Posts Categorized: Wine

An amphora dinner that will show why wines made with ancient techniques are so exciting

What: Amphora Wine Dinner at Virginia Plain When: Tuesday 13 November 2012 7pm Where: Virginia Plain, 31 Flinders Lane (next to Cumulus Inc) How much: $110.00 (plus 30c booking fee) How to book: Booking only through Trybooking here. The other day I received two bottles of some of the most exciting wines I’ve bought. They were made by former Fosters head winemaker Glenn James not in bulk in stainless steel (like most Aussie wine) but in an amphora – that’s a large pot which he’d crawled inside and lined with beeswax. It’s part of a movement where winemakers are turning their backs on the last half century’s tradition of using stainless steel for everything and the previous 500 hundred years of French and other European techniques usually involving oak barrels. Instead James used the amphora pictured above by simply dumping in a blend of grapes. Typically, there is no intervention in terms of adding yeast, sugar, acid or oak to the wine. Although a little sulphur is sometimes used to aid preservation. The grapes are left in the amphora for up to a month or two and nature is left to do its job. We’ve pulled together a dinner with Ducks in a Row and Virginia Plain and Fringe Food to showcase and compared some locally made amphora wines with some internationally recognised cult wines including Gravner and Pheasant Tears. For me Amphora (and natural) wines are textural and packed with umami – a bit like sherry – making them perfect match for food. I find that they stop me in my tracks and make me want to savour rather than sink several bottles. Glenn James, former head winemaker at Fosters, from Ducks in a Row and other winemakers will be there on the night to talk about his story and amphora wines. This is what wine writer Huon Hooksaid in the Sydney Morning Herald about James’ amphora wine: “Now, readers of this column know I am a little sceptical about ‘natural’ wines, but here is one made by a seriously competent and experienced winemaker, and it is a quality wine – but also one made with the least manipulation imaginable. And it tastes terrific. The colour is lightly cloudy mid-yellow, without any brown tints. Its bouquet is delightfully floral and spicy, with the muscaty fragrance of the moscato giallo dominant, although it is a small percentage of the blend…. Read more »

Mac Forbes Cibi cellar door

Wine in the groove at Cibi. Picture: Adriane Strampp Cibi is rapidly defining itself as one of the most interesting cafes (or should I say happenings) in Melbourne as I have written before. Not only does it serve a terrific Japanese breakfast at weekends, have a quirky shop of Japanese design objects but it also treats itself like a gallery with its regular opening nights. Then there was the recent pop-up store in the Aesop store in Flinders Lane and now the temporary cellar door with one of Victoria’s most interesting winemakers Mac Forbes, which is running for five days. It opened on Wednesday and is open from 4pm to 8pm today and from 12pm to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday and is well worth dropping in. Mac’s wine’s aren’t cheap starting at $28 and going up to $56 but as the winemaker says himself says, the 2010 vintage displays wonderful harmony and definition. The wines themselves span the lower Yarra valley (an area covering Yarra Glen, Healesville, Coldstream) and the upper valley (Yarra Junction, Seville, Woori Yallock, Hoddles Creek and Gembrook) with some grapes coming from Strathbogie. The wines themselves are handcrafted with minimal intervention. That means literally just dumping bunches of grapes in a large fermenter and allowing it to do its stuff. It’s the antithesis of the cheap mass market plonk that gives Australian wine a bland reputation abroad. I’d suggest going there to have a small taste of how interesting minimal intervention local wines can be. I was particularly taken by the newly labelled (I mean24 hours ago they were stuck on) Miss Moss 2008 Strathbogie Ranges Blanc de Blanc Chardonnay. With just 300 bottles, it’s not on the price list but I managed to nab one for $55 and look forward to enjoying it with friends next week. The opening party rocked with a DJ and food by Cibi, miles from the stuffy old school world of wine.