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Rob Dolan Wines - The Pairing Method

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by Fiona Anderson (subscribe)
A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Event: -
Pre-pair to get involved in choosing ingredients
Rob Dolan Wines' The Pairing Method is back for its 3rd year in 2023, having first been conceptualised for Good Food Month in 2021.

Having recently enjoyed The Pairing Method experience, I can understand its popularity. It's so much more than just a dinner with matched wine! It's an interactive and educational experience, as well as being a lot of fun.

Rob Dolan Wines - The Pairing Method
Panoramic shot of the winery and cellar door. (Image credit David Bignell, @david_bignell_photography)

It was our first visit to Rob Dolan Wines, and the winery and cellar door were an impressive sight, on the upside of a Warrandyte hill, as we approached, on dusk. The grounds are beautifully landscaped, with established trees, a fountain, and strings of lights. I could easily imagine a return visit to enjoy a relaxing glass of wine, perhaps with some nibbles from the grazing menu, while taking in the view.

On arrival, we were given a friendly greeting and a glass of Rob Dolan Black Label Sparkling Blanc de Blanc.

The Pairing Method event is held in a long room within a large barn-style building. There is a bar at one end. The tables were set up in long lines, looking most impressive.

Rob Dolan Wines - The Pairing Method
Venue for The Pairing Method

Once we were seated, Meg Brodtmann, Australia's first female Master of Wine, took us through a tasting of Rob Dolan White Label Chardonnay. We were very impressed with Meg's no-nonsense, eminently understandable approach to wine tasting.

Rob Dolan Wines - The Pairing Method
Meg Brodtmann, Master of Wine

Meg's comments about whether we wanted the wine to 'complement' or 'contrast with' the food became all too relevant as we moved to the next phase of the evening's activities - the interactive process in which participants moved between a series of food stations designated as 'sweet, salty, fat, nuts, herbs' etc - glass of Rob Dolan White Label Pinot Noir in hand - and decided which ingredients they considered worked best with the wine.

Rob Dolan Wines - The Pairing Method
The Pairing Method in process - participants get to select the ingredients that best complement the wine.

Once our decisions were made, we were asked to circle the items on a chart. Meg Brodtmann had the task of announcing which were the most popularly selected items.

Rob Dolan Wines - The Pairing Method
Ingredients as selected by participants.

So what do you do with a list of ingredients as diverse as liquorice, prosciutto, balsamic vinegar, black garlic and artichokes? Easy! You give them to a chef as a 'mystery box' style challenge and ask them to come up with an entree pasta dish, on the spot, to feed the room. Yikes! The person for the challenge was Tyson Bertoncello, two-hatted chef and founder of I LIKE TOO MUCH.

Rob Dolan Wines - The Pairing Method
Tyson Bertoncello creates beautiful pasta, and an amazing 'mystery box' sauce.

Tyson did not seem in the least fazed by the challenge, seemingly effortlessly producing the most beautiful silky pappardelle, and whipping up an accompanying pasta sauce for our entree.

Rob Dolan Wines - The Pairing Method
Tyson Bertoncello proudly displays his impromptu pasta dish.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, The Farm Executive Chef Anthony Cutajar was busy preparing the main course. To be technically correct, Cutajar and his team had been preparing the main course for many hours, with the sumptuous, melt in the mouth beef cheek having been simmering away for 16 hours. It looked delightful, served on the plate with a celeriac remoulade, mushroom ketchup and cherries. Side dishes served were roast Jerusalem artichokes, beetroot salad and smashed potatoes - the latter were the best potatoes I'd tasted since my mother served us roast potatoes in my childhood... and trust me, that is a high standard!

The meal has been designed to perfectly pair with the Rob Dolan White Label Cabernet, a luscious and intensely flavoured wine.

Rob Dolan Wines - The Pairing Method
Main course of slow cooked beef cheek.

Dessert was platters of exquisite petit fours, served with the Rob Dolan Two Barrel Batch Muscat.  The sweets were all delicious, but I particularly enjoyed the Chocolate delice, with its little hidden surprise of a Muscat-soaked cherry.

Rob Dolan Wines - The Pairing Method
Dessert platters of delightful petit fours

On our way out the door, we were handed a gift to round out the already memorable night.

This was a great experience, and one I'd happily share with and recommend to friends. It was very entertaining, while at the same time informative. Not to mention the impressively high quality of the food and wine!

We also liked that winery staff were seated amongst the guests at the table, and were friendly and willing to answer questions and share information. The whole experience is well conceived and executed, and highly recommended.

Check out this promotional video about The Pairing Method:

Rob Dolan Wines is located at 21-23 Delaneys Road, Warrandyte South (30 mins from Melbourne CBD).

The Pairing Method is next taking place at 5.45pm on Saturday 3rd June, with other lunch and dinner sessions scheduled during June. Allow around four hours for the experience.

Tickets are $160 each for five wines and a three-course meal.

Click here for more information on how to reserve your place, or call the winery on (03) 9876 5885.

Except where indicated, the images in this article were taken by the writer.

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*Fiona Anderson was invited as a guest
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Why? Entertaining, educational,
When: 5.45pm on 3rd June, 10.45am on 4th June, 5.45pm on 17th June, 10.45am on 24th June.
Phone: (03) 9876 5885
Where: Rob Dolan Wines, 21-23 Delaneys Rd, Warrandyte South
Cost: $160
Your Comment
It sounds like you had a wonderful time and sampled some lovely pieces.
by Gillian Ching (score: 3|6710) 35 days ago
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