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Last night we had a classic showdown between Old World class and New World attitude. A couple of very good Champagnes from the incredibly good 2008 vintage, faced off against some famous Aussie reds.
T70 brought in a bottle of 2008 Veuve Clicquot Brut, which set the early pace. The 2008 vintage was a stunner in Champagne, producing long-lived wines with great acid line and length. The Veuve house style puts flesh on just about any bones, but you still get the sense of elegant structure from the vintage.
But later on, last week’s winners Ranesh and Bambi Markus on T3 produced a 2008 Bollinger ‘La Grande Année’ – which left the Veuve in it’s wake! Could they be looking for two in a row? Big, rich and bready on the nose, really complex and layered. Then that beautiful palate, again the 2008 line and length that’s already carried it for thirteen years – and will no doubt do another thirteen to come. Hope you’ve got a few more in your cellar!
Meanwhile on T40, Dean Taylor and company were trotting out the Strayan (and Kiwi) reds. Beginning with a 2015 Main Ridge ‘Half Acre’ Pinot Noir, and following up with a 2010 Craggy Range ‘Sophia’ Merlot-Cabernets blend from the Gimblett Gravels in Hawkes Bay, NZ – plus a 2001 Yarra Yering ‘Underhill’ Shiraz from the Yarra. Lurking in the background was the youngster, a bottle of 2018 Penfold’s ‘Bin 389’ Cabernet-Shiraz, “just in case”. Game on!
The Sophia was in good nick. Very right bank Bordeaux in style (as intended), with some lush fruit over firm tannins and considerable length. Still quite primary, I felt that while excellent it hadn’t quite grown into itself yet. Maybe another five years to be at its best?
On the other hand, the Underhill was in the prime of its life! Super elegant, with most of the tannin left in the bottom of the bottle, having done its work over the last eighteen years. Beautiful red fruit and earthy complexity, with interplay from the remaining oak and grape tannins. Classy, elegant, and long. A fitting tribute to the master winemaker responsible, the late, great Bailey Carrodus.
A very tough decision to decide between two excellent – but very different – wines. I love both Bollinger and Underhill Shiraz, having followed the wines for many years. I went back over my notes, and recalled the nose and palate impressions of both. Still couldn’t quite decide… should I toss a coin?
No! Time to get off the fence and make a decision. And the winner is… the Bollinger ‘Grande Année’ 2008! Well done Anesh and Bambi, the first of our customers to wine two weeks in a row.
Can they do a third?
This fortnight will see our take on classic pies that are guaranteed to keep you warm during the chilly winter months. Choose from our mouthwatering Wagyu beef pie, caramelised onion, black pepper, dark ale served w/ paris mash or Ocean trout & mirror dory pie served w/ darling mills leaf salad
THERE’S ALWAYS ROOM FOR DESSERT…
This dessert is an absolute winner - Banoffee pie, belgian dark chocolate, banana,
dulce de leche, cream & candied walnuts. So good!!!
Word is clearly getting out, people. This week’s field was the biggest yet, with such a big selection of classic wines that I’ve decided to list all those that made the cut, not just the final three:
As you might imagine, selecting a final three from such a line up was difficult–but I gave it my best shot. Some wines were just too young: they will be great, several years from now (the Two Hands and the Sangréal). Another wine was past its best, although like a once great beauty you could still see her fine bones underneath the parched skin (the Cos d’Estournel). In the end, it was three Australian Cabernet blends that made it. Tony Hugheson T130 brought in the 2010 Lake’s Folly, and I could tell as it went into the decanter that it was entering the prime of its life. Lovely high-toned fruit, with violets and wafts of very fine oak on the nose. Very long palate, with classic cigar box and cassis flavours. Fabulous! Then the two vintages of Quintet, from separate tables. Bambi Markus on T20 brought in a bottle of 2004, which took a while to open up being quite closed and savoury on initial decanting. Marie Nesbitt and friends on T60 meanwhile went straight into their bottle of 2005, although they kinda cheated by double decanting at home beforehand. Expressive, richly aromatic, warm and inviting on the nose. A slam dunk winner to the 2004? Not so fast! After slipping into something more comfortable (the decanter), the 2004 tortoise outstripped the 2005 hare. It just needed a bit of time to show the incredible complexity, the layered fruit and oak, and the length for which Mount Mary is renowned. Congratulations Mr Markus on T20, it was the 2004 by a nose...See you all next week!
