Lunch 9 June 2015

The Mixed Lunch following the Queen's birthday brought out a merry crowd of 41 eager to enjoy themselves.Peter Black was in the kitchen ably assisted my his wife Margaret.

First off was a spoon of home smoked salmon which after curing in brown sugar and salt was washed off and smoked for 6 hours over cherry wood.This was served with a spot of wasabi mayonnaise and decorated with a little salmon roe. Delicious.

The following canape was Peter's home made terrine consisting of pork belly,chicken, chicken livers and pistachionuts,seasoned with fines herbes,nutmeg,thyme,sage & allspice.Served on slices of baguette with toppings of both cornichon or onion puree it won many plaudits.

Aperitif wines were Wolf Blass White Label Chardonnay 2003 - still drinking very well although one or two members feltit was getting past it's drinking window.Others felt strongly that this was not the case and it still had time in hand.Two fine sherries were also on offer Lustau Papirusa Manzanilla and Lustau Amontillado Los Arcos - both well known to members and as ever superb and full of character.

Main course was a hearty chicken broth containing the bird with tarragon,garlic,onions,leek,fennel, kipfler potatoes tomato and verjuice.Topped with some pistou(tarragon,parmesan & olive oil) it provided a tasty and satisfying dish.

Wines with this were Kayena Vineyard Tamar Ridge Pinot 2009 and La Zona Barbera 2010.Opinions were divided over thebest match with the Pinot just getting the vote.

Cheese was a Bleu de Laqueuille from the Auvergne made from pasteurised cow's milk.Salty and tangy it was a good example of it's type - not overpowering but certainly no shrinking violet.

Two Coonawarra Cabernets from 2004 were the choice to accompany this.Burton and Zema Estate again dividedthe room with the nod going to the Burton.Great fruit standing up to a cheese with muscle.

Coffee was from Ethiopia - a washed blend with full flavour,good acidity and a long finish.

Lunch 2nd June 2015

 "Virgin Chef" David Madson with James Tinslay asssisting ventured into the kitchen to produce same fine fare for some 35 members.Proceedings got off to a good start with canapes of smoked trout and avocado blended with horseradish cream and lemon on crackers.James produced a goat's cheese asparagus and leek frittata.Both canapes were a good match to the canapé wine which was Tyrrells Vat 4 Stevens Semillon 2007 a classic hunter bouquet, palate was lengthy and complex still drinking "young" and only 12%Alc .The seal was stelvin. Some members had ventured out to Milperra to vista Joe Periera smallgoods factory on the  weekend and brought back some experimental chorizo to try, it was served blind with a request to identify the was duck!! 

Our main course was a spiced rubbed Lamb back strap which came to the table perfectly moist and tender. The spice rub was coriander cumin and fennel seeds baked then ground with addition of olive oil and Harissa.The flavour of the spices  were evident however did not overwhelm the quality and texture of the meat. This was accompanied by some cous cous with chopped olives, chives and preserved lemon. On top of the lamb was a rich tomato sauce combined with some onion and sambal oelek.Comment was made and the quality and flavours of the meal along with contentious "tomatoes with wine"debate The food was a good match for our wines a 2009 Den Mar Cabernet Sauvignon Pokolbin Hunter Valley 13.5% and 2010 Lindemans Shiraz Bin 1003 also from the Hunter Valley. The Cabernet showed good fruit some tannins balance and spice while the Lindemans by contrast a lighter  style typical Hunter still sowing fruit and acid. The Lindemans was favoured for the food match.  

The cheese was Delice de Bourgogne from France, a white mould cow's milk cheese.Our cheese master said it was a little cold as it had just been delivered before lunch however it was a sumptuous cheese buttery sweet with the mould coat not dominating the flavour.  A bowl of  dried fig mixed nuts goji berry and dried mango were served the cheese as well as "water table" biscuits. The wines were  2009 Guigal Cote du Rhone Valley France 14% alc and 2011Glandore Tempranillo Hunter Valley 13.6%alc The Cote du Rhone is 50% syrah 45% Grenache and 5% Mouvedre deeply coloured earthy flavour  with a little spice.The Glandore was a lighter style a hint of vanilla with dark fruit aroma. The Rhone was preferred as the cheese match.

To finish a great lunch lunch Spencer Ferrier provided a Panamanian La Gloria Arabica coffee with exhibited some acid, smooth on palate and flavourful. 

