Middle Park Hotel: Jasper Hill wine dinner

Disclosure: Alastair and I dined courtesy of Middle Park Hotel.

It’s cold. I know, I know, compared to other places in the world it’s not *that* cold, and yes, this is the part where you get to tell me I’m soft. But it’s cold to me, and this weather makes me want to hibernate with a heater and copious amounts of red wine.

Fortunately, I received plenty of the latter into my system last week during an epic dinner at Middle Park Hotel. MPH is located in a beautiful Victorian building on the corner of Canterbury Road and Armstrong Street that was originally built in 1889. Inside the building is a front bar, a dining room, and upstairs accommodation rooms.

Upon arrival we headed through to the dining room – a large wood panelled room decorated with various sporting memorabilia. Alastair was very impressed to see a cricket bat signed by Don Bradman hanging up. Apparently I should’ve been impressed as well… I tried to fake some enthusiasm but I don’t think he was fooled.

The reason for our visit to MPH that night was for the Jasper Hill wine dinner – four food courses matched with wine. Seven wines in fact – one riesling and six reds. Eep!

The wines served during dinner were all from Jasper Hill in Heathcote. Jasper Hill practices organic/biodynamic agriculture, with minimal intervention in the vineyards – they don’t irrigate them, the vines are own rooted rather than grafted on to other rootstocks, and vines are hand pruned and hand harvested. The minimal intervention also flows through to the wine making process. In addition, two of the vineyards are also named after the family’s daughters – Emily and Georgia. Isn’t that sweet?

We started with a glass of 2010 Jasper Hill riesling and Harvey Bay scallops with apple and celeraic plus a small chestnut “cappuccino” with smoked duck and truffle. Both the scallop and the chestnut soup were delicious. The scallop came with a small amount of creamy sauce and some crunchy apple/celeraic.

The chestnut cappuccino was very smooth and rich, and digging into it we found little bits of smoked duck that gave a tasty textural contrast.

Next we ate guinea fowl terrine, Languedoc style with olives, grapes and foie gras. This was served with a 2008 Agly Brothers Cotes du Rousseillon and a 2010 La Pleiade Shiraz.

This was a big serve of terrine – there were two slices hiding under the salad. The terrine was rich and savoury, with the difference in textures between the firmer guinea fowl and the foie gras apparent, along with some pistachio kernels for additional texture. It was served with salad and grapes, which helped to cut through some of the richness. Yum.

The next course was fantastic as well – slices of venison saddle cooked in hay and wattle seed and served with red fruits. So. Good. The meat was slightly smokey and matched really well with the sweet/sour red fruit sauce. There was also a small amount of very smooth potato puree on the plate.

It was served with parsnip that had been deep fried and flavoured with a bit of garlic and rosemary. You know what? Parsnip has never excited me – I’ll eat it, but it never tastes particularly good. But this parsnip gave me a “moment” – I sat there in awe for a while. It was crispy, but soft and sweet inside, and it tasted like parsnip except it was good. :p

The venison was served with two shirazes: a 2004 Jasper Hill Georgia’s Paddock shiraz and a 2010 Jasper Hill Georgia’s Paddock shiraz. I thought the 2004 seemed to accentuate the smokiness in the venison.

There was a cheese course to finish. And holy hell, what a cheese course. The two of us received half a wedge of Le Conquerant camembert stuffed with a layer of black truffle. It was served with – I’m sure we were told it was quince and mushroom paste. Whatever it was, it was great – pretty sweet, and it paired well with the cheese and truffle.

I also had a quiet cheese/truffle/mushroom moment eating this. Heeeeeee.

The cheese was matched with a 2004 Jasper Hill Emily’s Paddock Shiraz and a 2010 Jasper Hill Emily’s Paddock Shiraz Cabernet Franc.

It was a very enjoyable night at Middle Park Hotel and the food and wine were both excellent. MPH are hosting another wine dinner in August – Curly Flat – on Tuesday 14 August. If it’s anything like this one, it’ll be fantastic.

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Middle Park Hotel
102 Canterbury Road
Middle Park
Phone: 03 9690 1958
Web: middleparkhotel.com.au

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