One of my favourite places to dine in Melbourne is the Members Dining Room of the RACV City Club and, as I was in Melbourne recently, I had dinner there yet again.
The RACV Club has one of the best Australian wine lists in Melbourne, probably Australia, maybe that is why I like the place, they have a great selection of wines from all over Australia and usually a few vintages of each wine. The Club has been the Winner of Best Club Restaurant Wine List – Gourmet Traveller Wine List of the Year Awards: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2009 and was inducted to the Hall of Fame 2016.
Once you have ordered your drinks and meal the Chef sends out a complimentary “Bite”, this was a tasty morsel of salmon and aïoli.
To start the night off I needed a glass of bubbles and there are usually at least 4 including 2 or 3 Champagnes and 1 Australian bubbles, Christian Maier the RACV Club Sommelier usually has one or two relatively unknown houses to choose from. I chose a glass of Brimoncourt Champagne Brut Régence.
Name: Brimoncourt Champagne Brut Régence
Region: Cotes de Blancs, Champagne, France
Varietal: 80% Chardonnay 20% Pinot Noir
Colour: Bright pale golden straw
Bead: Fine persistent bubbles
Aroma: Perfume of citrus and floral aromas
Palate: Complex, dry, refreshing
Comment: Just what I needed after a day at the races, came out even on the day, thanks to “The Armchair Sommelier” for the following quote “In victory you deserve champagne, in defeat you need it” Napoleon Bonaparte. For those who don’t know breaking even is not good enough! RIP Napoleon Solo!
The Brimoncourt paired well with my entree, Oysters Natural and Kilpatrick from Coffin Bay South Australia, probably my favourite oysters!! They always seem to have the right flavour and texture for me and the Club does a great Kilpatrick, so a dozen of half and half is a good way to get the best of both worlds.
For me the selection of the wine is the first step when it comes to selecting my food and in the Club it worth taking that approach, IMHO, as there are so many great bottles to choose from, including a large selection of large format bottles.
My wine selection this night was a 1994 Mount Mary Quintet.
Name: Mount Mary Vineyard Quintet
Region: Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot
Colour: Youthful deep garnet
Aroma: Perfume combination of bacon, blackcurrant, cassis and leather aromas
Palate: Medium/full-bodied, complex, lush (there are not enough adjectives)
Finish: Long, lush
Comment: What a great wine, I really enjoyed it. Considering it is 22 years old, in a standard bottle, it was still very youthful in appearance. The nose and the palate were amazing, when you couple that with the silky tannins, lush long finish it proves why Mount Mary Quintet is considered one the best Cabernets crafted by Australia!
Mount Mary Vineyard – Yarra Valley
“Mount Mary (est 1971) was established in the Yarra Valley by the late Dr John Middleton, one of the great, and truly original, figures in the Australian wine industry.
He liked nothing more than to tilt at windmills, his annual newsletter growing longer as each year passed, although the paper size did not. The only change was the reduction in font size, and ultimately very strong light or a magnifying glass (or both) was needed to fully appreciate the barbed wit and incisive mind of this great character. The family (with David Middleton at the helm) is continuing to maintain the winery and the estate vineyards which produce all of its grapes.
Production expanded in the wake of new plantings in 2000. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Quintet (the five red Bordeaux varieties) and Triolet (the three white Bordeaux varieties) are all made in the ultra refined style which has always marked the vineyard.” The Australian Wine Encyclopedia – James Halliday
Bordeaux Quintet Varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot
Bordeaux Triolet Varietals – Sauvignon, Semillon and Muscadelle
Before pioneers like Dr John Middleton, Bailey Carrodus (Yarra Yerring), Guill de Pury and Peter McMahon (Seville Estate), Reg Egan (Wanterna Estate) established their wineries in the early 1970’s, there had been no vineyards producing wine in the Yarra Valley since the 1920’s.
The first plantings were completed by mid 1972 and today Mount Mary has around 40 acres under vine representing 18 varieties.
The four wines produced by Mount Mary come from 10 of those varieties. Two are based on Bordeaux blends and two are Burgundy varietals. The remaining 8 grapes are part of our ongoing investigation of new wines from French regions.
For my main I had steak and broccolini.
Unusually (extremely) the steak was a bit dry, may have been sitting under the heat lamps, the broccolini was cooked to perfection.
Dessert at the RACV City Club is not something that should be missed and tonight was no exception, they also have an interesting selection of dessert wines to choose from, as I didn’t know the wines that were being served by the glass I received a bit of help from the Sommelier.
Name: Les Lions de Suduiraut
Region: Sauternes, Bordeaux, France
Varietal: Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc
Colour: Bright light gold
Aroma: Enjoyable combination of caramel, crème brule, fig and honey aromas
Palate: Balanced, moreish, vibrant
Comment: Really enjoyed this, it paired well with the pavlova.
Les Lions de Suduiraut is the 2nd wine of Chateau Suduiraut
For dessert I had pavlova with lemon and elder-flower curd strawberry compote and almond crumble. A great combination of flavours and textures, glad I had this especially when paired with the Suduirart.
After Dinner Drinks
Another reason I like the RACV City Club’s Members Dinning Room is the drinks trolley, it is always filled with interesting After Dinner Drinks including at least one Armagnac, as I had time, decided to try a couple.
I prefer Armagnac to Cognac, although would not usually say no to a decent XO or better Cognac. Armagnac is crafted by small producers, is distilled from white wine grapes and only distilled once, because of this the alcohol content is around 52%, and aged in oak barrels. The aging in oak adds to its complexity and, as the proof is low, there is no need dilute it with water.
My preferred Armagnac are single vintage, the blends are not as complex or interesting. BTW, Armagnac is usually cheaper than Cognac, so if you like a good brandy and have not tried it, I recommend giving one a try, you might be like me and end up preferring it to Cognac.
On this night I was lucky enough to have two quality vintage Armagnac to try.
Cru: Bas Armagnac
Colour: Medium-deep Copper
Varietal: Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche and Baco
Aroma: Fragrant combination of leather, toffee, spice and vanilla aromas
Palate: Bold, smooth, complex
Comment: The nose is not overly alcoholic, the long finish continues to build, some heat but that just adds to it. Definitely looking forward to having this again.
Producer: Comte de Lamaestre
Cru: Grand Bas Armagnac
Colour: Medium-deep colour
Varietal: Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche and Baco
Aroma: Combination of toffee, mocha, spice and vanilla aromas
Palate: Savoury, complex
Comment: Subdued alcohol on the nose, heat as soon as it hits the back palate, still very enjoyable. A good quality drink but not in the class of the de lord, with time the alcohol resides and resulting a smooth finish.
The Wrap Up
Another great night at the RACV City Club, great service, awesome wine, with the exception of the steak, great food. I can’t wait to get back to the Club and see what treasures I can find in their cellar next time.