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Saturday, 17 October 2020

De Bortoli All Rounder Dry Botrytis Semillon 2002, Riverina - Majestic

A curious aged dry, botrytised Semillon from Australia via Majestic - and a shawarma

The Food

Inserting myself into a twitter conversation between some friends, I learnt that National Shawarma Day was October 15th.

I then had to look up Shawarma and discovered it is the "elephant's leg" of urban kebab shops, a vertical rotisserie of marinated spiced meats of which thin slices are shaved off as it cooks then, most commonly, placed into a pitta bread along with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and onions along with a generous slug of chilli sauce for the post-pub crowd.

With lockdown making foreign travel all-but-impossible this year, we have created a sense of travel for the family by having occasional "holiday meals" at home; one weekend it was Teutonic - wurst, sauerkraut and beers; a Spanish evening featured pintxos with sherry and we transported ourselves to Italy with crostini, spaghetti pomodoro and tiramisu.

A middle eastern-themed evening had been long in the planning, so this was my opportunity to make it happen.

Former-chef-now-itinerant-winemaker Nayan Gowda gave me a few pointers about how to prepare the meat: at its most basic, it is tenderised slices of meat, marinated with herbs spices, garlic and lemon juice or wine vinegar and grilled.

The meat cooks best when there is some fat; I had opted for chicken breast so added a generous slug of olive oil to a marinade of za'atar, salt and garlic and red-wine vinegar before skewering, grilling and slicing thinly to serve with chips, salad, pitta bread, chili sauce and tzatziki.

The Wine

I had bought a case of the De Bortoli All Rounder Dry Botrytis Semillon a few months ago and felt it would be a good match here - the savoury complexity of an 18-year-old botrytised wine with spiced meat.

It turns out that the wine is also a little off-dry which sweetens up the bitterness of the za'atar spices.

The wine itself rather reminds me of the mask that Salieri wears in the film Amadeus - on one side is a smiling face, but when the wearer turns around, a frowning face is revealed. This wine starts off with rich, ripe welcoming sweet-wine aromas and flavours but has a more austere finish with fresh acidity, roasted spices and minerality.

The other analogy is a dry Madeira, which also has a high sugar content, but acidity so sharp that it finishes dry. Or a dark sherry with just a touch of added sweetness. As to flavour profile, it tastes just like a Sauternes - after all, it is a botrytized Semillon.

A bonkers wine, then, but a wonderful one also.

De Bortoli All Rounder Dry Botrytis Semillon 2002, Riverina (£13, Majestic) kerosene, diesel and botrytis on the nose giving way to dried apricots, orange marmalade, dried hazelnuts and lanolin. Begins off-dry but finishes dry; harmonious, fresh and complex with honeycomb, dried yellow stone fruits, candied pineapple, tropical citrus, roasted spices and nuts.

Very harmonious and mellow, perhaps its only shortcoming is that it is all over just a bit too quickly

Good and Good Value.

Fresh enough for an aperitif, match with Andalusian foods such as roasted almonds, jamon iberico with bread and oil and slices of Manchego.

It tastes a lot younger than its 18 years and a lot more expensive than its £10 multi-buy price.

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