Eating, Drinking and Playing De Bortoli Style

Drink, Eat, Sydney / 19 November 2013

The sun was out. The track was prepped. The glasses were aplenty. The tables were set. And so were the well-suited and head-adorned guests… for a day of matching fine wine and food and having a flutter on some fine mares along the way.
On Saturday 9 November, De Bortoli Wines hosted a wine appreciation lunch in the Ballroom of the recently renovated Royal Randwick Grandstand. This was a brilliant opportunity; not only for the iconic Australian, family-owned wine company to showcase their extensive range of tipples and how they pair so seamlessly with a delectable range of foods, but also for the Australian Turf Club to show-off their first-class catering capability. And both did just that, with Master of Ceremonies Glenn Wheeler (of current The Morning Show and 2GB fame) ensuring that everyone was having a great time and a few laughs along the way.
The three-course lunch consisted of alternate serves. With my +1 sitting next to me (let’s call him ‘Goldie’), I was able to try a bit of everything – including the wine – even if it meant sneakily sticking my fork into a piece of hotly-contested gnocchi while he was looking at the odds for the next race!
The entrée consisted of tea smoked chicken, fennel radish slaw, sesame seeds and dill, which was served with BellaRiva Pinot Grigio Vermintino 2012 or ‘Gnocchi con Ragu de Maiale’ – the signature dish of Adam Mead, Head Chef at De Bortoli’s Locale Restaurant in the Yarra Valley. The pillowy softness of the potato gnocchi and its fine balance with the flavoursome pork shoulder ragu made this the “hotly-contested” dish of the day. It was suitably matched with a wine from its home vineyard, the Yarra Valley Estate Grown Chardonnay 2011.
Seared citrus Atlantic salmon fillet, artichoke white bean mash and roasted cherry tomato chutney, or oven roasted lamb rump, crushed rosemary potatoes and roasted truss cherry tomatoes were served for the main course. The dishes were paired with Vinoque Gamay Noir 2011 and Yarra Valley Estate Grown Syrah 2010 respectively. My designated wine was the Gamay, a medium-bodied red with black cherry characters. The De Bortoli family describes it as “frighteningly drinkable” and I could not agree more!
As guests counted their winnings (or lack of) and rushed off to the exclusive Ballroom TAB and book making facilities before the last races of the day, dessert was served. Lemon curd tart and vanilla mascarpone cream was matched with the famous Noble One Bortrytis Semillon 2010. Layered dark chocolate tile, white chocolate ice cream and chocolate crumb was paired with the dark, rich and very sexy Black Noble – one of De Bortoli’s premium fortifieds.
This was undoubtedly a foodie and drinkie’s (is there such a term?) dream. The De Bortoli and Australian Turf Club team sure know how to host an event and make every guest feel welcome. I left with a few extra dollars in my wallet (thank you, you fine horses) but more importantly, with a greater understanding of the diversity and quality of Australian wine.
Oh and there may have been some miniature Royal Randwick signature scones served with preserves and slow whipped cream for those guests that stuck around until the very last race. How do I know that? Goldie and I were two of those people!