Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Refreshing Jelly Madness

Rosé Jellies
This is a take on that in between of courses, the palate cleanser.  I was doing a few other things in the kitchen pre Christmas and had a few bottles of wine about the place.  So by way of experimentation I came up with these wobbly imaginings.  Spritely and refreshing, this would work as a chilled aperitif with some nibbles, interlude between heavier courses or in the role of zippy closer to a meal.  What more could you want in the warmer weather, it even has a little alcohol kick!   
Dry Rosé, 1 bottle
15g gelatine
Lemon juice
Brown sugar
Dissolve the gelatine in 50 ml of boiling water with a little sugar and lemon.  The amount depends on how dry/sweet the wine and your taste, it can even be omitted.  I only use it to cover off the gelatine flavour so the rule of thumb is as little as possible.
Combine with the wine whilst stirring vigorously. Pour into small moulds and add decorative and aromatic herbs of choice.  (Fresh Bay leaves, Thyme, Basil, Mint, Rosemary could be used, for example).  Place in fridge to set.
Remove from the mould to serve, perhaps with a mint leaf and apple wafer.
The gelatine needs to be at about 2% in the solution to set, so this sits at 20g/L.  Obviously you can vary the volumes to suit the quantity of jelly needed.  This quantity makes about 8-10 small jellies.  Depending on the use of the dish you might also vary the type of rosé, ie a sweeter wine if you were using it at the end of a meal.

Monday, 26 December 2011

A Glass Of Riesling

Miramar Riesling 2010 Mudgee, NSW.
I'm quite a fan of Miramar wines and their winemaker, Ian MacRae.  Some really first rate wines are produced across a range of styles: Shiraz, Cabernet and merlot in the reds and Riesling, Chardonnay, Semillon and Sauvignon blanc in the whites.  This wine is a great example of the white wine style and flair from this producer.  Miramar are well worth a visit if your in the area.   
Pale colour lemon/lime and candlestick on the nose.  Lovely minerality.  Firm mouth feel follows with rich citrus and floral notes, even hint of lemon curd.  Leaness and zesty acidity give great structure and nice length to this elegant wine.  90+
This is great to drink now but will no doubt age well over the next 5-10 years.  Nice with a spot of seafood such as a pan fried fish or seared scallops. 

Festive Delectables

Christmas is often a time of excess for many, which some of the time is a great thing.  Many dishes of rich food, sauced and puddinged to death, it's very clear it's the festive season.  So sometimes it's nice to enjoy the very simplest of foods beautifully prepared.  This dish certainly fits the bill and has the added bonus of being super easy but impressive; equally at home as a casual dinner or main course whilst entertaining.
Rare Seared Beef Fillet
Whole eye fillet
1 bay leaf
1 onion
Garlic, 2 cloves
Beef stock 100ml
White wine 100ml
Olive oil
Black Pepper
White Pepper

The Beef is prepared in two stages, first seared in a pan then finished in a very slow oven.  A sauce is rubbed and poured over the beef before baking.

For the sauce fry the crushed garlic and finely diced onion in a little oil until slightly coloured.  Throw in the herbs, stir and then add the stock, wine and seasoning.  Simmer briefly to combine all the elements and reduce the liquid slightly.  Set aside.

Rub the beef with a little salt and sear the beef in a very hot pan with a little oil, ideally you would like as much colour as possible, but a rough guide might be 1-2 minutes per side.  Once this is done place the beef in a baking tray and pour over the sauce, if your pan is oven proof you could just use that.

Bake the beef in the oven at about 100-110 degs for 30 min, the point being to gently finish the cooking process and retain the beautiful delicacy and flavour of the meat.

To serve, slice the meat and arrange on a platter.  It can be enjoyed with an array of sides, but simplicity is possibly appropriate as it allows the beef flavour to shine.  Suggestion; Oven roasted Kipflers, or steamed chats alongside some green beans (How about the courgette and bean salad) or leafy salad.    

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Tasting the delights outside the Paris of the south... (Or a short segue to the Yarra Valley) Part 2.

Underwhelming photo of Medhurst, twas good though!
Apologies for the delay!...  If you would like to read part 1.

As I listened to the broadcast of Australia playing New Zealand at the Gabba, the Victorian James Pattinson wreaking destruction upon the black caps; here was a reminder that I needed to complete part II of my short tale of the Yarra Valley. It seems many good things come from Victoria.

So I believe we were heading over to Medhurst for more wine and lunch, it was a chance decision that turned out to be a highlight of the day. The drive up to the cellar door was was pretty and the weather fickle as ever with cloud and showers scudding through, quite beautiful, as long as your in the car or at the bar. Medhurst has a new and impressive tasting room/restaurant which is quite an architectural statement which commands some fine views. This theme of growth and development is continued with construction nearly complete on their own winery on-site. The wines on offer come in two tiers, with the Red Shed label at about the $20 mark and the The main range, for around $25. Whilst this still gives a considerable choice to try, I like the fact that there aren't seemingly endless wines at different price points. It can seem a bit ridiculous with some producers when they have endless wines which can all often be similar shades of grey, better to make fewer wines but have quality and distinction in all of them.

The Red Shed offerings were all good quality wines, straight forward but tasty and good value. This high quality was reflected in the main range. Sauvignon Blanc was pleasant and in a restrained style I enjoy rather than having excess tropical fruit and gooseberry. Rosé was again in a very fine, restrained style, pale colour. It was very subtle but tasty. I can't tell you about the Chardonnay as they appeared to have run out though I'm sure judging by the other offerings that it's ok... Similarly all the reds were lovely wines: Pinot was good, though didn't stand out for me, I felt the pick of the reds and all the wines, were the Cabernet and Shiraz. On the day the Shiraz really impressed me, but a later tasting of the Cabernet was equally impressive. Without writing a tasting note, both of these wines were fantastic in there balance, sophistication and restrained power. No doubt they also both benefit from a little bit of time in the bottle with the current release being 2006.

