The 10th anniversary Noosa International Food & Wine Festival, which ended on Sunday (May 19), was the most successful ever.
About 30,000 people attended the four-day event, with a rumoured 10,000 on Saturday alone. An extraordinary line-up of chefs came to cook meals and conduct demonstrations.
My involvement included sitting on the panel in four wine tastings and being the wine host for one of the grand dinners at Berardo’s restaurant, sponsored by Qantas.
The tastings included a Wine Australia-hosted masterclass on riesling, which examined six rieslings including Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge (tasting), Bay of Fires (tasting), Seppelt Drumborg and Sevenhill (tasting) 2012s, Delatite VS (tasting) 2011 and Pewsey Vale The Contours ‘07.
We tasted the wines alone, then with food, and discussed the magical way food brings more out of the wine.
The Delatite, a very tight, austere wine, was the one that was most transformed by the food.
As the picture shows, riesling goes with more than just fish. We found it was great with prawns, cured tuna and kingfish, smoked salmon, stuffed spatchcock and tartlet of caramellised onion with goat curd and semi-dried tomato.
Nine chefs from four countries presented an eight-course degustation at the Berardo’s restaurant Saturday night dinner, which can only be described as nirvana.
I had the unenviable task of matching wines to all eight dishes, without having tasted the food. Talk about flying blind!
Japanese chef Yoshihiro Narisawa’s ‘local greens with ocean breeze in luxury essence’, paired with Pol Roger’s new Pure (a beautiful zero dosage non-vintage), was one of the best abalone dishes I’ve ever eaten. I was in heaven.
Abba dabba doo!
Every dish was a highlight, making it almost an insult to pick favourites, but I will anyway. Aussie David Thompson, of Nahm, Bangkok, served a steamed Barossa chicken with which he was unusually restrained in his use of hot spices, and it was a fine match with Bay of Fires 2011 Pinot Gris (tasting).
But the wine that stole the show was Coldstream Hills Reserve Pinot Noir 2010 (tasting note), which was just gorgeous. (Earlier in the day, I’d had a behind-the-counter sample of the as-yet unreleased 2012, which will be just as good.)
Its partner was wild-shot hare, cooked by Stokehouse Brisbane’s S. Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year, Richard Ousby.
Dessert was Peter Gilmore of Quay’s ‘Andalucia with citrus and almonds’ which tasted just as stunning as it looks in my picture. A fine fit with Yalumba’s FSW8B Botrytis Viognier 2012.
Quealy Pobblebonk, Mornington Peninsula 2011 $25
An exciting, creative blend of pinot grigio, friulano, muscat, chardonnay and riesling from an iconoclastic winemaker – Kathleen Quealy, who was one of the founders of T’Gallant. The colour and fragrance are youthful and fresh, the aromas are clean and grapy, with a complex array of refined aromas which are subtly spicy, showing restrained muscat influence. Light to medium bodied, it has great texture and softness, poise and precision. The acidity is refreshing and seamless. A very smart wine indeed. Oh, and it’s named after a frog call! Drink now and for about four years. 12.3 per cent alcohol. 92/100 (Huon’s Wine 360)
Food: simply cooked and sauced fish and shellfish; salads and vegetable dishes; Caesar salad with grilled chicken; spaghetti marinara.
Winery Rating: 88.7
Weighted average of their top 5 recently tasted wines
Price Rating Map & Vintage Chart:
How does this wine fit into the winery’s range?
Millbrook Limited Release Chardonnay, Great Southern & Pemberton 2011 $45
Here’s a generous chardonnay of full body and colour. It’s buttercup yellow, with a mellow, mature bouquet showing nougat, toast and roast hazelnut. The palate is full-bodied, opulent and rich, with forward flavours, all enlivened by excellent acidity. A lovely big mouthful of chardonnay. Now to five years. 13.5 per cent alcohol. 94/100 (Huon’s Wine 360)
Food: roast chicken
Mac Forbes Hugh Gruyere, Yarra Valley 2010 $56
A very different rendition of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot. The colour is light for cabernet, and the superbly fragrant aroma of red fruits and mulchy, leafy/stemmy smells suggests stalk inclusion. Medium bodied and soft with an appealing lightness of being. Gentle tannins and fine texture. Beautiful balance. Now to 2025. 12.5 per cent alcohol. 95/100 (Huon’s Wine 360)
Food: roast lamb