Back to a big field this week, with one “honourable mention” for a wine just outside of the final three.
Two weeks ago the winner was a 1996 Moss Wood Cabernet. This week, u’s mate on T40 brought in a 1986 Moss Wood. The cork was soaked through to the top of the bottle, which did not bode well, but with no signs of rampant oxidation I decanted it anyway, and it wasn’t too bad at all! Not perfect, but pretty damn good all the same. So, honourable mention to you sir (sorry, didn’t catch your name).
The first of our finalists is a 2012 Diana Madeline Cabernet-Merlot, Margaret River. This, of course, is the flagship red from a Vanya Cullen’s eponymous winery, and very, very good it is too. Margaret River seems to be cropping up repeatedly in this blog. Quality will always out, my friends, and this region and its top winemakers are proving this time and again.
The wine was elegant and structured, with perfect balance between the components. Cabernet is overwhelmingly the dominant variety with 76%, but the merlot and cab franc are not there just to stretch the quantity. The merlot fills tha5 classic “doughnut” hole in the cab and the franc gives added raspberry lifted aromas to the nose. The oak is there, but unobtrusive and serves as a platform for the remarkable fruit. Cullen are biodynamic pioneers in Australia, and the extra quality this brings to vineyard and wine has helped the incredibly graceful ageing of this wine. Still plenty left in the tank too.
Next up, a couple of wines from a certain wine importing and distribution company, who kindly chose PDR to have their sales meeting dinner. Naturally, you would expect some decent wines – and Andrew on T30 did not disappoint.
With their entrées they had a lovely white Burgundy from the Château de Puligny-Montrachet, a 2012 Meursault premièr Cru “Les Porusots”. Sealed with Diam 10 corks, both bottles were in perfect shape. If these corks had been around during the Screwcap Revolution, we’d probably never have changed…
The single vineyard of Les Porusots (meaning “the rocky place”) has been farmed biodynamically since 2005, and produces wines of great aromatic purity. Very subtle oak, with maybe only 20% new in any given vintage, means the terroir gets its full expression. Really classy wine, with poise and elegance in spades, this has plenty of years left. A worthy winner of this week’s BYO Wine of the Day.
Note that this label ceased to exist from the 2017 vintage as the owners, the de Montille family, now bottle everything under their Domaine label.
Finally, from the same table, a red Burgundy from Domaine Confuron-Cotedidot, a 2012 Nuits-Saint-George prémier cru “Les Vignes-Rondes”. This domaine make wines for the long haul. Later harvests than most to ensure full stem ripeness, long pre-fermentation soaking, and a variety of other winemaking tricks produce wines that need about ten or so years to show their best. So it was great to see this wonderful premier cru red at near maturity. Lovely red fruit, and still vibrant acidity, with spicy top notes and a developing undergrowth character were the highlights for me. Perhaps not quite at the plateau yet? Andrew, if you have any more maybe have a look in another year…
Each week Public Dining Room's chefs will be creating delicious vegetarian soups for our Winter Specials Menu - and for only $15!
Why not add some sonoma crusty bread w/ pepe saya churned butter.
Geelong sees off an Italian Challenge
Well, a couple of northern Italian wines almost saw off a top Aussie Shiraz this week.
Tim on T30 came in with a pair of excellent wines from Italy’s far northeast. This area produces vast quantities of mostly pretty ordinary Pinot Grigio and Prosecco, but it’s also a hotbed of experimentation and the home of modern skin contact styles.
