"In a world of warming, increasing pace and excess, Orange provides the cool climate, the patience and restraint to produce world class wines of balance and finesse" - Orange Visitor Centre, 'Orange Visitors Guide 2014'
A warmth fills the room as guests filter in to the bar... the hum of conversation and laughter steadily grows, casually interrupted by the pop of a cork followed with a gentle clink of a champagne flute... an event is definitely underway here.
The scents are ambient - a waft of blue cheese, venison stewing on the stove from the kitchen, a yeasty fragrance from the flow of sparkling wine.. the recipe for a great night out!
Upon arrival at The Far North, our host venue for the evening, guests are greeted with a glass of Printhie's sparkling range "NV Swift Cuvee" and a canape of House sugar cured Ocean Trout Crostini with Tzatziki caviar. The Cuvee complemented the oily fish on the Crostini nicely with the richness from the pinot.
Whilst the crowd are mingling outside, the second canape is served alongside the Ross Hill 2009 Vintage Brut. This award winning sparkling had a much more complex flavour which could stand up to the Stuffed Mushroom filled with sweet carrot, Second Mouse Cheese Co blue cheese with a Trunkey Bacon & Pork mild Chorizo crumb and apple balsamic caramel.
Soon after the canapes are finished, the guests are asked to take their seats in preparation for the entree. Once seated, the owner of The Far North, Brett Strauss, welcomes everyone and introduces the evening.
Drew of Printhie Wines commences the educational side of the evening, giving an overview of Orange as a region and it's reputation for winemaking.
"What Orange lacks in longitude, it makes up for in altitude"
- Drew Tuckwell, Winemaker
He also gives an insight into the Swift label and it's production processes at Printhie. Phil from Ross Hill takes the baton and talks about his Vintage Brut whilst the first entree is served up.
Conversation is quickly replaced by the sounds of knives and forks clattering as the first course is eagerly demolished! Crispy Prawn served with Avocado Yuzu mousse, seven peppers and pickled ginger. This Asian inspired morsel is paired with the Printhie Mt Canobolas Collection 2013 Reisling. With a balance of acid and sweetness, this wine has notes of spice and ginger matching it perfectly with the first entree's Asian flavours.
After hearing from the winemakers again, guests are presented with the second entree. Still running with the Asian theme, Thai style poached Coconut Chicken skewers rolled in cucumber ribbon and daikon with radish, coriander and Teriyaki aioli. Paired with the Ross Hill Max & Maya 2013 Chardonnay, this combination of textures and flavours proved to be a nice balance on the palate.
The winemakers, Drew and Phil, move around the room greeting the guests and passing out tasting notes and more information on their respective wineries. Meanwhile, a rich fragrance filled the dining room... an inviting waft from the casserole dishes now situated in the middle of each table catches the attention of the newly hungry diners... the curious diner lifts the lid to uncover the main course... Braised Mandagery Creek Venison shoulder Stroganoff served with roasted vegetables. A hearty, family-style dish that showcased the local venison straight from Orange itself. With a side of house made flat bread, guests were encouraged to dig in! Two aromatic, peppery Shiraz were matched here, the Printhie Mt Canobolas Collection 2012 Shiraz and Ross Hill 2012 Shiraz.
At this point, plates are cleared and guests settle back into conversation and laughter while they finish their wines. The room feels warm and dotted with friendly smiles and contentment...
With the savoury dishes out of the way, it was time for something a little bit sweeter. Starting with the Printhie Apres dessert wine, Drew gives a bit of background to the wine and how he came to blend the Sauvignon Blanc and Marsanne varietals after being affected by Botrytis.
Dessert is an upside down Peach Cake served with Luvy's pastry cream combined with the German cream cheese Quark sourced from Second Mouse Cheese Co in Orange. This was a beautiful match of sweet and tart from the Quark pastry cream. The gluten free diners were spoiled with a rich Chocolate mousse to finish their meal.
Brett Strauss concludes the formal side of the night while dessert is being eaten and guests are invited to have another glass of wine and enjoy the Cheese grazing board for the rest of the evening.
The cheese was sourced again from Second Mouse Cheese Co and served with condiments, fresh fruit and crackers. The Ross Hill Cabernet Franc 2011 and Philip Shaw Merlot Cabernet Franc Cabernet 2012 was served with the Cheese Board and guests were given a choice to try either from the Bar.
The Cheese board contained:
Second Mouse Cheese Co Blue
Second Mouse Cheese Co Freida (washed rind)
Second Mouse Cheese Co Camembert
Second Mouse Cheese Co Double Brie
All served with glazed pears, fresh pears, date and walnut roulade, fresh honeycomb and a quince paste to accompany the different textures and strengths of cheese.
The guests filtered out gradually over the last hour of the evening all with smiles on their faces and promises of return for the next dinner!
A successful night that celebrated a growing local region that creates beautiful wine and amazing produce.
See you this month at Taste of the Hunter Valley...
Until then, happy eating x