MWC Pinot Gris - Andrew and Nicki McPherson established their central Victoria winery in 1968. They live in the beautiful hills of the Strathbogie Ranges. They are intimately involved in the production of their wines. Their children and grandchildren live nearby and assist in many of the duties of running their winery. They've watched their wine region develop from a cottage industry to a huge player on the Australian and world wine stage. They brought on Jo Nash as head winemaker in 2011. Jo is adept at crafting precise, elegant wines. She leads the way with environmentally sound vineyard and winery practices, and minimal intervention wine making. In the vineyard she believes the soil and vines need to be carefully managed to ensure beautiful quality wines. Once the berries arrive at the winery her philosophy is to ‘get out of their way’ in order to let their natural deliciousness shine through in the wines.
Jo’s partner is also a winemaker, and they often make small batch wine at home, enlisting their four young children to help pick the grapes and stomp on them with their bare feet.
Her MWC Pinot Gris shows a slight blush color from extended contact with the grape skins. The result is a complex, textural and slightly herbaceous Pinot Gris with aromatic nuances of pears, lychees and exotic spice. The combination of orchard and exotic fruit with spice is the perfect rich white for fall. It would be great with Thanksgiving, rustic gratins or pot pies, or fall salads with roasted cubed squash, toasted hazelnuts or pecans, red onion, and sliced pear or apple.
MWC Shiraz Mourvedre - Australia is known for its Shiraz, and Jo's version is a lovely example. Rich, with elegant and supple tannins, this Rhone inspired blend combines Shiraz grapes from cool and warm climates for the perfect balance of body, fruit, spice, and finesse. Mourvedre adds tannin and that "je ne sais quois" that it imparts back home in the Rhone. The result is a bold, elegant Australian red with hints of dark berries, spice, and vanilla from a touch of oak aging. Drink this with a hearty ragu meat sauce, roasted pork or beef, or a savory meat pie like the one below.
Wild Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie
Dep Perelman, Smitten Kitchen
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1/2 cup (15 grams) dried mushrooms, such as porcini or a mix
1 cup (235 ml) boiling water
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 3 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds (roughly 1 kilogram) fresh mushrooms, in chunks (I use a mix of shiitake, elephant ear, and cremini; all cremini is also fine)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) dry sherry
1 tablespoon (15 grams) tomato paste
1 cup (235 ml) vegetable, chicken, or beef stock
1 2/4 to 2 pounds (800 to 900 grams) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, in chunks
1 teaspoon kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (55 grams) crème fraîche or sour cream
2/3 cup (115 ml) milk or buttermilk
Smoked or regular paprika and/or 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
prepare the mushrooms
In a small bowl, combine the dried mushrooms and boiling water. Set aside for 30 minutes (while you continue with the other steps), then drain, reserving the soaking water, and chop the rehydrated mushrooms into small bits. If the soaking water has any sand or grit at the bottom, pour it through a fine-mesh strainer.
prepare the lid
Place the potatoes in a medium pot, and cover them with a couple inches of salted water. Bring to a boil, and then simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the potatoes are easily pierced in the center with a knife or skewer.
Drain, and either rice the potatoes into a large bowl, or place them in the bottom of a large bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher. Add the butter, salt, and pepper, and stir. The heat from the potatoes should melt the butter.
Add the crème fraîche and the milk, and stir to combine. Taste, and adjust the seasonings if needed.
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Cook the vegetables In a large pan (4-quart, or an 11-inch deep skillet or braiser), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, salt, and pepper, and sauté until the vegetables begin to color, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more. Add fresh mushrooms, salt, and pepper, increase the heat to high, and cook the mushrooms until they brown and soften, releasing their juices, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the sherry, and scrape up any stuck bits. Add the tomato paste, and stir to combine. Add the rehydrated mushrooms and their liquid, plus the stock. Season again if needed, and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms are coated in a thick sauce.
Bake the pie. If your skillet is oven-safe, you can bake the pie in it. If not, transfer the mixture to a 2-to-3-quart baking dish. Scoop the potatoes in large spoonfuls all over the top of the mushrooms, then use the back of your spoon to spread them smooth all the way to the edges, forming a seal.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Garnish with a dusting of paprika and/or parsley. Scoop and serve.
Do ahead. This keeps for 5 days in the fridge and longer in the freezer. Rewarm it in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
Aubrey Stout (Aubrey is a talented wine specialist at Imbibe Chattanooga).
“If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.”
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