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Top drops to sip, slurp and celebrate this season

From new takes on old vineyard favourites – shiraz and chardonnay – to a non-alcoholic beer infused with pepperberry, these are some of the best beverage suggestions through the cooler months, as chosen by two top Spicers sommeliers. Their selections come under three categories: Sip, a fine wine; Slurp, a casual indulgence; and Celebrate, a drop to enjoy on a special occasion. Along the way, we also find out why Champagne and French fries make for an unusual, but delicious, pairing.

PETER MARCHANT, Sommelier, General Manager, Spicers Clovelly Estate

SIP
2014 La Petite Mort Amphora SV

Why this one?
“The guys from La Petite Mort on the Granite Belt have been doing really fun things for a long time. This is their amphora; it’s a shiraz with a touch of viognier.”

How does it taste?
“It’s not a classic Australian shiraz, meaning it doesn’t necessarily have the power and weight. It has the concentration, but it has a little bit more elegance, little bit more finesse to it. It is more about purity of flavour.”

What to pair it with from your menu?
“At present we have a grass-fed beef dish, with bone marrow confit mushrooms, smoked shallot and Café de Paris butter (Boeuf d’Angus Rôti) on our menu at The Long Apron. These are classic flavours and there’s enough tannin in the wine to cut through the beef – but again, it’s not power and weight; it’s about flavour with the dish.“

Beef dish at The Long ApronBeef dish at The Long Apron

SLURP
Sobah #3 Pepperberry IPA

Why this one?
“These guys run a company out of the Gold Coast (at Burleigh Heads) and they make only three zingers and they’re all non-alcoholic beers. A lot of people probably are moving towards drinking less. drinking better, or not as much as before. There are lots of interesting things coming out as options and this is one of them.”

How does it taste?
“It’s really great fun. Light and refreshing. A lot of non-alcoholic beers have literally no flavour whatsoever, but Sobah use a lot of natural ingredients and the pepperberry, I think, is the best.”

What to pair it with from your menu?
“Just a refreshing drink to have on its own.”

Sobah non alcoholic beerSobah non-alcoholic beers

CELEBRATE
First Creek, 2018 Winemaker’s Reserve Chardonnay

Why this one?
“It’s from the Hunter Valley. A lot of people talk about there still being an ABC crowd – Anything But Chardonnay – but, I think, as people’s palates develop they generally end up somewhere near the chardonnay flavour. This is really classic new school Australian chardonnay. And Liz Silkman, who is making this wine, is an absolute superstar.”

How does it taste?
“This wine is about purity of the fruit and using everything in moderation. There’s a very judicious use of oak; while that oyster shelly, flinty character that would be in a great chardonnay is definitely there.”

What to pair it with from your menu?
“We’ve got a gnocchi Parisienne on the menu; basically little pillows of air that have potato in them, with truffled pecorino, roasted carrots and a bay leaf cream. Absolutely delicious.”

Gnocchi from The Long ApronGnocchi from The Long Apron

NIVARD NELSON, Sommelier, Food & Beverage Manager, Spicers Peak Lodge

SIP
Andrew Thomas Kiss Shiraz

Why this one?
“This is a great cooler climate shiraz from the Hunter Valley. My wife and I were down there last year on holiday and went and visited the winery, had a chat to the team at the cellar door and kind of just fell in love with it.”

How does it taste?
“It’s not big and gutsy like a Barossa shiraz. Quite restrained and beautifully elegant, is the way to describe it.”

What to pair it with from The Peak menu?
“The Flinders Island saltbush lamb dish served with Kalbar carrots served two ways – one’s a barbecued carrot puree and then Japanese barbecued whole carrots, garnished with our housemade granola. As well as the lamb rump, our head chef Dean (Alsford) adds a lamb belly bacon, which just sets it off. The shiraz doesn’t overpower the lamb in any way.”

Lamb dish at The Peak restaurantLamb dish from The Peak restaurant

SLURP
Applethorpe Dry Cider from Granite Belt Brewery

Why this one?
“After the fires last October, I believe in helping the community out. This cider comes from a great family-owned winery in Stanthorpe. Over the years I’ve been at Spicers I’ve had a few of their beers come and go off the menu – we need to get out and support our regions.”

How does it taste?
“It’s a cider that’s quite dry, but actually feels like it has a bit of body to it, coming from the apple skins. It has tannins so feels like a cross between a wine and a cider.”

What to pair it with from your menu?
“More for when you’re just sitting around a barbecue. It would complement any standard Australian cheese board.”

French Cheese Master ClassApplethorpe Dry Cider from Granite Belt Brewery pairs well with any Australian cheese board

CELEBRATE
Champagne Perseval-Farge Les Goulets

Why this one?
“Using old grape varieties, this small-grower champagne is from a family-owned vineyard, not part of the big conglomerate labels.”

How does it taste?
“Very dry, very clean. For me champagne is the ultimate celebration drink, a lot of love and a lot of care goes into it.”

What to pair it with from your menu?
“My favourite thing is French fries and champagne. I know that sounds strange but you’ve got that saltiness of the French fries and that kind of creamy buttery-ness of the potato inside. Most champagne has a chardonnay base – and chardonnay and potatoes traditionally work really well together. If you want to make it decadent, add a little shaving of truffles when they’re in season and a drizzle of olive oil over the top of the fries.”

Words by Geoff Shearer.

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