Dine Australia: Ceviche of scallop & Pewsey Vale Riesling, but which – 2013, 2008, 2003?

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The so-called Old World has always made much of the food-friendliness of its wines and its culture of drinking wines with food. At the Savour conference in Adelaide last September, Wine Australia led the New World fight back, placing wines in the context of Australia’s vibrant food and wine culture with great aplomb.

The message at Savour

The message at Savour

Building on this initiative came Dine Australia, a pop-up restaurant at last month’s Australia Day trade tasting in London.

Hosted by Michelin-starred chef and Aussie wine champion Roger Jones of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn and Australia’s Luke Robertson (a former sommelier at Michelin-starred The Ledbury), the concept proved mighty popular. I was glad to catch the first one before the crowds piled in.

It focused on Riesling, which is a great love of Mr Jones. He and I put our heads together some years ago for a food and wine matching feature I was writing about Australian Riesling, so I knew it’d be a good’un!

And sure enough he rose to the challenge, kicking off with ceviche and mousse of diver caught Scottish scallops with English caviar and extra virgin lemon rapeseed oil. As did Robertson who, unbeknownst to me, had pre-selected Pewsey Vale The Contours Riesling 2008 to pair with it.

scallop ceviche

scallop ceviche

I came armed with two Pewsey Vale Rieslings, the latest 2013 release of the junior wine and the “new” The Contours Museum Release from the 2003 Riesling for contrast. As it transpired too much contrast, while Robertson had pitched it just right. The 2008 Contours had enough body to go with dish, unlike the 2013 which was a little overwhelmed, while the 2003 Contours was a little top heavy and its developing toasty tertiary flavours detracted from the purity of the ceviche.

Here are my notes on the three Pewseys, all three benchmark stuff:

Pewsey Vale Riesling 2013 (Eden Valley)

The Rieslings from this vintage have great fruit power, which takes the edge off Australia’s bone dry style which, for some, is too austere. Which is not to say they lack vitality. Far from it. They’re just more expressive and approachable, with ripe but zesty lemon and grapefruit and knock out floral aromatics. RRP £13.50

Pewsey Vale The Contours Riesling 2008 (Eden Valley)

On the nose, this bottle-aged Riesling shows delicious lemon curd and powder puff notes with a hint of fresh porcini (more mineral than earthy). In the mouth these developed characteristics play around the edges where juicy fresh lime, spicy kaffir lime and grapefruit come to the fore, bringing drive and and persistence to the palate. Very good. RRP £16.99

Pewsey Vale The Contours Museum Release Riesling 2003 (Eden Valley)

Just 20 cases of this Museum Release have been shipped to the UK. While the 2008 delightfully mingles youthful and bottle-aged notes, the 2003 is firmly in tertiary territory. Smoother, rounder and weightier, with rich but juicy lemon butter and toast notes, a complexing hint of tufa/porcini too. A kick of lime in the tail suggests it has good cellaring potential yet… if you can resist it. And Pewsey Rieslings do age exceedingly well. RRP £25.50

And here are details of the other wine and food matches in case you feel like rising to the challenge!

  • Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc with cured yellow fin tuna, wasabi Jersey curd, halen mon spiced sea salt
  • Margaret River Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc with English truffle and mushroom risotto
  • Margaret River Chardonnay with Pembroke lobster and shrimp tarka dhal
  • Hunter Valley or Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay with Montgomery Cheddar cheese
  • Yarra Valley Pinot Noir with cured salmon, perilla leaves, smoked sea salt spiced mayonnaise
  • Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir with poached and roasted quail, with truffles and mushroom salad
  • Barossa Shiraz with carpaccio of roe venison, foie gras toffee, parsnip and date puree
  • Hunter Valley Shiraz with steak tartare macaroons with salted caramel
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