Viognier and pork

Disclaimer: The booze which features in this post was supplied for free by WineSelectors. Make of that what you will.

If we’re friends and we’ve gone out to dinner together, you’ll probably know that I don’t like pinot noir. Because if we’ve gone out for dinner together, I’ve more likely than not ordered pork, I’ve probably ordered it for you too, and you’ve probably jumped to the conclusion that you should drink pinot with your pork. At which point, I’ll scrunch up my face, and declare that I don’t drink pinot. At least not Australian pinot. (I was coerced into trying – and subsequently liking – a French grand cru bourgogne at the Royal Mail Hotel a while ago.)

Anyway, when WineSelectors offered to send me some wine to try and review on this blog, I thought, “Free booze!” and then immediately caveatted that I was going to be bluntly honest about what I thought of the wine. To which they replied, “Well, that’s fine. Because you’ll be choosing the wines yourself.” Which basically meant that I was a bit screwed, because I don’t know that much about wine, I just know what I like. One of the things I know that I like is viognier, so I included a bottle of the Hugh Hamilton Loose Cannon Viognier in my order.


And though I probably am an alcoholic, I’m not an anti-social alcoholic. So I invited a couple of friends over to dinner to help me ‘taste’ the wines (read ‘finish’). And because it wasn’t a Friday night, eating wasn’t cheating, so I made dinner. A roast rack of pork, no less. Oh yeah, that rant about pinot before wasn’t that random. This is what the rack looked like before (that’s salt, pepper, rosemary and sumac on there):


… and after! (After 20 minutes in an oven on max, followed by an hour at 160c.)


We had some green beans with goat’s cheese, a cannellini bean, pea and cavolo nero mash, and I made an onion jam.


Damn I love it when meat blushes at me.


But yeah, so, the wine. I discovered a few things about this Loose Cannon Viognier.

  1. It doesn’t really have any bouquet when it comes out of the fridge. This does change as it comes closer to room temperature, at which point it smells vaguely citrus-like.
  2. It’s DAMN FRUITY. (I mean that in a good way.)
  3. It doesn’t go well with hommus. (We had nibbles before dinner proper.)
  4. Mr J claimed he could taste quince in the wine, but I think that was more likely to do with the quince paste he was slathering on his crackers.
  5. The wine is kind of savoury, with orange notes.
  6. It’s pretty good with pork!

Moortangi Estate

Disclosure: I got to go to this free wine tasting, and they also gave me a bottle of Cambrian Shiraz as a present.

I was recently lucky enough to be invited to a wine tasting put on by the owners of Moortangi Estate. They’re a small family winery which has vineyards in the Yarra Valley. Unfortunately, the Black Saturday fires wiped out most of their vines, but luckily the vines were of old enough stock that the root system remained intact, and new vines are currently on the comeback. In the mean time, Moortangi have sourced grapes from the Heathcote area, and with them, have produced two wines – a 2005 Cambrian Shiraz, and a 2005 Old Vine Shiraz.

Now I’m not a true wine afficionado, but I do know a little about the subject. I mean after all, designing and doing the data entry for over two hundred wines in Fosters’ wine portfolio teaches you a thing or two by osmosis.

The Cambrian Shiraz is not your typical Heathcote Shiraz. Which is just as well, because I’m not a fan of Heathcote Shiraz. At least not when you compare it to a McLaren Vale or a Barossa. This Cambrian drinks a little more like a McLaren Vale in my book – it’s extremely fruit-driven (read a bit sweet) with strong cherry and plum flavours. There’s also an interesting mix of pepper and coconut in the aroma, and the tannins are very mild. My sort of Shiraz.

The Old Vine Shiraz, by comparison, is a more robust and heavy wine, with more tannins – that funny dry sensation you get on the tongue – and a lot less fruit. Some people call this complexity, I just call it dry. I’m not a fan, though sometimes it’s a good thing; when you’re eating rather rich foods.

The rich foods we ate with the Old Vine were four awesome cheeses: a Roy de Vallees (my favourite), Reggiano, Cheddar, and Roquefort. All strong cheeses, which was a good match to the Old Vine Shiraz.

It was great to see and meet some other foodbloggers that night, even if I had to run off for pizza – see my post tomorrow! – others who have blogged this event:

Sarah at Sarah Cooks
Thanh at I Eat Therefore I Am
Ling at My Kitchen and Gym Diary

You can find Moortangi Estate wines at various restaurants around town. I forget most of the list – I don’t spit at wine tastings, I swallow – but Cutler & Co. was among them. They’re looking into retailers, so you may be able to get them at a bottle shop soon, too.

Tuck’s Ridge

37 Shoreham Road, Red Hill South
Phone: (03) 5989 8660

After neglecting to book a table at the Red Hill Brewery for lunch on a public holiday (planning FAIL) and subsequently being turned away, we headed down the road to Tuck’s Ridge. We first did a little wine tasting at the cellar door, where I discovered that I don’t dislike ALL chardonnays. The inoffensive chardonnay in question was their unwooded one, in case you’re wondering. We then walked around the corner to the restaurant, where we sat down to this picturesque view in the milky autumnal sun:

Having stopped off for snacks on the way down to the Mornington Peninsula, we decided to have something light for lunch, and opted to share the grazer’s platter.

From back/left to front/right: fresh figs and jamon, marinated olives, candied fennel, sashimi rose on a scallop shell, chorizo, some sort of vaguely sweet tortellini, smoked chicken, fennel and rocket salad. The standouts were the little bits of candied fennel, and the smoked chicken salad. The ingredients were all pretty fresh, but there wasn’t anything particularly ‘wow’ about them. Fortunately, the pinot gris with which I washed it down was lovely.

The sashimi rose was very pretty, but the fish itself was a little disappointing. Perhaps it just needed some soy and wasabi, or just any sauce, really!

I’m not normally a coffee drinker (which is why there are many cafes which I haven’t reviewed, which I probably should…) but I had a soy latte here. To my untrained palate, it tasted pretty good. Mr N had coffees both here and at Morning Sun Winery. The coffee at Tuck’s Ridge was better, in his estimation.