This event was held on Thursday October 27th, 2016 and started at about 6.30pm. The recently opened Sashas's Kitchen was chosen as the venue. About 22 guests booked in to be hosted by the team of me (Tim), Shannan, Jeremy and Angas.
The Black Stump Nebbiolo Moscato was served as guests arrived. Any opportunity is taken to present this wine to people because it is not your typical moscato style, being slightly drier and more savoury from the Nebbiolo. Serving it on arrival is the perfect place for it, before moving onto drier whites. Most people appreciated and enjoyed the style even through they wouldn't normally drink it. It was just a question of demonstrating an appropriate time for serve it.
Three bottles of Cock+Bull white wine were opened up prior to the guests sitting down. These were a 2012 Semillon Sauvignon blanc, 2011 Semillon Sauv blanc and a 2011 Chardonnay. This selection was chosen for two reasons. Firstly to demonstrate that wine bottled under screwcap using best winemaking practice can be expected to have good longevity. Secondly to show that many good wines were made from the maligned 2011 vintage and especially the whites may have been overlooked.
Once the guests sat down I gave a brief presentation expanding on these points. A trend seems to be in place for people to expect their white wine to be bottled yesterday. Even a 2015 wine could be considered 'past it' already if modern expectations are anything to be believed. In actual fact technological advances including the introduction of the screwcap, better controls of dissolved oxygen and carbon dioxide, and more advanced bottling lines has led to much greater potential for longevity of white wines in bottle.
Good winemaking practice and technique are still paramount of course. But whereas not so long ago the winemaker used to rely somewhat on good judgement and even guesswork when preparing a wine for bottle, this is now not so necessary. Furthermore specialist bottling lines with in-house expertise provide almost automatic winemaker backup that never used to be there.
Many self-appointed armchair wine experts have come to the conclusion that it is a safe bet to slam any wine with 2011 on the label - rather than giving credit and fair hearing to any winemaker brave enough to put out a 2011 at all, after all of the bad press on the vintage. Certainly complacency in the vineyard and inexperience in the winery claimed some vinous victims, but the best viticulturalists still produced good fruit, and the best winemakers drew on their technical know how and experience to deal with the issues resulting from high rainfall and humidity. This was a rare opportunity to make wines of more elegance, structure, and finely balanced.
This was a vintage where a winemaker earned their stipend, and the bluffers were called out. Especially with white wines where it isn't necessary to ferment on skins, application of an appropriate juice processing strategy alleviated most potential problems. Not everyone on the night tried all three whites, but at least one guest preferred the 2011 SSB to the 2012, and I myself can be added to that list.
With the first offering from Sasha's was served the Black Stump Viognier and the Nebbiolo. These are excellent food styles both sitting somewhere between a white and a red and so very versatile. These will be expanded upon in following blogs but it can be noted that the Viognier has made the Winestate Top 5 Wine of the Year Alternative Varieties in both 2015 and 2016. It certainly showed well; dry, savoury, balanced and pristine.
The Nebbiolo is an example of an improvised hybrid red white style from the 2011 vintage, but this is not to demean it in any way. This is a unique, radical, and proving to be a popular wine and will live in bottle for a very long time as with any good Nebbiolo. It is starting to show it's potential now as it settles in.
The second offering from Sasha's was accompanied by two contrasting red styles being the flavour-packed and understated Black Stump Shiraz 2014 from McLaren Vale and the extraordinary and non-conformist Wine #9. At this point I made a second presentation elucidating on the respective philosophies brought to bear on these two wines. These will be expanded upon in a future blog but when put to an informal vote (because by this stage of the night we were well beyond formality), the Wine #9 unequivocally received the popular vote for wine of the night. Merrick from Pinnacle Wealth Management won the prize draw and chose a bottle of Wine #9.
From the feedback received a great night was had by all and we thank Sasha's Kitchen for hosting this event and presenting their superb cuisine, which certainly served to appropriately showcase the wines presented.