Out of Left Field!

Picture this … the sun is setting over a hillside garden looking over the vineyard, the tables are groaning under local home-made pâtés, cheeses and good country breads, and more importantly—the wine is ready for tasting! By Paul Stewart.

canberra vineyard

LFW is at Clementine Restaurant for Food by Clementine and Left Field Wines wine tasting as part of Canberra District Wine Week in Yass and we’re here to sample wines out of ‘left field’ by six local producers, and with accompanying canapes and finger food.

I began the tasting with the Fumé Blanc from Sholto Wines, a small boutique winery established in 2013 by young winemaker Jacob Carter. This wine was neither vegetal like a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, nor could I detect any minerality such as in a Sancerre Blanc, but it had a pleasant floral nose of its own and was easy drinking. A good way to start the evening!

To be honest, I worked my way through most, if not all, of the offerings without much of a plan except to pounce when a space opened at a tasting table. Up next was Mallaluka Wines, another small boutique producer using minimum chemicals and open vat fermentation, with the wine bottled at a fairly young age with the potential to mature further for many years in the bottle. Their Riesling was not my favourite, but a young lady commented that it was ‘very hipster’—not sure if that was a ringing endorsement or not, but its sibling, Cabernet Shiraz Sangiovese blend, proved much more to my taste—both accessible and enjoyable. Although some may suggest it could be characterised as a bit of a mongrel—this puppy sat very well.sholto wines

Returning to the Sholto table, the Barbera was tasty and teased my nose … was that a touch of clove, cinnamon or perhaps soft tobacco? A half step to the side and I was at the table for Yassgas! This small batch of ‘whatever was left over’ was actually very pleasant. I don’t think it will impress aficionados and snobs, but it slipped down easily with a playful nose and no rough edges—a glass of vino fun, if ever there was one!

The Collector Wines’ offerings were a Marsanne and a Sangiovese. I’m not particularly a fan of Marsanne but it was a good representation of the variety even though I wouldn’t buy it myself. On the other hand the Sangiovese was truly luscious—soft, generous, and drinkable; everything that one seeks in this scion of Chianti. Collector Wines is made up a group of growers with grapes farmed on the granite and reddish shale loams of the Canberra district.

Last, but by no means least, was the Yarrh Wines table. A slightly cloudy (and please don’t be put off by that description) rosé with a touch of frizzante, labelled earlier in the day as Nat Sem, was unusual and wonderful. With the aromas of ripe tropical fruits, this little lovely would be perfect to enjoy over lunch on some of the warm sunny days left to us in this autumn. Yarrh Wines produce a high quality range of small batch, hand crafted, estate grown and bottled wines, available for purchase at the cellar door, online, and at selected retail outlets.

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Breads, cheeses, and pâté at Clementine Restaurant

And now to the food! Overall the food was delectable, including a large round of Camembert layered with truffle, house-made hummus, and a ready supply of artfully created canapés, which went perfectly with the wines on offer. This had much to do with the skill of Clementine Restaurant and head chef Adam Bantock. Clementine opened in December 2015 and is well known by locals and more than worthy of the trip out from Canberra one Sunday afternoon. The food is inspired by regional French and Italian cooking and the 1950s weatherboard cottage is a comfortable and relaxed setting.

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Clementine’s Restaurant, Yass

For all the enjoyment of the evening, I was left with the lingering sense that perhaps these may not have been the finest wines on offer in the region, and that the Yass Valley still has a lot more up its sleeve. That said; it was a very pleasant way to spend a Thursday evening.

Photos by Paul Stewart for LFW

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