Tag Archives: Canberra

A return to Sage restaurant

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Inside Sage Dining Rooms

Last Friday night, AWG and his darling wife were fortunate enough to be able to dine again at Sage Restaurant in Braddon, ACT. 

Since we last dined at Sage back in 2012, they’ve made a few changes, such as the introduction of a Chef’s Pick – 5 mystery courses from the menu.  Naturally, we opted for this option in addition to the wine paring option (for one).

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As the designated driver, AWG opted for a single glass of Burgundy (above) but sampled tiny tastes during the degustation.

Trip Advisor, at the time of writing, ranks Sage as the #1 restaurant in Canberra, and it’s hard not to agree.  The food is second to none, and the wine pairing by renown sommelier Abel Bariller is simply inspired.

Course 1 – Sugar Cured Ocean Trout, avocado, wasabi, olive, citrus

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Perhaps being the first plate of the evening left an indelible impression, this dish was a real triumph – great texture and flavours, complimented by being paired to a light French wine, which I think was a grenache gris (I forgot to note it down).

Course 2 – Butternut Pumpkin Soup, chestnut cream, parsnip crisp

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The next course was a delectable pumpkin soup, which had a beautiful silken texture, paired to a local Lark Hill chardonnay.  The soup was very well made, and a perfect addition to a winter menu, I might add!

Course 3 – Glazed Pork Belly, cauliflower, radish, green ginger wine

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Pork belly is my achilles heel when done right, and the craftspeople in the kitchen at Sage know exactly how it should be prepared.  This evening was no exception, the serving was succulent and juicy, and well met by a drop of Italian nebbiolo.

Course 4 – Pressed Lamb Neck, gnocchi, charred broccoli, quince, pecorino

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Our last savouriy dish was a very impressive serving of pressed lamb, perfectlly complimented with an arrangement of well thought out textures, particularly the gnocchi (an AWG favourite) which absorbed some of the strong flavours from the lamb. 

Does it get any better than this?  Perfectly paired to a surprise – a Brazillian cabernet sauvignon satin, which continued our ‘wine tour of the world’.

Intermission – Peach Sorbet with strawberry snow

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A customary palate cleanse arrived not long after, and we were treated to a lovely sorbet in chilled ceramic bowls. 

Course 5 – Caramel Popcorn Parfait, pickled blueberry, peanut, burnt butter snow

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To finish the evening, our meal was completed by a texture/flavour explosion of caramel, popcorn and peanut accompanied by a Rutherglen muscat.  The strong muscat sat perfectly with the sugary force from the dessert – a beautiful match both in texture and taste.

A big thanks to the management and staff at Sage for accommodating us at short notice.  We were very late in securing a reservation, and they were kind enough to fit us in.  Although it was a very busy night, the food, the wine and the service were top notch, and as always, we were impressed.

No doubt we will be back to Sage in the (hopefully) not too distant future.

Sage Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sydney Wine-Ark Tasting Evening (Part 3)

Clonakilla Logo

Continuing our series of wine tastings from last week’s Wine-Ark Cellar Club tasting event, we enter the final tastings of the evening, introduced by Canberra winemaker Tim Kirk himself.

Tim spoke to the audience for a few minutes, giving us an insight into what motivates him as a wine maker.  It is evident that the French style of wine making and the French philosophy of matching the grape varieties to the land (or terroir, such as in Bordeaux) is a heavy influence.

In his own terms, he likes to craft his wine differently from the ‘tubthumping’ reds of the mid-90s, i.e. the full powered, Robert Parker inspired, super reds.  With the most recent vintages, he emphasized the importance of the skin depth, and noted that they had observed a cooler climate as the drought broke recently.

Anyhow, Tim’s introduction was quite inspiring and before long we were drawing our glasses for the final four tastings of the evening.  Without any further adieu, the notes.

2011 – Clonakilla Canberra District Riesling   

This Riesling when compared to the Best’s Great Western beforehand, was a lot more restrained in terms of sugar.  Pale gold in colour, a hint of – is it – kiwi fruit?  Crispy, somewhat sugary – but also with a touch of savoury – a little dry with hints of other fruit.  Mineral overtones leading to a lasting tangy finish.  Enjoyed by all members of the group.

2010 – Clonakilla Canberra District Viognier

The seminal compliment to the well renown Shiraz Viognier, served individually presented with a light straw colour and a hint of strawberry in the bouquet.  Slightly tart to the taste with a hint of ginger, a balanced body leading to a medium length aftertaste.  Enjoyed by one of our three in the group.

2010 – Clonakilla O’Riada Shiraz

The second last of the reds for the evening, the O’Riada has become a very strong drop from the Canberra region.  The colour was cherry red with a light bouquet and a decent trace of oak and tannins, well sculptured and with a soft texture.  Medium to long aftertaste, enjoyed and rated by one in the party (the others abstained to save up for the finale).

2010 – Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier

The finale for the evening was the celebrated Shiraz Viognier, which has garnered well deserved attention in recent years.  Aussie Wine Guy is a frequent collector and has more than a case of the 2008 vintage in managed cellaring.

The 2010 vintage is the consummate reply to the stellar 2009 edition.  Plum red in colour, perfumed and well balanced – trim with a hint of spices (cloves?) with a long and smooth aftertaste.  A little young at the moment, will only improve with age and maturity – can’t wait to retaste in the coming years.  Enjoyed by the entire party.

Comments from the Group

Throughout the night, both members of the group added excellent and insightful comments as we tasted the various wines. 

One of our group had an interesting way of describing her tasting experiences, here’s a sample of some of her observations, for your enjoyment (to be read in reverse chronological order):

  • This one tastes like spicy eels.
  • This one tastes like a fig newton dining in a Chinese restaurant.
  • This one tastes like a clown car full of lemons.
  • This one tastes like mildly terrified beef.
  • This one tastes like a bad ballet of roses.
  • Actually it tastes like boats and hassleback boars.
  • This one tastes like ham crayons.
  • This one tastes like a butter balloon, with a hint of flowers.
  • This one tastes like arteries.
  • This one tastes like charcoal and buckyballs

Summary

It was an excellent night, and much appreciation must go to Wine-Ark Cellar Club Director Gavin Lennard, distributor James Johnson and to Tim Kirk from Clonakilla.  The Wine-Ark team did a great job putting together a great selection of wines and complimented by a lavish spread of cheeses and breads.

The evenings are always excellent value, and are held in such a splendid location.  Aussie WIne Guy earnestly hopes that he’ll be able to attend the next meeting in November.

To find out more about WIne-Ark, visit their website.

Aussie Wine Guy returns soon with additional notes from an upcoming wine tasting event, not too far away.  Check back soon.