Wine tasting 26 May 2015


Stand in Wine Master Hilton Chapman selected the wines for the monthly tasting. In order of appearance,  Goaty Hill 2010 Pinot Noir Tamar Valley Tasmania 13.5% alc, Tyrrells Vat 6 2010 Pinot Hunter Valley 13.3%alc, Coldstream Hills 2008 Pinot  Yarra Valley Victoria 14% alc, Corton Grand Cru 2005 Domaine du Pavillon Clos des Marechaudis  13.5% alc and two masked wines which were revealed as:Tyrrells 2007 4 Acres Shiraz Hunter valley13.5%, Domaine Lucien Barrot et fils Chateau Neuf du Pape 1999 13.5% alc. The first two wines were the least favoured by members simile pinots, the Coldsteam hills was elegant with substance some hard tannins made in a difficult year.The Corton was disappointing 05 a good year it had power and intensity but lacking the bouquet and flavour we'd normally associate with a wine of this quality.The Chateau Neuf du Pape was regarded as the wine food match for the afternoon it showed very good soft fruit good mature wine

The wines were matched with some spicy, but not too much so, food from Gary Patterson and excellent canapes from his son David . These took the form of a trout and grated horseradish served on spoons and smoked rainbow trout with galangal, garlic,chili fish sauce mixture topped with fried shallot and lime, palm sugar sauce served on betel leaves. There was more than enough to satisfy the 46 members who turned up for the tasting. 

 With them came a Tyrrells 2012 Belford chardonnay 13% under stelvin fruit driven chardonnay no dominant oak with some acid it went well with the canapes. also served was Lustau Amontillado los arcos sherry nutty dry and rich.    

The main course of duck breast cooked in a sauce of asian spices but no overwhelming heat  and  moist with accompanying sliver beet and a slightly crunchy potato gratin. There were good flavours to match the wines, and the bigger ones went better with the food.

The cheese was a "Pereezin Capra al Foglia di once" form Veneto Ital and semi hard pasteurised Goats Milk wrapped in walnut leaves it came to the table at perfect temperature it had  a savoury finish and walnut character with dense texture.

The  coffee was ethiopia sidamo guji a complex acid coffee with berry flavour and fragrance.


Lunch 19 May 2015

The team of Robert Wiggin and Michael Milward were in the kitchen last Tuesday supported by Robert's daughter Chantelle Wiggins. Numbers were down as it seems half of our members are in Europe however proceedings got off to great start with some well executed lamb and pea filo samosas and Tandoori lamb chops topped with coriander moist and perfectly cooked. Both starters had a matching dip of cucumber and yoghurt. 

Our canape wine was a 2006 Mt Pleasant "Anne" semillon from standin wine master James Hill, good acid and length an example of mature Hunter semillon with 10.5% alcohol.

Robert took us to India with his main course, in the shape of chicken roasted on ginger garlic and Greek yoghurt , accompanied on the plate with potato and pea dry curry mixture blenede with a Korea sauce and Baltin and "jalfrezi" capsicum onion sauce and and good crunchy steamed broccolini.Rice was perfectly cooked with pepperes and onions and side dishes of fresh chili,cucumber and yoghurt and chutney were there to enhance the flavours. It was spicy with some chili heat but not to overwhelm the dish and our palates . A choice of wine styles to go with it featuring a 2006 Warramate Rose from Yarra Valley 100% Malbec 13% alc and 2006 Cloudy Bay Pinot from NZ. Both were good, the local showing mature fruit and a dry style, drinking well; whilst the NZ  wine showed berry fruit with a sweetness to match the curry a good style of wine preferred by most as the wine and food match. 

The cheese was the classic Fromager d'Affinois from France, a rich cow's milk cheese with a buttery texture and creamy suble flavour. Mandarin, passionfruit and black grapes were  served with it as well as crunchy wheat biscuits. The wines were  2006 Tyrrells Steven Shiraz 13.5% alc and the 2002 Rosemount Mountain Blue Cabernet Shiraz 14.5.% alc . The Stevens was an elegant wine with balanced flavour no harshness on the palate still under developed, the Mountain Blue was drinking very well on the day still some fruit showing with good length silky tannins.

The coffee was Devon and Spencer breweed a Chai tea with ginger a great finish to an excellent lunch. 

Lunch 12 May 2015

A mass exodus overseas by members including the President Wine Master and Vice-president saw Steve Liebeskind chairing the lunch and Peter Kelso doing wines for chef James Hill, assisted by Gary Linnane. At least Ross MacDonald was on hand with the cheese, with Spencer Ferrier dispensing the coffee.

