Run Forrest

Sommeliers Australia committee member aces the Best Sommelier of Asia-Oceanic competition.

After Sommeliers Australia’s recent acceptance as a member of the prestigious Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI), Sydney-based Sommelier Franck Moreau of Merivale Group (Sydney Australia) was awarded second place, at the inaugural Best Sommelier of Asia-Oceanic competition held in Osaka, Japan, on November 18, 2009.

Franck competed alongside David Lawler, Vice President of Sommeliers Australia and Head Sommelier of Rockpool Bar and Grill, Melbourne. Franck and David were selected by Sommeliers Australia as the best candidates to represent Australia in this formidable competition. The two were among twenty Sommeliers from ten different countries. In addition to the rigorous assessment process, all applicants needed to conduct the entire competition in a second language. Franck was able to compete in English as it his second language, and David chose French.

The competition comprised:

  • Fifty written questions
  • Two blind wine taste-tests (where each wine’s region, grape and suitable matching dishes were required)
  • Tasting of a dish (where each Sommelier had to select a wine to complement the food and provide a rationale for the choice)
  • Three blind spirit taste-tests (to be completed within three minutes)
  • A practical exam (opening and aerating a wine which was to be served to five people within four minutes).

After the semi final round there were just three candidates left standing – Saturo Mori and Nobuhiro Tani, both of La Tour d’Argent (Hotel New Otani, Tokyo, Japan) and our own Franck Moreau. In front of an audience of around 500 people, these three candidates had to face six practical scenarios:

  • Serving champagne promptly to two guests waiting for their friends
  • Recommending beverages to match the food from a set menu to four guests
  • Decanting and serving of a bottle of Chateau La Lagune 1985 to ten guests
  • Proofing a wine-list and correcting its errors
  • Blind-tasting of white, red, and dessert wine
  • Identifying five spirits and specifying the type and the brand.

Shinya Tasaki, chairman of the Technical Committee and Vice President of the ASI in charge of the competition noted, “The members whose nation or region an applicant Sommelier came from and participated in the contest could not be a judge of the assessment panel. Thus, the contest was truly fair. Any applicant could win. It was a close contest.”

And the placings were:

Winner: Satoru Mori (Japan)

Second: Franck Moreau (Australia)

Third: Nobuhiro Tani (Japan)

Franck, on top of receiving second place in the competition, also won the Sopexa Vin de France section of the competition, which involved thirty written questions on French wines and a blind-taste test, As a result, Moreau is now the official Ambassador for French Wine in Australia. Franck claimed that it was the hardest French test he had ever done.

The winner, Satoru Mori, is now entitled to represent Japan in Chile next April 2010 for the title of Best Sommelier of the World.

Sommeliers Australia Co-President Ben Edwards was elated with the win. “This is the very first time that Australian Sommeliers have competed in a competition of such prestige. The placing of Franck and David in the semi final, and Franck’s overall second placing, was beyond our wildest dreams. Not that we ever doubted the skill of these two impeccable Sommeliers! It confirmed our decision that both David and Franck were the best candidates for us to put forward,” noted Ben.

Sommeliers Australia Vice-President and competitor David Lawler said it was an incredible experience. “It was an amazing forum to be a part of. It was incredibly tough, and was truly a benchmark educational experience. I’m looking forward to taking learnings from this competition and applying it to the education process that Sommeliers Australia is continually evolving for our members,” said David.


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The Two Marksmen- a dad and his Wandering son.

Gembrook Hill clicks just over twenty-five years of age this year, and continues to be a quiet but nonetheless impressive achiever in the upper region of the Yarra Valley. Vignerons Ian and June Marks give a long rein to co- winemakers, son Andrew Marks and Timo “bring back the funk” Mayer to create wines for Gembrook Hill with minimal intervention, great finesse and a much-coveted style, whilst also allowing them to indulge in their own respective projects. For Andrew, that’s his label, The Wanderer, which this year he’s taken up a notch.

Gembrook Hill Latest Release

Gembrook Hill Blanc de Blancs 2005 [RRP: $55]
This is the second release of the vintage Blanc de Blancs and is a more complex offering than the 2004. Fruit was handpicked towards the end of March from twenty-year-old vines. It was whole bunch pressed then chilled, racked and warmed. The juice was inoculated with yeast EC 1118, fermented at 16 degrees Celsius and left on lees in barrel and stirred for five months during which time the wine underwent partial malolactic fermentation. Tirage was completed in mid November, and then the wine was left on lees in bottle for four years with a dosage of 0.5 g/l sucrose. Winemakers: Timo Mayer & Andrew Marks.
Gembrook Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2008 [RRP: $35]
This is typical Gembrook Hill Sauvignon Blanc, characterised by an elegance and austerity more commonly found in Sancerre, rather that in its Australian and New Zealand counterparts. The fruit comes from 20 year-old vines picked on 14 March 2008. The ferment started with wild yeast then inoculated with EC1118 in tank and barrel. It was racked and stored for ten months, cold stabilised, then fined and filtered.
Winemakers: Timo Mayer & Andrew Marks.

