Being a recent arrival to the wonderful city of Melbourne my social calendar is… let’s say sparse. We have a few friends here already, but seeing as we’re still setting ourselves up and finding our feet in job-land we have become very much reacquainted with home cooking, and our dear old pal, Mr Couch.
Before setting sail for the leisurely *cough* 11 hour drive south, I had been invited to an event put on by Wine Selectors at Flying Fish (a venue very close to my heart) but couldn’t make it – thankfully I mentioned our move and TA-DA, the opportunity to attend in Melbourne presents itself.
Before I went along for the evening I was scratching my head.. “wine selectors, wine selectors .. I know the name but have NO idea where from”.
To put it simply, and in Chris’ words – they are the “Guys at the airport”. Haha! Now I remember.
Located in the heart of Melbourne CBD on Flinders Lane, I trotted off to Papa Goose – armed with an empty stomach and the knowledge that I was about to drink me some wine… happiness ensued.
One of the rather dashing waiters pouring our first wines, for obvious reasons, I liked him already!
Papa Goose has two levels, downstairs is the main restaurant space (which you can see at the bottom of this post) and upstairs a sleek and sexy cocktail bar area aptly named “Loose Goose” with a private dining room off to the side.
I could see this being a great place to come and see off a Friday with a martini.
Arriving to Papa Goose *just* on time for 6pm I’m greeted with a glass of “Arras”, an Australian sparkling.
Just a note on the descriptions of the wines below.. I have borrowed these from the tasting notes provided by Wine Selectors (and I’ve prefixed them with “WS“). I know what I do and don’t like when I drink a wine.. but my winecabulary is definitely not that of a wine-buff.
Arras Grand Vintage Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2003
(WS) This is unquestionably Australia’s best sparkling wine. It’s rich, nutty and still very fresh for an ’03. It’s also better than many champagnes on the market today.
I really did enjoy this sparkling, it was buttery and delicious and I would gladly have taken another glass had I not been mindful of having work the next day. Oh drinking on a school night, you evil temptress.
I was (and forgive me Chris if you happen to read this) browsing at Dan Murphy’s (*gasp* wash your mouth out, Emily) yesterday and searched high and low for a bottle of Arras – but WOE they didn’t have it. Must. Hunt. Down.
Before the rest of the guests arrived (a vast array of new foodie faces I was pleased to meet) a few of us spoke about how different varieties of wine have been in/out of fashion, and how a particular variety of wine tends to be more popular with different generations. Example, the young wine drinkers tend to be into their Sauvignon Blanc, whereas someone a little older will love a Chardonnay. Interesting to note, and something I had seen but never really thought about before!
I was fortunate enough to be seated next to our host for the evening, Chris Barnes – who has been a consultant wine educator to Wine Selectors for 12 years. He’s been consulting for longer than I’ve been able to drink, so I’m trusting his judgement here people!
One thing Chris spoke to me about was how there’s a culture of ‘reverse wine snobs’ in Australia, meaning that many people are afraid to have an opinion about the wine they drink because they (like me) consider themselves to not know enough to be able to say why they don’t like something.
"Frederiiick - another glass of chardonnay!"
Huzzah some trivia: 40% of the wines that Wine Selectors are sent to judge for inclusion in their offering are rejected by the panel, and only 8% of the rest that get through will be good enough to be awarded their gold medal. A gold meaning a score of 18.5+/ 20, a 17.5+ for silver and a 15.5+ for a bronze. None of what they sell to you is below a bronze – and if you don’t like a wine (for ANY reason – even if you just didn’t enjoy it) you can send it back… even if it’s empty!
When someone is willing to place that much of a guarantee on something where taste is so very subjective you’d have to have a fair bit of faith in them. Right? Bonus for those drinking at home – no contracts.
Oooh a wall of wine. We’re trapped! If we’re ever to escape, we’re going to have to DRINK our way out! Send backup.
(L) 2010 Dandelion Vineyards Riesling, (R) 2005 Chrismont Riesling
2010 Dandelion Vineyards Wonderland of the Eden Valley Riesling – The winemakers of this, Zar and Elena Brooks, are as eccentric as the name suggests, but they do have access to a truly great vineyard. The intense lifted lime and lemon in this wine is proof of that.
2005 Chrismont Riesling - The cool mountain air of the King Valley in Victoria is perfect for crisp citrusy wine like this built for age. Six years in bottle has added a hint of honey and toast to the palate, but have it with some good seafood rather than the morning muesli.
