Those folk living in the Northern Hemisphere may not know this, but Aussies and Kiwis have a bit of a sibling rivalry going on.
We beat them at rugby. (Yay). They trample us in the rugby league. (Bugger). It’s a constant battle between the countries, and so it was with curiousity that I accepted A+ Australian Wines (Wine of Australia) invitation to pop along to Australia House in London, to taste some of their wine matched with Rococo chocolates.
Of course, it helped that wine and chocolate are 2/3 of the items on my most loved list.
What’s more, my curiosity was even more piqued by the concept of matching wine with chocolate – a difficult match at the best of times.
So off I went, on a beautiful Spring evening to Australia House. Cor blimey that place is humungous! I decided to flash my Aussie side (Mum’s an Aussie) and make myself at home. After chatting up the guys in security, (it seems everyone wants to illegally enter Australia), I made my way across an acre of marble flooring to find the dining room, and as I did, I walked past some impressive artwork depicting typical Australian scenes.
Bondi surfers, a couple of Sheilas and Bruces under a gum tree, a dingo muching on a baby.. that sort of thing.*
My first hint that this was going to be an evening to smash the stereotypes, came in a glass – not of cheap and cheerful Aussie plonk, – but in a very nice snifter of bubbles which was fresh and sparky. Which was a good thing because it was at this point, that I started to feel a little self-conscious.
Despite my affection for a decent drop, and my unwavering determination to try every single variety of decent drop on the market (or so it seems to friends and family) I am not a wine expert. And here, I was, surrounded by those who spit and sniff. I started to feel myself turn a little red, but that was quickly forgotten as the lovely Seraphina popped some chocolate miracles onto the plate in front of me, and the delicious Jade graced my glass with De Bortoli PHI Chardonnay.
The Rococo Sea Salt Wafer and De Bortoli PHI Chardonnay was a good start – the Chardonnay brought out an unexpected creaminess in the dark chocolate wafer, leaving behind a lovely kick of crystalised salt on the tongue. How surprising! Not only in the creaminess, but also in that dark chocolate can be matched successfuly with white wine.
Next up was a prettyRose Ganache, with a true rose flavour (more rose petals than rose soap!) and the zingy tasting Skillogalee Gewurztraminer. A nice match but not the best of the evening. The Rose Ganache was a bit of an Angelina Jolie, refusing to share the limelight with the Gewurztraminer. She is a beautiful little darling, one of the chocolatier of the year’s best sellers.
Chantal Coady, the founder of Rococo chocolates was one of the first of London’s new wave of artisanal chocolatiers, who opened in 1983. The original store in King’s Road is still there, but is now joined with a clutch of other special shrines to chocolate, in Marylebone High St, Motcomb St Belgravia, and the secret MaRococo garden and Chocolate School in Motcomb St.
I need to be clear here. I’m not talking about everyday chocolate; cheap chocoate that embalms your taste buds in cocoa butter. I’m talking taste orgasms, with all the complexity and depth of good lovemaking. Easily the very best I’ve ever had. Ever.
The range and quality of the Australian wines on show was also superb and certainly kicked any Kiwi wine rivalry into touch. Hey, when it’s this good, it would be dishonest to not just accept and admit it.
My favourite wine of the evening was the blush rose, Innocent Bystander Moscato – a perfect wine for a celebration. Matched with a white Chocolate Cardamom and Saffron Ganache, my head was filled with images of wafty white dresses, veils and a perfect summer wedding.
My favourite chocolate and wine match was a fortified wine – Classic Rutherglen Muscat matched with a Pecan and Spice Praline. This was the Sally moment, (in When Harry met Sally) for me. Atop the chocolate was a caramelised pecan, and the trick is to bite through some of the pecan and release the exquisite, smokey taste, which combined with bursts of praline, married the complex favour of the Muscat admirably.
I found out heaps at the wine and chocolate matching -
1) Real wine tasting pros sip and spit. Vegemitevixen’s slurp and devour.
2) Chocolate can sometimes be (almost) as good as sex with the one you love.
3) Wine and chocolate can go together beautifully. It doesn’t have to be dark chocolate and red wine, the right white wine works brilliantly.
4) Australian wine can be just as complex and interesting and sublime as wines of the ‘old world’.
5) White chocolate is real chocolate, it’s made from the cocoa butter without the cocoa nibs.
Those Aussies are an ok bunch, and they make great wine. Yeah. Really. Who knew?
You have to try it, and actually … you can! Simply go to A+ Wines and enter their competition to win a hamper of chocolates and wine! But HURRY! Competition finishes on 30th April 2012.
*Don’t worry Mum they weren’t really pictures of Bondi, Bruces and babies, they were actually very tasteful images of the outback.You would have approved.
NB/ Disclaimer – A+ Wines and Rococo chocolates invited me to taste their products. They didn’t pay me, but I did swallow and savour. My review above is however my full frank opinon. No, I didn’t write it immediately after the event whilst under the influence.