Miss Piggy and The BFF attended the Torbreck Wine Degustation as guests for Toko Restaurant.
I'm under no illusion whatsoever that my palate is any way "refined". Me and my taste buds know what we like...and what we don't. We know our savoury from our sweet, our yum from our yuck, and we know when someone tries to sneak something offal-y or Brussel Sprout-y by us (most of the time). But that's about it.
When it comes to wine, my palate just lies down and DIES! We know white from red...because we can SEE what's red and white. So it's quite interesting to be invited by Toko in Surry Hills to their Torbreck Wine Degustation. I take The BFF along with me who isn't a wine drinker at all...but because it's our regular catch-up night and I wouldn't ditch him just for wine...not even this lovely Torbreck wine.
The dinner is served over FIVE glorious courses - each with a different, carefully matched wine. At the beginning of each course James from Torbreck talks to the group about the wine, the grapes, the various blends and the history of that particular wine at their vineyard in the Barossa. He is incredibly knowledgeable about all things Vino and happily answers all my questions.
Course 1: begins with a really nice 2010 Woodcutters Semillon. I feel like a bit of an impostor to be honest, but if blogging is about anything it's about learning. I can taste a hint of almonds in the wine (yay taste buds) and James confirms that my taste buds are onto something. He also says the wine has scents of limestone, candle wax, and toasted brioche as well as notes of pineapple, roasted cashew and white peach. Hmmm...but HOW! That's the thing about wine, I don't quite understand (ok, understand at all) how does the toasted brioche, peach, pineapple and candle wax gets into the wine (or how the scent gets into the wine). Seriously I want you to answer these questions in the comments below. Please? For my sanity. Thanks.
The food at TOKO really needs no explanation other than it is FANTASTIC Japanese food, really clean, refined and thoughtfully presented. The interior of the restaurant is stunning, curved wood is a major feature throughout and the restaurant feels modern, warm and inviting.
The first course sees us presented with Oysters Tosazu; Salmon Tartare (fantastic) and Swordfish Tataki. Toko is where you go when you want really fantastic Japanese food and feel that it's time to get off the sushi train and grow up (note to self, it's time to grow up).
Course 2: begins with a 2004 The Steading Blanc Roussanne Viognier Marsanne - a blend of three grape varieties so it's a bit more complex than the Semillon we started with. I like it, but I think I liked the first wine a bit more.
The wine is matched with the most delicious Grilled Scallops Mentaiko Miso (oh my); Morton Bay Bug Tempura (WOW); and Sake Steamed Miso Mussels.
Course 3: starts with 2004 The Steading Grenache Shiraz Mataro - the first red wine of the evening. This wine includes grapes from some REALLY old vines that the owner of Torbreck stumbled across one day - the vines are over a hundred years old. Japanese food is normally paired with white wine so there were A LOT of people at the table really excited about this particular wine/food matching. Generally speaking I do prefer white wine over red...to me it's more subtle.
For Course 3 we ate Quail Karage which was wonderful, Unagi Nigiri; and Wagyu Beef Gunkan with Uni Wasabi Butter. These dishes were more "heavy" and more meaty than the first two courses so I can see how the red wine was a suitable choice for this course.
Course 4: the wine served during Course 4 was a really full-bodied 2009 Runrig Shiraz - bit too "strong" for me, but the seasoned wine lovers at the table seemed to enjoy it. There was a big debate at our end of the table as to whether or not this particular wine was too "much" for the food served given that Japanese food is not really ever that "heavy". Just goes to show that wine, like food and shoes, is all about individual tastes and preferences.
This wine was served with Miso Duck Breast; Robata Grilled Wagyu Beef 500 day grain-fed mb 9+; and a Nori Truffle Butter Robata Grilled Cabbage. I've never been a big fan of cooked cabbage but this was amazing...truffle butter is a miracle worker!
Course 5: hello dessert and 2010 Highland Fling Fortified Shiraz (how great is that name)! Before we got stuck into the Fortified Shiraz we enjoyed a great palate cleanser - Yuzu Shiso Sangaria Granita. This was was so fresh and zesty and really cleared the way for the dessert to come.
I really LOVED this wine. And, no I was not drunk thank you very much. I'd only been drinking a little from each course...until now when I asked for a second glass. This wine was sticky and sweet. I've always loved desserts wines though. The wine was paired really well with Three Chocolate Rice Pudding, Toffee and Tofu Milk Ice-cream. Both sweet, and rich (but not "too rich:).
Toko is at 490 Crown Street, Surry Hills. Phone them on 9357 6100.