Saturday, 1 December 2012

Impressing or expressing? - a good night out with the guys!

The five of us were all looking forward to a good night out.  One in the group was returning to the US after two years living in Sydney, others reflecting on completing one of the greatest banking IT projects ever run anywhere in the world, which we all touched in one way or another over the last few years, but mostly we just wanted to get together to share some companionship and some great wine.  And what a wine line-up we had!

Owen, David, Mark, Daniel, Steve

We had been planning the evening for about a month, but except for agreeing on the date, no one did any real planning at all!  So we decided to meet at the Small Bar in Crows Nest and take it from there.  Mark and I arrived first, drinking some 2012 David Hook Pinot Grigio from the Hunter Valley.  After a glass each and some nibblies, we got another full bottle as the other guys were arriving.

After some good banter, we all started showing off the wine we had brought along for the evening.  It was suppose to be a 'big red' night and it certainly turned out that way!  As I mentioned, we all apparently wanted to impress, but not in that manly competitive way of "You show me yours, and I'll show you mine!"  It was more about being respectful of each being part of a friendship and wanting to share something special with each other.  The other four in the group had been especially tight over the previous few years and I had only circled in and out a few times, so it was great to be part of the group that evening.  We all knew and enjoyed our wines and made sure we each brought a very good bottle along!

I brought along a 1996 Waverley Estates Semillon to start us off with an iconic Australian white wine which I thought would go with whatever Asian food we decided to eat that evening.  Since the evening was about the friendship and the wine, we weren't sure where we would eat (so we went to the closest place which was the Vietnamese restaurant Phuong immediately next door to the Small Bar!).  In fairness to my friend's taste and Phuong, some of the guys had been there before and it was an outstanding choice.

I felt we should start with one bottle of white wine and I wanted to test and share what I knew would be a great Australian white in the 1996 Waverley Estates Semillon.  Once we got the food ordered (Banquet Menu B, showing again how much effort we would be putting into non-wine related topics!), we got into the red wines.  The line-up was a stunner:
  • 2008 Trinity Hill Homage Gimblett Gravels Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot blend (from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand)
  • 1997 Penfolds 389 Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvignon blend
  • 1994 Brokenwood Hermintage
  • 2002 Penfolds St Henri Shiraz
  • 2009 Tyrrell's Johnno Shiraz
  • 2003 Penfolds St Henri Shiraz
  • 2007 McWilliams Mount Pleasant Maurice O'Shea Shiraz
  • 2002 Wolf Blass Black Label Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvignon / Malbec
  • Some bottle of Pinot Noir that Mark bought at the bottle shop because for some reason he did not think we had enough wine for five guys!
Except for the 2002 Wolf Blass Black Label which was gifted to Andrew (the guy returning to the US), the 2009 Tyrrell's Johnno Shiraz (which we deemed too young to drink), and the bottle Pinot Noir that Mark bought, we did drink all the wine with dinner.  You can tell because of how careful we were with our plates and food (and this does not show the broken glass on the floor or the mess I made of Daniel's shirt!).

Six of the reds we drank were Shiraz or Shiraz blends - that's heavy lifting for one meal!  We opened with the Trinity Hill Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot blend and finished with dessert and the Pinot Noir, but everything else in between was Shiraz!  I believe we all agreed that the wine of the evening was the 2002 Penfolds St Henri.  The 1997 Penfolds 389 was absolutely splendid and lasted better than I thought it would.  The 1994 Brokenwood Hermitage was a classic older Hunter Shiraz with great body and finish, but still maintaining  the elegant style of an old world Hermitage.  The 2009 Tyrrell's Johnno Shiraz would have been a delight, but we passed on it as it will last another decade or more and improve with age.  And the 2003 Penfolds St Henri was another wonderful wine.  Each of these reds would usually be considered the featured wine to finish a meal with, but we had no problem over-indulging with all of them!

We then walked in the rain down to Bravo's for some gelato and other desserts where we did finish off the bottle of Pinot Noir that Mark bought before finding our individual ways home.

Great friends, great food, great times and great wine all go together.  We were not trying to impress in a competitive way - just expressing gratitude for each others friendship and respect for each others palate!  It was a rare evening where everything worked - at least it seemed so with that much good wine!

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