© copyright 2000 by Murray Almond
So Friday November 24 was selected for us all to gather at "The Vault" restaurant in Melbourne. David Mattner did a fantastic job organising the food to match the various flights of wines.
There were almost 30 of us attending. The usual Melbourne suspects were joined by Robin, with fellow escapees from presidential counting; Pete and Nikki Leeson, and also interstate visitors Mark Kopec, a few winemakers and friends from South Australia, Calvin from parts abroad and my travelling companion Ric. Due to the numbers we had two bottles of each wine served, so we'd all get a decent taste.
We started simply on arrival with a glass of the very good Seaview Pinot/Chardonnay 1997 Brut. This is one of the best value bubblies in Oz, and extraordinary tasting in the sub $15 bracket. The canapés of smoked salmon crostini were passed around while we waited for all the parties to arrive.
We all seated, I got up to say a few words of welcome and to blame any problems on someone else and the festivities truly got underway.
The Appetiser was Oysters 3 ways: deep fried, natural with vodka lime granita and natural with spicey salsa. We had three different whites and an oyster was prepared to suit each style.
1998 Seppelt Drumborg Sauvignon Blanc Drumborg, Victoria
This was also my favorite of the flight, clean and fresh and lasting. --RG
1995 Grosset Watervale Riesling Watervale, South Aus
1997 Kistler Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay California
As an American who's entirely too exposed to "full-on" CalChards, I disliked this wine, finding it overripe, overoaked and over the top. --RG
Between courses we had a sparkling red, from memory brought down by Mark.
Rockford Black Shiraz South Australia
Agreed. I have mixed emotions about Oz "spurgles" (sparkling burgundies), which seem to come in a bewildering range of styles. But the Rockford Black has consistently impressed me. It's simply a fine Shiraz that also happens to have bubbles. --RG
Entreé was a lovely Raviolo of lamb neck, served on braised savoy cabbage with Cabernet jus. This was a great accompaniment to the first flight of reds. For me this was the flight on the night, which wouldn't be that much of a surprise.
1997 Stoniers Reserve Pinot Noir Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
1991 Petaluma Coonawarra Coonawarra South Aus
1990 Wynns 'John Riddoch' Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra, South Aus
I liked all of this flight, but the Riddoch was the wine of the evening for me, the only wine that prompted me to finish the first glass and seek a refill. --RG
As we were preparing for the next course Calvin presented two bottles wrapped in tin foil as a challenge to us all. These were poured and assessed. It was a wonderfully old wine. I thought it may have been an old Bordeaux, such was the palate, very fine tannin and elegantly long finish. I was wrong about the country, it was a 1974 Chateau Tahbilk Cabernet Sauvignon Nagambie, Victoria. A stunning aged wine, past it's peak but far from dying.
Time for some heavier reds and a wonderful course to match of Peppered Lamb Cutlets with saffron potato dumplings, peas, fava beans and wine jus We had two wines brought by their makers to the dinner and a wonderful Oz classic.
1987 Lindemans Hunter River Burgundy Shiraz, Hunter Valley NSW
1998 Blanche Barkley 'Mary Eileen' Shiraz Bendigo District, Victoria
1998 Lengs & Cooter Reserve Shiraz McLaren Vale, South Australia
And so to dessert which was a splendid Mille feuille of chocolate with berry compote and sauternes sabayon. A classic Oz sweet wine that is often underrated was served.
1989 Lindemans Hunter River Porphery Bin 7480
With coffee was a fortified that I didn't jot down and more reds opened. I left them to it as Robin, Ric and I had an early start to Great Western and the Pyrenees. Can anyone else fill in the missing bits?
It was a fantastic gathering of local, interstate and international wine lovers. My thanks to David for all his assistance in bringing the night together. Thanks to all who attended for the fantastic wine. And thanks to Robin for launching the website and discussion forums that brought us all together. The New York Times doesn't tell us anything we don't already know.
Now, what's the next excuse for a Melbourne Offline?