Australia and New Zealand both have an abundance of stellar wine producers – fact. But like most things involving these two great nations, many of us want to know which is best? It’s a debate that the Australian Rugby Foundation dared to ask at one of their Bledisloe launch events earlier this year.
Partnering with Gourmet Traveller Wine and Public Dining Room, the wines were gathered and the menu prepared ready to settle the debate – which country would win the Bledisloe of Wine?
After hearing of a similar dinner hosted by Gourmet Traveller Wine during the Ashes series, the Australian Rugby Foundation were keen to replicate a similar experience ahead of their 2015 Bledisloe campaign.
Inviting ex-players from both the Australian and New Zealand rugby teams and key rugby and wine aficionados, taste buds were put to the test.
Choosing to host the event at Public Dining Room assured the organisers that the menu and service would be superb. The harbourside location of Public Dining Room at Balmoral Beach provided a relaxed, yet sophisticated setting to host the challenge. Working with in-house Event Manager, Nicole Major and Executive Chef, Matt Bates, the client was ecstatic with the results and hopes to plan more events at the venue in the future.
Gourmet Traveller provided Public Dining Room with a list of wines that would be served and judged on the evening. After consulting Public Dining Room’s sommelier, Chef Matt created a menu that focused on seasonal produce at its peak. Public Dining Room’s food philosophy is simple – source the best seasonal ingredients to craft unique, fresh and flavoursome dishes, so it wasn’t difficult for Matt to create a menu that would accompany the wines and make judging a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Ahead of each course guests were given up to four wines that had been paired with the dish. Peter Bourne, known simply as ‘The Wine Man’, spoke about each wine, highlighting their key characteristics and origin. Guests were then asked to try the wines with the course before submitting their vote on which they thought was the best.
Here is the menu they enjoyed on the evening…
Bledisloe Wine Dinner Menu
Hiramasa kingfish carpaccio, blood orange, chili, basil dressing, wild sorell, puffed grains
Mount Edward Riesling, NZ
Taylor’s St Andrews Single Vineyard Riesling, AUS
Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay, NZ
Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay, AUS
Deboned quail wrapped with prosciutto, foe gras tortellini, broad beans, golden consommé
Rippon Pinot Noir, NZ
Vidal Reserve Syrah, NZ
Spinifex Shiraz, AUS
Tasmanian pasture fed eye fillet, slow cooked short rib, king brown mushroom, smoked potato cream, truffle jus
Herzog Montepulciano, NZ
Head Grenache, AUS
Babich The Patriarch Cabernet Sauvignon, NZ
Woodlands Thomas Cabernet Sauvignon, AUS
Will stud farmhouse cheddar, cashel blue, brillat savrin served with fresh pear, roasted balsamic grapes, quince paste & house made lavosh
Winter figs, quince cream macadamia praline, poached quince, burnt fig ice cream
Framingham Dessert Wine, NZ
Mount Horrocks, AUS
The structure of this event ensured everyone was engaged throughout the evening. Guests not only had the opportunity to taste and enjoy an amazing menu, but also learn about the wines being served along the way. The competition element made the event exciting and related back to the key purpose of the event nicely.
So who won?! Well, this is where we say ‘the guests’. Honestly, though, what does it matter who won? Sadly, like the rugby, New Zealand took out the honours on the night. Awarded a mini-Bledisloe Cup, the New Zealand wines were deemed the best by the majority of the guests… at least for 2015. The event organisers have declared the event a major success and plan to host the event again next year, starting, what they hope, to be a much anticipated tradition.
We absolutely love the format of this event and believe it could easily be replicated for a range of special occasions – State of Origin, Melbourne Cup, Ashes, and it would also make a great experience for an international incentive group (their home country vs Australia).
Now feast your eyes on the menu!