A Christmas Riddle

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How do you make a Christmas gathering truly spectacular? Easy, ensure the food and wine are cracking company.

Close neighbours, Cofield Wines and The Pickled Sisters Café, are a provincial powerhouse tucked away in the in the hamlet of Wahgunyah, a few kilometres from Rutherglen.

While it’s all about bells and whistles at this time of the year, Santa and his reindeer’s travels can attest to the international quality right here at home.

Marion and Stewart, the team behind The Pickled Sisters.

The food at The Pickled Sisters is prepared courtesy of Stewart Gilchrist, a Scottish-born chef classically trained to European standards. Cofield Wines has taken several generations to perfect exquisite sparkling wines reputed as the best in the country

Chef Gilchrist’s craftsmanship, passion and a great deal of fresh local produce goes into every dish served at the restaurant. His wife, Marion, says their menu changes with the seasons and is always a reflection of high-standards expected by their well-travelled customers.

“You have to get the balance right between new dishes and iconic favourites,” Marion says.

“People come here and they know they are going to get good food, good service and have a good time.”

It is a sentiment shared by The National Savour Australia™ Restaurant & Catering HOSTPLUS Awards for Excellence, who awarded The Pickled Sisters best cafe/restaurant in 2015.

Damien Cofield (right) with his father Max (centre) and son Mitch.

Next-door at Cofield Wines, winemaker Damien details the protracted in-bottle fermentation process that gives ‘methode champenoise’ its name and upmarket bubbles.

An important stage of in-bottle fermentation is called ‘riddling’- the turning of a bottle an eighth of a rotation a day to stop yeast sediment from forming.

Bottles on a riddling frame.

Cofield Wines is only one of two producers of sparkling wine in the region, recently introducing a mechanised gryopallete to speed-up the once labour intensive job of riddling.

Nothing can hurry the time it takes for in-bottle fermentation, but years of perfecting the fine art is paying off for the Cofield family. Earlier in the year their Reserve release 2006 Pinot Noir Chardonnay was included in wine writer Tyson Stelzer’s top 150 Australian and New Zealand wines for 2017.

With all this seriously good behind-the-scenes knowledge, we thought we’d better ask The Pickled Sisters Café and Cofield Wines to give us some tips for a perfect Christmas gathering. This is what they suggested:

Match Up #1

Food: Caramelised confit pork belly on sweet potato mash with roasted peaches and pistachios, ginger, honey and mustard dressing.

Wine: 2014 Pinot Noir Chardonnay

Winemaker says: “A complex, refreshing champagne-style white with bubbles that cuts through the pork belly, with an elegant palate of biscotti, crisp pear and creamy mousse”

2014 Pinot Noir Chardonnay

Match up #2

Food: Chiltern honey and Muscat glazed confit duck with spiced Hotson’s cherries and polenta.

Wine: 2015 Sparkling Shiraz

Winemaker says: “A traditional Christmas lunch red because it is served chilled in notoriously hot weather. Berry flavours of plum and strawberry match compliment flavoursome poultry in similar way to cranberry sauce”.

2015 Sparkling Shiraz

For more information:

Cofield Wines: http://www.cofieldwines.com.au/

Distillery Road, Wahgunyah VIC 3687

Ph: 02 6033 3798

Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday 9am to 5pm. Sunday 10am to 5pm. Closed Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day

The Pickled Sisters Café: http://www.pickledsisters.com.au/

Distillery Road, Wahgunyah VIC 3687

Phone: 02 6033 2377

Opening Hours: Weekdays 10am-3pm, Weekends 9am-4pm

CLOSED Tuesdays. Evenings by arrangement.