Saturday, June 30, 2007

VARIOUS: End of Financial Year Excess

Working in a bank means that the End of Financial Year brings on a massive rush of people wanting shit. On those last two days, we’re literally twice as busy as normal (according to the stats). Considering that we’re normally working flat out as it is, these last days and hours involve a massive effort from all involved. After last year I learned that on that final evening you have to unwind in a massive way. So I thought what the fuck I’ll get some Krug.

But then one thing led to another and I found myself knocking back quite a lot of food and wine with Calypso, pretty much going through what I had on hand. Let me tell you about it, friends, in order that I tasted.

KRUG Grande Cuvee MV

Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $250

I don’t quite know why Krug call their NV an MV (Multi-Vintage), when nearly all Non-Vintages are made from Multiple Vintages. Maybe they just want to be special.

The Grande Cuvee is made by blending fifty of more wines from 20-25 vineyards and 6-10 different years. The result is one of the most exceptional and individual non-vintage wines out there.

The first thing you notice when you pour it is that this wine is a technical masterpiece. It’s a glorious bright, light gold in colour, with a fine, creamy mousse and a fine, persistent bead. I could watch it for hours if I didn’t want to taste it so bad. Mmm yeah it’s good. It packs a nice punch on the palate with some powerful, yet delicate flavous. A lot of nut and toast. Very creamy texture. I don’t know the balance of the grapes but it tastes more on the Pinot Noir side. The finish is just incredible. Lasts for ages and opens up even more.

Now here’s the problem. This wine is damn good, without question. It’s the best NV I’ve ever had. BUT I don’t know if I enjoy as much as I should for the price. If this was $100-$150 then it would be fantastic and I’d constantly drink it (when I had money). But at $250 I’m not convinced that it has the goods. Considering that Dom and La Grande Dame cost the same, I don’t prefer this over Dom. And my rating reflects that.

Still, extremely happy that I had it and now I see why Krug is King.


MAJELLA Sparkling Shiraz 2004

Type: Sparkling Red:
Origin: Coonawarra, South Australia
Approx Cost: $35

A few weeks ago I found out that they make some of this vintage under crown seal. I was determined to get some, so get some I did.

It’s all pretty similar to the cork version (or is it Diam? I can’t remember) but there are differences. The berries don’t taste as overripe under crown seal, and the minty notes at the end aren’t there this time. A lot more blueberry in this one, it really comes to the front.

Still awesome.


LILLYDALE ESTATE Yarra Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Type: White
Origin: Yarra Valley, Victoria
Approx Cost: $17

Bit of a random pickup. Turned out well.

Light gold with a bit of green in there. Palate of pineapple, passionfruit, strawberry, citrus and oak. Finish of grass and unripe fruits.

It’s nice and fruity. Nothing exceptional about it, but a solid, good value Sav Blanc. A bit too oaky and grassy for my tastes though.


MEEREA PARK Shiraz Viognier 2005

Type: Red
Origin: Hunter Valley, NSW
Approx Cost: $17

Calypso and I both enjoy the Shiraz Viognier blends, so there was a bit of interest over this one, with neither of us having tried it before.

More transparent crimson purple than I was expecting. Quite nice. Ripe plum, blackberry, blueberry, apricot, stone fruit and a bit of spice at the end. Fine, fine tannins.

Only 5% Viognier in this, but it’s very well balanced. Initially it was average, but it opened up nicely with some time in the glass. A very good value Hunter Shiraz Viognier.



Already reviewed


THE GLENLIVET 18 yo Single-Malt Scotch

Type: Single-Malt
Origin: Speyside, Scotland
Approx Cost: $80

Ahhh a lovely finish to the evening.

Deep amber with gold touches. Heavy nose of nuts, flowers, oak and a slight sweetness. Starts off sweet then introduces flowers, nuts, stone fruits, a little peatiness, before it finishes of dry and spicy.


An enjoyable evening.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Type: Fortified
Origin: Riverina, NSW
Approx Cost: $30 (375ml)

Now this is interesting! Made from botrytis Semillon, but tastes unlike any other botrytis Semillon that I’ve had.

