with parsley based salad.

Spencer Ferrier provided a potted history of El Salvador coffee and it’s decline in quality linked to the poor national government and widespread gang violence. He was not overly impressed with the coffee but it did possess a pleasant sweetness.

Spencer foreshadowed that next week he would have Costa Rican coffee entrepreneur to give a brief presentation to the lunch.

VP Peter Kelso addressed the issue of a decline in the number of members volunteering to cook. He asked members to organise a few cooking pairings to contact our Foodmaster re a future lunch.

To Paul Irwin, a huge effort for the lunch. Thank you.

6 September 2016


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In summary Paul Ferman provided a wonderful lunch with layers of taste types, colours and styles. It was pleasing to see good numbers and some members we have not seen for a while especially Peter Manners fully recovered from his City to Surf accident and keen to have his postponed lunch back on the schedule. James’s Hill and Healey assisted Paul with canapés and in the kitchen.

Canapés. Once again we were treated to three starters. Firstly, an Elizabeth David inspiration, the famed Spanish Oritz anchovies on a tapenade with (of course) Iggys bread. Just stunning anchovies. Then Paul’s homemade pork terrine with a seam of truffle and foie gras running through the centre served with Simon Johnson’s rhubarb chutney on bread rounds. To finish off a consommé of much reduced chicken stock, veal shoulder, truffle oil and vegetables. Much liked.

Aperitif wine. The main wine was a Domaine Chatelain Pouilly-Fume 2014. This appellation is basically 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Bright and crisp at 12% but a little too acidic if not enjoying a canapé at the time. It’s easy to be critical of ‘Savvy” but Pouilly-Fume and Sancerre can be exceptions. We also had the last of the Oceans 8 Chardonnay 2009 and it was a little flat and in need of drinking.

Main course.  Paul’s main of lamb shank was described as a cornucopia of colour and variety on the plate. Where to start? Served on a Neil Perry recipe of polenta of cornmeal and buckwheat with chicken stock it was accompanied by carrots, zucchini, cucumber and beetroot. Some comments indicated that their meat was slightly dry but others were full of praise for its juiciness, tenderness and flavour.

The wines.

  • Anne Gros/Jean-Paul Tollot LA50/50 2012 (Languedoc) (cork, 14%)
  • Clos de Gamot Cahors 2010 (cork, 12.5%)
  • Tyrrells Vat 47 Chardonnay 2007 (screwcap, 14%)
  • The Yard Shiraz 2010 (Mount Franklin WA) (screwcap cork, 13.6%)

The first pairing was interesting in that they both had that drying Northern style. The 50/50 was predominately Grenache and attracted varying views. The Grenache was showing as a savoury overtone to the wine. The Cahors was surprisingly light in alcohol at 12.5%. Cahors was in the distant past referred to as ‘the black wine of Cahors’. At least 70% Malbec it was powerful but elegant with a good mouthfeel and long finish. It still needs time.

With the cheese the Vat 47 was brilliant. The early austerity is giving way to softness with peaches and other fruits evident. It has a good future. The Shiraz from Larry Cherubino in WA is a substantial wine but not without elegance. The oak needs time to soften.

Cheese and coffee. James Healey selected a Berry’s Creek Tarwin Blue from Gippsland. A cow’s milk cheese it was moist and not too crumbly. In fact, it was clinging to the knife in the way that makes you want to put the knife (not recommended) in your mouth. Comments from members had it in France and Australia.

Spencer Ferrier (in absentia) provided Costa Rica La Magnolia Estate. It was decaffeinated and the first such coffee for 2016. From Costa Rica it is shipped to Vancouver for processing. It has a sweet aroma and is full flavoured in the cup. It would take a very experienced palate to pick the decaff nature.

Paul Ferman generously provided two bottles of McWilliams Vintage Port 1966 which under screwcap was in stunning condition. An amazing Aussie fortified.

And thanks to member Tony Scott for donating to our Society the aperitif wine and the Cahors. Very generous.

