Papagoose – Marriage of food and wine by Wine Selectors
It is a normal reaction to be excited for a dinner invitation inclusive of food-and-wine, but when one gets disproportionately jovial and distracted you know you have stepped into the dark realms of no return – food blogger syndrome. Such is that of my life… not that I’m complaining.
Rushing in from work, finding parking in the city, then walking passed Chin Chin down Flinders Lane to finally reach Papagoose, I was slightly dishevelled when I arrived at the Wine Selector’s marriage of food and wine event. Having eaten lunch here before, I didn’t linger too long downstairs to admire the simple wooded elegance and sheen of light from the fairly open kitchen. I strutted up the spiral stairs to be greeted by Chris Barnes himself and a glass of sparkling.
2003 House of Arras, Grand Vintage Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir (Tas) – quoted from the tasting notes provided by Wine Selectors as “unquestioningly Australia’s best sparkling”, this mix of Chardonnay Pinot Noir is well balanced with nutty notes and a rich buttery creaminess. James Halliday also scored this wine a whopping 97, so certainly a winner.
We lingered around the sleek cocktail bar before dinner began, discussing wine making and everything related – cooler climates in making crisper wines, different stages of picking, ageing effect on the evolution of wine, the change of wine popularity like that between chardonnay (older generation) and sauvignon blanc (younger generation).
When my eyes met with the table all set with wine glasses, I knew this would be a long night of much drinking and pairing of wines. Hm, I probably should not have had a pour or two more of the sparkling, oops.
Ok, so who is Chris Barnes and what is Wine Selectors you may ask? Chris has had 30 years of experience in the Australian wine industry, and currently sits on the expert Tasting Panel, whom helps to bring together the best of Australian wines available direct to your door at good prices. Weekly deals are up for grabs also.
Ok before I bore you with any more information, here is what you have been waiting for… FOOD and WINE!
First up: Canapés on a plate.
Fresh fig, goat cheese, candied pecan
Thai salad rolls, Asian lime dipping sauce
Rare seared Atlantic salmon, celeriac remoulade
Seared sea scallop, minted pea puree, vanilla cream
From the sinful mouthful of creaminess and nutty crunch from the goat cheese and pecan; to the crunchy juliennes wrapped in paper roll; or the smoky intensity in the Atlantic salmon; and finally to the plump, unctuous morsel of scallop with a smooth smear of green – the colourful progression of flavours at each stop on the plate is beautiful.
I personally found the older 2005 Chrismont Riesling (King Valley, VIC) was the better matched wine alongside the canapés with its comparably richer and drier taste, with cool, crisp apple and citrusy notes. Generally speaking older (aged) wines Chris says are better paired with heavier foods. Though given the subtleties and contrasts offered by both the food and wine itself, you may find yourself enjoying the experience of a wine you wouldn’t expect to work, and vice versa you may find something theoretically suitable dreadful. Such is the case with the 2010 Dandelion Vineyards Wonderland of the Eden Valley Riesling (SA), which is a younger wine, with lighter fruity notes. It was intended to be paired with the Thai flavours on the plate, but likens to watered down wine when paired in that way. On its own however, it is a beautiful Riesling that is undoubtedly pleasant on palate.
Not being afraid to have an opinion on wine, much in the same way as food, is something we took note of from Chris. There isn’t a right or wrong, particular in what one enjoys or experiences. Panels and tasting notes help us sieve out the “faulty” wines, and help train us to appreciate the qualities and subtleties of wines. But equally you shouldn’t be bound by these rating scales, as to what you like or don’t like. At least that is what I think.
Next up: Mains.
Blue Eye cod, king prawn, baby zucchini, fennel, smoked tomato emulsion – though I didn’t manage to sneak a bite of this, I would imagine the more ‘feminine’ pinot noir – 2010 Riposte by Tim Knappstein No 1 Pinot Noir (Adelaide Hills) – with its fragrantly fresh berries and cherries would go well. The overall linger on the palate is much less pronounced than the next pinot.
Roasted Dorper lamb, pumpkin, peas, dates, seeds, mint – the luscious flesh and thin slither of fat beneath the golden skin with its hint of spices had a slight resemblance to roasted duck. Juicy, tender, and ‘full-bodied’ in flavour (pun intended) – it was cooked perfectly. The peppery nose and prolonged spiciness on the palate of the more ‘masculine’ pinot noir – 2008 Tarrawarra Estate Reserve Pinot Noir (VIC) – provided an excellent flirt and lift of flavours to the lamb, a beautiful rhapsody on the tongue.
Trialing the matched wines to-and-fro with the food, really helps emphasise the difference between the wines itself (with particular emphasis on aging and climate at this dinner), and how wines match with food or clash for that matter. The 2010 Riposte for example was far too crisp without enough oomph (to put it frankly) to carry the heaviness of the lamb, whereas with the more delicate nature of fish, that would be a different story.
Finally: cheese selection. Camembert, cheddar, bree, pear and fig chutney, and truffled honey.
I for one, being slightly lactose intolerant, am certainly not a big cheese lover and certainly does not make me a great judge. But I must admit, the rich dairy notes lends well to the dark cherry, dark chocolate and nutty notes in the 2009 Coriole Vineyards Sangiovese Shiraz (SA). Apparently this bottle comes at less than $20.
Rating: not given. Given the nature of the event with wine being the protagonist, it makes my life incredibly difficult to rate the restaurant. The food on their own was fantastic but not to-die-for, but when paired with suitable wines the flavours were greatly augmented. Alongside that, the experience of comparing what works and what doesn’t, and having guidance along the way makes for an incredible tasting experience. So if I were forced to give a rating I’d probably give it a Yummy+2 inclusive of food, wine and Chris Barnes on board.
91-93 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, VIC 3000
03 9663 2800
[We dined courtesy of Wine Selectors, Papagoose and Keep Left PR] – with particular thanks to Chris Barnes whom we picked his brains for his vast expertise and knowledge. And of course thank you to fellow bloggers who help made this night as enjoyable as it was.