De Iuliis Winemaker’s Dinner, 27 May 2014

Moving house will test even the most fabulous lady. You can find your left shoe but not the right, eyeliner in sight but no lippie, and each night dinner becomes more unappealing as you try to eat your way through the remnants of the pantry.

So when one of my favourite winemakers called to invite me for a sumptuous Japanese degustation matched to his wines in the middle of packing, did I care about the light dusting of cardboard box on my slightly crumpled outfit? Nope. Taxi! Take me to Niji Restaurant and Bar, Double Bay’s hot new restaurant please!

Mike De Iuliis makes classic Hunter varietals such as Verdelho and Chardonnay with a fresh and modern vibe and is rightly acclaimed for them. I may be obsessed with his Semillon but the man himself, as I was to discover, is aaaaaaall about his Shiraz.

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Mike talking to guests about his wines
To begin, was the sunny 2013 Verdelho. Verdelho has had its day – maybe just a morning – in the limelight. Too many watery, unfocused ones and we’ve moved onto other wines. Take a step back please and have a go at this one. Racy tropical flavours and punchy acidity make you sit up and take notice. Another glass please!

Oh wait, here comes the Semillon… Mike makes my favourite Semillon and I’m not afraid to shout it from the hills: “I LOVE DE IULIIS SEMILLON”

Try saying that one quickly after a glass or two.

I’ve already talked up his delicious lemony Semillon here, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Mike told us all a story of how this wine fresh from the barrel tastes just like a lemonade icy pole. I’m licking an imaginary paddle pop stick just thinking of it again *wipes drool off shirt*

Mike was worried that the shisho & plum stuffed chicken tempura might be too bold for his 2009 Chardonnay but it turned out to be perfect match. The meal was delicate and the buttery chard more than held its own.

It was now time to be Shirazzle-dazzled. Ever had wagyu in a pumpkin? I have now and what a great dish to go with the power and spice of the De Iuliis 2011 Shiraz. I personally preferred the 09 Shiraz, a very clever combo of juicy cherry laden mouthful that was a treat with the barbequed lamb in the mixed Robata. The room had a go at guessing a mystery Shiraz – yep, I guessed wrong – and then finished the evening with a beautiful late picked Semillon matched with a subtle green tea cheesecake.

De Iuliss wines are available from their website so you don’t have to worry about having to pronounce the name (but if you want to have a crack at it, repeat after me: De Uli-Iss.)