Horse sweat, turf and leather; thundering hooves and
screaming crowds. The Melbourne Cup Carnival is upon us! Besides the frantic
wardrobe selections, choosing the running favourites and fashioning up the fascinators,
there is a more serious task for the carnival. What to drink? Let’s go beyond
the can of beer and bottle of plonk and match your drinks to each of the main
Derby Day has an inherent local competition vibe, so let’s
take to wines from the same location and put them up against each other. The vinous
Derby winner could well be just as hotly contested as the horses on the track.
For the whites, start with De Bortoli Yarra Valley
Chardonnay and Oakridge Over the Shoulder
Chardonnay. Wine maker Dave Bicknell
from Oakridge used to work with De Bortoli, so this will be an interesting
match - pair these wines with some roast chicken and see who takes out the
prize. If red wine is more to your liking, put Devils Corner Pinot Noir in the ring against Ninth Island Pinot Noir, and be sure to accompany them with some succulent BBQ duck
breasts and let the Derby begin.
Melbourne Cup Day
Cup Day: the granddaddy of them all and a race that, at
least in slogan, stops a nation. 4 minutes of anticipation among a full day of
happiness. Champagne is the obvious option, and while you may have spent the
morning on Bucks Fizz and Bloody Marys, the late afternoon is a great time to
open something flash. Pol Roger Brut NV fits the bill. This family-owned Champagne house makes
incredible wine, and the white label is magnificent. It is fine-boned and well-built,
a true thoroughbred of the wine industry. If you have had a successful day at
the bookies, grab some Vintage Pol Roger, which offers a toastier and full-flavour expression. This
matches just perfectly with some roasted chicken sandwiches that will no doubt
be on offer.
Oaks day is traditionally Ladies’ day, and while the obvious
choice is to drink bubbles and loaded up with fruit and flowers, let’s make
something that is a little more in line with the modern woman. Start with
something local and handcrafted like Four Pillars Rare Gin. It’s bespoke and high quality and can be made into a
simple gin and tonic or, to make it a little more playful, create a simple
cocktail. Start with 30mls of Four
Pillars Rare Gin and 90mls of cloudy apple juice, squeeze in some lemon and
shake over ice before garnishing your creation with a sprig of mint. It’s a
beautiful and fresh way to start the day and incredibly easy to make.
Stakes Day is old school, refined and elegant. There are numerous
options here, but try looking for something regal, classic and timeless. Settle
down for a long lunch and have a great bottle of Chardonnay. The Chardonnay
resurgence is huge, and the wines that Australia are making are receiving
global attention - and rightly so. These wines are thrilling and majestic; Stonier Chardonnay and Petaluma Chardonnay are terrific value and are also beacons of the industry.
Post-lunch, just before the cheese course, open a beautiful bottle of Cabernet.
A back vintage Wynns Black Label Cabernet
Sauvignon 2008 will be perfect, or for
something younger and more intense, the Vasse Felix Cabernet will be wonderful.