But neither of Tim’s wines are in any of those categories. First up, a 2015 Vie di Romans ‘Flors de Uis’ Friuliano blend, from Friuli Isonzo ‘Rive Alte’, Veneto. Unique to this area, these blends have a base of the full-bodied and rich Friulano, a native of these parts, with contributions from as many as four other white grapes: Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Malvasia, and several others can all be featured – often in the same wine! The aim is to bolster the naturally low acidity of the Friulano, while adding complexity to the finished wine.
This wine is even more obscure, comprising a base of Malvasia Istriana, with “Tocai” Friulano and Riesling in supporting roles. It has complex aromas and a rich, textured and full bodied palate. Hard to find, although Tim did buy it in Australia. It’s imported by Enoteca Sydney if you’re curious. A worthy, very different white.
Tim also brought in a Lagrein, another local grape of Italy’s Teutonic northeast, but this wine was purchased over there, in those far off pre-COVID days. Large ain is grown in Australia by a around 40 mostly small producers, notably Cobaw Ridge in Macedon, Victoria. His wines are well worth checking out.
But this 2015 Terlan ‘Porphyr’ Lagrein Riserva, from the Alto Adige (or Südtirol if you prefer the German), is the real deal. Native to the region, Lagrein is a bit hard to categorise: it’s heavier than Pinot Noir but not massive, seems to prefer a coolish climate, has a richness but soft tannins, and an overall elegance that makes me wonder why it isn’t drunk more widely. On this evidence it’s a complete mystery. This wine was amazing, with far more tannins than other examples. These are both grape and barrel, as the Riserva tag indicates at least a year in oak. Made from vines nearly a hundred years old.
Good as it was, the Lagrein didn’t take out wine of the day. That honour went to David on T122, who brought in a delicious wine for his mate John’s birthday dinner. The 2012 Shiraz by Farr, Geelong was a revelation. Occasionally one comes across a wine that from the very first pull of the cork smells incredible. This was such a wine!
After 45 minutes or so in a decanter it was even better. Medium weight shiraz, with hallmarks of Northern Rhône Syrah – white pepper, savoury tannins, medium acidity - but beautiful Aussie fruit. That fruit was in the absolutely pure core of red fruit at the heart of this wine. It kind of walks a line between Côte Rôtie and Barossa. Just beautiful – thanks for sharing David, and well done as this week’s winner!
A huge congratulations goes to our resident som Luke Collard DipWSET (Hons.) for getting Public Dining Room into the finals for the NSW Sommelier's Wine List Awards 2021.
NSW Wine President Mark Bourne says "The awards aim to showcase the best NSW wine stars, those sommeliers, beverage managers and venue that offers their customers a great NSW wine experience, as well as highlighting the quality and diversity of NSW wines in their ranging. These awards were launched by NSW Wine, with strategic partner Destination NSW, and they were looking for NSW Wine Stars. A ‘NSW Wine Star’ is a sommelier/beverage manager or venue that offers their customers a great NSW wine experience and a range of delicious local wines that highlight the quality and diversity of wines being produced in NSW. “In these challenging times it is more important than ever that all sectors of hospitality work together. NSW offers an exceptional and diverse selection of wines that are created by passionate and driven winemakers across the State. The NSW Sommelier’s Wine List Awards celebrates and rewards those equally-driven sommeliers and restaurant venues that work with local wine producers to create memorable NSW dine and wine experiences.”
Available lunch & dinner, Monday - Fridays starting from the Monday 7th June. Dine with us during the week for lunch or dinner & enjoy fortnightly special menus that will see a delicious twist on hearty gastro meals, slow cooked meats, melt-in-your mouth pies & so much more! Not available in conjunction with any other offer. Not available weekends or public holidays.