Our Chair for the day (and the coming six weeks) was VP Peter Kelso who presented new member Peter Missingham with his member bow tie as part of his welcome to our Society.

A very good lunch. If you know members who do not know what they are missing out on with our lunches, please give them a call.

30 August Wine Lunch

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Today we had a “virgin chef” in the guise of Professor Mark Bradford, or simply Mark, assisted by a very experienced kitchen person in Gary Patterson. A fearless decision to do a wine lunch with plating for 40 plus members. And it was a success.

Canapés. Mark treated us to three starters. In no particular order we started with Oysters with ponzu sauce. Then “Calabrese bites”, skewers of fresh basil leaf, half cherry tomato, half bocconcini ball, sun-dried tomato wrapped with salami, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and warmed. These were excellent and flew off the plate. Finally, Iggy's baguette topped with powdered Parmesan topped with prepared tapenade paste, ricotta and a quarter trussed cherry tomato. The tomato was covered with caster sugar and salt and drizzled with olive oil and served warm.

Alas they were not all Mark’s ideas. Sandra, his friend from Calgary, Alberta, suggested inspirations from Company's Coming, a local Canadian food bible. We are appreciative.

Aperitif wine. We started the day with William Fevre Chablis 2012. Fevre is a respected house and this is their Domaine or standard Chablis. Most thought that it lacked the tight and flinty fruit characteristics of good typical Chablis and was a little flat. Given 2012 was a very good Chablis vintage this was a surprise. It may have opened up in the glass but did not have the chance on the day.

Main course. Mark selected to serve chicken cacciatore or hunter style chicken. It was braised skinless chicken thigh and drumstick with skin on, cooked in generous amounts of red and green capsicums, sliced onion, garlic, mushrooms, white wine, diced tomatoes, ground dried thyme and a little turmeric served over Israeli couscous and topped with parmesan shavings and fresh chopped parsley.

The flavours were well integrated and of sufficient strength to be interesting without challenging the vino at this wine lunch. A delicate balance is always required.

The wines – a wine lunch

  • Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2004 (cork)
  • Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2002 (cork)
  • Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 1998 (cork)
  • Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 1990 (cork)
  • Lindemans Limestone Ridge Shiraz Cabernet 1998 (cork)
  • Chateau Haut-Bages Liberal 2002 (Bordeaux left bank, predom Cabernet) (cork)

The wines were served from youngest to oldest as is our habit. It worked well here but at the July wine lunch the varying styles of Italian regions may be better served in style groups. Food for thought.

As a group the 389’s were as expected. Powerful and long lasting. The 1990 at 26 years still had faint chocolate on the palate and depending on the luck of the bottle was at its peak or maybe a tad past it. It was the wine of the lunch for many. The 1998 continues to be point of discussion. In its youth it was beautiful but seems to be paying a high price for maturity.

The Limestone Ridge attracted dissent. No doubt this was due to bottle variation. A lighter style, drying out but has retained some elegance. I would have preferred it slightly younger but comments lay both sides of this view. The Bordeaux like all other wines was served blind. Few picked it as the sole French wine. Classic Medoc from a trying year. However, it was drinking well but a touch fresher fruit would have made it even better.

All in all, a wine lunch holding up the standard.

Cheese and coffee. Today James Healey served us the Cabot Clothbound Cheddar (style) from Vermont in the good ‘ol US of A. This long matured cheese (and hence sometimes in short supply) is a high priced cow’s milk cheese that comes in 17 kg wheels. We only managed 3 kg at the lunch. A little crumbly and wonderfully sweet and nutty.

The cheese was served with walnuts and Greek sun dried figs. The pièce de résistance was the Iggy’s bread that was served all the way through the lunch. A great ‘stretchy’ texture few bakers can match.

Spencer Ferrier rushed in early to the lunch (but court awaited) to apportion the coffee servings of Indian Mysore coffee. He describes it as of not outstanding quality but served it to compare to his commercial coffee education experience where we have had Vittoria, Lavazza and Illy in recent weeks. It compared very well and comments nearby were excellent.