The Courier-Mail - QWeekend

Malbec a red for Millennial­s


As a winemaker at Wolf Blass, 36-yearold Clare Dry was assigned to create a new set of wines that would explain the mystique of vino to Millennial­s. Here I should condescend­ingly say I thought it was impossible to explain anything to Generation Y. Don’t they know it all?

Dry, inset, has made a range of affordable “point of difference” quaffers from $18 to $24 a bottle under the Makers’ Project banner. Wolf Blass Makers’ Project Malbec ($20) is a good starting point. It has a lovely aroma and a core of sweet fruit flavours. It may be perfumed, but it’s gutsy, she says.

It also has a firm tannic structure that gives it length and character.

Malbec may be a grape variety the

Millennial­s are willing to try as they explore red varieties beyond shiraz and cabernet sauvignon.

There is an inviting drinkabili­ty in Wolf Blass Makers’ Project Pink Pinot Grigio ($20), made by fermenting free run juice, and enhancing the natural pink colour of the pinot grigio skins. It’s a light-bodied style with a crisp, dry finish, and a good match for chicken and fish. Drink it, too, with green olives. Fruit for the Wolf Blass Makers’ Project Shiraz Grenache ($20) has plush fruit favours.

Change is in the wind for Dry who will soon exit Wolf Blass after 13 years. She has just been appointed the lead winemaker at historic Seppelt wines.

It’s a huge challenge for the mother of three daughters aged two to six who is married to leading viticultur­ist Nick Dry.

She replaces Adam Carnaby, who has accepted a position as chief winemaker at Wick Estate. Dry knew she was going to be a winemaker when, as a 15-year-old Mornington Island schoolgirl, she did work experience at Red Hill Estate.

“It was quite intoxicati­ng,” she says.

Tacos come as a serving of two or three, all using house-made corn tortillas pressed on-site daily.

The king prawn incarnatio­n ($26 for two/

$37 for three) lets the single shellfish shine, with a salsa verde to add herbaceous zing. The beef version ($19/$27) delivers complexity, with the pink and fatty meat spiced by a chilli-laced salsa verde, as squirts of blueberry sauce provide unexpected, complement­ary sweetness.

Our charming, helpful and informativ­e waitress also convinces us to try her favourite, the vegetarian option featuring cumin-spiced, miso-infused eggplant cooked till soft and melty, garnished with cucumber, onion for crunch and bite and a jalapeno ($14/$20). Perfectly balanced by a whisper of queso fresco cheese and a splash of medium-spiced salsa roja, it’s a cracker.

It’s now also evident why the bar table we’re at in the centre of the room is rather unnaturall­y high. It’s built at the ideal level for eating tacos, with the juices from the nutty tortilla able to hit the table instead of your lap.

Slightly (only slightly) less messy to eat with a side of tostadas ($4) but equally fantastic is the aguachile ($22) – a punchy yellowtail kingfish ceviche which sees diced fish entangled with shreds of coconut and slices of mango for sweetness to offset the lime acidity, while splodges of pureed avocado help tame the fire from the habaneros.

But if your tongue isn’t left tingling enough from all the chilli elements within each dish, there’s also the restaurant’s trio of hot sauces on the table. Choose from the approachab­le fermented jalapeno green option, the squirmindu­cing ghost pepper and turmeric yellow bottle or the steaming ears, nose running fermented Carolina reaper red variety that requires the help of tequila to tolerate.

And on the subject of the agave spirit, Mama Taco is out to erase any Jose Cuervo-induced teenage trauma associated with the booze, by specialisi­ng in high quality mezcal and tequila from brands like Los Agaves and Calle 23. Try a flight of three varieties, a tequila and tonic, or one of the fabulous cocktails, such as the eyetwitchi­ngly sour classic margarita, or the sweeter yet balanced Sex in Mexico City. A trio of beers is also available, one white and one red wine from Mexico, the non-alcoholic fermented pineapple drink tepache made in-house, or a terrific-sounding mole milkshake with chocolate, banana and pineapple cream.

Mama Taco is a restaurant where good times flow as freely as the tequila and where attention to detail in the kitchen and front of house transform a suburban taquería into something truly special.

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