Deep amber and maple in colour. Nose is a lovely maple and caramel. The palate is wonderful. Maple syrup, smoke, coffee, caramalised fruits (peaces, orange, pears) and toffee. Viscous and sweet. Lovely sweet finish that lingers for ages.

It doesn’t have that “wow” factor but it’s damn nice and well worth picking up.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

WHISKEY: Lagavulin 16yo

Type: Single Malt
Origin: Isle of Islay, Scotland
Approx Cost: $95

After toying with the idea for months, I finally stepped out and purchased a bottle of single malt scotch. My choice was the result of a fair bit of research. I didn't want to drop too much money on a shit whiskey. I also wanted a good introduction to the world of ballsy single malt scotches. Lagavulin 16yo appeared to be the best by a mile. Talking to customers at the restaraunt I used to work at, as well as customers at the bottle shop I currently work at, they hold generally hold Lagavulin as the one to beat. Michael Jackson's guide to Single Malts gave it a 93/100.

Anyway, today I decided to have a shot after lunch to celebrate the end of exams and after having a pretty wack cold today's the first day I can fully appreciate it. The nose is nice, with sherry and vanilla with a bit of saltyness. The colour is a rich amber. On the palete it's smooth, almost buttery, with nice controlled heat. Cigar and earthy flavours with saltyness and long smooth vanilla finish. It's the only whiskey I've been able to drink without adding a dash of water or a block of ice. Really really nice. I guess that's what 16 years does to it.


Monday, June 25, 2007

WINE: BAY OF FIRES ‘Tigress’ Sparkling Rose NV

Type: Sparkling Rose
Origin: Tasmania
Approx Cost: $20

I don’t mind the Bay of Fires sparkling wines so I picked this up on a bit of a whim. Not sure why, since the Bay of Fires sparklings I’ve had so far weren’t great and rose sparklings always underwhelm. But I have it now so I may as well taste it.

Light copper pink in colour. Fine mousse and medium bead which lasts well. Palate of mandarin, green apple, citrus and mushrooms. Light and crisp tasting, with a decent length.

As with the other Bay of Fires wines, it’s good but far from great.


Saturday, June 23, 2007


Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $80

When I die I want to have my coffin engraved like the bottle of the Perrier Joeut Belle Epoque. I think that’s a reasonable request.

After going off them for a while, I’ve come back to non-vintage Champagnes in a big way. It’s getting a bit trickier, since I’ve tried most of the easily available ones, but dammit I’m trying.

Picked this up after seeing it on the cheap at the lovely David Jones wine store in the Food Hall thingy. Normally their mark-up is too ambitious for me, but with a discount it brings the price back into line a little.

Deep gold in colour. Mousse and bead are a bit out of wack, medium mousse and the bead dies a bit too quickly. I don’t think it’s really at it’s best. Nice palate of citrus and apples. Very toasty and creamy. Finish of brioche.

This isn’t really my sort of style of champagne. After another look at the bottle I wasn’t really surprised to see that it is dominated by Pinot Noir grapes with only a little Chardonnay in there (less than Pinot Meuniere even), which I don't usually go crazy over.

The Belle Epoque has a bit more Chardonnay in there, so I might give that a go, but I won’t be coming back to this NV.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

RECIPE: Chicken Majadra

I based this on a recipe I had for Majadra, a fairly traditional lentil and rice dish for Jewish people or Greeks of Lebanese or something. Dunno, didn’t research it. Anyway, it’s bloody good.


