Hentley Farms Wine Dinner @ The Winston
So, Sarah and I dragged ourselves away from family life on Tuesday night to do a bit of “work research”. AKA any excuse to get out the house to drink, eat and gab. AKA we went to a Winston Hotel spesh sesh.
The Winston Hotel does special little food and drink tasting events pretty regularly. This is the second wine dinner I’ve been to, and even on a cold Tuesday night, it’s worth tearing yourself away from the heater. For the uninitiated, The Winston wine nights are well-run gatherings that tend to feature one particular house of wine (in this case Hentley Farms) and attendees sit together at a series of long tables not only to guzzle, swish and swirl the vino but to dine on dream food and interact with other folks.
Hosted by Hentschke
(the bit of background that everyone listens to politely while eyeing off the wine)
Hentschke with a T, but just as impressive.
The night was wonderfully hosted by Keith Hentschke, owner & director of Hentley Farm Wines (not to mention co-hosted by Hentley colleague Alice Cleghorn).
Keith isn’t from THAT Australian wine industry Henschke family, but get a load of this … Keith’s family first settled in the Barossa Valley in 1842 and remained there for many generations. He then branched out on his own (and by ‘own’ we mean ‘with his wife’) to found Hentley Farm.
Keith and Alison Hentschke acquired the 150-acre vineyard set on the red-brown soils of the western Barossa Valley in the 1990s. Following extensive research to find out where the best red wine grapes in the Barossa Valley were being produced, their studies led them towards the rich red soils of the Seppeltsfield area. Keith used an old soil map from the 1950s to strategically locate the best parcels of land and after a number of years acquired Hentley Farm.
Bites of the night
One of the draw cards of this event for me was the menu (as was it for David, another Hills resident I spoke to).
And, I was frankly more than OK with it all.
Starter: Peking duck & pork san choy bau
Lesson Number 1: When duck and pork come together, magic happens.
Even more tragic, given this was my favourite menu item. Listening to a few comments around the table, many found it “very peppery”. It was, but I thought the high pepper content made it all the more scrumptious (and in fairness, my very fabulous table-mate Peter admitted to me that he’d added even more pepper to his … so you probably should have tasted it first Petey, and you know it …)
Main: Pan seared rack of lamb with wild mushroom & leek risotto, roasted truss tomatoes & truffle oil
There was no silencing this lamb!
Dessert: Soft centred chocolate pudding with vanilla bean gelato & salted macadamia praline
Oh god. Excruciatingly epic yet subtle dessert of kings. Come this way if that’s your thing. Others, please form an orderly queue over there for the black tea and fruit platters. Off you go.
Let’s get down to vino
Now, it may surprise you to know that I know a little bit about wine ... I’m certainly no Huon Hooke but (maybe because I’m not) I also know enough to know that you like what you like and I like what I like. No wine wankery ranting need apply.
Case in point, Sares isn’t a huge fan of riesling, where as I don’t mind it as a soiree starter. For the record, on this occasion she didn’t mind the Hentley Farm Riesling and I quite liked it but found it very Savvy B-esque (when I mentioned this to Keith later in the night, he nodded knowingly and said he found that “interesting” which let’s be honest is probably code for ‘you don’t know WTF you’re talking about lady!')
For mine, the wine/food matching was spot on except for the smoked salmon & clam chowder with the Villain & Vixen Grenache. I’m not a huge Grenache fan but this certainly wasn't unpleasant on the palette despite the mismatch.
But hey, check this out!
It's upside down, Miss Jane.
Pretty neat, huh?
But otherwise, the grape juice vs grub combos were great. Not least of all the
Hentley Farm 2016 ‘Stray Mongrel’ Grenache, Shiraz & Zinfandel that was paired with that next level dessert I mentioned before.
If there was a theme to the night it would have been Shiraz is Grouse. Old mate, Keith really spent a great portion of his time banging on about the legendary status of Barossa Shiraz. And by crikey, he was right.
The Hentley Farm Shiraz seemed universally adored by the room and sweet Caroline, we even got to taste and vote our preference between the Hentley Farms 10th anniversary vintages - the Beauty Shiraz and Beast Shiraz. It divided the crowd (Sarah was camp beauty and I was definitely more a fan of the beast #storyofmylife)
This is for you if …
A Winston wine night would be a good life choice for you if you’re the type that will generally give something different a go. Of course, it helps if you (or your other half) likes wine (you can be a novice or an aficionado) and you’re not half up for a night of nosh. For $75 this event is value for money up the wazoo.
More than anything, this was a chance to sit down in a fun, relaxed environment and enjoy the company of other people in the community with whom you might not normally cross paths. It’s as much about the eat and meet as it is about the wine.
Oh, and that other truly wonderful thing about a night at the Winsto? The courtesy bus will drop you home.
170 Caroline Chisholm Drive, Winston Hills
Click here for info on the Winsto’s regular special events.