Thursday, 10 July 2014

Superlative sipping {The Carlton Wine Room- Review}

When I say 'The Carlton Wine Room' I always have a little swoon in my voice. I lived in Fitzroy when the gorgeous building that houses it, showed signs of new life. I walked past and saw the signs being mounted. I peered through the window at the menu. And then finally, one day, we popped in for a glass of wine. It was exceptional. Yes, the wine, but everything about the place was too- the wine list, the service, the ambience. We kept promising ourselves we would come for dinner one night but, as always, our budget is more in line with a special glass of wine or two and then home for cheese on toast :(

So, finally, three years after it opened, multiple drop-in glasses of wine and dinner promises later, we made it for dinner.

But of course, we had to relish our tradition of sitting at the window table and swooning over a glass of wine first

Did I mention the wine list is exceptional?

There is a huge list by the glass of really fascinating wines- awesome releases of local wines and a bunch of quirky, regional grape varieties for the wine nerd. I started with a glass of the 2012 Pierre ge La Grange Muscadet Sur Lie Melon de Bougogno, a unique style from the Loire. Produced from the grape variety Melon Blanc, the wine spends the winter on lees and is bottle directly from the cask or tank the following spring; giving it a delicate freshness and rich texture.

The Sommelier (and part-owner) Jay suggested the 2013 Atlas Vermentino for The Bookworm- zesty, citrus, mineral and hugely slurpable.

We moved to our table and decided to go with the 'just feed me'- olives and four courses, and 'just pour me'- four half-pours of matched wines.

This is where things got extraordinary (I had to avoid using 'exceptional' again). Rather than a standard food and wine match with each course, Jay has a bit of a chat to find out what styles of wine you like and will tailor the pours to suit you. For the Bookworm it was rich, oaky whites and reds. For me- different and interesting with a focus on textural wines. So much wine geek happiness!

An amuse-bouche of kingfish cerviche arrived. In the interests of divulging how much of a dag I am, I had this spoon halfway into my mouth before I remembered I wanted a photo. If anyone noticed, they were too polite to comment :)

And olives, served with crisp bread and a herby curd. I am often a bit so-so about olives but these were delicious, really tender.

Plus some thickly sliced sunflower loaf and really good butter.
carlton wine room olives bread

An entree of Goats curd, beetroot, wild mushrooms, fennel, black pepper sable
The little roll of goats curd was luscious and creamy and all the elements went so well together that I didn't really think about them; until I realised I should have thought more about them. Beetroot dishes are pretty trendy in Melbourne at the moment and while I like beetroot, I often find it all a bit tart and overpowering or dull and earthy. This didn't fall into either camp, I swept up all the sauce with chunks of bread, in delight.

For me, this was matched with 2013 Lo Stesso Fiano- a local from Heathcote- so fragrant and good. We also had a little tasting splash of 2011 Vadiaperti Coda di Volpi DOC- a really full-bodied, mineral, almost resiny wine from Campania.
vadiaperti coda di volpi carlton wine room

John dory, kohlrabi, watercress, horseradish, roasted potato broth
carlton wine room john dory, watercress roasted potato broth
One of the most delicious fish dishes I have had in a long time. The fish had a gloriously crunchy crust and the roasted potato broth was rich and satisfying. We both had 2011 Velonosi Trebbianp Passerina Pecorino DOC. Yes, pecorino is a grape variety as well as a cheese and a very delicate, floral, exciting little grape variety at tha t. This blend had some nice freshness from the Trebbiano, with the Pecorino and Passerina rounding it out and adding gorgeous aromatics and acidity.

Aylesbury duck, pumpkin, witlof, beancurd and grapefruit
Duck is one of my favourite foods in the world and I had launched myself at this dish before I remembered to take a picture. I make no apologies.

As if Jay had read my mind, he matched my duck with 2011 Borgogno Langhe Freisa DOC. I wanted to try it at the beginning of the night but it was going to be too heavy for a first glass. Freisa is one of the parent grapes of Nebbiolo (huge fan!) and is brooding and grippy and tannic but oh so delicious.

Cartlon wine room langhe freisa

The 'Just feed me' doesn't include dessert and we were perfectly sated so finished off with a half-pour each of slight variations of marsala (don't knock it til you have tried a good one).

We had a fantastic night, with faultless service and just the right level of Banter with the staff. This is going to be my new go-to for special occasions or just-because.

And I have to admit to a bit of a major Somm-crush right now ;)

The Carlton Wine Room on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Wine geek heaven! I love that he had a little chat with you about what you like too, it's those little things that make a place really spectacular (or extraordinary or, indeed, exceptional)!
    M x Life Outside London


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