  • 400g lentils (brown or green), cooked and drained (note: that’s 400g AFTER cooking and draining)
  • 2-3 cups of whole, long grain rice, cooked as per packet with chicken stock
  • About 1 litre of chicken stock for the rice
  • The meat of 1 Portuguese chicken with chilli sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • ½ tablespoon of paprika
  • 1 cup of parsley, chopped
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • The good thing about this dish is that it’s so easy. You just need to get everything read, then chuck it together. So first off, get your rice cooking as per the packet instructions. This takes the longest to cook so you can get everything else ready while it goes.
  • Throw the sliced onions and glove of garlic into a pan and fry with some olive oil until golden, set aside on a paper towel.
  • While the onions and rice cook, take the meat off your chicken (I find it easier to buy one from a local chicken joint and just strip it down), chop your parsley and drain the lentils (canned is easy because lentils are a cunt to cook).
  • With the rice ready, it’s time to rock. Heat up a wok with a bit of olive oil, put the rice in, then the chicken, the lentils, the cumin, paprika and some pepper and salt. You shouldn’t need too much salt, but add plenty of pepper.
  • When you have everything mixed well and the spices are right (may need to adjust the cumin and paprika slightly) add the parsley, squeeze in the lemon and toss it again. All done!

Serves 6-8 hungry cunts but I prefer to make it on the weekend and eat it throughout the week. It keeps well in the fridge and reheats nicely.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Type: Sparkling Red
Origin: Barossa Valley, SA
Approx Cost: $45

An old, trim man is this wine.

Very dark, inky purple colour. Impressive mousse and standard bead for a sparkling red, which is to say there is very little. Great palate of rich plum, raspberry, dark chocolate and vanilla. Great length and fantastic balance. Perfect sweetness.

Yes it’s pricey, but it’s also damn good. One of the best sparkling reds on the market. I want to say that I prefer the Majella, but I don’t know if I do.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

WINE: MAJELLA ‘The Musician’ Cabernet Shiraz 2006

Type: Red
Origin: Coonawarra, South Australia
Approx Cost: $15

I keep looking for a non-sparkling wine from Majella that fills me with the same wow-factor that came with the delicious Sparkling Shiraz of theirs. Unfortunately, this isn’t it.

But it’s not bad. The cab sav really dominates (70%), but is nicely rounded off by the delicious shiraz that Majella make (30%).

Very dark crimson. Blackberry and liquorice on the nose. The palate is sweet and juicy. Blackcurrant, blackberry, plum, vanilla and liquorice. Mid-length finish with soft tannins.

Approachable now but could be better with a couple of years.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Type: Thai
Location: 543 King St, Newtown
Booking Required: Sometimes

After so much Thai in the last few weeks (note: this was written like a month ago but I couldn't be bothered posting it) I’d sworn off the stuff for a while. Not because I was sick of it, I just felt like trying something different for once. But it wasn’t to be, as someone organised a work dinner to be here.

Not all was lost. They put on a pretty good spread here. Above average Thai food, BYO, good service and a nice location. Really good pad thai, tasty curries and flavoursome salads.

Really amazing value too. For the 9 of us it was only a staggering $120 and we stuffed ourselves. But lacking anything great that would make me come back.

RATING: Okay, may go back

Doytao Thai on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

WINE: JACQUESSON Cuvee no. 730 Brut NV

Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Approx Cost: $65

The last time I got this wine it was really horribly corked. I decided today that I was ready to give it another go.

Made with a blend of grapes from the 2002 harvest, as well as a reserve harvest, it’s a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, if fairly equal quantities.

Pours with a medium mousse, but fine and persistent bead. Mid straw hue. Aroma of green apple and peaches. The green apple and peach persist into the palate where they’re joined by a creamy texture and some honey and pear notes. Lovely dough and citrus finish which has good length and really opens up.

One of the better NV champagnes, but also one of the more expensive. Although it really is quite stylish and balanced, so give it a go and see if it floats your boat.


Saturday, June 09, 2007

WINE: YERING STATION Shiraz Viognier 2006

Type: Red
Origin: Yarra Valley, Victoria
Approx Cost: $20

While I didn’t review it on this blog, I really enjoyed the ‘05 of this and gave it 90%. A top value wine and an excellent value Shiraz Viognier blend. I got the ‘06 ages ago but it has sat idle. My second last bottle on hand. Not sure why.

I ummed and ahhed over this for quite a while.

A dark old purpley-black of a thing. Nice palate of blackberries, currants, spice, smoke and dried stone fruits. Smooth finish with good depth and length. Opened up very well over a few hours.

This is still a very good wine, but I don’t think it’s a nice as the ’05.