Still busy this week, but not quite the depth of field that I’ve become used to. Our final threemaintain a good standard though, and again our finalists are all classic Australian wines First up, from Mark on T20, a bottle of 1999 Leeuwin Estate ‘Art Series’ Chardonnay, Margaret River. A little muted on the nose upon opening – I even thought I caught a whiff of oxidation, which wouldn’t be unusual at this advanced age - but we poured it nonetheless. I guess if you’d been sleeping for 22 years it would take you a while to wake up, and so it proved with the Leeuwin. After almost an hour it started to blossom: nectarine and grilled grapefruit, cashew nut oak, and some light ginger spice. Long finish. Amazing presence for one of Australia’s topwines The same table produced this gem next: 2000 Brokenwood ‘Graveyard Vineyard’ Shiraz, Hunter Valley. We tend to generalise about vintages in Australia, despite the fact that we’re almost as large as Continental Europe. So, 2000 has a bad rap because most of the Southeast had an ordinary harvest that year. Most, but not all... The Hunter Valley had a blinder, and this edition of the Graveyard proves it. Touches of bacon fat and pepper highlight the nose, with medium weight plum and blackberry fruit hanging on. Lovely long finish too, with some wood spice emerging at the end.
Mike & Rose on T11 brought in a bottle of 2002 Clonakilla Shiraz - Viognier, Canberra District (NSW). A beautiful nose, all integrated by now of course, so no identifiable viognier lift. Just elegant red fruit framed by subtle oak. The palate showed the wine just starting to fade a little, with the acid and oak providing complexity, although the fruit has started to run a little short. Still gorgeous though, but if there are any more at home, I’d be looking to drink them in the next year. Sing out if you need a hand...
Despite the cold and our tendency to glug big reds at this time of year, I have to give the gong to the Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay. It was simply superb! Many thanks to Mark on T20 for bringing it in.
See you again soon
One of our crowd favourites on the Autumn Menu - Crispy skin bangalow pork belly, sweet potato & allspice purée, pickled red cabbage, petite pommes apples, celeriac crisp, worcestershire pork jus 27
First up, from Adam S on T132, a blast from the past. 1997 Rosemount ‘Balmoral’ Syrah, McLaren Vale. Winemaker Philip Shaw was still at the helm of Rosemount when this was made, and being a flagship of the brand, would certainly have been closely involved. One of the first wines to be labelled ‘Syrah’ instead of Shiraz, an indication that he was leaning more Northern Rhône than South Australia. But the prevailing style at the time was big and oaky, and with many of these wines the fruit fades long before the oak is done. Not so here. Still drinking well, with mature notes of bacon and cured meats, and pure black plums at its core - although Adam and I both agreed that it probably only had a year or two left.
Next up, a really interesting wine from the Wild West. 2005 Woodlands Malbec, Margaret River is unusual (for Australia) in being a 100% varietal Malbec, and for being bottled with a screwcap – highly unusual for the time and style. The most complex wine of the night, with all sorts of things going on with nose and palate. Towards the end of the evening it faded a little, but hey - don’t we all?
My last wine of the night was a local effort, the 2005 Thomas ‘Kiss’ Shiraz, Hunter Valley. I’m quite a fan of this wine, having seen it evolve over the years. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it was holding up after sixteen years. These days the Kiss Shiraz is a benchmark for modern Hunter red, but this wine proves that Andrew Thomas was way ahead of the curve back in ’05. Amazing length, medium bodied with pure dark plums on the nose, a fair bit of well judged oak, all beautifully integrated. It was the wine’s length that won the day, even after hours in the decanter it was still impressive. A worthy winner.
Congratulations to Steve and Jen on T121 who brought this in. What a great wine! NSW 1, Rest of Straya 0.
Three weeks in and the broadest field so far, with many, many contenders. The idea seems to be catching on. When I tell regulars about the blog the reaction is usually “I wish I’d known, because I would have brought something even better!”.
Well hey, you know where we are - and its BYO Day every Wednesday.