Canapes were provided by Gary in part, comprising a nicely textured and flavoured salmon rillettes on small sourdough slices from Iggy's; the balance being two types of saloumi, or spicy pork sausage,from James, simply served in rounds. One was mild, the other slightly hot, but both were outstanding, although the milder was better in texture. This all went well with an aperitif 2005 Lindemans Bin 0555 semillon, bottled under stelvin and still lemon-fresh, but with a note of toast starting to come through.

Duck was in James' sights for the main course, and he brought them home extremely well, with breasts of Dolly Parton dimensions seared then pan-roasted and served with a good red wine based sauce meurette. It was accompanied by some well-executed slightly sweet chopped red cabbage, by some chat potatoes (slightly under)done in goose fat, and a surprise slice of fruit which many identified as a not too sweet stewed quince, briefly finished off in the frypan. Vinously, there had to be, and was, a pinot, the 2009 Stonier from Mornington Peninsula, soft with firm pinot characters but a little short; but also a 2008 Vasse Felix cabernet from Margaret River, a lovely wine in its own right although opinions differed on its suitability for the duck.

Ross' attempts to get a top French cheese were disappointed, so instead we had a top cheese from Holland, an unpasteurised Boerenkass 15-month aged gouda which had an intense rich nutty flavour and a firm dense texture. A green salad went with it, enlivened with a hit of tarragon and some sliced radishes. The accompanying wines were a 2008 Seppelts Chalambar shiraz from a couple of regions in mid Victoria and a 2002 Saltram Mamre Brook Barossa shiraz. The former was rich and clean in the typical style with good drying tannins, whilst the latter provoked a bit of comment , from the " too much fruit and alcohol (15%)" to the "mother's milk", depending on palate, There was no doubt it was a typical but superior fruit bomb Barossa, impressive for its age.

And the question of age reared its head with the coffee, with birthday boy Neil Galbraith (age undisclosed) providing us with a 1981 Lindemans vintage port of soft sweet fruit and a bit of spirit to help its length on the palate. The coffee itself was a single origin Colombian bean sourced from the barista daughter of food master Nick Reynolds, mild and showing distinct bitter chocolate notes on the palate.

Lunch 5 May 2015

We expected cool and rainy weather for  what advised to be a perfect cold weather dish however the sun shone and it enticed some forty members into attending lunch with Bill Alexiou in the kitchen, Paul Irwin (our wine recorder) on wines, Ross MacDonald on cheese and Spencer Ferrier in charge of coffee.

Canapes were prepared by Peter Squires and Peter Manners and comprised a zuchinni and feta frittata as well as finely sliced lamb backstrap topped with a Greek version of babaganoush which has pomegranate seeds and yoghurt instead of tahini .There was also sliced boiled egg with a tapenade, the last on toasted bread that could have been crisper to complement the toppings. Accompanying them was the Pikes riesling 2006 drinking very well and still fresh under stelvin . The reliable Lustau sherry was also on offer this time.

The main course was a Greek "stifada", marinated beef cheek in a luscious sauce made on tomato carrot and flavour enhancers of cinnamon, bay leaf and cloves . Also on the plate was some risoni , little grains of pasta resembling rice in appearance . It was a meal of robust flavours and good texture. Served with it were a Burtons Limestone Ridge Merlot 2001 13.5% alc which showed good fruit and flavour; and a Warrenmang Estate Black Puma shiraz 2001 from the Pyreenes area of Victoria. At 15% it was a big wine, elegant and well balanced with dominant blackberry fruit.

.The cheese this week: a Tarago Shadows of Blue made from pasteurised cow's milk from Gippsland Victoria .It was a rich double cream blue vein cheese with a creamy flavour, a good aged example of the style with nutty and salty tastes on the palate. It was simply served with a salad of walnut, lettuce, rocket and pear. The accompanying wines were a 1999 Rosemount Estate Mountain Blue shiraz cabernet from Mudgee ( 14% alc) and 1999 Pirramimma Maclaren Vale Stocks Hill Shiraz(14% alc).The Mudgee wine was judged wine of the day by speakers: it was well balanced and flavoured with blackberry eucalyptus characters. The Pirrammma was well past its bed time, most bottles "dusty" with oxidised character and hard acid end palate.

The red wines were all under cork.

