Thursday, April 12, 2012

All about regionality: De Bortoli Wines Windy Peak launch at Chiswick

It's a fairly recent phenomenon that the masses (including me) have started to consider where the food we eat comes from.

Are my cooked prawns local or do they come from the Mekong? Is my supermarket asparagus grown in Australia or imported via a chilled aeroplane from Peru? What's the 'carbon cost' of drinking beers from local microbreweries versus imported Japanese brands produced in Canada?

Chiswick, Ocean Street, Woollahra
While I'm not sure I want to know the provenance of my Maccas cheeseburger pattie, regionality is also becoming a selling point at the more approachable, affordable end of the wine spectrum.

Family-owned De Bortoli Wines recently relaunched its Windy Peak range with a greater emphasis on various regions of Victoria, aiming to highlight particular varieties that thrive in particular regions. De Bortoli Wines sources fruit from vineyards in the Yarra Valley, King Valley and Heathcote in Victoria.

Council land - Chiswick Gradens
I was more than a little excited to receive an invitation to the De Bortoli Windy Peak relaunch, 'A Taste of the Yarra Valley', at the undeniably posh Chiswick.

Not only was it lunch at one of the most in-demand restaurants in Sydney at the moment, the invitation was attached to four bottles from the Windy Peak range.

Guests and glasses for the De Bortoli Wines Windy Peak relaunch
Lunch was a classy but casual shared affair that was much suited to the "gluggable" Windy Peak wines, as put by Leanne De Bortoli, manager of the De Bortoli winery and restaurant in the Yarra Valley.

Two long, glass-laden tables were set up in the enclosed private room of Matt Moran and Peter Sullivan's new restaurant in Woollahra. The space surely had to be a sunroom in another life as the gorgeous glassed doors looked out onto the pristine green Chiswick Gardens.

As we surveyed our luxe surrounds, we started with the Windy Peak Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2011 from the King Vally and Yarra Valley which Leanne says have similarities that work together. "Tropical fruit, gooseberry and grassy flavours" appear in the tasting notes.

Chiswick's kitchen garden
Out the side view was the much-publicised kitchen garden; 150 square metres of garden directly linked to the kitchen. A dedicated gardener tends to the garden several times a week, while it's currently producing lots of leafy greens, rosa radishes, heirloom carrots, purple basil, dill, lavender and French tarragon.

Chiswick's seasonal menu aims to put the best produce from the kitchen garden on the menu every month, which must be both an exciting and challenging prospect for the kitchen and regular customers.

Olives, roma beans, tomato, mustard seeds
Once seated with a glass of the Windy Peak King Valley Pinot Grigio 2011 ("gentle floral and herbaceous fruit flavours"), our 'nibbles' arrived in a flurry of glass and share plate shuffling. The green and black olives were in an unexpected braise of tomatoes and roma beans; and a little difficult to manage with a knife and fork.

Rosemary flat bread
The warm rosemary and salt flake topped flat bread was devoured almost instantly, with a great crispness and wood-fired aroma to the pre-cut wedges. I'm pretty sure I could have scoffed the entire serve, but there was much yet to come.

Pickled garden vegetables
The striking colours of the pickled garden vegetables were almost too pretty to eat, though it was impossible for several people to all get a bite of the purple heirloom carrot. The light pickling of the vegetables didn't much interfere with the wine.

Leanne De Bortoli of De Bortoli Wines
Leanne spoke a little about the family heritage of De Bortoli Wines and the Windy Peak range, which are described as "not expensive wines" but wines that belong with food, over a relaxed meal, and to be shared with your favourite people.

The 2010 and 2011 vintages are those post the Victorian bushfires that ravaged the state, and Yarra Valley, in February 2009. Leanne noted that 2010 was a particularly good year for their pinot noir, which we later confirmed.

Sliced kingfish, breakfast radish, chive aioli, parsley
The Windy Peak Yarra Valley Chardonnay 2011 ("soft, creamy brioche-like flavours") accompanied our next lot of shared plates, which are simply listed on the menu under 'small plates'.

The presentation of the kingfish was seriously pushing the prettiness-scale and it was the sheer freshness of the fish slices that forced us to ruin the pretty picture.

The pink kingfish slices were topped with a delicate dice of radish, chives, possibly apple and/or cucumber, alongside well-balanced spots of chive aioli. The presentation with herb tendrils and baby shiso leaves was the on-tune finishing touch for a great sharing dish to start.

Pulled veal ravioli, broad beans, cornichons, shiso
There was a lot going on with the veal ravioli dish, but it was equally beautifully presented. With all the greenery atop - baby shiso leaves, nasturtium leaves, whole broad beans, finely diced cornichons, capers and parsley - the huge whack of gorgeously meaty flavours from the ravioli was a complete surprise, but a very satisfying one.

While the pasta would make any nonna happy, it was the incredibly intense flavour and melt-in-the-mouth texture of the pulled veal that shone. I would definitely consider order this stunning ravioli as a meal of its own.

Marinated cucumber, rosa radish, mint, goat's curd and Yarra Valley Persian Feta salad
For the Windy Peak launch, the kitchen had included some ingredients from the Yarra Valley, to further our experience of the wines' regionality. Hence, the very lightly marinated cucumber salad featured goat's curd as well as Persian feta cheese from the Yarra Valley.

It was a very light and subtle dish that contrasted almost a little too harshly with the big-hitting flavours of the prior ravioli, while I thought the deep-fried bread bits were a little out of place.

At the kitchen pass
For mains, we were going to sample three of the shared main menu items, which seems to be a current trend that I rather like.

