Instead of my usual Saturday breakfast adventure, my fabulous foodie friends Adrian and Mez, kindly invited me along to special long lunch at the Plough Hotel in Footscray, showcasing the new release wines produced by Bress Wine, Cider and Produce. It’s been a few years since I have visited the cellar door at Bress in Harcourt so I leapt at the opportunity to enjoy their stunning wines, and the afternoon certainly didn’t disappoint.
I’ve never been to the Plough Hotel before, so the first thing that caught my attention was the beautifully designed and newly renovated interior. Right on trend with an industrial decor complete with a series of exposed filament hanging light bulbs, clean lines, and neutral colour palette. Upon arrival, I helped myself to a glass of NV Pinot Noir Chardonnay Sparkling (Macedon) and a canapé of white anchovy fillet which created a heavenly explosion of flavours that kicked started the lunch off with a little bit of zing and pizazz.
Making our way into the main dining room, we were lucky to be seated near the open kitchen area and I had fabulous views looking towards the bustling streetscape outside. Almost immediately our first glass of wine, 2014 Vermentino (Heathcote) was poured. The bouquet on this wine is simply stunning and smelt like bananas with a hint of musk lollies. An unctuous mouth feel, with an apple crisp freshness and acidity on the finish. The only word that we could say was “Amazing!”. It would be fair to say that the food served during the lunch was a mere accompaniment to the wine on display. The velouté was served in a small shot glass, with the salt cod croquette balanced above on a toothpick. Delicious but it disappeared all too quickly.
The next wines to be served were the 2014 Cabernets Rose (Harcourt Valley) and the 2013 Pinot Noir (Yarra Valley & Macedon). Both of these wines had beautiful pink and ruby hues of colour. The Rose was a dry style of wine, which I prefer, and had the delicious aroma of candied strawberries and cherries which morphed into candied toffee apple on the palate. I don’t think the Rose lasted long enough to be enjoyed with the terrine of guinea fowl and foie gras. The Pinot Noir had classic characteristics of forest floor aromas, savoury notes of white pepper, together with red cherries and strawberries and a beautiful mouth feel.
The Pinot brought out the gamey meat flavours within the terrine, which was delicious and beautifully presented and an elegant accompaniment to the savoury characters within the wine. I love brioche at all hours of the day so I was happy to see a small portion on my plate to balance out the rich and bold flavours of the meat.
Next on the tasting menu was the bold and beautiful: the 2014 Cabernet Franc (Harcourt) and the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (Yarra Valley) wines. The Cabernet Franc had a beautiful violet colour and perfume of violets. A light sweetness on the finish, this wine was fruit driven had a silky smooth mouth feel. Not to be outdone, the Cabernet Sauvignon displayed its own intense black fruit aromas and hints of spice. The perfume was divine and all I could think of to describe the wine was “You had me at hello”! The steak was served medium-to-well and was a good match with the luscious and complex full-bodied flavours of the wine.
For something a little different, the next course was cheese with cider. The NV Bon Bon cider was sweet and creamy with a draught flavour. Although cider is likely to be next revolution, it’s something that I rarely drink and I found the sample of the Bon Bon to be very enjoyable. The white mould cheese was really stunning and Adrian and I were wielding duelling knives to get to the soft outer rind and creamy texture. Something I hadn’t seen before on our cheese board were thinly dehydrated slices of fennel, which were crispy and had sweet flavour that matched the sweetness of the cider.
No meal is complete without a sweet wine to finish with and true to form, the grand finale The Kindest Cut Late Harvest Riesling Viognier was served as the last wine of the day in a signature Bress wine glass. With aromas of honeysuckle or baked honey and nectarine, this wine had a slight spritz on the finish. The panna cotta was creamy yet light and the rhubarb was beautifully poached and decorated with wafers of biscuit. The lemon balm leaves that adorned the dessert were small explosions of flavour, like little shots of lemonade icy poles bursting in your mouth.
This was the first “new release” wine lunch and it was a fabulous display of stunning and elegantly crafted wines. Throughout the day, I was thinking that each wine would be perfect for Christmas Day and that I needed to get my hands on some of those bottles as soon as I could. I missed out on getting an order form but I think can foresee a road trip to Harcourt in the not-too-distant future.