The coffee was made on beans from El Salvador, a sweet light coffee well matched to follow the cheese course

Wine tasting 28 April 2015

Wine Master Paul Ferman selected the wines for the monthly tasting before he departed for foreign climes, so was not there to receive the accolades which flowed from a great collection of SA reds from 2004. In order of appearance, they were: Penfolds Bin 407 cabernet; Grant Burge Shadrach cabernet; Majella Coonawarra cabernet; Orlando St Hugo Coonawarra cabernet ; and 2 masked wines (same State and year) which were revealed as: Burton McLaren Vale shiraz; and Penfolds Bin 389 cabernet-shiraz. It was a terrific lineup, and not a dud among them, leading to a diversity of preferences, although the 389, a dark monster with years ahead of it, seemed to find unanimous favour. Otherwise, the bigger fruit wines, particularly the St Hugo and the Shadrach, were preferred to the more elegant 407, Majella and Burton, but all agreed the whole range was the best seen at a tasting for some time.

The quality of the wines was enhanced by some spicy, but not too much so, food from Paul Thorne, with Keith Steele on canapes. These took the form of a very good homemade terrine with a dab of quince paste on thin baguette toasts, and little cups of a tasty but still zingy tomato-based Moroccan soup. With them came a single aperitif, the 2003 Richmond Grove Watervale riesling, showing some maturity but still youthful zest, a slight spritz and plenty of fruit. The Moroccan theme continued into the main course of lamb shoulder, slow cooked in a broth of Mid-Eastern spices but no heat and served fall-apart but still moist with accompanying hand-around plates of quinoa with pine nuts, chopped dates and other goodies, and a warm salad of red capsicum and tomato with sliced red onion. There were strong flavours to match the strength of the wines, and the bigger ones went better with the food.

It was back home for the cheese, a very young, snow white and creamy Meredith chevre from Victoria, mild and lactic with a sourness that went well with fresh figs, dates and fresh walnuts in a sugar glaze in the Moroccan fashion; but not quite so well with the tasting wines, although it was better with the aperitif riesling for those who managed to save a bit.

The memorable meal concluded with a not-so-memorable coffee, a single estate from Panama obviously grown with the US market in mind, soft, pleasant and inoffensive.

Lunch 21 April 2015

It was good to see Bruce Thomas( immaculately attired as usual in chef's whites) back in the kitchen, assisted by good mate and fellow member Mark Compton.

First up were some fine canapes, a piece of Bruce's trademark lightly cured salmon with crème fraiche in a short pastry cup, and some quality duck liver pate with lashings of grand marnier on plain thin toasts. The main aperitif to accompany was a 2013 Tellurian marsanne from Heathcote, fresh and juicy but a bit sweet and monodimensional. Also on offer was the last of the McWilliams Vintage amontillado sherry, rich and full but lacking the cut of the Lustau equivalent.

For the main course, Bruce took us to Normandy, with large veal backstraps roasted, sliced and served on a bed of celeriac and winter root vegetable puree with slice of cored and poached spiced apple on top and a veal reduction stock enriched with calvados, verjuice and cream poured over. Completing the plate were some perfectly crunchy beans and snow peas. The meat was great, although with inevitable differences in doneness according to the part of the backstrap it came from. The sauce was a joy, and in all it was a classic French bistro dish, not too heavy but tasty and satisfying. Satisfying, and interesting, might also be applied to the accompanying wines: a 2010 Nicolas Reau Pompois Anjou and a Mediterra Toscana from the same year. Neither was familiar to most members; the Anjou, made from cabernet franc grapes, was youthfully purple, with a pronounced spritz, some briary characters and clean, while the Toscana was made from traditional shiraz, cabernet and merlot and showed as a more serious wine with fine tannins balancing some high (14.5%) alcohol and a good match with the food. If they expanded members' horizons, that is no bad thing.

The cheese, of course, also came from Normandy: a rather young but decidedly delicious Fromage de Meaux, the pasteurised version of Brie de Meaux. It showed typical grassy notes in the paste, which was still crumbly and slightly sour in the centre, with lovely floury rind and no hint of ammonia. With it, Bruce served his trademark quince paste, a developed and slightly tart labour of love, and some fresh walnuts, now in season. Wine Master Paul Ferman returned to Australia with a 2000 Tyrrells Vat 1 semillon and a 2010 Tappanappa Foggy Hill pinot from the Fleurieu Peninsula of SA. The Vat 1 was still a baby, with high acid dominating the top fruit and perhaps a bit restrained for the cheese compared with the pinot, made by Brian Crozer and a really good Oz pinot, with Burgundian notes on the nose and nice vegetal characters on the palate; it needs time to improve

Finally, Spencer Ferrier gave us a coffee made on medium roast beans from a single estate in Panama, in the lighter style but with a firm finish and enough acid to give it interest. It was outclassed by a birthday wine from Martin McMurray, a 12-year matured Stanton & Killeen muscat from Rutherglen, grapey, sweet and luscious, the classic Xmas pudding in a glass.