Gembrook Hill Chardonnay 2006 [RRP: $38]
This is an elegant cool climate chardonnay with restraint rather than overworked characters. Fruit was picked mid- April from the oldest vines on the estate now at 25 years of age. 50% of the juice was exposed to wild ferment, the remainder inoculated with various years in barrel (25% new French oak). It was racked off lees, blended in tank and then spent one year in oak and six months in tank.
Winemakers: Timo Mayer & Andrew Marks.
Gembrook Hill Pinot Noir 2008 [$50]
Again, a style of pinot noir that is signature Gembrook Hill. Elegant, old-worldesque, complex, very stylish. The fruit was picked 12th March from 25 years old vines. All of it was destemmed, cold soaked, exposed to some wild ferment and inoculated yeast. It was pressed and settled then placed in French oak barrels where it under malolactic fermentation. Winemakers: Timo Mayer & Andrew Marks.

The Wanderer Latest Release
Andrew’s label ‘The Wanderer’ enables him to roam about the place searching for small parcels of great fruit to make some special wines. To date, this has centred on the Yarra Valley, working with growers with whom he has known for many years. Emphasis in the vineyard is placed on producing fruit of great intensity. This is achieved by cropping the vineyards at very low levels through hard pruning, rigorous shoot thinning and crop thinning in the case of the shiraz. The result this year, his third wine release under ‘The Wanderer’ label, is three vibrant single vineyard wines with great intensity and character, and includes two pinots, which was an unintentional happenstance.
“My philosophy is to always make the best wine possible however there was no specific plan to produce a ‘flagship’ pinot. During the course of the vinification it became apparent that I had a few barrels of something pretty special, which gave rise to the creation of the Upper Yarra Wanderer Pinot,” said Andrew.

The Wanderer Upper Yarra Pinot Noir 2008 [RRP: $50]

The fruit was sourced from a single vineyard near Yellingbo, 10km north of Gembrook, from 15-year-old vines on northeastern slope at approx 200m elevation. The fruit (MV6 clone) was cane pruned, and open-fermented as 30% whole bunches. It was cold soaked for a week before fermentation commenced naturally, then inoculated with a selected yeast strain. It was hand plunged twice a day with a full body pigeage at end of ferment to squish unbroken clusters. It was pressed at the end of the ferment then racked off gross lees to barrel. 30% was placed in new French oak. Malolactic fermentation occurred in barrel. The wine remained on lees until just prior to bottling. The wine was neither fined nor filtered.

The Wanderer Lower Yarra Pinot Noir 2008 [RRP: $35]

This is a single vineyard wine from the lower Yarra near Tarrawarra. The vines are spur pruned with MV6, D4V2 and G5V15 clones on sandy loam soils with a northern aspect at approximately 140m elevation. The fruit is destemmed only, leaving whole berries for fermentation. The must is cold soaked for five days in open fermenters followed by inoculation with selected yeasts. The fermenters are hand plunged taking care to avoid over extraction from a site that tends towards a firm tannin line. The ferments are allowed to warm up to 33 degrees Celsius before they are pressed at dryness. 30% was placed in new French oak for 11 months. Malolactic fermentation occurred in barrel. The wine remained on lees until just prior to bottling. The wine was neither fined nor filtered.

The Wanderer Shiraz 2008 [RRP: $35]
The fruit is from a single vineyard wine from 30-year-old vines on an east-west slope, located in the Yarra Valley’s Dixon’s Creek. The vines were cane and spur pruned. Fermenting took place in open fermenters with 8% whole bunches. Cold soaking took placed a week before the fermentation commenced naturally, with no yeast inoculation. It was hand plunged twice a day, and was pressed at completion of fermentation and racked off gross lees to barrel. It then went in 20% new oak. The wine did not complete malolactic fermentation until spring, so wine remained unsulphured on lees all winter. The wine was neither fined nor filtered.

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The Deanery’s Tasting Menu is here!

Still grinning after a chef’s hat accolade at the recent The Age Good Food Guide 2010 awards, and a three glass gong at the recent Gourmet Traveller Wine / Fine Wine Partners Wine List of the Year awards, as well as the recent glowing review from The Age Epicure, the team at The Deanery are continuing to blaze a fresh path with the launch of a new ‘Tasting Menu’ in the wine bar, created by Chef Robin Wickens.

The ‘Tasting Menu’ is a great way to explore Robin’s acclaimed fare in a more casual way. The menu features smaller plates that are very well-priced and perfect for grazing with a glass of wine from their extensive list (owner/sommelier Anthony Jones has created a pared down ‘top 100’ wine list for the downstairs bar to best match both the style of eating and the more affable price point).

The menu has two main sections:

‘here & there’: more ‘accessible’ dishes such as ’potato & smoked haddock croquette’ ($4.50 per piece), ‘beef tartare, smoking cinnamon’ ($12), and ‘duck breast, mandarin, bubble & squeak’ ($14).

‘out there’: a chance to give yourself over to Robin’s more playful, edgier dishes such as ‘tomato explosion’ ($4.50 per piece), ‘tongue ‘n cheek’ ($12) and a favourite from Robin’s ‘Interlude’ days, his take on ‘bacon & eggs’ ($12).

The menu is available for both lunch and dinner.

The ‘Tasting Menu’ now complements the dining room menu, which showcases modern cuisine with that exquisite Wickens gilding but in a more approachable way. Robin still applies the same high standards and attention to detail and utilises unique ingredients and techniques to carve a path of noble difference.

The Deanery

13 Bligh Place,
Melbourne, 3000

03 9629 5599

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