Wine Lunch at Donovans

The weather Gods were kind: 25c, sunny, a touch of warmth but not too much and a lunch booking at Melbourne landmark Donovans in their private room overlooking St Kilda beach.  And nine wines to taste blind.  The only possible hitch: me as the host.

I have already posted reviews of most of these wines separately: however, sometimes, perhaps almost certainly more often than I do, it is nice to describe the setting in which the wines were consumed.  The pre-lunch kicked off with Egly Ouriet's Grand Cru Brut Tradition NV.  Served blind, it was clearly from Champagne, and from a good producer: an aroma of yeast and toast, with citrus in the mouth and an appetizing mousse (88 points).

The entrée was a delicious ravioli of prawn and scallop with a sauce Jacqueline.  Matched to this was a short exercise in Australian chardonnay.  First was Pierro's Chardonnay 2008 from the Margaret River, with its extravagant aroma, high quality fruit and length (95 points).  Second, was Leeuwin Estate's "Art Series" Chardonnay 2007 also from the Margaret River: another outstanding wine (95+ points).  For the majority of the table, the Leeuwin was shaded by Pierro's chardonnay, but I slightly preferred the 2007 Leeuwin, with its evident minerality in the 2007 vintage.  The third bottle, sealed with a cork, was Mt Mary's 2002 Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley, presenting a completely different expression of chardonnay, perhaps more Burgundian in style, with comparatively restrained fruit (87 points).  The Pierro and Leeuwin Estate were unmistakably from the Margaret River.

Although slightly shaded by the entrée, the impressive main course arrived consisting of grilled 300 day grain fed sirloin with gnocchi, summer vegetables and red wine sauce.  Matched with these wines was an exercise that I initially intended to be an exercise in Northern Rhone terroir, but unhappy with my apparent inability to find a third very strong northern Rhone wine without entering into creditors' arrangements, I threw in a wine from the Barossa Valley at the last moment.  First, was Alain Voge's "Les Vieilles Vignes" 2006 from Cornas, which presented with outstanding length and flavour, albeit with some probably fair comments around rusticity (90 points).  Second up was Guigal's 1999 Hermitage, a more savoury wine that also presented brilliantly (92 points).  The third wine was Glaetzer's Amon Ra 2005: a wine that exhibits a surprising combination of elegance and power (100 points), and was simply outstanding.  It rose above to be the wine of the set; indeed, it is one of the best wines I've tried, period.

Dessert then arrived consisting of a terrine of blood orange and strawberry with blood orange sorbert, proving an excellent match for Chateau Rieussec's 2003 from Sauternes (90 points).  2003, despite being a heat wave year in Bordeaux, seems to have been a reasonable vintage in Sauternes and certainly, based on this wine anyway, has produced a very good Rieussec.  The lunch concluded with Quinta do Noval's 2003 Vintage Port, of which, perhaps not unexpectedly, I have no legible notes.
Wine Lunches
February 20, 2011

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