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Fine Dining at National Press Club

Rachi Perera

A very special five-course dinner matched with Robert Oatley Finisterre series wine.

We are rather lucky here in Canberra to have the opportunity to dine at some iconic and historic venues such as The National Press Club of Australia. Earlier this week, Column Restaurant at National Press Club hosted a very special five-course dinner matched with Robert Oatley Finisterre series wines. It was an event that was attended enthusiastically by a dining room full of wine lovers.

Robert Oatley is a familiar name for many reasons. Being a winemaker, sailing enthusiast and a tropical island owner are just some of the things that he is known for but this particular night was all about fine wines matched with equally fine food.

Robert Oatley Vineyards has been awarded the highly acclaimed 5 red star rating by James Halliday Australian Wine Companion, a prestigious rating given only to outstanding wineries regularly producing wines of exemplary quality and typicity. Whilst the winemaking team is lead from the Oatley’s winery at Mudgee, Robert Oatley Vineyards is a multi region producer who operates by the philosophy of sourcing right grapes for the right wine from the right region. This is achieved via a myriad of vineyards across Australia from Mudgee to McLaren Vale to Margaret River and beyond.

The Finisterre series is one of Robert Oatley Vineyard’s revered brands and the name means Ends of the Earth, referring to going to the ends of the earth in the constant pursuit of quality.

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A glass of wine…or three?

The event was hosted by Andrew Coorey, National Fine Wine Manager for Robert Oatley Vineyards and brand ambassador for Champagne Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck.

The menu was designed by Executive Chef of National Press Club Darren Tetley and it was a thing of beauty.

We started the evening with a series of canapés—Macro Pierre White’s mussel and saffron soup, heirloom tomato with Yarra Valley Persian fetta and Gulf of Carpentaria king prawns in Mary Rose Sauce. This was accompanied with Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Brut Champagne. Piper-Heidsieck is well known in the world of fine French Champagne and having won sparkling wine maker of the year seven years in a row was proof of the pedigree of our welcome drink and also set the tone for the evening ahead.

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Amuse bouche was a white tomato gazpacho and avocado terrine paired with a 2013 Finisterre Riesling from Porongurup, WA. The light and refreshing tomato consommé worked beautifully with this particular riesling as Porongurup region provides less acidic wines in nature due to maritime influences.

Next up was Tasmanian salmon gravlax served with a vanilla bean brioche and a saffron vinaigrette. This was paired with a 2013 Finisterre Chardonnay from Mudgee, NSW. The salmon was beautifully fresh and the saffron and cognac vinaigrette added a balanced tart element to the dish. The accompanying new age Chardonnay was a pleasure to drink even for non-Chardonnay drinkers. The upfront richness and creaminess of the wine with the fresh and clean finish complimented the delicate salmon perfectly.

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Tasmanian salmon gravlax served with a vanilla bean brioche and a saffron vinaigrette.

Macadamia Dukkah crusted Humpty Doo barramundi fillet with Dutch cream potato fondant, burnt orange essence, lobster bisque and beetroot followed. This was paired with a 2011 Finisterre Pinot Noir from Mornington Peninsula, Victoria.

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Macadamia Dukkah crusted Humpty Doo barramundi fillet with Dutch cream potato fondant, burnt orange essence, lobster bisque and beetroot.

The moist and flaky barramundi with the creamy lobster bisque was a flavour sensation. The potatoes and beetroot also shone through, cooked just right and complimenting the fish. The elegant cool climate pinot noir enhanced the dish and proved to be easy and delicious drinking.

Dessert was an indulgent affair of espresso custard, Valhorna chocolate cake, chilli feuilletine and spiced blueberry gel paired with 2012 Syrah from Great Southern WA.

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Espresso custard, Valhorna chocolate cake, chilli feuilletine and spiced blueberry gel.

The dense chocolate cake with the spicy blueberry gel had the right balance of bitter and spicy. The espresso custard added sweetness without overdoing it. The Syrah had notes of white pepper which was smooth on the palate and complimented the spicy overtones of the dessert.

This night highlighted the works of an exceptional wine maker enhanced by a menu that was executed perfectly to complement the wines.

The author dined courtesy of the National Press Club for the purposes of this review.

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Rachi Perera

Rachi Perera is the author of www.le-bonvivant.com, an optometrist and a freelance food writer and photographer. Rachi is a self confessed bon vivant who appreciates the finer things in life and a foodie passionate about promoting Canberra's culinary best. More about the Author

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