Words by Gregor Stronach I received an invitation a couple of weeks ago, by email – and it took me all of about 20 seconds of frantically stabbing at my keyboard to type “Yes please, of course, I would love to be there, it sounds amazing!” to lock in my seat at the Crow Bar for the Made in Mudgee event on August 25.
I’ve long been a fan of cheese pairings – but I’ll readily admit that they’ve all been pairings done with a range of wines, from the ‘top shelf’ end of the decadent scale to some seriously mediocre offerings lined up alongside a bowl of well-beyond room temperature cheddar cubes.
But even longer than I’ve been a fan of a cheese-pairing evening, I’ve been a devotee of whisky – specifically, Scotch whisky (with the occasional smattering of Irish, Bourbon, Canadian, Rye, Japanese… and especially Australian whisky thrown in for good measure…)
Wine was breathing, cheese bubbling on the stove and you could faintly see your breath in the air when you spoke... yes, Winter was here and so was the Fondue Feast! As the last candle was lit, the first guests started to filter in up the stairs...
The bubbles are poured and guests slowly start to trickle in.. the murmur of conversation thickens with each person and soon enough the room is a buzz with eager diners ready to "Fall in love with Orange".
The first wine of the night is the NV Cuvee of Printhie's sparkling range Swift. It is an easy to drink sparkling and pairs nicely to the two canapé courses of Baked Polenta, whipped cream cheese and basil pesto followed by the Cocktail Potatoes filled with crispy bacon, garlic mayonnaise and chives.
As the "go to" girl for cheese recommendations and advice with my family and friends, I thought it was high time I posted up my top 3 cheese and wine locations in Sydney.
Although I am no stranger to the cosy night at home with a generous cheese board and a bottle (or if you know me well... two, or three of red) with a friend - I love to venture out and try something new.
Having been to pretty much every cheese selling establishment in Sydney, I have narrowed it down to just three...
As eagerly anticipated by Guillaume and his team as it has been by diners! I finally set aside a night to experience it for myself!
The website was yet to launch, so the excitement about the menu was the topic of discussion in the cab ride over...
"What do you think he'll keep from Bennelong?" "Ohh I hope the Tuna is still on the menu!!" "Can't wait... so hungry!!"
With rumbling tummies and the 9 months of waiting... 'we couldn't wait', is an understatement.
The smell of freshly baked bread wafts around the room... as the Tertini 2009 Sparkling Cuvee Pinot Noir Chardonnay is being poured. A wintery night, reminiscent of my drive down to the Southern Highlands just a few weeks ago... you could faintly make out your breath as you spoke..
A hint of frost on the windscreen… rows of naked vines line the side of the road… rolling low hills in the distance… Yes, it is early Winter in Mudgee.
A region that is not defined by any one Wine or grape varietal, but is “good at many wines” Rob Black, Winemaker - Bunnamagoo Wines. This historic town is oozing with character which is reflects in its winemaking.
As an iconic region of Australia, it seemed natural to take our tastings through the vines of our closest wine producing neighbour. With a plethora of wineries to choose from it seemed a daunting task to select just two! So I let myself be guided by my palate.. "Hunter Semillon and Shiraz is something not replicated in any other wine region" Anthony Gismondi. After tasting my way through the region.. armed with tasting notes and the distinct taste of wine on my tongue.. the Taste of the Hunter Valley was born. Audrey Wilkinson's 2010 Cuvee Blanc on ice... the pungent aromas of the Golden Washed Rind from the Hunter Valley Cheese Co... the room sat still awaiting our 50 guests for the evening.