The Sommelier Series Edition 1: Emma Farrelly
Welcome to the Idée Fixe Sommelier Series, a celebration of food pairings with Idée Fixe from iconic restaurants, as selected by leading sommeliers around the country. In the first edition of The Sommelier Series, Emma Farrelly shares an enticing pairing with Idée Fixe along with insights into the relationship between the Sommelier and the Chef and what goes into designing a menu.
The inaugural Idée Fixe Premier Brut launched with The State Buildings in September 2020, so it seemed only natural, for the first edition, to sit down with Sommelier, Wine Judge and Director of Wine for The State Buildings in Perth, Emma Farrelly. As the zealous curator of unique wine lists for the award-winning restaurants within The State Buildings, Emma believes, “wine plays a very important role to any dish. Like seasoning, it is an enhancement and should not overpower or manipulate.”
From the Wildflower Bunuru degustation menu, Emma has chosen the line caught wild fish, potato, sorrel, mussel, sea parsley to pair with the current vintage 2020 release of Premier Brut.
The State Buildings is an iconic heritage precinct located in the heart of Perth’s CBD. Once home to Government offices and the Treasury Building, since re-opening in 2015, the State Buildings has become a central cultural and social hub, home to an extensive range of hospitality and retail offerings as well as a boutique hotel, COMO The Treasury.
Nestled up on the top floor of the State Buildings, Wildflower offers an immersive culinary experience with a menu focused on Birak, Bunuru, Djeran, Makuru, Djilba and Kambarang, the six seasons of the indigenous Noongar calendar, bringing together native and local ingredients. Chef Michaela D’Adamo joined Wildflower in 2020 after working in some of the most celebrated restaurants in Perth, Melbourne and London. The unique flavour profiles and textures of the native ingredients used by Wildflower Chef Michael D’Adamo offer innovative possibilities for Emma Farrelly when composing a wine list to match.
Emma Farrelly is no stranger to the Australian wine industry with over 16 years of experience and multiple awards under her belt, Emma is a cornucopia of knowledge. When it comes to choosing food and wine pairings, Emma explains that she generally works by the rule of complement or contrast. As a pairing to the Wildflower line caught wild fish, Emma finds “Idée Fixe Premier Brut to be a beautiful, refreshing foil. It is balanced, considered and most importantly moreish.” The layers of captivating freshness, delicate palate of citrus-infused acidity and invigorating saline finish of the Premier Brut work to complement the delicate flavours of the dish.
We asked Emma what goes into designing a menu and how the Sommelier and the Chef work together. Emma explains that both Chef and Sommelier work closely, with communication being key as each take careful considerations into ensuring harmony across that palate. “Sometimes a dish may need to be tweaked to match the wine perfectly, so the chef must be willing to adapt. Likewise, if there is a brilliant stand-alone dish, the decision regarding what wine to select needs to be well considered…”
We do hope The Idée Fixe Sommelier Series provides a source of inspiration to learn from the expert palates composing wine lists at some of Australia’s celebrated venues and to explore different flavours and new ideas. A heartfelt thank you to Emma Farrelly, The State Buildings and to the Wildflower team for sharing this exceptional pairing in the first edition of our Sommelier Series.
Read more from our interview with Emma Farrelly below.
Idée Fixe has been on featured on your wine lists at different State Buildings venues since the very beginning when we launched, can you recall your first encounter with Idée Fixe?
I was very excited about the project as so few details had been revealed. Once I saw the product and tasted the wine, I could see it was going to be a huge success in the future.
Can you tell us which dish have you chosen to pair with Idée Fixe Premier Brut?
The line caught wild fish, potato, sorrel, mussel and sea parsley. This will be on the Wildflower menu for a short period of time.
Can you tell us why you chose this pairing and what you enjoy most about it?
This dish is all about fine delicate flavours, with the sorrel and sea parsley adding a gorgeous herbal character this adds a lovely freshness with an almost saline edge to it. There is an element of richness to the puree that brings the whole dish together, and I find the Idée Fixe Premier Brut to be a beautiful, refreshing foil. It is balanced, considered and most importantly moreish.
Are there any other dishes on the current Wildflower Bunuru menu that you think would also pair well with Idée Fixe?
Definitely the North West pearl meat with yuzu and finger lime. The pearl meat has such a delicate and unique texture, so supporting it with a fine glass of sparkling is an obvious choice.
Do you have any general tips for choosing wine and food pairings?
Wine plays a very important role to any dish. Like seasoning, it is an enhancement to the dish and should not overpower or manipulate. I generally work by the rule of complement or contrast.
Tell us a little bit more about the relationship between you, the Sommelier, and the Chef. What goes into designing a menu and choosing the wines to go with it?
The relationship needs to be a close one with plenty of open communication and a little give and take. Sometimes a dish may need to be tweaked to match the wine perfectly, so the chef must be willing to adapt. Likewise, if there is a brilliant stand alone dish, the decision regarding what wine to select needs to be well considered to ensure harmony across the palate.
Working with the menu at Wildflower is always really rewarding, as chef Michael uses a huge range of native ingredients that have unique flavour profiles and textures.
The Sommelier Series was photographed by Meghan Plowman.