Wait, wait wait a minute here – people are drinking wine with their muesli? I have NOT been living quite obvs – someone grab me some bircher and a bottle. *hic*
Chris noted to us that the main thing that has changed the depth and strength of the aroma of the two Rieslings is the age. It’s amazing when someone explains the little nuances of why something tastes the way it does that it starts to make sense. I have often wondered why some Rieslings taste fruity and light, while some are more buttery and rich.
Taking a sip of one of the Rieslings and then tasting a canape before doing the same with the other glass you noticed how each brought out different flavours in the food. Logical I know, but again being talked through it was an eye opener.
Canapés to share
Bottom to top:
Rare seared atlantic salmon, celeriac remoulade
Seared sea scallop, minted pea puree, vanilla cream
Thai salad rolls, asian lime dipping sauce
Fresh fig, goat cheese and candied pecan.
So good. I love canapés. Thankfully they came presented as a selection of tasty morsels rather than having to do that awkward thing where you hover close to the kitchen praying for a waiter to come out so that you can swoop in and get all Seagull on ‘em and steal a bite of something. *SQUARK*.
The stand-outs for me were the scallop and the fig with goats cheese and pecan. A platter of each please.
2010 Riposte by Tim Knappstein No 1 Pinot Noir – (WS) Tim’s riposte to the big winemakers is his beautiful vineyards in the Adelaide hills. The wine is full of fresh red berries and the red cherries that used to grow in the district. This will get better in the bottle too.
2008 Tarrawarra Estate Reserve Pinot Noir – (WS) A rich full bodied Pinot that mocks anyone who say’s Pinot Noir is a light wine. A couple of years has added more depth to the dark fruits and spiciness that make this a “Burgundian” on the outskirts of Melbourne.
I became very distracted by the food and glasses upon glasses of wine that my notes from the evening are minimal (and rather messy for some incomprehensible reason?) so I’m not going to recap the food in any great detail. Forgive me.
Blue eye cod, king prawn, baby zucchini, fennel with a smoked tomato emulsion.
Here fishie- fishie! The sauce on this dish? Had I been in the comfort of our living room I would have licked that plate clean. It was rich, potentially butter-laden and heart-attack inducing (like I cared). Bucket, spoon, bib. Thank you!
I’m not the greatest lamb fan.. so special thank ewe’s (ha!) to Chris who humoured a blogger and let me snap a picture of his main before he started. Mucho gracias!
Roasted Dorper lamb, pumpkin, peas, dates, seeds and mint. Wine pictured - Shiraz
2009 Coriole Vineyards Sangiovese Shiraz – (WS) Mark Lloyd is one of the local pioneers of the great grape of Chianti. This is an example of a wine this scored gold across the Panel and one sip tells you why – dark cherry, dark chocolate and nutty tannins, it’s a seriously good wine!
And it was! I love a Shiraz. It just seems to be a variety that agrees with my taste-buds of late. Tough day at work? Shiraz will fix it! Lazy Friday in? Shiraz will make it even better!
Trivia round 2! A shiraz from a cooler climate will have a peppery and spicy finish, while one from a warmer climate may remind you of black forest cake, dark chocolate or stewed fruits.
I kind of went on auto-pilot (eat all the cheese, eat all the cheese) when the cheeses came out so I didn’t absorb too much information about them other than epic deliciousness. One thing I can tell you is that little pot at the back contained truffled honey. Whoever at Papa Goose is responsible for this (I’m going to tell myself handsome bearded waiter) is a genius and I lurve you.
Papa Goose - Downstairs dining room
I remember my first sip of wine, all I can tell you about it was that it was red, I didn’t like it… and it was red. See where I’m going? Over the years I can say my palette has matured I suppose and I could tell you if I think something tastes chocolately, or like dark fruits, or with passionfruity tones etc etc – now, whether any of that is even true (or intentional by the wine makers) I don’t know – but it’s these personal interpretations that allow us to develop a taste for what we like.
I’ll be honest here, as someone who still occasionally picks a wine because the label is “pretty” I’m not an expert, but I know what I like. If the Marriage of Food & Wine evening taught me one thing – it’s not to be afraid to have an opinion. :)
I dined and drank (oh lordy did we drank!) as a guest of Wine Selectors and KeepLeft PR. Thanks guys, you rock!
91-93 Flinders Lane
+61 3 9663 2800