Thursday, 19 June 2014

Lamont's Black & White Monster Dinner

Beautiful Lamont's Bishop House
As I launched into the writing of this post, I suddenly realised that not everyone would know what on earth I was referring to by a 'Black & White Monster'.  I guess wine is probably not the first thing that would spring into most people's mind if they were presented with this phrase.

But, true to this blog, in this case it does refer to wine. And not just any old wine; some absolutely awe-inspiring, powerful and conversation-starting wine. 

To cut a long story short, Lamont's winery is a Swan Valley stalwart, with the first wine (a Cabernet Sauvignon) being produced in 1978. At the encouragement of her father Jack Mann, Corin and her husband Neil Lamont established the winery, where Jack continued to support their winemaking until his death.  Since then, the winery has gone from strength to strength.  

Around 2002, the winery staff began bottling some barrel fermented Margaret River Chardonnay and Donnybrook Malbec separately, and this practice grew up until 2008, when current winemaker, Digby Leddin claims that the two Monster wines, 'really got serious'.

What an honour it was to be personally greeted by Corin Lamont during pre-dinner drinks, soon after we arrived at Bishop's House. She was such a genuine, humble and charming lady, only too willing to answer my multitude of questions and share some insights into the outstanding family business which she has been fundamental in establishing.

Throughout the evening, we were addressed by Digby, who succinctly and passionately presented each wine as it was served. The Black & White Monster dinner proceeded as follows:

Round 1
2013 Mount Barker Riesling
Flinty, gasoline notes.  Zingy lemon zest.

Pairing: Kaffir lime and coconut chicken cigar

Round 2
2013 Fun-Kee-Viognier
2/3 Viognier fermented in old oak barrels, 1/3 Semillon.  The result took me on a whirlwind tour of funky foods - grape must, blue cheese, green splice ice blocks?!

Pairing: Scallops, toasted brioche, broad ben butter and jamon

Round 3
2013 White Monster
5 different French Oak suppliers and 5 different Chardonnay clones culminate in this powerful and complex expression of the style.  The nose was all brioche and butter, whilst the creamy mouthfeel provided padding for acidity and stonefruit.

Pairing: Patagonian toothfish, cauliflower and saffron beurre blanc

Round 4
2012 Margaret River Cabernet
Red and black fruits.  Menthol, mushroom and pepper.

Pairing: Lamb pastrami with wood roasted root vegetables and goat's curd

Round 5
2012 Black Monster
Raspberry, mulberry and plum with beautifully integrated oak.

Pairing: Potato gnocchi with short ragu, Manjimup truffles and kale chips

Round 6
Lamonts Navera
2% of this solera-style fortified is from Jack Mann's 1930s blend.  Enough said.

Pairing: Pistachio and olive oil cake with poached rhubarb and rhubarb ice cream

My overall impression of the dinner was one of attention to detail, resulting from pride and passion.  Each and every food/wine pairing was absolutely bang on, with the food serving as a gorgeously decadent backdrop to bring out the best aspects of each wine's unique character.

Thanks to the Bishop's House staff for their impeccable service (they all seemed so happy to be working there) - I will definitely be back again next year!