President's Dinner 27 August 2014
Under the capable hand of James Hill as convenor, the 75th President's Dinner at Bentley restaurant at the Radisson Hotel was a great success.
We managed to get a private room in this trendy and popular venue, but the price was a limit on numbers to 35. This was a pity, but those lucky enough to make it enjoyed an evening combining the Society's three basics: good wine, good food and good fellowship.
The event got off to a great start with 1999 Pol Roger, clean and intense with great yeast flavours and a wonderful mousse. The quality continued into the whites served with the 1st course (after an amuse bouche of a smoked eel brandade tartlet); a 2007 Lindemans Bin 0755 semillon and the Tyrrells Vat 1 semillon from the same year, both of course from the Hunter. The Tyrrells was clearly the better wine, the Lindies having lost fruit and become a bit thin. They matched a disc of pastry topping a creamy cauliflower custard with strong mushroom and black garlic; a good combination when eaten together.
The 2nd course was a lovely combination of Moreton Bay Bug tails, a piece of fish advertised as snapper but more probably John Dory, and an intensely rich and unctuous shellfish broth. Bigger whites were needed, and appeared in the form of a Penfolds 00A chardonnay from 2000, and a Yeringberg chardonnay from the same year. The Pennies was light gold in colour, fresh as a daisy and with top fruit still in balance; the Yeringberg was deep gold with intriguing honey and herb notes on the nose but clearly past its best with a degree of oxidation.
On to the serious stuff, with a course of superbly rare kangaroo loin accompanied by purple carrot and a rich jus containing riberries and native pepper; a well-integrated dish with just enough peppery notes to offset the meat. A brace of2000 Bordeaux was the ideal accompaniment; a Ch Faizeau from St Emillon and a Clos-du-Marquis from St Julien. Both were good examples of their region, the St Emillon softer and fruitier, the St Julien sterner and more uplifted.
The red meat continued with little blocks of slow-cooked Rangers Valley skirt steak served with pieces of fennel and again a wonderful jus with mustard and an unusual olive crumble which made the dish. The wines were eclectic: a 2002 Damilano Le Cinquevigne Barolo with plenty of the famous tar and a bit of rose on the nose, and a deep smooth palate, both of which improved in the glass; and the Burton McLaren Vale Reserve from the same year, a big, smooth and satisfying example of a top SA shiraz.
The gustatory part of the evening concluded with a(short) address from President Greg Chugg, and a dessert of violet ice cream (true to the colour if not the flavour) with cocoa honeycomb and blueberries. Naturally, a class sticky was served with it, a 1996 Ch Nairac from Barsac, apricot in colour and on the nose with luscious baked fruit characters balanced by acid.
The Dinner concluded but festivities continued.
A wonderful evening and thanks to the President for being same, and to James Hill and Paul Ferman for putting it together.