AGM and lunch 14 April 2015

Food Master Nick Reynolds had the job ahead of him, serving a lunch to about 40 members following the AGM which concluded about 12 noon. The intervening hour was filled by a succession of wines from the generous Wine Master, along with plenty of canapes from Nick and Bill Alexiou: the result was an unusually boisterous crowd sitting down at 1pm.

Nick and Bill took it all in their stride, however. For starters, Bill produced some wonderful pork and beef Greek meatballs and a zingy beetroot paste on bread crisps, while Nick came up with a lemony homemade hummus under a nicely done coffin Bay scallop topped by a piece of grilled bresaola, or air-dried beef, on ceramic spoons. Accompanying them, the wines included, but were not limited to, a 1997 Tyrrells Stevens Semillon, a 1998 Steingarten riesling, a 1998 Vat 1 semillon from Tyrrells, a Picnic pinot from Central Otago in NZ and a choice of amontillado and manzanilla Lustau sherries. Space, and an increasing blur, do not permit notes on each.

As previously stated, Nick faced the hordes at table undaunted. Sundry sous vide tanks on display indicated what was to come, and some wonderfully bright pink fillets of ocean trout duly appeared, sprinkled with a dusting of Middle Eastern spices and served with an appropriately slightly pickled salad of fennel and crumbled fetta cheese, boosted with intense fennel pollen. With the rich but not oily fish appeared a 2009 Ocean Eight chardonnay from Mornington Peninsula, with crisp stone fruit characters on nose and palate but lacking depth; and a 2010 Port Phillip pinot noir from the same area, plenty of sweet fruit on the palate in the lighter Oz style but needing a bit more time to develop depth.

The cheese was, as ever, great, a Secret de Scey semi-hard cows' milk cheese from the Franche-Comte region of France, with a distinctive vein of ash and a salt-washed rind, showing good mild creamy flavours and soft chewy consistency. Some salted mixed nuts were an ok accompaniment, as were a 2006 Epsilon shiraz from the Barossa, showing typical overripe fruit and big bricky characters but some strong tannins to give it a degree of elegance; and a 1998 Bowen Coonawarra cabernet, light and elegant for a Bowen, mature and better with the cheese.

An El Salvador (Central American) medium roast bean was the basis for a smooth, relatively soft coffee in the US style to bring proceedings to a final halt.

Mixed lunch 7 April 2015

Who said members avoid mixed lunches? Even our President was among the 54 members and guests who assembled on the first day after the Easter break to enjoy some great food from Roger Straiton in the kitchen, and ditto wines, cheese and coffee from the usual respective providers.

Vinously, Paul Ferman started with an eclectic mix of a Bredif sparkling chenin blanc from Vouvray, a McWilliams Museum Release amontillado sherry and some still whites, chiefly the Tim Smith Eden Valley Riesling seen at previous lunches.A campari was provided to liven up the vouvray! All very refreshing but no fireworks. Not so some terrific canapes, actually prepared by Ian and Chris Witter: homemade ocean trout gravlax with a tangy sauce on pumpernickel, and a rich savoury duck liver parfait simply served on crispbread.

Roger promised, and delivered, quality fillet of beef, with whole Angus fillets roasted blood pink, sliced and served with a classic sauce chasseur made on mushrooms, herbs and heaps of booze, with some crunchy dutch carrots and some little potato croquettes completing the plate. It all turned on the beef, and Roger certainly delivered. So did the wine master, with a 2009 Ch Peyredon Bordeaux from Haut-Medoc, juicy but savoury, and a 2008 Crozes-Hermitage from Dom de Clairmont, also refreshing if a bit thin on fruit.

The cheese was another triumph, a soft and sticky but fresh and clean fromager d'affinois from the Rhone-Alpes region of France, buttery and sweet with a soft lactic aftertaste. Simple green seedless grapes were an ideal accompaniment. The first accompanying wine was a 2004 Providence "Miguet" chardonnay from Tasmania, fully developed and showing top integration of fruit and acid to yield a fine match with the cheese. Also a match, but an even better wine, was the 2001 Seppelts Chalambar shiraz from Victoria, also well developed with a rich fruit overlay on classy tannins, and certainly the best wine of the day. Assorted ½ bottles of sticky whites were also in evidence, and soon accounted for.

Spencer Ferrier wound things up by giving a choice of a coffee made on Aceh beans form Indonesia, with strong chocolate characters in the mouth and a good long finish; and English Breakfast tea, but not as Mr Twinings knows it. Two perfect ways to finish a standout meal.