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The aim of Captain Courageous is to help find a cure for children who suffer life-threatening Bone Marrow Failure disease. These children endure so much just to survive. Constant blood testing, monthly blood transfusions, steroid usage, nightly injections due to iron overload and so much more. There is also the added risk of a bone marrow transplant. They need a chance, a donor, a miracle, a cure. 

The Captain Courageous Dinner at The Lane Vineyard and Restaurant was a year in the planning and yet nothing could prepare us for what happened twenty-four hours before the big day.

The biggest storm to hit the State of South Australia struck Adelaide and the surrounds and the entire State was plunged into darkness.  While the City only suffered the power outage for a few hours, the countryside took days to restore itself to normal.  The Lane Vineyard sits high in the Adelaide Hills above the town of Hahndorf – the power was only partially restored to this part of the State 1.5 hours before all of the VIPs were due to turn up for the biggest dinner of the year!

I am not someone who panics.  Nor is Marty Edwards, the boss at The Lane, but I am serious when I say that we very nearly pulled the plug (pardon the expression) on the whole thing.

Our saviour came in the unlikely form of a friendly giant called Wazza (@wasdrill).  A local welding specialist, Wazza, rushed over to the winery with his portable generator and hooked it up, powering half of the kitchen and the lights in the restaurant (there was not even enough ‘juice’ for the coffee machine!).  It is important to add that he also had to take care not to disturb any of the wine, too!  His intuitive knowledge of the complex circuitry which powered the winery, cellar door, kitchen and restaurant was incredible.  He did a stunning job.  Chef James Brinklow then had no more than a couple of hours, as opposed to a whole day, to cook a gastronomic feast of Michelin-starred complexity for 80 guests.  Marty and I gave him the chance to drop one of the dishes if it helped him to deliver the goods but he point blank refused.  I have never seen a brigade work as diligently nor as accurately in my life.

settingupSetting up the room

When the guests arrived promptly at 7pm, you would never know that anything was awry.  What followed was one of the most memorable dinners of my 30-year wine trade life.


In full swing – with chef James Brinklow framed in the kitchen window!

Marty poured one of The Lane wines per course and I matched it with a wine from an elite French estate.  All of the wines were donated free of charge for this fundraiser and no expense was spared whatsoever.


Me talking to John Edwards, the founder of The Lane

At the end of the evening we totted up the funds raised for the Captain Courageous Foundation and presented Jeff and Jess Bond, the founders of this charity who attended this amazing dinner with some of their board members, with $30,000AUD.

I am so grateful to all of the staff at The Lane Vineyard for giving their time, to Marty for giving us his restaurant and his awesome wines, to Champagne Bollinger, Domaine Vincent Delaporte, Domaine Daniel Dampt, Michel Chapoutier and Christian Seely at AXA Millésimes / Château Pichon-Baron for their amazing wines.  We could not have done this without you.  I am also thrilled that the people of Adelaide didn’t, for a second, waver in spite of the ‘apocalyptic weather’ and they all turned up, ate and drank like heroes and then emptied their wallets!  Finally, I would like to thank Professor Ross Hannan, Head of Cancer Research at the Australian National University, for his exceptionally moving speech.


Professor Ross Hannan & Jess Bond, Executive Director Captain Courageous Foundation

Here is a breakdown of what we served from a food and wine point of view with some of my own tasting notes for each course –

2009 The Lane Vineyard, Cuvée Helen Blanc de Blancs

with a canapé of Seaweed cracker, trout roe, crème fraîche, pickled shallot

The freshness and vibrancy of the Helen is truly mesmerising and it rightly brings the focus back to the Adelaide Hills for top flight sparkling wine.  Made in tiny quantities, the minerality and austerity of the acidity here is what underpins the excellence of this wine.


NV Bollinger, Rosé Champagne

with a canapé of Black cobia, sweet ginger, nori

Expertly matched by chef Jimmy to black cobia (similar to kingfish), Bollinger Rosé is a legendary Champagne with so much bravado and presence in the glass.  It was an enormous treat to taste this stunningly appointed, wild strawberry-scented wine and the combination with the Asian-influenced cobia was inspirational.


2015 Sancerre, Domaine Vincent Delaporte, Loire 


2015 The Lane Vineyard, Gathering Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon 

with Goats’ curd tuille, brassica flowers, eucalyptus gel and broad beans

I advised the guests to taste both wines with this elegant dish and then drink the Sancerre first followed by the Gathering.  This is because Delaporte’s Sancerre is one of the most haunting and direct Sauvignons in the world.  Seemingly effortless, but equally laser-driven and icily mineral, this is an unadorned Sauvignon with one of the most shivery and electrifying palates imaginable.  Gathering uses a smattering of oaked Semillon to build the mid-palate and I have followed this wine closely for many years because it is unique on the planet thanks to is combination of vivacity and gravitas.  A richer wine than the Sancerre, these two amazing whites shared a lot of DNA but also, rightly, looked hemispheres apart.  Both adored the starter, too, with the Sancerre working its magic with the goats’ cheese and broad beans and the Gathering marshalling the brassica flowers with ease.


