It’s been hard work for me recently, real hard work! I’m just back from a conference and it was tough. All serious business indeed! And staying in Broadbeach on The Gold Coast of Queensland really only gives you two limited choices of location, either right on the beach in a 22nd floor apartment, or at the Casino. Not much choice for a fun-loving bloke like me, but my family joined me for a few days after the conference so I went with the apartment.
It’s hard enough enduring all those speakers, for 10 hours straight, trying to kick your brain into gear when that tiny bit of relevant info gets dropped in from time to time. But what is even harder is having to entertain and be entertained, sometimes until the wee hours of the morning, just to do it all again the next day for 4 days straight! It’s rough, but it just has to be done!
Had a great feed one of the nights at Koi restaurant in the busy Broadbeach strip and indulged in the oven roasted lamb rump. An interesting thing about this restaurant was that we were eating off a glass table that contained a whole lot of quality wine under the glass, and they didn’t look opened at all. Fascinating for a wine buff like me, and I strained to try and read around the labels through the glass.
I had to pick a good red wine to go with the lamb rump so I ordered a 2009 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz, a multi-region blend from some of the best vineyards in South Australia. Some of the grapes that go into the Bin 389 come from the same vineyards as the Penfolds Grange, the Bin 389’s famous Shiraz driven big-brother. Thankfully, the Bin 389 is a fraction of the price of the Grange but it can still be a relatively expensive wine costing about $90 at the restaurant. This wine is available all over the world.
The Bin 389 can age for decades. I had a spectacular bottle from 1971 with Stu back in 2004, and I’ve got a bottle of 1972 vintage in my cellar screaming out to me. So it was going to be interesting having a relatively young Bin 389 with 2009 being its 50th vintage.
On the nose it smelt extremely inviting with a mix of berries and some spice from the 49% Shiraz that made it into the blend in this vintage. And in the mouth it was extremely juicy and flavoursome and it lingered for some time afterwards. There was definitely a hint, no more like a light punch, of American oak but it was finely balanced with plum and blackberry fruits and the strong tannins actually sat really well with the background of vanilla. A great wine that would last a long long time. And with the oven roasted lamb rump… perfect!
There’s a lot of Kiwis in Broadbeach so to honor them I thought we should enjoy a NZ Sauvignon Blanc on the beach; we had perfectly warm and sunny days. I picked up a bottle of 2012 Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough for $10 (half price because I spent over $30). To be honest, I wasn’t expecting too much at all, which was a good thing because this little Kiwi was a really pleasant surprise and matched its far more expensive neighbours. The intensity of the aromas on the nose was only matched by the flavours in the mouth… lots of gooseberry and melon with a great backdrop of capsicum. Very morish and a great distraction from a grueling conference.
To “celebrate” the arrival of my wife and kids, and a great excuse, I cracked open a bottle of Piper, one of my wife’s favourite non-vintage French Champagnes. Piper is always fairly consistent and rarely fails to please, as was the case with this bottle. There was lemon and apple with a buttery and nutty finish. I can see why the winemaker, Regis Camus, has been awarded best sparkling winemaker in the world for 7 years running. Piper-Heidsieck NV Brut Champagne always goes down well and is pretty good value for money when it comes to proper non-vintage Champagne. There is, of course, more complex vintage champagne out there but you’ll pay far more for it.
A couple of nights later we decided to get an Australian non-vintage sparkling white also known for its consistency, the Jansz NV Premium Cuvee from Tasmania, made from Chardonnay and Pinot. As soon as the kids went down we brought out a few cheeses and pâté to have with it, and the photo above captures the rushed chaos before finally getting to sit down and relax with this enjoyable bubbly (kids toothbrush, a folded pair of jeans and torn up TV guide we just pushed to the side in haste). This sparkling had obvious honeysuckle and citrus flavours with a little strawberry and buttery finish. It was actually delicious with the cheese and pâté, and to be honest, it was as good as the Piper that cost twice as much. The fact that the kids were sound asleep would have helped in our enjoyment!
After being away for over a week I’d had enough wine so kicked back on the last evening with a couple of beers from the Balmain Brewing Company in Sydney, that being their Original Pale Ale. The weather was great so it was the perfect beverage to enjoy on the sunny balcony, with its citrus and spice sitting atop a decent array of hops and malts.
It was a tough week but I just managed to struggle through…