Interestingly the Shiraz and Cabernet are bottled under cork which is more the exception to Stelvin these days. I really don't have a problem with cork, providing it's high quality, but one does have to ask why would you when SC is almost foolproof, but then I'm being provocative, think about it... The argument from this producer goes something along the lines of allowing variation between the bottles in a good way, make of that what you will but I rather like the idea. So to soak up some of the booze we had a great platter of antipasto, Anthony being designated driver had a coffee or two and I admit to having a glass of the shiraz. It could not be helped! On we went, but I watch this producer with interest and will definitely have to make a return trip.

This time of the afternoon is a difficult one when your tasting, you've just had lunch, a few wineries ticked off, so a bit of palate and mental fatigue can kick in. I'd be interested to know what others do to rejuvenate and energise, we just pushed on. You can chomp all the raw cashew and apple you like, but there is a limit, it's tough man! On we went, next stop Coldstream Hills.

Now Medhurst was stylish, and so was Coldstream Hills, if a little cold. I have to preface this next bit with a disclaimer of sorts; I have every respect for James Halliday, he knows what he's on about, likes wine, writes the odd review and so on, I even make the odd joke about him, which for those who know me is a token of my esteem. What I dislike is all that being blasted at me at every opportunity, you know what I'm on about, this or that wine being given 95 points by the man, 5 star wineries and all that... Anyway Halliday was one of the original owners here, though don't take it from me, if you visit the cellar door you will get told this 47 times. Signed copies of the next decades wine guides will be available, because you have to face facts sooner or later and check what's rated 5 stars, who would visit a winery otherwise?

You cannot complain about the view from Coldstream Hills...
I may have been a little stuffed from lunch, the view was lovely, the wines were all very high quality, some probably sublime. Great. However the approach to it all was lame and the experience exemplifies what I'm on about. Our barman, expert, taste guide or whatever we title them was disinterested and run off his feet, scampering between 4 different groups. The cellar door has a nitrogen injection system in place, so as the tasting bottles are exhausted, the wine doesn't oxidise, or the process is at least slowed. In theory this is good; didn't work with two of the wines I tried, but of course I had to effectively argue with the poor guy behind the bar and then accept profound apologies when he actually tried what he was offering. All rather tiresome, the high point was watching some of the AFL Grand Final as the TV was perched on the bar.

In short, very good wine but a totally underwhelming experience.

The weather was on the improve as Anthony and I rolled down the path to the car and headed to our final pairing of the day, Allinda and De bortoli. I told you we were dedicated!

Stay tuned for part III as it's taking a bit longer than I thought, bear with me!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Vino Contrasts.

Wynns Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 & Printhie MCC Riesling 2010

The iconic label art
 By my own admission I'm terrible at promptly writing up my tasting notes (this one is from back in October). It probably has plus and minus factors, but I do find it makes me think about the wines a bit before putting it all together in a “proper” note. These two contrast nicely, both are classic varieties but come from very different regions and wineries, one an established producer with a distinguished pedigree, the other an impressive newcomer. Each really impressed and were very much enjoyed.

The Riesling comes from the Orange region in New South Wales. Printhie make many lovely wines and this is the equal of any in the range. It also compares well with other varietal examples and indeed other rieslings from Orange.

Lovely pale gold colour and tight nose. Candlestick, minerality and kerosene on the nose which envelopes sherbet and grapefruit/lemon citrus fruit. The palate has zesty lemon lime, generous sweetness, a hint of the floral and a pineapple note. Acidity draws it all together but it's not too dry. Whilst good fresh, I tried it over subsequent days and the wine was lovely, with a softening and a tantalisingly complex mix of all the elements. A little short term cellaring may be an option. 90.

Second up is Cabernet from a classic Coonawarra producer Wynns. (This is the 2005 Black Label), I really like the wines from this producer and this is as good any they have released. The beautiful deep ruby colour (very youthful appearance) is the first aspect you notice and this is followed by the powerful and focused nose. There's cedar, tobacco along with a eucalypt/menthol note. Ample red and black berry fruit comes through, tailed by an earthy ferrous note. The palate reflects all the features of the nose and the fruit is lovely and held by more savoury elements of leather, briar and coffee. The tannins are mouth coating but well measured and close the palate nicely as a dusty afterthought. Great length. Just like the nose the striking thing is the power and focus of the wine delivered with such finesse, it's so complex and yet beautifully integrated and balanced. My pencil scrawl said “understatement & power; a Rolls Royce.” No doubt it will go for many more years. 94.

Although absolutely different wines, red and white, old and new, this pair are wonderful in many ways but share one crucial characteristic. This is the manner in which they reflect a sense of place and style; terroir. It may seem obvious, but there are far too many wines which don't do this and are generic. This might be ok for industrial high volume production, but I don't want to drink those wines and quite frankly life is too short. The depressing point here is that sometimes it isn't just cheap wines which are guilty of this, there are some supposedly quality examples which are in the frame. I'm not going to endorse faulty or rough wine making, but I'd take on these problems in a wine if the maker has “gone for it” in an attempt to strive for some style and individuality. From this point they can begin to create wine, because like playing music if you don't bring some style or something new to the process it's not really art and not really wine is it...