The AGM of the Beefsteak & Burgundy Club of Tinakori is always held at its home restaurant, Boulcott Street Bistro. Established in 1991 by John Lawrence and Chris Green (Chris now at Arbitrageur), Boulcott Street Bistro is a Wellington institution, serving innovative contemporary cuisine and classical fare that makes it closer to fine dining than rustic bistro. The mix and setting is indeed perfect, as it remains ever-popular, even after two decades, which is a very long time in the life of eating establishments. Ever since Rex Morgan joined as chef and partner, the consistency of quality has never been better. That is why the Tinakori chapter of the Beesfsteak and Burgundy Club is based there. A special meal is guaranteed.
Winemaster Dean Derwin, proprietor of Centre City Wines, is hitting his straps with his wine selections, descriptions and explanations. The first wine served was the Rippon Central Otago Riesling 2007 from vines planted in Wanaka between 1987 to 1991. This wine exuded the beginnings of bottle-age characters with its deeper yellow colour and voluminous aromas of florals, ripe citrus fruits, honey and toast. Dryish at first but showing greater sweetness in glass, this was reasonably full-bodied with some phenolic grip and textures from the fruit weight. A little oxidative toastiness came through. We thought this may have been Alsace Riesling, but we guessed probably an off-dry Australian Riesling, possibly McLaren Vale, around 2008. We were close on varietal and age, but not in the right country! This is a remarkably weighty wine, though at 11.7% alc. only. It was well received, and thoroughly enjoyed as an aperitif wine
The first food course was Westcoast black pudding with apple and potato parmentier, coarsely mashed and stacked with the black pudding layered between. The rich and iron-earthy flavours of the black pudding still shone through with piquance, though heartily encased by the apple and potato.
The wine served was a Rectoral de Amandi Ribera Sacra Mencia 2010, Mencia being the new and exciting variety from north-west Spain, which has made its international name and fame in neighbouring Bierzo. Still youthful looking with purple hues, this had fresh, grapey, primary aromas and flavours with a palate marked by underlining acidity. The characters were clearly not mainstream varietal, and had a taste of Italy/Spain/Old World, even though it has sweetness of fruit. We settled on Italian or Spanish variety, possibly Tempranillo or Dolcetto made with whole berry fermentation, quite probably from Australia if not in Spain or Italy. And youthful too, with 2010 as a nominated vintage. Again, we were so close, but not close enough! Mencia can have a lovely fragrance with bright acidity. The wine was a well-judged match with the food course.
Hearty stuff from Rex Morgan for the main course. Citrus braised ox cheek with roasted root vegetables. One Beefsteak member mentioned that ox cheek is one of the cheapest cuts, but when cooked like this, it’s perfection and satisfying for the soul. Fall-apart textures, moist and succulent, perfect seasoning and jus, all countered by the crunchy, crisp cleansing root vegetables, the parsnips and carrots so fresh and earthy-sweet.
The wine was Squawking Magpie Gimblett Gravels Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2004. Dark and obviously aged with orange and brick hues. This had developed pleasing secondary game-like aromas that complexed the cedary, blackcurranty fruit. On palate, showing spices, iron-earth, meat and sweet fruit all backed by fine tannins with a firm core, but showing signs of resolution. Good acid too, indicative of the Cabernet Sauvignon. As the wine breathed, plump plum and tobacco nuances indicating Merlot, some herbal notes suggesting a cooler vintage emerged. We guessed New Zealand Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Merlot from the Gimblett Gravels, from 2006, possibly Newton Forrest. Most of the other tables were in the ballpark too. So close again. And again, the wine and food pairing excellent, both wine and food very soft and ‘melt in the mouth’.
A dessert of Profiteroles with Baileys ice-cream and chocolate sauce capped off the luncheon. Perfect pasty, served at precisely the right time, so that the cream had not softened the profiterole. A touch of alcohol in the ice-cream to make it an adult’s dessert. Rex knows how to reach the kid inside, but treat us as grown-ups!
Boulcott Street Bistro, 99 Boulcott Street, Wellington, Tel: 04 499-4199, Email: [email protected]
The Beefsteak & Burgundy Club
The Beefsteak & Burgundy Club organization was founded in Adelaide in 1954 with the aim of its members sharing knowledge and experiencing great wines and food and fellowship on a regular basis. With over 150 branches around the world in countries as diverse as Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S.A., it is an international success. In New Zealand there are ten branches, with five located in Wellington. The meetings are run on a semi-formal basis, with officers and committee including a Foodmaster and Winemaster who co-ordinate the meals and wines respectively. The Adelaide parent body oversees administration and maintains a constitution to provide a framework and uniformity, but it is a relaxed and enjoyable time attending the meetings and the occasional international conventions. For more information, go to www.beefsteakandburgundyclub.org.au where you can find out about joining an existing club or forming a new branch.