Winemakers Dinner with Bryn Richards from Chapel Hill Winery in McLaren Vale, South Australia
Elaine and I recently headed over to Liberte in Tropicana, Petaling Jaya, Selangor for the Chapel Hill wine pairing dinner with Mr. Bryn Richards from the Chapel Hill winery. The wine pairing dinner was organised by Fortier Wines & Spirits – the importer and distributor of the wines in Malaysia.
The Chapel Hill Winery in McLaren Vale was built on the site of the Seaview Chapel and school-house. The 1865 ironstone Chapel still proudly stands today and is an integral feature of the tasting room. Planting of the vineyard commenced in 1972 and the first vintage was in 1975. Perched on the edge of the spectacular Onkaparinga Gorge, shallow rocky soils are a feature with sweeping views back over McLaren Vale and Gulf St Vincent.
The Chapel Hill Winery is named after the iconic ironstone Chapel, built by Methodist settlers to the McLaren Vale area and officially opened on December 5, 1865. It served as a place of worship, school and social gathering spot for local farming families for a century. A special commemorative service was held on December 5, 1965 to officially close the Chapel after 100 years of use.
The Chapel began its next chapter in the early 1970’s. Boarded up and in disrepair, the historic stone building positioned high atop a ridge in Northern McLaren Vale, caught the eye of Adelaide Professor Thomas Nelson. Tom purchased the building and surrounding land from the Uniting Church and planted the first vines on the site in 1972. He worked tirelessly to methodically convert the old Chapel and add sympathetic additional spaces to the site to create a winery, offices and tasting room – the foundation for the current Chapel Hill Winery.
The growth of Chapel Hill Winery into a world-renowned wine producer was led by winemaker Pam Dunsford. Pam was a pioneering winemaker in South Australia. The first female graduate of the acclaimed winemaking course at Roseworthy in 1983, Pam’s work led to many acclaims and awards for Chapel Hill Winery, a lot of those great wines from the 1990’s are still drinking beautifully today.
Chapel Hill has had only a handful of custodians since Thomas Nelson, with the Sellick and Gerrard families adding to the rich tapestry of buildings, brand and place. The Swiss Schmidheiny family’s long-running love affair with wine led them to a dream of owning a world-class Australian winery – a dream that was realised in December 2000 when they purchased Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill celebrated its 40th consecutive vintage in 2014 and continues to produce quality wines which are available globally, and right here in Malaysia.
Cured Salmon Gravlax with Calamansi Sorbet
Paired with Chapel Hill Chardonnay 2017
We started off dinner with a very light bodied Chardonnay which was dry and fruity – a very easy to drink wine indeed which contrasted against the rich flavour of the salmon, providing freshness and balance to this dish and complementing the calamansi sorbet.
The barrel fermentation and maturation resulted in a more layered and textured palate, whilst still maintaining the trademark varietal citrus and stone fruit purity. The remainder of the wine is held cool in stainless steel tanks and on its yeast lees for 8 months prior to bottling. Only the delicate Free Run juice fraction is utilised for this light bodied wine. 22% Natural Fermentation. 23% High Juice solids. 18% oak ageing for 4 months in 2, 3, 4 year old French Oak Hogsheads.
Poached Pears with Blue Cheese and Chorizo
Paired with Chapel Hill Sangiovesse Rose 2017
This one was more for the girls. Surprisingly, Bryn informed us that Rose is picking up in popularity, especially in temperate countries where it is enjoyed mostly during the hot summers. I really enjoyed the poached pears with blue cheese and salty chorizo, which contrasted greatly against the rose. Unfortunately not everyone knew how to savour the blue cheese though (you don’t know what you’re missing out!).
The 2017 Sangiovese Rose has a dry and textured style which capitalises on Sangioveses delicious sweet core of sour cherry fruit. The rose is brimming with cranberry and strawberry aromas. On the palate, you’ll get flavours of fresh juicy raspberries and sour cherries, culminating with a lingering fine tannin finish.
Duck Breast served with Crushed Potatoes, Fine Bean and Passion Fruit Sauce
Paired with Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
The duck breast was cooked way more than I would have liked it (I really prefer medium rare duck breast which is often really juicy) however it was still adequately tender. Went beautifully with the Cabernet Sauvignon though which lent lots of complex and rich berry, tobacco, and spice flavours to complement the earthy duck breast.
This full-bodied wine exudes an evocative array of flavours including mulberry, aniseed and beetroot. The layered flavour profile is underpinned by the poised and seamless integration with the trademark Cabernet Sauvignon “dusty” fine grained tannin structure. A popular wine in the Chapel Hill stable. Varietal, balanced, dusty tannins and the sweet core of fruit that McLaren Vale generously provides. Oak ageing: 100% French Oak; 100% Hogsheads (300L); 24% new oak; 20 months.
Grilled Beef Tenderloin served with Potato Wedges, and Red Wine Infused Butter
Paired with Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015
This is my all time favourite wine pairing – a good steak with a good red wine. The red wine infused butter (which was a first for me) went remarkably well with the steak – adding loads of richness and a hint of spice. The steak was complemented by the full bodied Shiraz which showcased McLaren Vale’s brooding savoury side, which when enhanced with the region’s plush dark fruits transports this Shiraz to a higher level.
The grapes were sourced from vines (all grown on their own roots) aged between twelve and thirty six years. The various vineyard parcels were harvested and open fermented separately to ensure that each parcel articulates the unique character of each vineyard site. All ferments were maintained on skins for a minimum of 8 days and then gently basked pressed, following which the free run and pressing fractions were combined.
During the subsequent eighteen month barrel maturation in fine grained French oak barrels each individual batch of barrels was racked and returned periodically to seamlessly integrate the tannins into the structure of the wine. To preserve varietal and site purity, the wine is unfined, doesn’t have any tannin additions and is bottled unfiltered.
Chocolate Brownie with Cream Cheese and Pork Bacon Bits
Paired with Chapel Hill The Vicar Shiraz 2014
A full-bodied and elegant Shiraz to go with the dark chocolate flavours of the brownie, adding spice notes to the deep, piquant and creamy flavours of the dessert, balanced out by the richness of the cream cheese AND the bacon bits which added some savoury notes! The Vicar was my favourite wine of the dinner as it had lots of depth and structure yet smooth enough to be savoured! A decadent end to a lovely wine pairing dinner.
The full-bodied Vicar Shiraz displays charismatic layers of aniseed, rosemary and cured meats, which are seamlessly interwoven into the poised savoury texture. The harmonious balance of the cascading layers of varietal flavour, palate weight, grainy tannin and acidity will ensure that the wine will develop further complexity over the next 15 to 20 years.
The various vineyard parcels were harvested and fermented separately in small batch open fermenters. Gentle plunging was utilised for cap management and all of the ferments were left on skins for a minimum of 11 days. Following gentle basket pressing, the free run and pressing fractions were combined. During the subsequent 22 month oak maturation period, the barrels were periodically racked and returned to ensure the integration of the tannins back into the structure of the wine. To preserve purity and character the wine is made with minimal additions and is allowed to clarify naturally without the use of fining or filtration.
All in all it was a good night with some good wines (especially the Vicar!), hearty food, and good company and we learnt quite a lot about wine making by Chapel Hill in McLaren Vale, South Australia!
For more info on Chapel Hill Wines, head over to https://www.chapelhillwine.com.au/
Chapel Hill Wines are distributed in Malaysia by Fortier Wines & Spirits. For more info, head over to http://fws.com.my/ or telephone +603 4043 3303
All photos shot with the Huawei Mate 10 Pro.
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