We recently had the pleasure of meeting two very accomplished Winemakers from Australia – James Kirby of Hungerford Hill & David Knight of Oddfellows Australia, at a recent Wine dinner, organized by The Straits Wine Co.
Chambers Grill at KL Hilton has an innovative grill menu of prime aged meat cuts or fresh seafood served on skewers cooked “a la minute” over lava stone, charcoal or on their super cool “robatayaki” style grill – a rather popular joint for great steaks in KL at the moment. So as far as pairing of fine meat and fine wines goes, Chambers Grill was a somewhat logical choice of venue, for this exciting wine dinner.
Before dinner, James Kirby filled us in on the Hungerford Hill history. Hungerford Hill made its first vintage in 1970, and went on to build Australia’s first wine tourism complex in 1972. Hungerford Hill became one of the largest grape growers in the Hunter Valley, with varieties including Semillon, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Pinot Noir. Hungerford Hill then expanded to Coonawarra in South Australia, planting one of the biggest vineyards in the region, focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling. In 2002 the Hungerford Hill brand was acquired by the Kirby family – they set up shop in Hunter Valley, incorporating a state of the art partially underground winery, a tasting room, Restaurant & Cafe as well as 11 acres of Shiraz and Cabernet vineyard. Hungerford Hill is now recognised as an icon of the Hunter Valley wine landscape.
Top – James Kirby; Below – David Knight
Then David Knight introduced Oddfellows. Oddfellows is the name taken by a group of five individuals who decided to put their expertise, energy and investments into making premium wine. Langhorne Creek vignerons David and Cathy Knight were two of the original members, and in 2007 took over ownership and running of the venture. David worked with Greg Follett from Lake Breeze to produce the wines, gradually taking over more responsibility, and is now both winemaker and viticulturist for the estates vineyard. This vineyard also produces the Winner’s Tank label (in conjunction with Reid Bosward of Kaesler Wines in the Barossa). There are 40 hectares of vines that bear fruit for the Oddfellows wines. Langhorne Creek is a dry area, so considerable care is taken to use low levels of irrigation and nurture the fruit in a sustainable manner. Made from Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon the wine styles range from stone fruit and citrus through to powerful and spicy.
Moving on to dinner.. At Chambers Grill, it is all about the meat. The best prime-grade, dry-aged beef, you can find in town. Juicy, with a fair amount of marbling – here you can see the visible grains of fat running through the steak so you know it’s going to be good.
All set for the wine pairing dinner, Chef Benoit Chargy introduces the menu
First up, the whites – 2008 Viognier from Langhorne Creek, and the Vinefire Chardonnay.
Live Oyster with apple cinder dressing and sea caught prawns skewer paired with the Hungerford Hill VINEfire Chardonnay 2012 and the Oddfellows Winners Tank Viognier 2008
Oyster shooters in apple cider dressing & sea prawns. These were deliciously well paired with the Hungerford Hill Vinefire Chardonnay 2012, as well as the Oddfellows winners tank Viognier 2008. The Vinefire Chardonnay was a pristine and refreshingly dry white, with aromas of fruit and floral hints. It was a structurally interesting wine, with succulent flavours of honeydew. The Oddfellows Viognier exhibited lovely floral and fruity notes such as apricot and passion fruit. It was medium bodied, dry and had a nice crisp finish – both wines went terrific with this first seafood dish.
Next up, skewers of grilled smoked duck breast marinated with cherry & sage; Fish Skewer, Lamb rump with guacamole; Tomato, grilled feta cheese & Spanish onion salad; Portobello mushroom – Paired with the Hungerford Hill Tumbarumba Pinot Noir 2010 and the Oddfellows Winners Tank Shiraz 2012
Oddfellows Winners Tank Shiraz 2012 was a full-bodied red, with lovely intense notes of plum, pepper and blueberry. Rich and long-lived with delicious tannins and great length, it demands steak and lots of it.. so it was definitely the perfect match for my platter of grilled meat.
The Hungerford Hill Tumbarumba Pinot Noir 2010 on the other hand, had delicate aromas of cherry and spice. The palate was relatively light weight, displaying moderate depth and concentration with finer tannins. It was a rather simple, light, Pinot Noir. I much preferred the Shiraz when paired with my red meat platter.
Chef Benoit presents the Tomahawk!
For my main course, I chose the Dry Aged Beef Wagyu Tomahawk Marble score 6, dry aged 12 days, in natural beef jus , paired with the Hungerford Hill VINEfire Shiraz 2010 and the Oddfellows Carbenet Sauvignon 2008.
This turned out to be a great choice as the Tomahawk was grilled the perfect medium rare.
The Oddfellows Carbenet Sauvignon 2008 was rich and rippling with a great tannic aftertaste, definitely a no-nonsense full-bodied red that needed something like an unctous wagyu steak or a slow-cooked lamb to do it justice. This wine was smooth and highly drinkable.
The Hungerford Hill VINEfire Shiraz 2010 exhibited fruit characters and a nice oaky complexity. I liked the way blackberry flavours flood the palate and subtle spicy characters added an interesting dimension – it also had a silky, soft tannic finish. In this case, both wines went terrific with the main course.
Rum Baba with fresh fruit and ice-cream
What better way to end dinner, than with the classic rum baba, a little vanilla sponge cake, soaked in a boozy syrup, to act as a textural foil against the cool, sharp fruit? This dessert called rum baba or baba au rhum was a delectable small yeast cake saturated in hard liquor and topped with whipped cream. Super decadent and very delicious! Definitely a memorable wine dinner and a great time meeting the folks from Hungerford Hill & Oddfellows Australia.
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