Finding Time For Wine This Winter

It’s been a hectic few months in and out of the Swan, wine-trade tastings have been falling on top of each other which I am obliged to attend to ensure new vintages of the wines on our list are seen and approved. We also have had to make list changes to move us from the balmy summer months into the winter and Christmas periods, not much point in having six roses on the list in the middle of December!

I also needed to ensure that our house wines at the Swan were the best we could list, a mammoth undertaking that involved tasting through some 60+ wines, the net result being that the house reds and whites are indeed the best on the market at the moment, the “house” Malbec from Argentina has been ungraded in quality but not price, we now list the phenomenal Dona Paula Malbec, which, with some tough negotiation, is the same price as the outgoing Malbec. The house Prosecco has also been upgraded to the excellent Tenute San Marco. A light, bright mouthful of biscuit and citrus fruit… delicious.

I had the fortunate opportunity to attend a tasting with Michael Clark, our General Manager, who is blessed with an extraordinarily good palate, where we found some absolute gems to see us through the Christmas period, to mention a couple; the silky Reserve de la Comtesse 2006 the second wine of Pichon Lalande, wonderful vintage and ageing wonderfully, also the 4th Grand Cru Classe Lafon Rochet 2001 just about hitting it’s apogee for us now and showing developed Bordeaux characters that are rarely found in a restaurant without paying a small fortune.

We have also introduced a half bottle list to the restaurant, affording the opportunity to have an excellent wine without the need to plump for a whole bottle. Of these the sublime St Aubin 1er Cru ‘Frionnes’ from Domaine Hubert Lamy 2011 and the Carmignano from Capezzana are absolute joys that must be recommended.

We have also secured a small parcel of the beautiful Kendall Jackson Merlot 2008, something with age that is impossible to find on any list, plumy and ripe fruit, soft ripe tannins and perfectly weighted acidity, a real treat to be scooped up before it’s all gone.

Our up and coming Teens Unite charity event has been sponsored by Dona Paula and Ara giving those attending some of the best wines possible for the night.

Along with our purchaser and restaurant manager we attended a Boutique Spirit event with the intention of finding something special for our list, we succeeded in finding some delicious cognacs, armagnacs and whiskeys for the list which include Teeling Whisky from Ireland and Leyrat XO Cognac a light, smoky drink that really makes you want to sit back and enjoy life.

Finally I have been working with a restaurateur, Andrew Wong of A. Wong in Victoria, after attending the food and wine matching dinner, he has asked for help with his new venture of a wine bar with “snacks” each wine served comes with a Snack, it’s been great fun attempting to find these matches, my favourite is deep fried foie gras with air dried sausage and pomelo matched with Schloss Johannesberg Riesling Yellow Label. A mouthwatering slice of heaven! The restaurant press launches Saturday, to, I hope, some acclaim.