Friday, June 08, 2007

WINE: TAMAR RIDGE Riesling 2004

Type: White
Origin: Tasmania
Approx Cost: $20

I had a hankering for a Riesling the other week but didn’t have a clue about which would be a good, cheap one to get. I think I closed my eyes and got this one.

Looks like a Riseling (good start). Palate is a fairly heavy peach and oak with a bit orange and peppermint.

Not bad. Didn’t turn me around on Rieslings. I still don’t know if they’re for me or not.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Alrighty. *cracks knuckles*.

Every few months, I go out for dinner with some friends who I used to work with. We've all done our stint in hospitality and we all enjoy our food and wine a lot. We always go to one of the most underrated restaurants in Melbourne. It's called Wildflower and it's in Canterbury. This restaurant has the most phenomenal food, and best of all, it's BYO, with very reasonable corkage ($4.50/head), so we all stock up on interesting booze and take it along.

To eat we all had the 8 course degustation which consisted of:

1- a cauliflower soup: fucking awesome. Creamy and savory. Quite rich, but a really nice start.

2 - Oysters with spring onion and tempura seasoned calamari. Totally unique take on oysters, I've never had them like this before. This was the highlight for sure.

3 - Scallops on a pork ravioli. Pretty nice, rich and gamey. Good winter flavours.

4 - Quail - Three styles of quail ranging from wings to salad. With red wine and truffle emulsion and mushroom puree. This was pretty awesome too.

5 - Lamb in a baked Parmesan shell with coriander. Again, awesome winter flavours, very rich but really good. Had like a burgundy sauce.

6 - Lemon granata - Really really potent lemon, good palate cleanser. Bit too sour for my liking.

7 - Rare eye fillet on top of cauliflower and smoked bacon patie type thing. This would have mad an amazing main course. Combination of bacon and cauli was rad.

8 - Desert tasting plate: passion fruit panacotta, blueberry pudding, creme brulee, chocolate torte and several sorbets and ice creams. Sweetened condensed milk ice cream was mine from the start and was delightful, pudding and brulee were also fucking good.

The service was friendly and informative, the setting is relaxed yet stylish and the prices are reasonable considering the quality of the food. Great place to go for a low-key yet classy night out.

Definitely going back.


1. Gosset Grande Reserve NV Champagne: One of my favorites. Persistently fine bead. Creamy, awesomely rounded balance between citrus and dry yeasty finish. Straw in colour, fresh, inviting nose. 90%

2. 1990 Trimbach Gewurtztraminer: Wow! What a nose! Purchased on auction for $50 this had the most amazing bouquet of pot-purri and perfume. Aged nicely, light gold in colour, flavours were subtle, with a long musky finish and good spice. I could wear this stuff as cologne. 93%

3. 1999 Penfold's Yattarna Chardonnay: Really pretty stunning chardonnay. Smooth, silky impressions of stone fruit, melon, American oak and butteryness. Coconut on the nose. Impressive. 90%

4. 2002 Felton Road Pinot Noir: strong smell of raspberry and wild mushrooms. Similar on the palate with ripe plums. This got dominated by the food but it held up pretty well. Good earthy finish and great fruit. If it played cricket it'd be a solid all rounder. Could probably do with another 5 years. 89%

5. 1996 Penfold's Bin 389 Cab Shiraz. Big rich nose with American Oak and black currents. Velvety tannin structure, but lacking the fruit to really impress. Typical, ripe Australian red. 87%

6. 2003 Chateau Coutet Sauternes: boiled lollies and confectionery nose. Honeydew, apricots and syrupy on the palate. Typical sauternes with kerosene finish, not too sweet, nicely balanced and approachable. 88%

I'm full, drunk and very tired.


WINE: SCARPANTONI Block 3 Shiraz 2005

Type: Red
Origin: McLaren Vale, South Australia
Approx Cost: $20

Dark crimson colour. A lot of juicy currants dominate the palate with a little aniseed. The finish is dry and spicy but with good length. Drinks really well.

Not a whole bundle of depth but a nice wine at a nice price.