Yesterday we had some great Aussie wines represented, plus some European classics too. Voyager Estate and Rockford both had great wines that nevertheless didn’t quite make the final three. Some tough competition!
First contender: 2008 Veuve Clicquot ‘La Grande Dame’ Champagne, from the group on T52. This rang a bell for me as the 1988 Grande Dame was the wine my newly wedded wife and I drank in our hotel room the night we were married. The 2008 wine did not disappoint. Sentimentality aside, this was rich and full, with pinot noir dominant on the nose. It’s both true to the magnificent 2008 vintage and to the Veuve house style. Lovely wine.
Next up, a really interesting red Burgundy from Lucien Muzard et Fils. We pour his standard red Burgundy in the restaurant ($21 a glass, since you ask), so I’m familiar with their style. Fresh, clean and fruit driven – what the scribes call “modern” winemaking, and we in Australia call “normal”. The 2016 Muzard Pommard ‘Les Cras’ vieilles vignes was a stunner. A perfumed nose of violets and dark cherries gave way to a palate with balanced acid and a firm, slightly tannic finish, characteristic of Pommard and its ironstone soils. A fuller bodied style of Pinot Noir.
Finally, an Aussie classic. 2002 Penfold’s ‘St. Henri’ Shiraz, South Australia. In many ways this is Penfold’s most interesting wine, because it does not see any new oak, only large used barrels. I know, heresy at Penfold’s right? But what that means is that the wine stands or falls on the quality of the fruit and the winemaking to a greater degree than their other cuvées. I was keen to see how well this wine had aged being just shy of twenty years.
The answer was: extremely well! Still a little primary fruit on the nose, but the main show was the palate. Extremely complex, with tertiary shiraz characters of leather, pepper, woody spice and liquorice. Very long finish. Probably in the prime of its life but could still go another ten I reckon. A well earned wine of the day – come on down Dean from T52!
Next week I’ll be in Auckland, NZ, but my spies will be out in the restaurant looking for great BYOs. So start choosing your wine…
Public Dining Room
For those of you who are unaware, every Wednesday we allow our customers to bring their own wine, for the modest corkage charge of $5 per head. It’s full service BYO, with decanters and proper glasses where appropriate, and gives you an opportunity to eat at PDR while drinking something from your own cellar.
I have to say that the standard is very high. We see very little of the $10 bottle shop bargain bin stuff, and lots of carefully cellared, lovingly laid down bottles that are finally getting their moment of glory. So many in fact, that I’ve come up with a plan. Each week I’ll be featuring the ‘wine of the day’ from BYO Wednesday. You can have your name listed or remain anonymous, but we’d love to feature these great wines – and make it a bit more interesting, even competitive!
Three strong contenders this week. First up, a lovely couple on T144 brought in a bottle of 2008 Arras ‘Grand Vintage’ sparkling from Tasmania. The House of Arras is well known for their widely available non-vintage and Blanc de Blancs. But Ed Carr’s long term vision also encompasses true vintage styles, including this remarkable ‘Grand Vintage’ from the spectacularly good 2008. Interestingly, 2008 was also superb in Champagne…
This wine spends seven years “in tirage”, when the yeast and sugar are introduced to the bottle to produce the crucial second fermentation – and thus the bubbles. Normally the wine is given a few months or maybe a year or two to develop the bready richness from the yeast – but this one’s had way longer than that. And yet it still had freshness and vitality, with the trademark Tassie acidity framing the whole lot like a work of art. Which of course it is.
Next up, a 2008 Savaterre Pinot Noir, from Beechworth in Victoria, brought in by one of the two brothers who own the vineyard on T70. Under cork from back then, so I was a little apprehensive. I needn’t have worried – the wine was in fine form. Loads of bottle development, with nice mushroomy character, some spice from the barrel still lingering, and the acid stretching out for some length. Fruit only just starting to fade in this bottle, which would be my only niggle. Not at all bad for thirteen years though.
