Australian Shiraz wines
Today we are talking about the medium to full -bodied dry red wine style made from Shiraz (also called Syrah) grapes here in Australia. Shiraz is the most popular red single-variety wine in Australia. Shiraz is also at the heart of some of Australia’s best red wine blends.
Shiraz is best known for single variety full- flavoured wines made in warm climates such as Barossa Valley, Eden Valley, McLaren Vale and the Hunter Valley.
These wines are deep ruby to purple in colour, dry, medium to full-bodied, with medium to high tannin and medium acidity. They can display fruit flavours of blackberry, blueberry, and black plum with savoury notes of pepper, tobacco, leather and liquorice, and chocolate.
This combination of intense rich dark fruit flavours and spices make Shiraz wines a great match for hearty, flavourful beef and lamb dishes served during winter in a number of ways. The ripe, mouth- filling fruit flavours of shiraz wines hold up with and complement the rich sauces served with beef and lamb. The spicy flavours in Shiraz wines pick up and enhance the herbs and spice flavours in the sauces. The acidity in the Shiraz “cuts through” the natural fat in the meat leaving the palate clean, and the proteins in the meat help round out firm tannins in the wine. So, these Shiraz wines complement the meat dishes, and the meat dishes complement the wine. Perfect!
Today’s wine is the 2015 Glaetzer “The Bishop” Barossa Valley Shiraz. It displays a dark purple/black colour and intense blackberry, dark plum and liquorice aromas tinged with vanilla, pepper and earth flavours. These flavours flow through to the palate in a rich, ripe mouth-filling combination with firm tannins and good length. This wine is a great example of warm climate Australian Shiraz and a perfect match for flavourful beef and lamb dishes. Enjoy!
Head chef chef Adam is bringing a little taste of Italy to Balmoral Beach. His contemporary take on Italian cuisine will be featured for one fortnight only!
With generous servings of delectable pasta dishes made with lashings of sauce, to a sophisticated seafood lasagne, that will see you transported to the trattorias of Italy. Pair with a good glass of Australian Shiraz or Chardonnay from our award winning wine list. t.
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After years of disruption, restaurant dining is roaring back to life in Sydney. At the Public Dining Room, we’re once again hosting weddings, birthday celebrations, dinner parties, and much more, so you can enjoy the moments that matter in style - and gastronomic delight!
But in these COVID times, keeping your plans for a fun evening out with friends and family can be difficult. So it’s important to know that while you may not be able to enjoy all the luxuries of restaurant dining at home, you can still create an unforgettable experience for your guests. Here’s how to do it.
Set the stage
The hallmark of great restaurant dining is the ambience. No matter what kind of home you live in, whether it be a custom home or multi-residential home, there are steps you can take to replicate PDR’s special atmosphere in your very own dining room.
First, you’ll want to dress up your space. If you’re going for a PDR-inspired coastal theme, then a crisp, white linen tablecloth accented with delicate table decorations, like fairy lights or candles, will help you establish a warm and intimate setting.
Your selection of lighting and music will also set the tone for the dining experience. Make sure that both of these elements complement each other and your broader vision for the evening. For example, natural lighting and acoustic music will create a romantic and relaxed atmosphere; bright lighting and pop music, on the other hand, lends itself to a buzzier ambience.
Other, smaller details to consider include chairs and seating arrangements, flatware, glassware, and placemats.
Serve delicious food and drinks
No dining experience is complete without a well-rounded menu. When planning your menu, you’ll want to take into account any dietary restrictions your guests may have, as well as things like cooking time.
To help you find the right dishes, think about what meals you enjoy at your favourite restaurants. If you’re wanting to recreate the PDR experience, go with locally sourced ingredients and make sure to focus on plating up.
Every restaurant-goer knows that where there’s good food, there’s also good wine! You’ll want to choose a wine that pairs nicely with your menu. If you’re serving salty food, perhaps you’ll select a sweet, ambrosial wine; for light meats like chicken or fish, choose an acidic, zesty wine; or for lamb or steak, go with rich, oaky wine.
