Every two years one of the most highly anticipated invites arrives the old-fashioned way - in my snail mail mail-box.
The Vin de Champagne Awards celebrate the best champagne palates in the country in the student, amateur and professional categories.
This year's event was held at Alliance Francaise on Clarence St for canapes.. and then across the road at Becasse Restaurant.
And of course champagne flowed throughout the night... matched to a six course meal designed by chef Justin North
Justin's creations are more like works of art. Marinated blue fin tuna with a salad of octupus, abalone and scallop with a mandarin and soy emulsion looked painted on the plate
It was matched with a Charles Heidsieck Brut Vintage 2000 and a Henriot Brut Millesime 1998
Next was caramelised pork belly, confit prawn, cauliflower puree and aged pork jowl (gotta love a bit of jowl!)
... all washed down with a Veuve Cliquot Vintage 2002, Pol Roger Brut Vintage 1999 and a Lanson Gold Label Vintage Brut 1998.
Our tasting notes would have made Shakespeare blush.
For the Veuve ''the nose is very open, pure and complex.Aerating the wine reveals hints of yellow-fleshed fruit and pastries (brioche, marzipan). These give way to delicately spicy aromas, followed by elegant notes of liquorice and high-bred teas.'' No Liptons here!
The awards have been running for 30 years and attract entrants keen to experience the prize of a trip to Champagne in France. Participants are tested on their theoretical and practical tasting skills.
This year's student winner was 23 year old Yuri Burns (above) from WA, Prof Tim Sullivan also from WA took out the amateur section and Tetsuya's sommelier Glen Plowes won the professional category.
These were my favourite of the 16 wines we sampled - a Louis Roederer Cristal Brut 2002, a Bollinger La Grande Annee 2000 and a very unusual G.H Mumm Cuvee R Lalou 1998.
and matched to the dish that excited my palate silken Glenloth chicken, slow-cooked lobster with chicken and crab jus.
a genius combination with the heady jus lifting all the elements to a magical level
Dessert was artistically arranged on the plate as though all the ingredients had slide to one side.(or maybe they just had?)
Lemon balm and vanilla nougat parfait with berry sorbet, champagne jellies and confit lemon