The Royal Cliff’s Wine Dinner for February featured Australian wines and the Stonefish label (written with a quirk as SToNeFIsH by Peter (Stonefish) Papanikitas). There were six different wines, mainly from the Margaret River in Western Australia, but for the wine club members, the Barossa Valley was also highly thought of.
The wines that evening at the Royal Cliff’s Royal Grill Room and Wine Cellar were described by Sunthorn Lapmul, the director of marketing for Wine Dee Dee the representative for Stonefish, whose experience included some time on a US based luxury liner. Fortunately he had moved to the mainland some years ago and was not quarantined to stop the spread of Covid-19 as a couple of the liners had to be quarantined as I write this.
It did not take long for the members and friends to understand this was going to be an excellent evening, with the reception wine being the Stonefish Brut Cuvee NV, a very ‘more-ish’ drop going well with Sous Chef Nick Vonk’s canapés. After getting comfortable the members and friends adjourned to the Royal Grill room and were served the first course, smoked salmon rillettes with sweet and sour fennel, radish, tomato chutney, sourdough crisps and salmon roe drizzled with herbed oil. This first course was accompanied by a Stonefish Sauvignon Blanc, Margaret River 2019.
The next course was a mushroom consommé featuring eryngii (King Oyster) mushrooms and a Stonefish Rose, Margaret River 2019. For those who enjoy a Rose this was a very pleasant course and the wine and the soup went well together.
After the sorbet came a Sous Vide Kurobuta Pork Tenderloin with Fregola sarda (Fregola is a type of pasta from Sardinia. It is similar to North African Berkoukes and Middle Eastern Moghrabieh. Fregola comes in varying sizes, but typically consists of semolina dough that has been rolled into balls 2–3 mm in diameter and toasted in an oven.) To accompany the Kurobuta, was a Stonefish Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Margaret River 2014, the third wine of the dinner and it was sensational. With a bit of age this Margaret River was smooth and universally popular.
The next course was a Wagyu beef and not just a lump of beef, but an incredibly tender generous lump of beef served with braised lentils, beetroot, carrot puree and buttered zucchini batonettes with a red wine sauce. This wine was the Stonefish Nero, Old Vines Shiraz Barossa Valley 2016 and was my wine of the night closely followed by the Cabernet Sauvignon.
The dessert finale was a Queensland Lamington, a very popular item in Australia. For the non-Aussies it is a cake made from cubes of butter cake or sponge cake coated in an outer layer of chocolate sauce and rolled in desiccated coconut. The thin mixture is absorbed into the outside of the sponge cake and left to set, giving the cake a distinctive texture. The dessert wine to go with the Lamington was the Birds of Fire, Botrytis Semillon Riverina 2013, a dessert wine that has you looking for more.
It was another spectacular evening for the Royal Cliff deVine Wine Club members and one that will be a benchmark for the next ones this year. Chef Nick had been entrusted to cover the dinner and the consensus was very positive. There is a great future for this young chef.