Luckily, at PDR we have an online wine shop, so you can attend to all your wine needs in one place. With perfect food and drinks, you can turn any night-in into a luxurious fine dining experience.
Make your guests feel special
At PDR, our customer service is what truly makes our dining experience world-class. We strive to ensure that all our guests have a magical time with us, from the moment they step through the door.
When hosting your own dining event, you’ll want to create this same experience for your guests and make them feel special and taken care of.
To this end, you could design handwritten invitations for the event, encourage your guests to dress up, prepare a few games or activities, or ask your guests to make a playlist. These are just some ways you can help your guests feel comfortable and settled as soon as they enter your home.
If you can’t make it to our restaurant for whatever reason, the next best thing is to replicate our dining experience at home. By taking the time to plan ahead and create a special atmosphere, you can make your event one remember.
A huge thank you to our guest blogger; Keely Tzoukos, from Hale Corp for her wonderful piece on entertaining at home.
In something of an understatement, it’s been a while since I blogged. But as things settle down after the summer-we-never-had and the various COVID scares, I’m hoping some semblance of normality will return. How many times have we all said that in the last couple of years…?
Anyway, a good crop of BYO offerings yesterday, starting with Clive Dickens and his mate on T20, who brought in a bottle of 2020 Tolpuddle Pinot Noir. This is the Tasmanian offshoot of Shaw+Smith, and one of the most consistent Tassie Pinots around. But it’s becoming increasingly rare these days. The restaurant’s entire allocation last year was six bottles – almost not worth putting on the wine list really, but I’m holding on cos it’s so good!
T70 played host to Linda & Doug Henry, who were getting ready to see their daughter married in the morning. Doug told me it was a Champagne only dinner, and they started well with a bottle of 2009 Billecart-Salmon brut. Fabulous wine, almost as good as the 2008 (of which I still have a few bottles left on the wine list, by the way), with lovely bready complexity highlighting superb fruit – and what length! The first of my top three wines for today.
They followed that up with more Billecart, this time the non-vintage rosé. Billecart are known for their rosés, and it’s not hard to see why. Rose hip and strawberry dominate the nose, but again that brioche complexity underpins everything into a seamless whole. They then finished up with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot rosé from our list, a big full-bodied bruiser of a rosé perfect for main course. Love your work, Henry family!
Stu and Angela were in sitting up on the High Counter as usual. They brought in a 2013 Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon, amongst other things including a slightly too young 2018 Rockford Basket Press Shiraz. The Cyril was just starting to hit its straps however, with remarkable length in the classic Henschke style. Still some primary blackcurrant fruit, but the real excitement was in mid-palate, where the cigar box is having a fight with some gravelly tannins. Great wine, and in the top three for the day.
At the next table over (T52), Nicola Snell and friends had a couple of interesting bottles. A 2016 Yalumba ‘Signature’ Cabernet was looking good, hinting at its potential with great bones underneath some yet to blossom flesh. Again, a bit too young to really show its best. No problems for the other wine they brought, a 2019 Moorooduc ‘Robinson Vineyard’ Pinot Noir. from the Mornington Peninsula. An exceptionally good wine, showing a beautiful red fruit nose with a dusting of star anise. The palate was silky smooth, with the glorious Pinot tannins that winemakers would kill for on the palate. My third finalist, and Wine of the night!
Many thanks to all of you BYO Bunnies who make Wednesday so interesting and fun more us here at PDR. Keep ‘em coming, please!
image supplied by@_billecart
Our first week of opening has been truly amazing, and we have you all to thank for letting us do what we love best! Looking after you!
A new Spring menu that has been carefully curated by head chef Adam Tyl has been received by our local community with praise! Try one of our staff favourites pictured 'Hervey bay scallop, compressed peach, corn & cardamom crème fraîche'. Delicious!
