Wine Tasting with Moortangi Estate

7/11/2010 03:07:00 PM

I don't know a lot about wine, although I do enjoy drinking it. I do have my favourites, but I won't reveal them here in case they're the terribly unchic varieties that make wine snobs sneer in haughty derision! In fact, many of my red wine memories involve horrible hangovers after gulping down unreputable varieties at boring functions. (But let's keep that between ourselves, ok?) At this stage, more in-depth appreciation of wine, such as the different flavours, bouquets, and food-matching is still a bit beyond me.

So I was very happy to be invited along to Moortangi Estate's first ever wine tasting event, held last week at their head office in the city. I have to let you know that Sandra (yes, the Sandra, the famous German "Sandra K" who takes the photos for my blog), works at Moortangi Estate, and together with Nina, organised this event. However, I wasn't involved in the organising or inviting at all, and only participated as an attendee blogger. Although having said that, on the night itself, I did get to play door bitch and let people in the building! Such a sense of power!

After we arrived, Nina gave us a bit of background into the company and the wines.

Moortangi Estate is a relatively new "boutique fine wine company", with a vineyard in the Yarra Valley. They released their first vintage, the 2005 Moortangi Estate Heathcote Shiraz Range, last year around Christmas. The wines are currently available at various restaurants around Melbourne, including Attica, Ezard, Cutler & Co, The Stokehouse, Asiana, Comme, Lamaro’s, The Chambers, Sapore, and The George Melbourne Wine Room.

The vines were, sadly, destroyed in last year's bushfires. According to Pamela, the owner, they used mulch instead of irrigation, to preserve the character of the grapes. Unfortunately, the mulch also made excellent bonfire.

Vines before the bushfires:
Photo courtesy of Moortangi Estate

Straight after the bushfires:
Photo courtesy of Moortangi Estate

However, whilst the mulching added fuel to the fire, it also enabled the root system to grow quite deep and strong, and therefore it survived the fires. As you can see below, the vines have started go grow back now, and Nina says they hope to release a new vintage in 2012.

Vines now:
Photo courtesy of Moortangi Estate

On the night, we tasted 2 of Moortangi's wines: the 2005 Cambrian Shiraz and the 2005 Heathcote Old Vine Shiraz. The Cambrian Shiraz is made from vines grown in the vivid red soil in the Northern part of Heathcote, whilst the "premium" Old Vine is made from vines planted over 60 years ago in the flood plains to the east of the Heathcote township. Although they are both from the same grape variety and same township, the differences in the soil, the climate, and the age of the grapes really affect the taste of the finished wine.

Each of our settings included a placemat, tasting notes, a plate (for the cheese that was to come), a notepad, and a funky aroma chart to help us identify different flavours and tastes. As a bit of a wine noob, I found the chart really helpful!

We started with the Cambrian, which Nina described as a great drinking wine. It's also quite light, so we were advised to hold off on the cheeses until after we'd tasted it.

I'd never done this before, but before tasting, we looked at the reflection of the light through the wines to get a sense of the colours. I thought this was a great way to compare the different wines, as opposed as to just looking at them in the glass, as it makes the differences a lot clearer.

Light reflecting through the Cambrian - ooh, pretty!

Unfortunately I didn't get a pic with both the Cambrian and the Old Vine, but the reflection of the Old Vine was more opaque, slightly darker and less vibrantly red than the Cambrian.

The main flavour I picked up from the Cambrian was pepper (duh, it was Shiraz, of course), and April's husband noticed a hint of cedar, which might come from the barrels. As I mentioned above, it is quite light for a shiraz, and I think Duncan said it was the "least tannic" shiraz he's ever tasted!

The Old Vine was quite a bit more tannic than the Cambrian, which I think means it will continue to develop for longer. (Woo-hoo for me, now I know what "tannic" means - it's the flavour that gives you a puckery sensation when you drink red wine - thanks to Mr. April for the explanation!) Because it's quite a bit heavier than the Cambrian, the Old Vine is considered to be a better food wine, as it's less likely to be overpowered by the food. Hot tips for food matching: beef burgundy and venison.

In terms of flavour profiles, the main difference I picked up between the two wines is that the Cambrian is more fruity, whilst the Old Vine is more spicy and earthy.

Here are some of us bloggers, concentrating on the tastes and aromas of the wines. See how serious we all look!

Once the official tasting portion of the evening was over, we all sat around drinking the wines, eating the cheese and chatting. Moortangi Estate provided some cheeses they bought from the lovely cheese room at Richmond Hill Cafe & Larder, with loaves of Dench fig & walnut bread.

From front to back: Carles Roquefort (France), Quickes Farmhouse Cheddar 18 Months (UK), Pieffe Reggiano (Italy), Roy de Vallees (France)

Even though the bread was nice, I actually preferred trying the cheese by themselves, to appreciate the flavour a bit more. The Roy de Vallees looked like a hard cheese, but it was surprisingly soft and creamy. It's made from a blend of sheep and goat's milk, and I think was my favourite out of the four.

In terms of cheese and wine matching, I found the cheddar paired with the Old Vine to be the most delicious. When taken together, the wine and the cheese really enhanced each other and somehow brought out more flavours than having them separately. Another great flavour combination was the Cambrian with the Roquefort and the fig and walnut bread.

I didn't eat a huge amount of the cheese, but by the end of the evening I actually got quite full. For some reason, I find strongly flavoured food more filling than bland food. Possibly because you notice it more when you're actually eating it? (This didn't stop us for going out for Old Town Kopitiam afterwards though!)

As a surprise, we each got to take a bottle of the Cambrian Shiraz home! Now I'm interested to see if I can pick up the flavours myself, and what types of food I can match it with. It was a really lovely evening, and great to catch up again with my Melbourne food-blogging peeps! Let me know if you guys blog the event so I can link up to your post!

Other bloggers who have blogged the event:

Thanh at I Eat Therefore I Am
Ling at My Kitchen and Gym Diary

Big thanks to Nina and Sandra for organising an enjoyable and informative event!

What are your favourite food and wine combinations?

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  1. This sounds like so much fun! I am quite the wine noob myself, that chart sounds very helpful. That's fantastic that the vines are starting to grow back too.

  2. It was a lot of fun and I learnt so much that evening. Will link up once I've written my post!

  3. lol, i think we've all had the experience of a bad hangover from drinking too much wine :)
    just letting you know i've awarded you with the 'sweet blog' award. when you get a sec, swing by my blog and pass the award along!!

  4. It was a fun tasting, huh? Good to see you, and thanks for the heads up in the office lobby! ;)

    Here's my take on the night:

  5. Hello, just wanted to add, I have just had a glass of the Moortangi Estate 2006 Heathcote Old Vine Shiraz. A very nice wine (soft to medium style. A wine to have on it's own! I just requested to be put on their mailing list!
    PeterB Attwood, Victoria OZ



My email address is sarahcooks [at] hotmail [dot] com.