Each year during the Orange Region Wine Week Printhie holds its Benchmark Dinner.
The inaugural dinner was in 2010. Last week was our second. I love these dinners. I get to met all sorts of people who either love Printhie’s wines or wine in general, I get to talk about wine (my favourite subject), we drink some great wines from around the world as well as our own and I always come away with a bit of a buzz, having had a lot of fun.
The premise of the benchmark dinner is to taste wines that have inspired our winemaking efforts and the wines that have resulted from that inspiration. It is not a competitive comparison where I hope Printhie’s wines look better than the famous wine alongside it. It is about enjoying both wines for their individuality, their character and their quality. If someone has a preference for the non-Printhie wines, that’s OK with me – it is on the table because it impressed me as well.
This year Printhie teamed up with local chef’s Michael Manners and Scott Want at Bistro Ceello (the master and his apprentice, although Scott very much does his own thing in his own restaurant). The food and the service was outstanding. The menu and the wines were:
Brined Scallops, sweet peas & champagne cream served with:
Pierre Gimonnet 2004 Fleuron Champagne. Printhie has struck up a friendship with the Gimonnet family during our visits to the region and we are big fans of their wines. Olivier’s son Arnaud worked at Printhie during the 2011 harvest. What we have experienced with the Gimonnets has influenced our own sparkling wine, which with any luck will make an appearance at the 2012 Benchmark Dinner.
Sweetbreads, asian mushroom madiera & eschallot tart served with:
Robert Weil 2010 Keidricher Trocken Riesling Rheingau & Printhie 2011 MCC Riesling. Weil is one of my favourite german Riesling producers from one of my favourite german regions. The balance of this wine is fantastic, as is its fruit expression. At Printhie we have found completely dry rieslings are challenging to drink, we look for sugar-acid balance in a dry tasting wine that is also delicious.
Chicken involtini with fresh cut asparagus served with:
Alphonse Mellot 2010 Domaine de la Moussiere Sancerre & Printhie 2010 MCC Sauvignon Blanc. The Mellot wine was one of the first Sancerre’s to ever capture my heart many years ago. It is an idiosyncratic wine a million miles away from Marlborough. The detail, the complexity, the alluring subtleties are an inspiration for making more restrained and complex sauvignon blanc at Printhie.
Venison on a bed of lentils and spinach with mirepoix and redcurrants served with:
E. Guigal 2007 Saint Joseph & Printhie 2009 MCC Shiraz Viognier. Guigal is an iconic producer that produces expensive, tiny volume, single vineyard wines as well as large volume regional wines. ?The admirable thing about Guigal is their dedication to quality and character year in, year out. They rarely, if ever, disappoint. This wine is from a second tier northern rhone valley appellation but is full of varietal character (shiraz), regionality and personality. Whereas the Printhie wine is a single vineyard wine we look to produce a wine with character and personality with the same level of consistency. It’s a great challenge to have in front of you.
Cheddar, quince, fig and red wine bread served with:
Between Five Bells 2010 red blend & Printhie 2006 Swift Family Heritage. This is not a varietal match, nor even a wine style match, not even a vintage match. It is a philosophical match. The premise of both is simply to make the best wine possible in any given year from the grapes available and to make it delicious. Between Five Bells is new, left of field and really delicious. The Swift Family Heritage is Printhie’s flagship, semi-mature and drinking beautifully.
We will continue to be inspired by the wines from other producers in the next 12 months. Keep an eye out for tweets about Friday Lunch Option Wines where these wines are often tasted. And mark Wine Week into your diary for next year and come along to the Printhie Benchmark Dinner. It would be great to see you there.