Food & Wine Weekend at Tarnwarndcoort Homestead, country Victoria

The word “Tarndwarncoort” is based on the ancient Gulidjan tribal language, used by indigenous people to describe the undulating hilly landscape the property sits upon. First settled in 1840s, the building is one of Victoria’s heritage buildings and a great getaway off the Princess Highway not far from Colac in country Victoria.

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Day 1. Six of us settled into an evening of tasting excellent wine and cooking great food. Started with two aged Rieslings. A 2006 Pizzini Riesling that was drinking beautifully with lovely developed characters, touch of sweetness, and rich mouthfeel. Also had a 2004 Leasingham Bin 7 that was more developed and had less fruit, but still a good wine.

Four Great Wines to match our Cape Grimm dry aged Prime Rib

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1999 Bests FHT Shiraz, Great Western, Victoria, Australia
Brick red colour. Glorious nose of violets, milk chocolate, confectionary and dark plums. Superb rich and concentrated mouthfeel with great length. Spice, ripe brambly fruit, vanilla soft tannins and anise all combine to flood the senses. Great wine. Tasted blind, several friends thought this was a Barossa wine and found it difficult to believe such a rich wine could come from Western Victoria. Drinking beautifully now, it can keep for a few more years yet. 96/100.
The quality of this wine is surprising given the difficult vintage conditions with a spring frost wiping out almost 80% of the premium fruit.

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The 2004 Langmeil Freedom Shiraz and the 2004 Peter Lehman Stonewell Shiraz made an interesting comparison. Both fabulous wines showing the best qualities of premium Barossa old vine fruit with great intensity, lovely dark berry fruit, spice and creamy oak. The Stonewell showed a little more elegance with nuances of red berries, dark chocolate and dusty tannins. The Freedom was a little bigger and richer with lovely dark chocolate and earthy characters. Both great wines! 95/100

The 2007 Cullen’s Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot Petit Verdot was another beauty. I suspect we opened it 10 years too early, but the wine opened with a few hours breathing. Lovely flavours of blackcurrent, cedar, and vanillan oak. Very elegant and seamless. A delight to drink. 95/100. Keep. Drink 2017-2020.

All 4 bottles disappeared far too quickly! Hence the Berocca came in handy the next morning……..

Tomorrow we dine at Brae restaurant run by our favourite chef Dan Hunter.

Horses, Fashion and Wine

 2 November 2013. It’s Spring Racing season in Melbourne Australia. A time for the glitz and glamour of the horse races with ladies fashion, great racing and hopefully a few winning bets. Today is Derby Day, one of the major race days of the spring racing carnival.
 DerbyDay13With the weather being a warm 30 degrees celsius it was the perfect occasion for dressing up, heading for the track and drinking some fine champagne. Our friends Peter and Jane bought a bottle of 2004 Dom and we bought a 2004 Grand Annee….and what a great pair of wines!
2004 Dom Perignon. Flagship wine of Moët and Chandon
 2004 Dom Perignon
The 2004 is a blend of 53% Pinot Noir and 47% Chardonnay from an excellent vintage in the Champagne region. The wine has a persistent bead and lovely mousse on pouring. The nose was vibrant and had lovely floral, honeycomb and citrus characters. The palate was sensational with lovely fresh acidity, a light toastiness, pear, grapefruit and hints of honeycomb. Rich, elegant and lingering on the finish. Score 96/100 with great cellaring potential. AU$150-$190
2004 Bollinger Grand Annee. Marquee wine of Bollinger
 2004 Grand Annee
This is a blend of 66% Pinot Noir and 34% Chardonnay sourced from Grand Cru vineyards (76%) and Premier Cru vineyards (24%). The wine poured with a light bead and rich creamy mousse. The nose was instantly rich and intense with grapefruit, white peach, lemon curd, praline and fresh baked bread.  There was a mouth filling richness consistent with the higher percentage of Pinot Noir in comparison to the Dom. There were flavours of grapefruit, peach, honeycomb and fresh toast with a long and persistent finish. Another sensational wine! Score 96/100. Price range AU$150-200.
Preferred Wine??  Preference came to personal taste, the Dom had more acid, minerality and elegance and the Grand Annee was a richer, creamier mouthfilling style. Me, I had a slight preference for the Grand Annee, but would drink either any day of the week! The only sour note was that I didn’t win a single dollar from all my bets!! Can’t win them all…….

