The event took place in the Presidents room. Well spaced nicely decorated tables for ten accommodated about 50 guests.
Starting with canape and a fine pinot noir, single grape, bubbly. This is a pleasant wine, Lenswood Blanc de Noir described as:
Appearance: Vivid pale gold with green hues.
Nose: The complex nose is sweet and creamy, exhibiting lemon, stone-fruit and potpourri with nutty, toasty, yeast autolysis aromas; exotic with créme caramel hints.
Palate: A complex, full, rich and creamy palate with layers of spicy strawberry/raspberry flavours; excellent intensity and great acidity carries through to a zesty finish. Excellent bead.
suitable for any occasion but there is a lot of competition from French champagnes in this price range.
Both 2010 the 'Julius' Eden Valley was a fruity light wine whilst the Lenswood 'Green Hill' was dryer with mineral tones.
The second course, Morroccan spiced leg of lamb, chickpea crust, labna and rib cassoulet was served with the 2007 and the 1999 'Cyril Henchke" Cabernet Sauvignon.
These wines were well matched to the lamb. The '07 was superb, described as "Deep magenta in colour. Sweet vanilla and cedar aromas mesh beautifully with the bouquet of blueberries, violets and cassis. The palate presents tight, well-integrated fine grained tannins balanced perfectly with lush, dark berry fruit flavours. The 'cork topped 99 was definitely showing it's age with a musty, bouquet which, to me, smelled faintly of aldehyde. The wine makers described it as
"Deep crimson in colour. Sweet lifted cassis, redcurrant, anise, tar, violets and cedar with liqueur chocolate hints. A complex bouquet of bright black briary forest berry fruits with lush dusty aromas. Sweet fruit, rich, complex, compact, concentrated palate with fruit and dusty tannins; fleshy with firm fine-grained chewy tannins on the very long finish..” These 10 + year old wines age differently in the bottle and I think it would be a risk to buy them unless you can be sure they have been cellared in the best conditions.
A slow roasted beef strip loin beetroot puree, oxtail and liquorice pie, confit shallots
came with an '08 and a '99 'Hill of Grace' Shiraz
.This was a very tasty dish, the pie being outstanding. The '99 had maintained it's flavours well. The '08 was gorgeous, described as intensely fruited palate, concentrated, rich and lush with excellent balance, velvety tannins and a long finish'.
A dessert of L'Etivas d'alpage, AOC with truffle poached grapes and puffed rice
went extremely well with the '06 'Hill of Grace"
Shiraz but not quite so well with the '98 example which I felt deserved a good steak for company. There are times, as the gentleman next to me remarked "when the food interferes with the wine" Robert Parker said of this wine
1998 HENSCHKE HILL OF GRACE !! $650.00
"It is hard to find a more compelling red than Henschke’s 1998 Shiraz Hill of Grace. Made from 100% Shiraz (from vines averaging 52-144 years of age), and aged in primarily new American and French oak for 18 months, it is unquestionably profound. Its dense ruby/purple color is followed by a gorgeous perfume of blackberries, graphite, and subtle wood. Dense and full-bodied yet extraordinarily well-defined and layered, it remains young and backward, with tremendous potential. It is the finest Hill of Grace I have ever passed over my palate and down the gullet. Anticipated maturity: 2006-2020+." Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate – 97 points. "
It is still early days for the '06 but critics universally applaud it. Here is James Halliday's remarkable comment :
"Bright red-purple; highly fragrant spice, cedar, red and black berry aromas, oak evident but not excessive; it has a silky, velvety texture and mouthfeel to a beautifully balanced medium-bodied palate brimming with black fruits; wonderful length and finish. Surely one of the best Hill of Graces. Screwcap. 14.5% alc. Drink Now - 2026." James Halliday - 97 points
This night of remarkable wine tasting and very respectable food was a rare experience made better by the excellent assistance of sommelier Christian
and the information provided by Henchke's own representative.