2014 Chablis, 1er Cru Côte de Léchet, Domaine Daniel Dampt, Burgundy 


2015 The Lane Vineyard, Beginning Chardonnay 

with Oysters, beurre noisette, bacon, rye crumb

Once again, we attacked the French wine first.  In this instance the ‘recipe’ for the wines differed greatly – Dampt’s Chablis is unoaked and Beginning sees very carefully judged woodwork and yet they both showed admirable precision and length.  The Côte de Léchet is such a beautiful wine showing how much grace and delicacy Chardonnay possesses and Beginning, which managed the bacon and rye crumb with ease thanks to its oaked advantage, looked majestic and controlled.  As I walked around the room, between courses, it was fascinating to hear people’s opinions on these two wines.  Most were familiar with Beginning, as it is a real star in The Lane’s portfolio, but the masses were amazed at the way in which the Chablis quietly and gently caressed the senses while maintaining immense length on the finish.  The delivery of its flavours over such a long period of time, given its slim shape, was an inspiration to all.


2012 Cornas, Les Arènes, M. Chapoutier, Northern Rhône 


2013 The Lane Vineyard, Reunion Shiraz 

with Venison tartare, pumpkin seed cream, saltbush, charcoal beetroot

The main ingredient in this dish, which shaped its flavour was, in fact, the charcoal beetroot.  Interestingly, Reunion was the more luxurious and fruit-soaked of the two wines and it started off way ahead of the Cornas in terms of approachability.  Reunion is a rare example of an Adelaide Hills Shiraz which shows pepper, lighter game notes and fresh herbal detail on the nose and it was tailor-made for this dish with its juicy body complementing the succulence of the tartare.  Les Arènes showed us that the ‘tortoise and the hare’ fable is alive and kicking in the wine world.  Rich, brooding and dark in the glass, it was reluctant to reveal its depths until about 15 minutes into this course when it blossomed and the room was filled with its exceptional scent.  The aforementioned beetroot was dominant in this dish and the Cornas tackled this dense, smoky, purple flavour, head on, with dense, smoky, purple wine notes!  Growing in the glass, Chapoutier’s stunning Syrah finished the course off perfectly with wild, savage, game notes still opening in the glass.  It was yet another incredible food and wine-matching experience and it perfectly captured the characters of each wine allowing them to work together as a team but also maintain their own incredible identities.


2005 Château Pichon-Baron, 2ème Cru Classé Pauillac, Bordeaux 


2013 The Lane Vineyard, 19th Meeting Cabernet Sauvignon 

with Roasted wagyu striploin, liver, Adelaide Hills morels, hazelnut

This time I advised the guests to start with 19th Meeting because 2005 Pichon-Baron is a monumental wine and in spite of its apparent youth, 19th Meeting is already honed, genial and welcoming.  It was lovely to see the Adelaide Hills’ most challenging grape look so beautiful in the glass.  While we all expect Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Shiraz to be made to world class standard up in the Hills, it is still a marginal climate for Cabernet.  You wouldn’t have thought this though with this 2013 in your glass.  Cassis, blueberry and black cherry notes crowd the senses and the oak, acidity and tannins are beautiful details, all balanced and in exactly the right place.  I take my hat off to The Lane’s mastery with this grape.  2005 Pichon-Baron was one of the most anticipated wines of the evening and a murmur of delight went around the restaurant when we all nosed this wine.  A truly great red Bordeaux, from a stellar vintage, this wine looked as glorious and as noble as I have ever seen it and it underlined the Divine Right that Pauillac has with the great Cabernet Sauvignon grape.  It also gave every single person in the room a reason to hunt down this Château because alongside the power and poise it also showed impeccable balance and polish, which Australia is used to in its top-flight wines, but which often is lacking in lesser Cabernets found around the globe including in the less scrupulous Châteaux in Bordeaux.

2010 The Lane Vineyard JC Shiraz / Cabernet Sauvignon 

with Reggiano, Cheddar & Petit Fours

In order to finish off this great evening with a wistful wine to underline the excellence of our hosts food and wine offering, Marty poured JC, made from my beloved blend of Shiraz and Cabernet, which I call The Great Australian Red.  JC is one of the finest, if not the finest, cool climate versions of this blend in the world and so we all went off into the night with a mellow, heart-warming flavour on our palates knowing that we had just experienced one of the most memorable gastronomic events of the year, helped to raise a mighty sum of money for the Captain Courageous Foundation all against the backdrop of a State full of millions of people who were presumably huddled around a few candles eating beans out of a can.  It was all the more incredible that Wazza and his generator managed to give us the power and the will to carry this evening off with such aplomb.

Australian Retailers for the French Wines poured at the Captain Courageous Wine Dinner 2016

NV Bollinger, Rosé, Champagne

$115.00, www.langtons.com.au; $140.00, www.danmurphys.com.au; $169.00, www.davidjones.com.au

2015 Sancerre, Domaine Vincent Delaporte, Loire Valley

$35.00, www.dynamicwines.com.au

2014 Chablis, 1er Cru Côte de Léchet, Domaine Daniel Dampt, Burgundy

$50.00, www.dynamicwines.com.au

2005 Château Pichon Baron, 2ème Cru Pauillac, Bordeaux

$450.00, www.winehouse.com.au; $399.00, www.danmurphys.com.au; $350.00, www.chateauguildford.com.au; $413.00, www.vincurable.com.au

2012 Cornas, Les Arènes, M. Chapoutier, Northern Rhône

$79.00, www.edcellars.com

All of The Lane Vineyard’s Wines can be bought from their website www.thelane.com.au or by visiting their incredible cellar door and restaurant at The Lane Vineyard & Restaurant, 5 Ravenswood Lane, Balhannah, Hahndorf, South Australia 5242 tel. +61 (0)8 8388 1250


Matthew Jukes.