Matt Moran was spotted pottering about during lunch but not in the kitchen, which was bright and bustling as an impressive line-up of pies hit the pass with bright red pie birds perched on golden pastry tops.

Fish and prawn pie
Patterned to appear like fish scales, the perfect colouring and flakiness of the pie pastry was truly something to behold. The puffy pastry lid hid a white-sauced and dill-laced filling of blue-eye trevalla and snapper in quite large chunks, and large, whole, peeled prawns that were like jackpot when you got one.

The pastry was a little difficult to break up with the serving spoon and the white sauce was a touch floury but these were minor quibbles for what seems to be Sydney's new favourite fish pie.

Chicken, wood roasted in spiced hay with lemon, stuffing
I was looking forward to the roast chicken, which hovers around the top of my list for comfirt food. This whole bird roasted in "spiced hay" arrived jointed in several pieces with a neat pile of stuffing and grilled wedges of lemon on the side.

Moist although a bit pale, this was not so much about a marinade, sauce or skin even but rather remembering how real chicken should really be and all very 'Sunday roast' really.

Wood roasted Moran family lamb, chickpeas, mint
For me the piece de resistance of the mains was undoubtedly the roasted shoulder of lamb, sourced from the Moran Family Farm on the Central Tablelands of Rockley, NSW.

Served on a bed of chickpea puree with a bright green mint sauce, this huge hunk of meat needed little more than gravity and a few nudges for the succulent meat to fall off the bone. For lamb lovers, this is as close to perfection as I can imagine.

De Bortoli Wines Windy Peak Yarra Valley Pinot Noir
Red wines were served with our mains: the Windy Peak Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2010 which filled the nostrils with a spectacularly fruity perfume ("full, plump, red and dark fruit flavours") and the Windy Peak Yarra Valley Cabernet Merlot 2010 ("rich, full fruit palate and subtle oak") which was lovely with the lamb.

Time was flying as we had much fun serving and passing food around, which is the idea behind shared mains - with lots of wine, of course.

Baked meringue, yuzy, Granny Smith apples
Dessert was a little more difficult to share around although after nine shared savoury dishes, I think most people were more than content without a full dessert.

The scarily perfect baked meringue of snowman-like stature was the lighter of the two desserts, featuring a tart, citrusy yuzu curd within the meringue and smeared on the plate and a very appropriate partner of Granny Smith apple sorbet.

Caramelia éclair, almonds, sugar plums
Richer and sweeter was the eclair served alongside poached sugar plum cheeks and almonds. I adore sable pastry as it is, but surrounding a creamy caramel chocolate filling in a choux pastry tube, well, I'm excited about Peter Sullivan's prediction that eclairs are going to be the new cupcakes.

Chiswick amid the gardens
As lunch ended, it was beginning to get to hard to leave Chiswick: the beautiful garden surrounds and all that food and wine were building a pretty convincing case to stay put - until dinner at least.

But with goodie bags of regional treats to boot (featuring Crumbs Gourmet Biscuits passionfruit yoyos, Chapman Hill extra virgin olive oil, King Valley Fine Foods rocket and pistachio pesto, and more wine), we managed to leave Chiswick with a little, delicious piece of the Yarra Valley and King Valley.

The Windy Peak range of wines retails for about $15 a bottle, which makes it a great choice at the affordable end of the spectrum. See more photos from the Windy Peak launch at my Facebook page.

Food, booze and shoes attended the De Bortoli Wines Windy Peak launch as a media guest, with thanks to De Bortoli Wines and The Cru Media.

Chiswick on Urbanspoon


Vintage Macaroon said...

I think I've had most of the Chiswick menu but not that lamb! So melting it looks like the knife might fall over, divine. I've also never had any of the de Bortoli Windy Peak range. I will have to rectify both :)

penny aka jeroxie said...

What a lovely place! I must get myself to chiswick.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

The eclair is delicious! I wish I had left more room for it really :)

tania@mykitchenstories said...

What a great lunch you had. I have seen the food on a few blogs and it looks good. I like the new Windy peak labels .... doesn't look so cheap any more!

SarahKate (Mi Casa-Su Casa) said...

I used to live about 2 minutes walk from Chiswick Park... how I wish this gorgeous restaurant had been there when I was in the neighbourhood! Looks like a fantastic lunch!

The Food Mentalist said...

What a gorgeous lunch! Looks and sounds delicious. I am really loving the garden too, reminds me to pay more attention to ours!

Adrian (Food Rehab & What The Heck Is Filipino Food) said...

I'm inspired by the history of the De Bortoli family and the things they went through to still be standing tall to this day when I attended the Australia's First Families of Wine book launch a while back.

Great event and location- and the food looks fantastic.

Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said...

Nawww...snowman dessert and hooray for eclairs being the next big "thing"! Absolutely love eclairs, even from younger days when I only knew to get them from donut shops.

Tina said...

Hi Vintage Macaroon - The entire menu looks awesome, doesn't it? They don't sell Windy Peak at Chiswick, but at $15 a bottle, drinks in is too easy ;)

Hi Penny - It's a stunning venue :)

Hi Lorraine - Yeah, I was a bit stuffed by the time I got to dessert too...

Hi Tania - The new labels have a younger feel, I think. A good thing ;)

Hi SarahKate - Lucky Woollahra locals...

Hi The Food Mentalist - Loving the resurgance of growing our own food, even if it's just herbs.

Hi Adrian - Love a good familiy story :)

Hi Rita - I love a snowman dessert ;) How crazy perfect is that baked meringue too?!

tastyfoodsnaps said...

the pulled veal ravioli looks delicious! :)


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