Food and Wine in Canada’s Capital

Beckta menu2008 Riesling

I was in Ottawa last week and got together with 2 sommelier buddies, Astrid and Perry to try some local wine and food. Naturally I had to bring some Aussie reds to compete. We selected the Beckta dining and wine restaurant on 226 Nepean Street, Ottawa. A great restaurant with great food and friendly service. We enjoyed sharing our wines with the Beckta’s sommelier.

We started the evening with a Riesling from Ontario – a 2008 Henry of Pelham, Speck Family Reserve. The wine opened with a soft nose with some secondary kerosene characters and soft apple and citrus on the nose. The palate was broad and flavoursome without that steely backbone evident in many top Aussie Rieslings. A very enjoyable wine that complemented my Root vegetable soup. A good pairing!

Aussie CabernetsNext we tried 2 aged Aussie cabernets from my cellar: a 2004 Balnaves from the Coonawarra district in South Australia that is famous for its cabernets and a 2005 Chapel Hill from McLaren Vale in South Australia that’s probably better known for its big shiraz reds. Both wines were stunning and were tasted after one hours decanting.

Quebec Duck Magret
The Balnaves colour was a dark plum with a purple hue and the nose was redolent with blackberry and blueberry fruit, earth, and cedar. The palate was soft and mouthfilling with spicy berry fruit, cedar and tobacco leaf. The tannins were nicely integrated and the wine would easily cellar for another 5+ years. I enjoyed the wine with the Quebec Magret Duck that was cooked medium rare to perfection and the flavours worked well with the wine.
The Chapel Hill was a monster wine with bid fruit, and big tannins. Even though only a year separated the two wines the difference was palpable. My view is that the stelvin enclosure on the Chapel made the difference. The wine was young and fresh and still quite primary, with rich spicy black fruits, anise, pepper and cedar. The palate had not integrated fully and the wine definitely needs more time in the cellar! However, Perry said it worked well with his Wellington county beef striploin that was most enjoyable.

My scores: Riesling 91/100, Balnaves cabernet 95/100, Chapel Hill 93/100.
The reds cost approx $35 each when purchased.

Sensational Penfolds St Henri 2004

Well cellared - note no travel on cork!

The Penfolds St Henri Shiraz is an iconic Australian wine that relies on fruit purity rather than oak to express its character. The grapes are drawn from multiple vineyards in South Australia (Barossa Valley, Langhorne Creek and Adelaide Hills) and is predominantly Shiraz (95+%) with a small amount of Cabernet. The wine is aged in large old oak vats.

Opened 10 Oct 13. The wine was quite subdued on opening, but began to open after an hour. Soft spicy cherry and black fruit on the nose with a hint of tobacco leaf. The palate was plush and mouthfilling with beautiful dark berry fruits, plums, mocha, anise and soft earth. Great balance, integrated tannins, rich fruit and a long finish. Lovely wine, but a little closed even after 3 hours.

Day 2. Wine still drinking beautifully with some secondary characters starting to emerge.

Day 3. Wow! The wine has blossomed. Dark, rich berry fruits, earthy undertones and great balance. Wonderful structure and polish. You could be excused to think this had only been opened a few hours ago! I wondered how it would taste on Day 4…..but I’ll never know as I didn’t have the willpower to stop! Could easily cellar for another 5+ years, but why wait? Great wine. 96/100

Well cellared wine – note no travel on cork!