When one of your favourite wineries teams up with a restaurant you love for a wine dinner, you know you just have to go, but when you can’t find someone to go with (unbelievable I know) and the restaurant owner talks you into coming on your own, you know, in a way, you’re taking a risk.
I did wonder a few times about pulling the pin but you know what, you only live once and if there’s something you really want to do you should just do it! I was lured in by the thought of long tables, social atmosphere, interactive discussions over the food and wine and of course a fabulous three course menu paired with outstanding wine.
On arrival (a little nervous) I was pleasantly surprised and really grateful to be seated with Duende’s lovely owners Phil and Julie and also the talented wine makers of the Pannell family, Bill and Dan, as well as some other excited diners for the experience ahead. The restaurant was full to the brim and buzzing with excitement and after a bit of a glance at the menu I was really looking forward to this dinner. First wine up was the ‘Boise’, Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, a lovely, light, fruit driven wine to start the evening and after a bit of an introduction from Phil and Dan, we were off.
The entrée was a prawn raviolo with a creamy bisque sauce and when it was placed in front of me the aromas were amazing. The bisque had clearly been developed from a complex seafood stock, full of rich, well balanced flavours. This sauce was so good that I had to use the rest of my bread to mop it up with, wasn’t letting that go to waste. The raviolo had a lovely delicate prawn filling and the pasta was cooked perfectly, nice and al dente. I would have liked the pasta to be rolled out slightly thinner but that’s a very small criticism on what was my favourite meal of the night (photo doesn’t do it justice).
With the entrée was the Picardy Chardonnay, perfectly paired with the meal and it really enhanced the seafood. I really enjoyed this wine, quite light for a Chardonnay with it’s citrus notes and although the oak wasn’t overpowering it was still full of complexity (in a good way).
Next up for main course we had lamb shoulder with peas, green beans, sea spray, mint jelly and jus, with strict instructions to make sure we had a mouthful that included every component. Wow, the flavours were amazing, the soft, falling apart lamb, the rich Pedro Ximénez jus, the freshness of the peas and beans, the salty, beach hit from the sea spray and that intense mint jelly. Everything worked together, balanced each other out and created a flavour sensation in the mouth. I was really intrigued by the mint jelly, very pretty on the plate and clear in colour but the mint flavour in one little bite was incredible. I also loved the jus and wished I’d had more.
With the lamb we had two of Picardy’s stunning Pinot Noir’s, the 2013 and the 2012 ‘Tete de Cuvee’ (meaning best wine of the vintage). Both went really well with the lamb and although I’m definitely a fan of the ‘Tete de Cuvee’ I found myself enjoying the complex but delicate and easy drinking style of the 2013. We were also treated to a bit of the family and winery’s history from Bill.
Last but not least, cheese, gotta love it when the night ends with cheese. Fabulous cheese plate with La Buche d’affinois, a super creamy soft cheese (like a double cream brie), Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, a crumbly, well balanced cheddar that was sharp and slightly nutty and the Merco Manchego, back to Duende’s roots, this was a totally moorish Manchego, rich in flavour and creamy in texture. To balance out all that cheese we had some dried fruit, pear, quince paste and lavosh crackers. Great way to end the meal.
The cheese was also complemented by our last two wines, the 2012 Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Franc and the 2012 ‘Merlimont’, again showing the high standard of wines produced at Picardy. I particularly liked the reserve blend of the ‘Merlimont’ with pronounced fruit flavours and notes of blackcurrant, raspberries and vanilla.
Completely full and wined out for a Thursday night it was time for it to come to an end. Very glad I took the plunge and went on my own and it was a real treat to meet the brains behind both Duende and Picardy. Phil and Julie were such fabulous hosts and I can’t wait to get back for dinner (and the margaritas) very soon.
If you ever get the chance to do a wine dinner, go for it, it’s a lovely way to learn more about food and wine, and get to indulge of course, and if you haven’t been to Duende (or it’s been a while) put it on your list, wonderful service and great people running one of Perth’s gems.