Australian wines are nothing new. I daresay most of us would remember our 1st sip of wine to be from an Australian vineyard. My visit to Australia last year bought me to many vineyards, from Domaine Chandon to Red Hill estate and more. Yes, Australian wines are that famous and its easy availability in Malaysia has made it pretty mainstream and widely acceptable.
Other than the popular Yarra Valley (where I went), Margaret River is also well known for its wine production and tourism. I haven’t been there, but I had my taste of Margaret River when Robert Mann, Estate Director of Cape Mentelle, one of pioneers of Australian winemaking and Kate Lamont, West Australian Chef and Ambassador visited Malaysia recently.
Food was brilliant, thanks to Chef Kate; and paired marvelously with the rather easy to drink and fresh wines of Cape Mentelle.
Dishes by Kate Lamont:
- Salmon Gravlax paired with the Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2011
- Fresh Mozzarella with Petit Ratatouille, paired with the Chardonnay 2010
- Tomato “Tarte Tatin”, paired with Cabernet Merlot 2008
- Seared Scallop on Oxtail, paired with Shiraz 2010
- Grilled Dorper Lamb served with soba noodles, creamed edamame, and tobiko + Roasted Barramundi on a bed of truffle soft polenta served with a shiitake reduction; paired with Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
- Assorted desserts
BELOW: Don’t miss the breads and the famous butters when dining at Prime, Le Meridien.
From the start, I love how each glass was labeled and arranged in order with corresponding details of each wine we are supposed to taste.
**Note: Picture taken at the end of the meal and refilled for photography purposes. Each wine was only poured following the sequence of the meal.
Amuse Bouche. The Salmon Gravlax was smoky and salty, but that’s smoked salmon at its finest. The burst of sweetness from the fig was a nice touch. We washed this down with the crisp, clean Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2011, a blend of the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon varieties to produce a unique Australian wine style with remarkable freshness and varietal aromas. On the nose, the Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2011’s aroma resembles that of lemon blossom, blackcurrant and papaya with subtle hints of fresh thyme and cordite; so yes, CRISP and FRUITY does come to mind when describing/sipping this wine.
The Fresh Mozzarella with Petit Ratatouille was fair, with the savoury profile matching the mild flavour of the firm yet soft mozzarella cheese. As you know, ratatouille is oily and flavourful due to the stewing of various greens. One bland, another savoury; and both went very well with the freshness and minerality of the Chardonnay 2010. The fine slatey acidity drives the length of flavour and combines perfectly with the creamy texture and mild oak influence to deliver an intense, expressive and balanced wine.
The tomato tarte tatin (upside-down tart). The sweetness of the tart as well as the burst of cheery tang from the tomatoes paired with the sour cream was simply lovely! This was paired with a red, Cabernet Merlot 2008, a blend of, you guessed it, Carbernet and Merlot. Now, I’m not a fan of Merlot but this blend manages to capture the quality of the two varieties that, when blended, create a well rounded, full and rich style. This blend was awarded the trophy for “Best Bordeaux style blend” at the 2006 Decanter World Wine Awards.
It is a complex, medium bodied red wine with the intense, firm cabernet fruit blending seamlessly with the softer merlot to produce an approachable wine well suited to char grilled meats or a rich range. At this stage of lunch, I personally concluded that these brilliant blends are what made Cape Mentelle wines so drinkable and acceptable. None complicated and generally pleasant, Cape Mentelle wines are of quality but modern. Classy, smooth, with length and finesse.
Seared Scallop on Oxtail topped with Parmesan wafer.
Fat juicy and oh-so-sweet scallops. Opaque on the inside, beautifully seared on the outside.
Best scallops I’ve had so far!
Served on a bed of oxtail, it was somehow salty at first but improved with a sip from the matching wine, the 2010 Shiraz.
As one of the pioneers of Australian winemaking, Cape Mentelle has always produced Shiraz grapes that display a level of subtlety and elegance rarely seen in Australian Shiraz wines, with the use of a gentle basket press and judicious use of oak that helps to create an aromatic wine with spicy, savoury notes and fine velvet-like texture.
For Robert Mann, Estate Director at Cape Mentelle, the Shiraz 2010 encapsulates all that is unique about Margaret River’s spirit and wine quality, being quintessentially Australian. “A spicy, savoury and wonderfully textural Shiraz inspired by the wines of the Côte Rôtie in France’s Rhône Valley”.
To the nose, the Cape Mentelle Shiraz 2010’s aroma resembles that of deep dark brambly fruits of blueberries and mulberries, combined with subtle spices of nutmeg, cardamom and black pepper; while textural, firm, fine, gravelly tannins provide great mouthfeel around a core of sweet fruit presence.
Finally the mains arrived. A lamb lover, my heart did a flip when I read ” Grilled Dorper Lamb served with soba noodles, creamed edamame, and tobiko + Roasted Barramundi on a bed of truffle soft polenta served with a shiitake reduction“. Oh I happened to love soba, edamame, barramundi and polenta too!
The barramundi turned out sweet, moist and flaky. A perfect piece of fish, if anything could describe this. The truffle polenta concept somehow elevates the humble polenta into a luxury dish component. The somehow plain polenta itself absorbs the heavy truffle scent, and creates a wonderful accompaniment.
On the other end of this dual dish, the lamb didn’t fall short of praise either. It was admirably executed, with a nice sear on the outside and pink on the inside. It’s a shame that there’s a bit too much soy sauce for the noodles. It flavours the soba a bit too salty for my liking.
This dish was paired with the same wine, which turned out surprisingly well. It goes to show that the correct wine can be paired with both seafood and meat, and old beliefs of “white with seafood and red with meats “ can be disregard as we moved forward with wine innovations and new blends of grapes.
As far as dessert goes, our platter had a nice variety and was quite good, although there’s nothing much to highlight.
It was a beautiful lunch with some great Australian wines! I look forward to my next visit to Australian and this time it will be for the Food Festival in Melbourne, plus perhaps to Barossa for the markets and of course, Margaret River for more educational vino visits! 😀
** Le Meridien , Cape Mentelle’s flagship outlet in Kuala Lumpur, will be the first to offer wine lovers and fans of Cape Mentelle, the best of Cape Mentelle’s wines. The Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2011, Chardonnay 2010, Cabernet Merlot 2008, Shiraz 2010 and the iconic Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 are available for purchase by the glass and by the bottle at PRIME, Le Meridien’s premium steakhouse.
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