As an aside, their website is really ugly. Browse at your own risk.


Monday, June 04, 2007

RESTAURANT: Circa, The Prince

Type: Modern Australian
Location: 2 Acland St, St Kilda
Booking Required: Yes

Ranked by The Age's Good Food Guide as one of Melbourne's top restaurants (with two hats) last year and awarded 3 stars from the Gourmet Food Traveller in 2006, Circa has long been on my wishlist of restaurants to get loose at. With a friend coming back from the Middle East for a week, I thought it'd be a good place to catch up and enjoy a quality breakfast with some good bubbles.

The decor is pretty smart, very modern, with no expense spared on interior decorations all complimented by good use of natural lighting and some sneaky views over Port Phillip Bay. The service was casual yet still perfect and I found by the end of the meal that the whole experience had been seamless.

Although I didn't flick through the entire winelist (it was pretty hefty, thanks to the excellent Prince Wine Store located beneath the restaurant) the list of champagnes was impressive. A good variety of Australian sparklings along with a handy list of prestige French. The markups on standard NVs are not for the faint of heart, up to 350% in some cases, however after some deliberation on how much we actually wanted to spend we went with a 1989 Louis Roederer Rosè.

Now before I go into the food, I can't even begin to describe the champagne, simply because I've never tried anything like it. The only older champagne I've tried was an 1985 Laurent Perrier, which wasn't in the same league as this. This was breathtaking. It was perfectly rounded with fruit and finished with a firm nutty finish. We tasted everything from peaches and apricots to brioche and macadamia, bold but still elegant and complex. It had aged well and I'd probably say it was in its prime.

This pic doesn't quite do the colour justice. It was more a bronze-pink.

To eat, I ordered the Tom Cooper smoked salmon with a steamed egg, parsley and capers. The flavours in this were divine. It seemed to slot in nicely with the champagne as well. Along with the above there was a honey-mustard seed type garnish which provided a delicious twist to brighten up the salmon and the egg. It was so good I got half way trough it and ordered another one. One of my friends ordered one for himself after he had tried mine.

My two friends both started with the scrambled eggs with smokey bacon and truss tomato. The bacon was probably the best bacon I've ever tasted. It was crisp and yet it still maintained a juicy rich flavour. The scrambled egg was fluffy and seasoned nicely. My other friend was so satisfied with it that ordered another round.

Doesn't exactly look mind blowing, but it tasted pretty bloody good.

We finished off with coffees and relaxed. Although the place was close to empty, we were not hurried with the bill and the waitress was quite content to let us chill out.

I'd never hesitate to come back to this place, as long as I could afford to do it properly. This morning was totally excessive, it was still good fun and worth it every once in a while.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

CONCOCTION: Pol Roger NV with Cougar Bourban cans

Type: Stupid, Stupid Idea
Origin: Carlton, Victoria
Approx Cost: ~$70

Apologies in advance for questioning the integrity of this blog, however I feel it needs to be documented.

Long story short, we mixed some pol roger with bourbon and coke (only a on very small scale). Turned out to be an improvement on the bourbon and coke but still wasn't all that flash. The citrus definitely shone through and had a well layered complexity.

I don't recommend it, but if you're drunk and looking for attention it's quite effective.


Friday, June 01, 2007

WINE: CHANDON Blanc de Blancs 2003

Type: Sparkling White
Origin: Yarra Valley, Victoria
Approx Cost: $30

I love Blanc de Blanc sparklings and think that Chandon is consistently brining out Australia’s best sparklings, so this had to be good. And it was, although the cork looked a bit worrying when I took it out. But not to worry.

Simply a great BdB. Pale straw in colour with a hint of green. The mousse and bead are nothing to write home about but it does persist well. Those trademark Chandon flavours of white peach and honey dominate as usual, with a hint of ginger and a creaminess and sweetness that isn’t cloying but has you licking your lips for long after you’ve finished. The sweetness and crispness lingers for ages.

This is a classy as hell wine that is a fantastic example that the French champagnes aren’t untouchable. It’s not a technically perfect wine but for $30 this represents excellent value.