Friday, December 13, 2013

De Bortoli Wines and spring racing appreciation

If change is as good as a holiday, the Royal Randwick racecourse has been on a massive vacation that's rejuvenated its heart and soul.

Having missed most of the bigger Spring Racing Carnival race days at Royal Randwick this year, I was delighted to be able to make the De Bortoli Wine Appreciation Luncheon earlier last month, which was as much a showcase for the rebuilt grandstand and ballrooms, as it was a wide range of De Bortoli Wines.

BellaRiva Pinot Grigio Vermentino 2012 by De Bortoli Wines
The beauty of the ballroom lunch was shelter away from the elements that General Admission would endure, access to the upper grandstand, in-room betting facilities and endless tastings of De Bortoli's broad range of wines under a number of labels and price points.

For example, the BellaRiva label range with a Pinot Grigio Vermentino blend hailing from Victoria's King Valley is a great sub-$20 option with the latter grape adding intriguing complexity, differentiating itself from the masses of pinot grigio on shelves.

De Bortoli Wine Appreciation Luncheon at Level 2 Ballroom, 9 November 2013, Royal Randwick Racecourse, Randwick

Tea smoked chicken, fennel radish slaw, sesame seeds, dill
Matched with the Pinot Grigio Vermentino was a mound of tea-smoked chicken slices; a worthy drop going up against strong smoky flavours. The breast was served with a refreshing slaw of fennel and radish with a dill and sesame dressing.

Gnocchi con Ragu di Maiale - potato gnocchi with pork shoulder ragu
The alternate entree was the signature dish of Locale, the restaurant in De Bortoli's Yarra Valley estate. Luciously light pillows of potato gnocchi were served up with a relatively light but flavourful ragu of pork shoulder and vegetables, topped with chopped herbs and cheese.

While it could well have been a cool weather dish, the match with De Bortoli's Yarra Valley Estate Grown Chardonnay 2011 was a spring day's delight.

Betting facilities in the Level 2 Ballroom, Royal Randwick
I put down a few inter-meal bets on the day's races, with very little luck in what wasn't a big Sydney race day, although with a still dressed-up, jolly crowd: fascinators and glam dresses for the ladies and of course, shirts, ties and jackets for the boys.

Seared citrus Atlantic salmon fillet, artichoke white bean mash, roasted cherry tomato chutney
To mains, the seared salmon fillet was placed before me, interestingly with the Vinoque Gamay Noir 2011.

Being an oilier, heavier fish, the light, cherry notes of the wine matched surprisingly with the salmon, which was served on a bed of artichoke and white bean mash with asparagus and a grilled lemon half.

Oven roasted lamb rump, crushed rosemary potatoes, roast truss cherry tomatoes, green herbs
The alternate main was a huge serving of roasted lamb rump, impressively medium-pink within for a large group lunch. The dark, rich jus was an absolute highlight, flavouring the meat, potatoes, beans and picturesque roasted cherry tomatoes.

De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate Grown Syrah 2010
I have a penchant for big, bold reds like shiraz and the De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate Grown Syrah 201 didn't disappoint. Peppery and rich with dark berry notes, the Syrah together with the lamb rump alone could have made the lunch.

Lemon curd tart, vanilla mascarpone cream
At dessert we were treated to De Bortoli's award-winning dessert wines: the deliciously palate-coating, honeyed De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 2010 and the heavier, fortified De Bortoli Black Noble.

I'm not one to say no to stickies and fortified wines, especially the Noble One being one of the best stickies out there. It went with dandily with the generously-sized lemon curd tart with a facinator-like tuille, passionfruit sauce and the most delightful, torched mini meringues.

Layered dark chocolate tile, white chocolate ice cream, chocolate crumb
The sophisticated fortified Black Noble matched beautifully with the sweet, moussey chocolate dessert without issue, although the white chocolate ice cream with violet candy was actually my favourite part.

Miniature Royal Randwick signature scones with preserves and whipped cream
As the races went on, the lunch concluded with Royal Randwick's signature miniature scones with jam and whipped cream so despite any losses it would all still end on a sweet note.

While I always appreciate a good day at Royal Randwick and any opportunity to wear a fascinator, the De Bortoli Wine Appreciation Luncheon was another step up from that. Giddy up and keep your eyes peeled for the next one.

Level 2 Ballroom at Royal Randwick
(Image courtesy of ATC)
Food, booze and shoes attended the De Bortoli Wine Appreciation Luncheon at Royal Randwick Racecourse as a guest.

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