OUAFF DES HOUGHTON
Oh the joy of wine dinners. That is where you discover some very generous people.
Brisbane solicitor Gerry Pennisi and retired antiques tycoon Jim Miller are two of them.
Miller collects antique golf clubs and fine wine. Pennisi also collects wine and is a legendary Queensland bon vivant. He knows more about Bordeaux reds than anyone I have met. Pennisi and Miller turned up last week to Black Bird Bar & Grill in Brisbane city for a very exclusive, low-key wine dinner welcoming the latest vintage of Chateau d’Yquem, Bordeaux’s top-ranked Sauternes dessert wine. They arrived with bottles from their own cellar – Pennisi a 1975 vintage and Miller the 1982 – and insisted their rare “noble rot” be shared with the other diners, most of whom they had not met before.
A French critic recently described Chateau d’Yquem as the taste of heaven. D’Yquem dates to 1711. It was a favourite of Louis XV. Thomas Jefferson visited the chateau and took 250 bottles back to Washington.
The wine is made from botrytised semillon and sauvignon blanc fruit (usually 80/20 per cent) and is prized for its longevity. An 1811 Chateau d’Yquem sold a couple of years back in London for $115,000, making it the most expensive bottle ever.
Master of Wine Peter Scudamore-Smith, who attended the dinner, told me Chateau d’Yquem also produces an outstanding dry white wine – Ygrec (Fr: the letter “Y”) – made by blending semillon and sauvignon blanc. A decent vintage can cost $3000 a bottle.
At the inaugural Queensland Wine Dinner at Brisbane’s Regatta Hotel, ScudamoreSmith introduced seven Granite Belt wines matched to local produce by chef Daniel Fleming. The acidic 2014 Ridgemill Riesling was a perfect foil for the oysters from Cape Tribulation.
Other wines to impress were a full-bodied 2014 Ballandean Estate Fiano (with seared snapper) and the prized 2012 Golden Grove Reserve Mourvedre, which recently scored 97 points. My favourite was the 2008 Robert Channon Reserve Shiraz Cabernet with JBS “Royal 100”, a new cut of porterhouse.
In the middle of the dinner a young couple next to me decided to get married. Magic happens at wine dinners.