Duemani Altrovino 2011, Toscana, Italy

Duemani Altrovino 2011 Merlot Cabernet Franc IGT Toscano Tuscany Italy

AUD$65 from Prince Wine Store. Duemani is owned by a husband and wife duo of Luca D’Attoma and Elena Celli on the coast of Tuscany. Their Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Merlot vines reside on land with unhindered picturesque views of the Mediterranean Sea. A biodynamic operation producing wines of freshness tangled with very fine use of new oak, it reminds me of Vanya Cullen’s Margaret River Bordeaux blends, but the concentrated power swapped out for finesse. Duemani produces three other labels, the Duemani (Cabernet Franc), Suisassi (Syrah) and CiFRA (Cabernet Franc). The Altrovino is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, similar to the Right Bank. Pouring an intense purple ruby colour, scents of warmed blackberry liquor, cherry syrup with a hint of black olive and pinch of dried herbs. Smooth velvet texture, fine cushion of tannins, the acidity kicks in to freshen the palate revealing rich dark berry and cherry flavours. A comfortable finish leaves me wanting the next gulp and the next and the next…! Drink now – 2025. 93.

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Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Riesling 2010, Frankland River, WA

Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Riesling 2010 Margaret River Tim Adams Pinot Gris 2013 Clare Valley Simple Palates Seriously

AUD$35. I pulled this one out after having left it pick up a bit of age. I had hoped for some character development, but I feel that its rate of progression suggests this is a 2-3 year drinking wine. Or maybe past 10-years, I don’t know. Pours a lovely light yellow gold colour, looks young. But a well-developed nose with that characteristic kerosene TDN aroma, blows off to reveal sweet citrus floral and lime grassiness. A medium+ bodied wine, great clean acidity balanced by a slight perceived sweetness. Good intensity of citrus fruit, majority fades out quickly now leaving linger notes of lemon fruit. Current vintage 2014. Drink now. 88.

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Tim Adams Pinot Gris 2013, Clare Valley, SA

Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Riesling 2010 Margaret River Tim Adams Pinot Gris 2013 Clare Valley Simple Palates Seriously

AUD$19. One of Australia’s best Pinot Gris, Tim Adams’ brilliant lychee syrup, nashi pear flesh laden offering is still drinking wonderfully despite the current vintage being the 2014 bottling. Light yellow-gold colour, a fresh nose which tends to last 2 years at least, it’s got lovely richness in that orange-peach and ripe pear flavours. These wines always tend to pick up a touch of savouriness with time, transforming into a slight Marsanne without the weight. It’s the perfect wine for Asian food – think Assam king prawns, Thai noodle salads with that final squeeze of lime. Drink now. 89.

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Old Kingdom, Fitzroy

It’s been a couple years since I’ve been to Old Kingdom. It’s changed so much since Simon sold off this business. Who remembers the restaurant when the lighting was so dim that all you could make of the duck was its glistening skin? All of us remember Simon who would personally serve and slice the duck at your table, acrobatically tossing the pancake skins onto your plate, before sternly dictating how we should all fold the pancakes 1 – 2 – 3 – 4. Business did slow a little when new owners took over, but it is well evident that this establishment has enjoyed a rekindled love affair with the locals.

Old Kingdom Peking Duck spread Simple Palates Seriously

 

Having not dined here for 3 years, I visited Old Kingdom with friends on two separate occasions recently. Couple of ground rules to ensure a fulfilling visit. Rule #1. Call to make a table reservation. It is usually full during the dinner hours especially on the weekend, and you don’t want to be standing waiting for a table till 8pm-ish. It is likely to be even later given the extended bright summer nights. I had 6.30pm bookings both times, and were requested to make way for the next sitting at 8-8.30pm.

Rule #2. Always pre-order your Peking duck. When you make your table reservation, you will always be asked whether you’d like to pre-order the duck. Now, I honestly couldn’t say how it would pan out if you declined. But who would be silly enough to brave that risk?! There is only one single purpose of coming to Old Kingdom, and that is DUCK! A single bird comfortably feeds 4 diners for $55, and comes with a bowl of stir-fried duck noodles and simple tofu soup.

Old Kingdom Duck noodles Fried tofu Simple Palates Seriously

So, if the duck really that fantastic that the quality of the meal overcomes the typical tiny wooden tables, washed down chopsticks and cheap bowls? To be honest, no. I mean, the duck is good. Mainland chinese visitors claim that it is very close to the ducks you’d get in Beijing. However, I personally think that the standard of Peking duck in china has fallen so far off from what I remember it to be in the late-90s.

At $55 a bird, that’s not cheap enough to make this restaurant an every day destination. But that pricetag is cheaper compared to Quan Ju De ($78). Also, you get a serve of duck noodles and a bowl of soup (Quan Ju De’s set doesn’t include noodles. So where does all that meat go?!). These past 2 visits to Old Kingdom left me slightly underwhelmed by my allowance of duck. I was thankful for the additional 1-2 main dishes ordered. The fried tofu wasn’t bad, texture was slightly tougher than what I’d like. I found the soft-shell crab not very crabby just crunchy. That said, with that little bit more noodle, it all adds up and I can assure you that you’ll leave full.

The popularity of Old Kingdom cannot be refuted. The crowds are the best evidence of its presence on Smith St. Having chinese customers who bring their families here is also a sure-sign that the cooking is of acceptable standards. This is the best restaurant in Melbourne for Peking duck, distinctly (don’t be fooled) different from the Hong Kong styled roast duck (which is closer to what Simon serves at this present restaurant). A huge plus for me personally is BYO. There isn’t much space on a 4 person table, but bottles on the floor, and I brought my own glassware too. In terms of justifying the price differential ($40 for a whole bird at Roast Duck Inn), it comes down to what style of duck you are feeling like. I shall firmly hold on to my childhood memories of true authentic Peking duck, but Old Kingdom is the best in town at the moment.

Old Kingdom on Urbanspoon

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Some Young Punks Double Love Trouble Nebbiolo Cabernet 2013, Adelaide Hills McLaren Vale, SA

Double Love Trouble Some Young Punks Nebbiolo Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Adelaide Hills McLaren Vale Simple Palates SeriouslyDouble Love Trouble b Some Young Punks Nebbiolo Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Adelaide Hills McLaren Vale Simple Palates Seriously

$22 from Cloudwine. Some Young Punks‘ Colin McBryde is unmissable with his tattoos. University of Adelaide friends and business partners Jennie Gardner and Nic Bourke might lack the ink but are as academically qualified and passionate about winemaking. Their choice of labels are just as eye-catching, especially those depicting the exploits of Trixie and Tessa Love. Can’t remember when I was last in trouble with a double, but I cracked this Trouble Double last week and it was lip-smackingly delicious! This blend of 65% Nebbiolo and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon exudes a deep crimson colour, slight purple tinge. Lovely youthful aromatics of blackberries, raspberry, hot red earth with bramble-like undertones. On the palate, rich fruit kept fresh with spine-tingling acidity. Fine, grippy tannins hold the blackberry, raspberry and yellow plum fruit all the way through on the broad mid-palate feel to the finish. This matched the sweet plum sauce of Peking duck very well, but I reckon some HK roast duck might be a winning combination. Drink now – 2020. 92.

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