Guest post by Dan Coward - ‘Happy Hour’ Drinks Writer for the SBS food magazine, Feast.
Blue Pyrenees Estate vineyard – image supplied.
Speak to Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre’s Executive Chef, Tony Panetta, and ask him how excited he and the kitchen team get about Victorian produce and producers. Then stand back as an answer loaded with passion, statistics and character wings its way towards you at great speed. It’s startling, it’s geeky and it perfectly walks the line between championing small artisanal makers and the scaled-up reality of running the largest commercial kitchen in the southern hemisphere.
Not to be outdone, MCEC’s wine team regularly channels its inner nerd in order to source the best possible Victorian wine for all their events. Hands up if you’ve got all dolled up and turned up at an event, only to be confronted with cheap and nasty sparkling wine by the bucket load. Life’s too short to suffer that sort of assault on your palate any more often than you absolutely have to. And boy do you remember it too…
So when it comes time to select the wines for their latest wine rotation, they put the willing candidates through a serious selection that would make even the Tough Mudder crowd wince. If a wine makes it through to the other side intact you can be pretty sure that several sets of taste buds were suitably bowled over by what was in the glass.
That brings me to MCEC’s latest Victorian wine addition, the Blue Pyrenees Estate Traditional Sparkling NV. This is no fly-by-night operation with ready access to a giant sodastream machine. No, it’s one of the country’s very best producers of sparkling wine and they nailed the brief superbly with this blend that is completely unique to MCEC.
MCEC’s exclusive Blue Pyrenees Estate Traditional Sparkling NV is now being served to event attendees.
It’s a blend of 65% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Meunier (the three classic varieties of the Champagne wine region) sourced from the Blue Pyrenees Estate vineyard in the Pyrenees wine region in Western Victoria. Planted in 1963, this 150 hectare vineyard surrounds the winery, meaning that the delicate fruit is picked at night and is in the winery press within fifteen minutes. Damn that’s quick! By doing it this way, the pristine, crystalline fruit characters of the grapes on the vine are captured perfectly in the winery. Being a non vintage wine the grapes come from several different vintages and it means the winemaking team can create both complexity and consistency in the finished wine. This particular blend, bottle fermented in the same traditional method as Champagne, is also aged on its yeast lees in the bottle for three years, which has allowed it to develop into a really subtle and interesting wine. It’s basically an accountant’s nightmare… “You want to do what??? Leave the bottles sitting there in a quiet, dark cellar for another three years?!?!” Yep, that’s right.
But what does it actually taste like? Well first of all it has a delicate pinkish, orange tinge that has come about after the juice from the Pinot Noir grapes spent some time in contact with the red grape skins in the crusher. All this adds lustre in its looks and complexity in its taste. Beautiful aromas like fresh apple, melon, sweet spice and Danish pastry fly out of the glass. Taste it and crisp, refreshing fruit bounces across your palate with that light delicate pastry and brioche character adding a bit of luxurious texture. The bubbles are very fine and the acid is beautifully balanced. There is mouth-watering refreshment factor that gives it great second glass appeal. It’s a really approachable, attractive style with a long, clean finish. What more could you ask for?
It should be no surprise given Blue Pyrenees Estate’s reputation and storied past. One of their other blends, the Midnight Cuvee Blancs de Blanc 2010 (100% Chardonnay), was named the World Champion Australian entry at the recent inaugural Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships in the UK (yes, it really is a thing!). Well Blue Pyrenees Estate has crafted another winner here. The style is perfect for an aperitif and for matching with briny oysters or canapés like goats’ cheese tarts and smoked salmon blinis. And don’t even get Tony started on it! They have apparently already been plenty of requests for recipe matching in the kitchen. When the chefs like something that much, you know you’re on the right track.
Read more about MCEC’s Victorian wine philosophy and view the current wine and beer list here.