Thursday, 2 June 2011

Sunday Lunch with Australia's First Families of Wine

The other weekend saw the latest instalment in Andrew’s (Spittoon) series of secret tastings known as ARSE (Andrew’s Really Secret Event, just in case thought I was being rude)as usual we were thrown a few clues, and a couple of red herrings, as to the location and theme for this one. Our only piece of real fact had been that we were to meet outside Farringdon station in central London for just after 12, with note pads and tweeting devices!

On route to the venue we were all trying to figure out where we were going, St Johns was fully booked we’d been told, and Vinoteca was closed on Sundays, we were all rather confused, which I have to say for me isn’t difficult. We arrived at our destination, now even more confused than ever, it in fact was Vinoteca, who had very kindly agreed to open and cook Sunday lunch for us and Australia’s First Families of Wine.

Australia’s First Families of Wine are 12 of the most prestigious and oldest family owned vineyards in Australia, they are McWilliam’s; Tyrrell’s; Howard Park; Tahbilk; Brown Brothers; De Bortoli; d’Arenberg; Jim Barry; Henschke; Yalumba; Wakefield and Campbells, I have to admit it was a real honour and pleasure to be in the same room with so many of Australia’s great wine makers.

After the initial meet and greet, it was time to get on the with task in hand and start tasting the wines they had brought with them;

McWilliams Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon 2005 – Loaded full of aromas and flavours of citrus, with a hint of toasty/nutty characteristics starting to develop. There was a touch of minerality coming through from the background and a great level of acidity; producing a wonderfully complex wine.

Tyrrell’s Winemaker Selection Vat 1 Hunter Semillon 2003 – As with the Semillon above full of citrus flavours, with toasty characteristics starting to develop and just the right balance of acidity, which again produced a stunningly beautiful wine.

Howards Park Riesling 2009 – With pronounced aromas of citrus with a touch of minerality coming through afterwards, great levels of acidity, with the fruit giving you what you think is a touch of sweetness the wine is completely bone dry. I have to say a stunning example of Riesling.

Tahbilk Viognier 2009 – This had floral and stone fruit aromas, with a touch of citrus thrown into the mix, again it was completely bone dry and perfectly balanced acidity, a fantastically refreshing drink.

Brown Brothers Banksdale Chardonnay 2008 – This had great flavours of stone fruit with a hint of vanilla, from the 5 months of maturation in oak it receives, beautifully balanced with the acidity. Exactly what you’d expect from a limited release Brown Brothers wine.

De Bortoli Estate Chardonnay 2008 – Quite pronounced flavours of citrus with a touch of stone fruit in the background, you got a very rich creamy mouth feel to the wine from the Malolactic fermentation that has occurred. There’s a great level of acidity that cuts through this to give you a stunningly beautiful wine that’s starting to show great complexity.

d’Arenderg Money Spider Roussanne 2009 – Great stone fruit flavours with a touch of minerality coming through from the background, it had quite a rich, oily mouth feel which the high level of acidity cut through perfectly.

Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Riesling 2008 – As you’d expect from Riesling it had loads of stone fruit and citrus flavours with a great minerality coming through, again perfect level of acidity which just made your water.

Henschke Mount Edlestone Shiraz 2005 – This delivered full on jammy dark fruit with some almost medicinal characteristics coming through, a good level of acidity with beautifully fine tannins combine to make a great wine.

Yalumba The Scribbler Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 -  This had blackcurrant fruit with a touch of spice and smokey characteristics from the oak ageing, again just the right amount of acidity and fine tannins combine to create a great structured and complex wine.

Wakefield Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 – Really pronounced cherry flavours with some medicinal characteristics coming through to combine with fine tannins and just enough acidity, you got a stunning wine.

Campbells Bobbie Burns Durif 2006 -  This gave you loads of dark berry fruit and spice with a hint of oak/cedar coming through, really fine tannins and just enough acidity gave this wine great structure and made it very interesting.

After we’d gone through all the wines and had a chat with each of the wine makers, we were served a stunning lunch of salt baked celeriac, roast lamb and a pear and almond tart which was served with a glass of Campbells Muscat Topaque which just went so perfectly together.

I have to say it was a fantastic day, and a big thanks to Andrew for organising the event, Vinoteca for allowing us to use their venue and cooking us a great lunch, and of course to Australia’s First Families of Wine for taking the time to come over and show us their great wines.


  1. It was rather fun; so glad you popped along for another ARSE outing...

  2. Great to hear you had a lovely time - what a great selection of wine! It was indeed a great pleasure to host you guys and Australia's first families of Wine!

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