9.09am, Wednesday 18th May, Back at the Russell Street 24 hour internet cafe, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Sorry about yesterday folks – did not even get near a computer. We’ve had a couple of big days out in Melbourne, pouring wine and telling stories in some very interesting corners of the city, and I’m going to catch you up right now before heading off into the eastern suburbs again today – and then down to Geelong tonight.
So let’s wind back to MONDAY NIGHT – at MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY HOUSE.
This is one of our Yalumba fortresses in Melbourne, where we have enjoyed staunch support for some considerable time.Thanks to big Johnny M and the academics – past and present – from Melbourne Uni. We do something special each year at Uni House, and on this night not only did we have the Rare & Fine wines from our world – but the equally rare and fine talents of one Ronald Farren-Price OA. Generally considered as one of Australia’s finest concert pianists – Mr Farren-Price is possibly best known locally for his annual recitals celebrating composer Beethoven’s birthday – come December 16th – which are always filled to capacity. The plan for the evening was a short program featuring some of Ronald’s favourite Beethoven highlight pieces – and then the wines and dinner were to follow.
Now I’m not much use to you when it comes to classical music, but from where I was sitting, I had a clear view of Ronald’s hands, and I was mesmerised. He’s just turned 80 years of age, and I have no idea how he got those hands to do what they did – but the best description I have for you is that they looked like a couple of extremely elegant spiders – having an absolute ball – dancing left, right and centre across the keyboard. Now for those folks who are switched on to the classical stuff – here’s what Ronald played, with my vastly inadequate explanatory notes – ne’er done this sort of review before!:
First: “The Rondo in C – Opus 51” – Ronald likes it because “the key of C Major invokes the light of day!”
Second: “The only polonaise Beethoven ever wrote.” I had to look polonaise up on the Google machine to find out what that was – it’s “a stately march-like dance primarily a promenade for couples”. Now Ronald said that Beethoven had dedicated this piece to the Tsarina of Russia of the time, and said it was generally “the climax of the ball, the last dance” – so put it all together, this was the one that you lined up your favourite partner for – to finish off the evening with the one you most fancied! See – there’s nothing new under the sun. Way back in the 18th century it was “Beethoven’s Polonaise”, in the ’50s it was “Save the last dance for me”, and today it’s James Blunt “Stay the night”!
Third: “The 3rd last sonata Beethoven wrote in E major – Opus 109”. As Ronald said – “it reflects the perfection of Beethoven’s craft at that time of his carrer, and is full of collossal mood changes. You need 3 or 4 hands really to play it, but I’m going to try it with 2”! And it was fabulous to watch as he did just that.
So folks, on Monday night at Uni House, Ronald Farren-Price was a hard act to follow. What I can report is a massively positive response from all who attended for our 2008 FDW 7[c] Chardonnay from the Adelaide Hills, wild yeast fermented and put together by winemaker Teresa Heuzenroeder who also works with the same Burgundian clones of Chardonnay planted up in the Eden Valley. Hugely aromatic with pears and apples over a touch of smoke from the elegant French oak underpinning the fruit – this style is leading the chardonnay comeback. On the night, it was paired up with “Seared veal, porcini & proscuito terrine on caponata with a semi dried tomato tapenade.”
The other combination that was a bit special was the “Honey cardamom scented duck breast with roast walnut stuffing, crab apple jelly and calvados jus” with the Cabernet Shiraz double header of 2006 Signature and 2008 FDR 1A.
***If you haven’t tried the FDR 1A lately – it is literally flying at the minute! Last week with that forest mushroom pasta at Barkers, and again tonight with the duck. Check it out at the Yalumba Cellar Door, or lash out and grab a bottle whilst it’s winter! If you’re in Melbourne – grab a bottle, head up Sydney Road to the Lebanese and Turkish restaurant strip, and go in pretty much anywhere with it. With any of that marinated, char grilled, garlicky spice driven chicken or lamb – and veg/hommous/tabouli/ floppy bread coming straight out of the oven – it’s a given for a top night out. Make sure you take someone you like with you!
So all I could say as the event wound down on Monday evening to everyone was … see ya next year … and I have no doubt it will be another goodie. PS Thanks again Johnny, and thanks to Ronald Farren-Price OA. Special night for Yalumba in Melbourne.