My final contender: a 2010 Yeringberg Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley. Brought in by four gents having dinner on T51, their wines were all superb: Rockford, Ata Rangi and Grosset were all represented. But the Yeringberg stole their thunder. Still intensely citrussy on the nose, with subtle oak in the background. Whoever made this wine eleven years ago knew what they were doing! The palate was seamless: lemon was joined by nectarine and cashew, but it was hard to define each element. The whole was certainly greater than the sum of the parts, as every great wine should be.
So, a highly competitive night. It was difficult to whittle it down to just three wines. But in the end, I went with the Arras. Congratulations John and Lara on T144! Thanks for bringing in a fantastic wine.
What will next Wednesday bring?
Public Dining Room
The 'Mussel pot, smoked fermented tomato sauce, thyme, elephant garlic, sourdough' is one of chef Adam's all time favourite dishes on the new autumn menu; for it's simplicity and the wafting aromas, to the delicately balanced flavours.
This dish will see you and your guests transported to the Balmoral seaside!
You people catch on quickly!
One week in and the standard has been maintained, even raised. Again, difficult to reduce all the contenders down to just three wines – but at least the winner was clear this week. For those just tuning in, our traditional Wednesday BYO has been spiced up by this blog. Each week I choose the best three wines, and choose an overall winner from those select few. I publish the results through the blog, with credit to the winner on a first name basis. You can of course remain anonymous – but you’d be missing out on all that glory!
So. First up this week from a trio of gents on T70. They opened with a 2017 Domain de Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc. from the Southern Rhône valley. Unusual, obscure even, as Châteauneuf blanc accounts for a mere 5% of total production. This is grown on the small plateau of La Crau, which has the highest concentration of the famous galets, or “pudding stones”. These big round stones were left by the retreat of glaciers after the Ice Age, and now serve to absorb heat in the daytime and radiate that heat back onto the vines long into the evening, thus ensuring even ripening. The nose was fresh, laden with ripe stone fruit. Roussanne dominated, with fruit and mineralogy in equal parts. Great length too, and at four years old just starting to hit it’s straps. It can be surprising to see good acid and minerality in a wine from such a warm climate, but Roussanne is perfectly adapted to this environment. It’s also why it does so well in the warmer parts of Australia, where similar conditions prevail (think inland Victoria). Roussanne tends to retain acid and freshness in even the warmest of conditions, so much so that it is usually blended with softer varieties such as Grenache blanc or Marsanne. Next up in the final three – and from the same table – a 2010 Massolino Barolo, from Piemonte, Italy. Although Barolo is usually released at five years of age, they really need at least a decade to start showing the complexity they are famous for. So this was highly anticipated. And it didn’t disappoint. The structure was perfect, with acid and tannin playing a duet in total harmony. The bottle age was starting to conjure that delicious complexity, with tobacco and tea creeping in beneath the rosehip and dried strawberry of its youth. Great length on the palate too, with a almost thirty second finish. My only criticism was that this wine is still too young, confirmed by its owner who opined that “it needs another five years” to be at its best. Hope he has some more tucked away…
Finally, an Australian classic: 1996 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon from Margaret River, WA. Brought in by the guest of a regular, who himself brought an excellent wine. Being 25 years old and sealed with a cork, there was naturally some apprehension. No worries! The cork and the wine were in fantastic condition, and with an hour in a decanter by the time it was served, it proved a memorable wine. Amazingly for its age, there was still some primary blackcurrant fruit there. It soon gave way to some classic cigar box notes, with dark chocolate and pipe tobacco on the palate. Tremendous length, with levels of complexity unfolding over the evening. A great testament to Australian winemaking, and proof - if it were needed - that Margaret River is our answer to Bordeaux. The overall winner was the Moss Wood. Congratulations to Ian on T60 for bringing this in. What else do you have lurking in your cellar Ian? Cheers everybody.
Public Dining Room