Check out our A la Carte offering here.
To our wonderful guests and local community, Public Dining Room will re-open its doors very soon!
We look forward to seeing all of you on the 13th of October!
Chef Adam and the team return even bigger and better than ever! See you soon Sydney!
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Obviously no BYO at the moment, but we’re still “wining” at PDR. Lockdown may be taking its toll in other areas, but food and drink is helping us get through the endless days.
I thought I’d share some of what I’ve been tasting and drinking (they’re two different things) over the last two months. Plus, our online wine store has finally opened so you can buy some offerings from our award winning wine list for home. The brief was to put our wine list online – and that’s pretty much what we’ve done. Just over fifty wines so far, but with plenty more on the way. This project was begun during last year’s lockdown, but happily it’s now firing on all cylinders. Why not take a look?
Many of our suppliers have been sending samples in during lockdown – hey, it’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it. It’s a way of keeping in touch with their customers, and means that I can stay up to date with what’s happening in the world of wine, at least to some extent.
Chalmers is a very interesting outfit. They were originally growers only, who specialised in alternative or obscure varieties, particularly Southern European grapes that are often better suited to our conditions than the classic French varieties we were bequeathed by our British Colonial settlers. Chalmers have sourced many different varieties for wineries all over Australia. Some have become familiar over the years: Sangiovese, vermentino, barbera, Aglianico to mention just a few of the Italians.
Over time, they made some wine as well. Why wouldn’t you? We’ve listed their excellent Heathcote Vermentino for a while now, so it was great to taste a sample of the 2019. They were one of the few vineyards unaffected by smoke taint in that notorious year, and the wine is fresh, clean and vibrant with more weight than I expected. Lovely fresh pear and peaches on the nose and palate, with acid in balance and nice mid-palate phenolics. I tried it over two nights, once with pork fillet in cider sauce and again the next day with classic chicken Caesar salad. Worked for me both times!
Negociants Australia provided a sample of Guigal’s 2017 Côte du Rhône rouge for a tutored tasting on Zoom last week. Excellently hosted by Brett Crittenden, this tutorial was a journey through one of the best family run wineries in the world. Guigal’s focus on quality, attention to detail, and sheer excellence in winemaking make them hard to ignore when drinking Rhône Valley wines.
The wine itself is always good. This is entry level at around $25 in the shops, but is consistently one of the top five Côtes-du-Rhône every year. In 2017, a lighter vintage, it has produced a lovely medium weight red, with slightly more Shiraz than Grenache. Incredible value for money.
Apparently, this wine is poured by the glass in over 70% of Lyon’s restaurants and wine bars. When you consider that Lyon is considered the gastronomic capital of France, that’s some recommendation!
Finally, from my own cellar I opened a bottle of newly arrived red Burgundy. The 2018 Domaine Pernot Côtes de Nuits-Village rouge imported by Il Mercante in Sydney is a great expression of Pinot Noir. It needs a little time in the glass – or better yet a decanter – but after thirty minutes or so it really blossoms. Really attractive ripe berry fruit, with forest floor and a touch of star anise. Give it some air.
I was unfamiliar with this obscure domaine prior to tasting it earlier this year. They are a small family operation based in Gevrey (not to be confused with Domaine Barolet-Pernot in St Romain). They also produce an entry level Bourgogne Rouge and a Gevrey-Chambertin, both of which I have tasted. But the Nuits is the sweet spot for value, being a step up from the Bourgogne in both price and depth, but happily a bigger jump for the latter. I bought half a dozen, thinking one per year for the next six…
Wherever you are, whatever you’re eating and drinking – make sure you do it safely. This won’t last forever, and when we’re open again there’ll be lots of lovely new wines and dishes in the restaurant, and of course many old favourites too. Until then, enjoy your wine.
To our wonderful community, we hope you are safe and well. In response to the current NSW Covid19 restrictions, we are currently temporarily closed.
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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…
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