A Natural Versus Contemporary Wine Discussion at Cru

Bars, Cafes, Drink, Melbourne / 7 May 2019

Euro-bar Cru opens up the debate with a comparison wine and dine degustation

If you’re into wine like I am, you’ll love Kew’s all-day Euro-bar, Cru. Whether you’re searching for a morning coffee, an afternoon lunch or a pre-dinner wine, Cru’s neighbourhood feel provides the perfect backdrop.

Owners Tony Donnini, Peter Rose and Andrew Pickering opened back in July 2012 as a café and lunch stop, but Cru didn’t become a wine bar until 2014. Nonetheless, these guys are nailing it with head sommeliers Colleen Haggarty and Tony Donnini himself growing it into a wine lover’s haven. You’ll find a bit of everything on the wine list, but with a heavy European focus, and even more so Italian, thanks to Tony’s heritage.

Our introduction to the natural versus contemporary dinner kicked off with a delicious pink sparkling wine – unexpectedly from Greece – that had a cherry finish. This was paired with a mouth-watering blini topped with salted cod roe mousse and pickled cucumber.

CRU wine bar

Then, we compared a natural Riesling blend by Sinapius from Pipers Brook, Tasmania, with a Bellarine Peninsula Pinot Noir. The Pinot was a favourite around the table by the end of the night, by Curlewis winemakers Rainer Breit and Stefano Marasco, really hitting those dark and masculine flavours, yet still beautifully smooth to pair with our grilled scallops entré.

Our next course brought tough competition with two Nero d’Avola wines, one from McLaren Vale and one Sicily. American winemaker Brad Hickey aka Brash Higgins is somewhat making a name for himself since he started making wines in Australia with vigneron Nicole Thorpe. The 2016 ‘NDV’ we drank has won the “Rule Breaker” award in South Australia’s Hot 100 wine show in 2016. Comparatively, the Sicilian counterpart the 2014 Sherazade by Donnafugata, was deliciously smooth and round, and one of my favourites from the evening. This was paired with a generous portion of coffee braised beef cheek and baby carrots, and vegetarians were well-catered for, too.

Grilled plate CruAnother of Cru’s dishes is grilled calamari, with tomato and olive salsa and saffron aioli (GF)

Our final course brings us back to Tasmania with arguably one of the best iced wines I’ve tasted; a 2015 Frogmore Creek iced Riesling from the Coal River Valley. Apricot notes and a freshness made it not overly sweet; this was a delightful pairing to our boozy wattleseed trifle of poached pear, Calvados soaked sponge and wattleseed mascarpone, which capped off the evening.

If you’re interested in discussing wine or simply enjoying a delicious meal, Cru’s wine and dine degustations are simply spot on. You’ll leave feeling content, a little smiley from the wine, and like you’ve made a new friend in the neighbourhood.

Keep an eye out for Cru’s wine dinners occurring every couple of months. But first, steal a seat on Thursday 9 May, 2019, for a natural versus contemporary wine dinner. You can buy your tickets here.

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