February 13, 2012

Johnny Q Winemaker’s Dinner @ Tropicana Golf & Country Resort: At Quarisa, Passion is Everything!

High school sweethearts preserved their passion through their love for Wine!       

A recent invitation had me discovering Quarisa Wine series of Johnny Q at Tropicana Golf & Country Resort in the month of January. Quarisa, headed by a husband and wife team of John and Josephine Quarisa, started from a man’s passion in pursuing great wines in the heart of New South Wales, Australia.

A man who wears many hats, John Quarisa’s experience of over 20 years has led him to focus on developing his own series of wines, sharing his knowledge through wine consulting, tasting and judging many international wines over the years. The bubbly winemaker lightens up the room by sharing a friendly personality of himself as Johnny Q and his passion for his wine making. He brings a lighter side of wines to the table and diners were soon at ease in enjoying the lovely Johnny Q wine pairing that night!

The wine pairing started off with guest enjoying a cocktail and canapé session while Mr. Quarisa gets to know his guests.

The four course menu was paired with four of the Johnny Q wine series. Two whites and two reds were paired with a specially designed menu personally approved by Mr. Quarisa himself!

The event started off with Mr. Gough C. from Geovinum and Mr. John Q. leading off with speeches and the Johnny Q series of wines. A memorable remark from Mr. Quarisa was his description of his own personality through the icons on the labels of his wine! Quoting him ‘You just can’t take life too seriously’.

We started off with Johnny Q Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2010, a pale light straw color wine where the blend is made up of 60% Semillon and 40% Sauvignon. Lately, I seemed to be loving whites and this one proved to be a clean and crisp white with a citrus note.

Paired with Roasted Duck Confit with Zuchinni and Arugula, the white wine really lifted the savory and richness of the duck confit. Grilled zucchini sprinkled with parmesan cheese and a hint of bitter arugula rounds up the overall flavors of this first course pairing.

The second wine of Johnny Q Chardonnay Viognier 2008 is definitely my favorite of the night! A slight darker yellow than the first wine, the blend had a floral and fruity finish and is said to pair well with creamy dishes.

The medium bodied wine was matched with Wild Mushroom Chowder with Leeks and Spinach. Thick, rich and creamy, the mushroom chowder was excellent! The earthy flavors was every bit as luscious as it looked while the leeks and spinach provided further flavors and texture to the chowder.

In between courses, we had a Mango and Lime Sorbet as palate cleanser before proceeding to the main course. The sorbets were simply refreshing as expected.

Red wines usually have more berry notes and Johnny Q Shiraz 2008 reflected a full bodied wine with deep berry notes. Robust, the wine had lots of tannins and the bouquet was fairly intense but I thought that the Shiraz was dry for my likings.

Red wine tends to pair well with most meat dishes and I had the Grilled Filet Mignon with Gorgonzola Cream Cheese served with Asparagus, Crumbled Beef Bacon and Russet Potatoes. Luckily the flavors were less complicated than its name and the grilled fillet was exceptionally beautiful. The most feared cheese of Gorgonzola was surprisingly quite subtle and the other accompaniments lent a very good supporting role to the beef!

 The other choice of main was a Mediterranean Grilled Seafood Platter featuring king prawns, New Zealand mussels and salmon. I had a small bite of the prawn and like the smoky but clear seafood flavors. The diner who had this dish thought it was lovely in flavors as well. The Shiraz surprisingly pair quite well with the grilled seafood.

As all dinners have to come to an end, our last wine was Johnny Q Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 to be paired with dessert. The deep red with a subtle purple hue also had a berry undertone with full bodied palate. It has a long and smooth finish on the palate and was a decent red in my opinion.

The Assorted Cheese with Grapes platter was pretty impressive in presentation. Four types of cheese were artfully placed with grapes and crackers while the dry ice gives it a glam of ice and smoke! I identified a Brie and a Cheddar but the other two was not clear to me except it was a medium hard cheese. I loved this platter of cheese and thoroughly enjoyed this with the Cabernet. Sweet and salty with crispy crackers was a great ending to the wine pairing that night!

The Chefs responsible for the menu!

The Johnny Q series from Quarisa is available through Geovinum Sdn. Bhd. at limited places. Just my two cents worth, I love the whites from this series! Do check out the Johnny Q series who has won many awards at their website: http://www.quarisa.com.au/ for more information.

I simply adored the Chinese New Year décor at Tropicana Golf & Country Resort that merits a picture! J


  1. yummmmmmmm~ the cheese platters makes me .... *UHHHH* I wantt~~~ ;P

  2. interesting event there! I used to go wine events, but rarely do they provide meals with it.. usually its just finger food with the wine XD

    Happy valentine's Day ya!

    Latest: Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial Party

  3. Eunice: oh.. another cheese lover.. yay!

    Nikel: yep..

    Isaac: same to you & Janice!