Food review by Robert Wiggins and wine review by Richard Gibson

Food Review

Hmm, well lunch today was a Dickens of a meal. I have been requested to provide an exec summary for those that do not or have not the time for my long missives.

Exec Summary;

“Less is more” and “Please sir, can I have some more and not another subway”, accompanied by several cold-climate Aussie shiraz.

Now for the real story, worthy of a Charles Dickens novel.  The one thing that was not missing from this meal was bread!

As good old Charlie wrote regarding Oliver, many years ago; “Please sir can I have some more?”

The 3 canapes were accompanied by a 2019 Tyrrells HDV Semillon, which was very well balanced and appropriate with the canapes.  This was a good wine with length, lemon, lime and fresh fruit.

The tasty fish cakes made an impression and the pork balls were dipped luxuriously in a hoisin sauce and were delicious, but prone to falling apart on the serving plate.

The prawn wrapped in a deep-fried crispy light batter was also tasty, again as long as you were careful and able to get it into your mouth without decorating the carpet with the seafood, as many did.  Good thing we aren’t paying for the cleaning bill. As Mark said, “the vacuum cleaner was his best friend”!

The second white was a 2019 Italian Langhe Favorita from Alessandria, a very different type of grape than most of us were used to. Nice palate, but not exceptional. There are over 300 indigenous grapes residing in this area.

It was slightly reminiscent of a sweetish sherry.

Lunch was called and we expectantly sat down for the main course.  Imagine our surprise when we were greeted by a very large bun, encompassing most of the plate and a very small serving of the meat and veg.

Billed as the recreation of Dien Bien Fu, this time the French Bread won as not enough Vietnamese food arrived.  Mark, remarked that his local Vietnamese bakery let him down with the “baguette”.

A common comment was where is the main meal?  I must admit that I have never had a subway lunch at the Society, so I suppose there is a first for everything.  The idea was to take the small portions on the plate, rip the baguette in half and voila, decorate your baguette with the meal in a true subway fashion.

The food was very tasty, however, there was really only enough for a third of the baguette to be filled.

I think that somewhere along the line, Mark’s slide rule slipped when calculating out the portions that were required.  This was measured right down to the last gram, as there certainly was not enough of the main meal for everyone to be satisfied. Indeed, we had an unplanned extra member show up, and there wasn’t even enough food for the chef, who had to settle for a steak, rather than the food on offer.  Second helpings were certainly not in order as the pot had already been scraped bare, with the first go around.  There was a lot of scratching of heads on what to eat next, a bit like a hobbit’s meal, wondering what was for afternoon tea whilst consuming the lunch. A few of the elves found themselves afterwards in a Spanish establishment sating their appetite and quenching their thirst.

As this was a wine tasting, the six cool-climate shiraz’s were already poured.

The French cheese was a Secret de Scey (like a Morbier) with an ash wash through it.  Very creamy for a semi-hard cheese.  This was accompanied by more bread and some crackers. Notes from the importer:

Australian regulations prohibit the importation of the beautiful raw

milk cheese Morbier. Cheesemaker Jean Perrin has created a

pasteurized version that’s so good, it’s hard to tell the difference

from the original. His is called, Secret de Scey.


This cheese was originally made from two milkings. After the curds

were set using morning milk a layer of charcoal and salt were placed

over the curds to protect them. Later, curds from the evening milking

were added.


It has a natural brine washed-rind and is matured for four months or

longer. As it matures the cheese develops an ivory-coloured semi-soft

interior and mild creamy flavour.

The comments from the room were generally in agreement with the tastiness of the food as well as the papacy of it and the lunch was then closed.

Wine Review

The wines featured a Hunter Semillon and a northern Italian white with the starters and six cool-climate Shiraz from five of Australia’s best cool-climate producers with the main and cheese.

The six reds were sourced from four of the best regions for producing cool climate Shiraz and shared some common characteristics in their vinification; handpicking and minimal intervention, whole berry and whole bunch fermentation (with some time on skins), and aging in a mix of mostly old oak (circa 20-25% new) - with considerable restraint shown on oak usage – the result is a very attractive range of balanced, elegant wines with (relatively) low alcohol.    All were good matches with the spicy Vietnamese-influenced shanks.

