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An Australian dining landmark rises from the ashes: the Stokehouse is back ready to please the crowds for at least another generation to come, writes Michael Harden.
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Dive right into one of the most exciting new wine lists in
the country with this cheat-sheet from star sommelier Nick
Nick Hildebrandt knows a thing or two about grapes. In his years as sommelier at Marque he won no shortage of praise, and with Bentley, Monopole and Yellow, the restaurants he has founded with chef Brent Savage, his reputation as the wine professional's wine professional has grown exponentially. Hildebrandt's work on the floor and his lists have been recognised with awards from all the authorities that count, which means the expanded list he has drawn up for the newly relocated Bentley, opening in the Sydney CBD today, will be one of the most closely studied vinous documents in the country. We put him on the spot and asked him for a cheat's guide - the five things he's most excited about pouring at Bentley 2.0 right now.
Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin 2011
"The first wine that we opened on the premises, just a couple of nights ago, was a Burgundy. It was a Gevrey-Chambertin by Domaine Fourrier. It had just arrived, our allocation is about one case a year, we were thirsty and we thought we might as well open something nice to start off with. It was an '11, and a lot of wine snobs reckon '11 is a crap vintage, but I think the wines are really good. They don't have the hype of the '09s and the '10s, but they're very perfumed and elegant and fine and, in this case, very drinkable. If you want this one, you'll probably want to get in quick. It's delicious. I'd probably have it with the Moreton Bay bugs in the shellfish broth. I love pinot and bisque - it's one of my favourite combinations."
Mount Mary Triolet 1998
"For the new restaurant we've managed to secure a large selection of older Aussie wines. I think it's great to be able to pay homage to some of our home-grown classics as well as the new kids' wines, even though it's all about the whacky stuff in wine at the moment. We'll leave most of the skin-fermented, orange and cloudy wines for Potts Point. Some my favourite examples from this side of the new list here, anyway, are some old Mount Mary Triolets. Their longevity is enormous - they go on for decades. It's almost unique to Australia. You see it a bit in white Bordeaux; it's almost like Hunter sémillon, and you just don't see those flavours anywhere else. I think the '98 is drinking well right now. I reckon it'd be quite something with the pork cheek with garlic yoghurt, radicchio and jamón. The wine captures the richness there, but the dish gives back to the wine as well."
NV Charles Heidsieck Champagne Rosé Réserve
"This being the end of the year, a lot of people are going to be looking for refreshment, and to click their heels a bit, so that's got to be Champagne, right? We've got Charles Heidsieck rosé as our premium Champagne by the glass. It's an old brand which has undergone a transformation over the last couple of years. It was forgotten in Australia but now we've got new packaging and new labels, all the bottles are fresh, and it's extremely good. It's a richer style, and the rosé is their best wine. Quite fine, and fresh and very smashable. You could smash it with a second bottle quite easily, but I'd probably smash it with the house-made charcuterie. The duck ham would be perfect. I think duck ham is good with anything but its saltiness enlivens the palate and it works particularly well with a crisp, fresh Champagne that's high in acid."
The Jamsheed for Bentley Shiraz 2012
"This is a collaboration of ours made by Gary Damon Mills of Jamsheed, in the Yarra. His star is rising and his wines are looking awesome. Out of all the up-and-coming cool, funky, natural-wine producers in Australia, he nails it. His wines are always clean and fresh, and they have edge without being too out-there. This is the second year he's done it for us, and it's a 2012, 100 per cent whole-bunch Yarra Valley shiraz. It's great. It looks like it could be from the Rhône: really spicy, lots of white pepper, sandalwood, all that going on. It's a little bit bunchy - a bit vegetal - but it has great length and tannins in balance. You'd have to have that with one of the steaks. I'm thinking the oyster blade, which comes with beetroot and radish."
A Four Pillars gin and tonic
"I'm not going to tell you to drink a beer at Bentley, though we have plenty of them. Instead I'd like to give the Australian-made Four Pillars gin a plug. How about a Four Pillars gin and tonic? It's pretty interesting. It smells like Chartreuse, and I like Chartreuse a lot. If you like Chartreuse and absinthe and Pernod, it's going to be good. Have that at the bar, maybe with the Bentley sandwich, which currently has our pastrami in it. In fact, I'm going to go have one right now."
Bentley Restaurant & Bar, 27 O'Connell St (cnr Hunter & Pitt sts), Sydney, (02) 8214 0505.
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