When I read that the Summer of Riesling was coming to Australia I was excited not only at the prospect of getting to drink more Riesling, but also at the realisation that summer was in January, the tasting would be outside, and sunglasses rather than woollen coats would be necessary. So on Tuesday 10th January I headed over to Fix St James for a free tasting of Rieslings from Victoria and Western Australia.
We were greeted by a throng of enthusiasts, people who’d just stumbled across the chance of a free glass of wine and a long line of bottles. Marvelling at the fact that we were invited to pour our own tastes and get stuck in (try offering free wine like that on the streets of London and wait for the mob to descend), we managed to try about a dozen of the offerings. Favourites included the 2011 Valere Riesling from Crisp Wines, with a fantastic nose of pear drops but dry on the palate, and the De Bortoli Yarra Valley Reserve Release Riesling 2010 which would certainly be an excellent accompaniment to a summer evening.
After a degree of Riesling-blindness started to set in, it was time to eat and so we wandered inside. With the menu looking so good we quickly settled on the ‘Quick Fix’ ($49 per person), letting the chef pick five dishes for us to share. We settled on the 2009 Floreus Viognier from the extensive but not overwhelming wine list which was crisp, rounded and throughly enjoyable. To start, we had rock oysters with gazpacho granita and a fennel, blue cheese, radish and grape salad. The salad was crunchy and I loved the combination of strong blue cheese with sweet grapes (strong blue cheese with sweet wine is also a favourite of mine). Oysters remain, unfortunately, my nemesis, but I’m assured they were excellent.
Next up was seared beef carpaccio and the stand-out dish of the evening for me, mushrooms with quail egg and eschallot. The mushrooms were sweet, loaded with parsley and parmesan, and caused a minor fight over the last few on the plate. We finished off with a deliciously sweet melt-in-the-mouth pork ragu with orchiette, and a serving that left us feeling well-fed and content to escape into the night, certain to continue celebrating the summer (of Riesling) and return to fight over mushrooms once again.
Riesling score: All of them
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