Tyrell’s HVD Semillon 2019

The HVD is made from handpicked fruit, sourced from Tyrell’s old vines, and sees minimal time on yeast before bottling early to maintain freshness (no oak).   The wine showed aromas of lemon/lime citrus and fresh/vibrant fruit on the palate matched with chalky acidity and assertive finish – overall a complex wine with extreme length.

Fratelli Allessandria Langhe Favorita 2019

The wine is made from the indigenous Piedmont grape varietal, Favorita.  On the nose, it presented fresh, delicate floral characters (reminiscent of a Vermentino) with hints of citrus. On the palate it was savoury and mineralised with a very persistent finish. 

Both whites, with their assertive length and acidity, were a good match with the tasty spicy canapes. 

Shaw and Smith Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2014

The grapes are sourced from high-level vineyards in the Adelaide Hills (at Lenswood and Balhannah).

On the nose, the wine was dark berry fruit-forward and vibrant with spicy, herbal notes and pepper.

On the palate, it displayed fleshy cherry/mulberry fruit with fine-grained tannins (which perhaps were a little aggressive at this stage). Overall, the Shaw and Smith was a medium-bodied, savoury, and elegant wine showing good fruit purity and balance with a long and layered palate.  One of the best wines of the day and one to watch as it ages.    Alc 14%

Craiglee Shiraz 2014

The Craiglee is sourced from 40+ year-old vines in Sunbury, Victoria just northwest of Melbourne.

On the nose, we saw attractive red berry fruits with earthy, cedar characters with savoury spicy and pepper notes.  The palate exhibited a savoury, spicy cherry fruit richness, was medium-bodied with well-integrated soft tannins.

In summary, it was an earthy and elegant (though not overly complex) wine showing excellent balance and was popular on the day.  Alc 13.5%

By Farr Shiraz 2014

The wine was sourced from cool climate vines (dating to 1994) grown in the Geelong region by the Farr family.  The wine is co-fermented with very small quantities (< 3%) of viognier grapes to add richness.

There was some bottle variation in the wines (the By Farr being the only wine under cork) – at least one of the bottles showed some unpleasant ‘barnyard’ brettanomyces on the nose. The better bottles displayed pretty perfumed fruit with spice and pepper notes on the nose and on the palate was earthy, savoury and full-bodied with a little whole bunch stalkiness. The brett affected wine(s) was unfortunately quite stalky with aggressive tannins dominating.   Alc 13.5%

Bests Great Western Bin ‘0’ Shiraz 2014

The wine is sourced from grapes grown in the Grampians region of central west Victoria. The wine is one of Bests premium ‘Icon’ range, made from low-yielding very old plantings dating from the late 19th to mid-20th century.

On the nose, the wine displayed complex earthy/meaty notes (perhaps a hint of reduction in one bottle) with bright/opulent blackberry fruit and spice.  On the palate the wine was medium-bodied with dark cherry/blackberry fruit intensity and flavour and showed attractive ‘cigar box’ and licorice characters, firm grainy well-integrated tannins, and considerable length.

In summary, a refined and elegant wine showing great fruit depth and complexity.  One of the better wines of the day.  Alc 13.5%

Seppelt St Peters Grampian Shiraz 2010

The St Peters was served as red wine number 5 on the day.

The grapes are sourced from selected parcels from Seppelts best blocks in its Grampians vineyards and are aged for approx. 14 months in a combination of 3000 L and 500 L vats and 225 L barrels – resulting in very restrained oak treatment.

The St Peters is a crowd favourite of the Society but unfortunately today there was considerable bottle variation.  The version served on the writer's table was out of balance with dried, extracted fruit and is unrated.  Another table with a better example reported that the wine showed attractive perfumed fruit and spice, excellent structure, balance, complexity and good length. Alc 14%

Bests Great Western Bin ‘0’ Shiraz 2010

The Bests 2010 was served as wine number 6 on the day.

On the nose, the wine displayed a more developed version of the 2014 vintage with similar complex earthy characters but more developed savoury fruit notes.  On the palate, the wine was medium-bodied with restrained developed savoury fruit and excellent balance with fully integrated tannins.

In summary, the 2010 was an elegant and balanced wine, still retaining some complexity and liveliness, that was drinking very well on the day. Alc 13.5%