Wine tasting 27 May 2014
Acclaimed as the tasting of the year, Paul Ferman put on a vertical look at Penfolds Bin 389 cabernet shiraz. He was ably abetted by Josef Condrau, assisted by Greg Sproule, in the kitchen, starting with some canapés: whisky marinated smoked salmon with crème fraiche and shaved fennel on porcelain spoons, crème fraiche topped by fresh and tangy salmon roe on crackers and some wild boar terrine on crackers with the obligatory cornichon on top. To wash them down, there was a 2002 Tyrrells Vat 4 semillon, still young fresh and lemon zesty, great with the canapés.
The 389's on display were, in descending vintage order, 2004, 2002, 1998, 1996, 1990 and 1986. It was interesting to note the increase in body in the more recent vintages, with 2002 and 2004, both still babies, having 14.5% alcohol as against the 14% of the 1998 and the 13.5% of the older wines (another Parker legacy). In general, the older years won favour, with the 1986 a glorious example of the style, and 1990 and 1996 also popular. The 1998 was disappointing, with evidence of dirty "bret" spoliation in most bottles.
The accompanying food was in keeping, Norman-style Black Kurobata pork neck marinated in calvados and served with a sauce based on the marinade, apples and cream. Some terrific crackling was in evidence and the accompaniment was a melange of cabbage, potato, shallot, leek and speck, based on the traditional Irish colcannon.
Naturally the cheese was Swiss, a semi-hard Blumencase cheese in the appenzeller style, with good texture, grassy notes on the palate and a pleasing sweet caramel finish. It went well with the tasting wines, and with the two grape varieties which came with it.
Special mention should be made of the Infinity sourdough bread, a baguette with the main course and a walnut loaf which complemented the cheese well.
The coffee took us to Sumatra, the beans providing strong flavour with a good clean acid finish, a fitting end to a great testing of a classic Aussie brand. Hats off to the Winemaster.