If you live in Australia there’s a good chance you’ve seen a billboard of Gary Mehigan promoting the Citibank Dining Program. What you may not have seen is the list of participating restaurants and some of the wines on offer. Drinking and dining out is a major priority for generation Y and accounts for a serious portion of their monthly expenditure (it certainly does for me!). Citibank has taken a fresh approach to banking, recognising this important part of their customer’s lives and enhancing these experiences for their clients.
Like it or not banks are a big part of our lives and there aren’t many that have introduced a true lifestyle benefit for their customers. The Citibank Dining Program has been running for 4 years and has partnered with McWilliams Wines and restaurants nation wide to enrich customers dining experiences with a free bottle of wine. As we know from Gary’s posters and TV ads the program rewards Citibank customers with a free bottle of Award winning wine at participating restaurants when they pay with their Citibank or Citi Card. After visiting the website and playing around with the app we discovered just how quality and diverse the program was, with a serious list of participating restaurants and some top notch wine on offer. We sat down with our resident wine expert and picked out handful of our favourite venues on the program highlighting the standout wines at each.
3 Weeds – Rozelle
Just a stone’s throw from Sydney’s CDB the quaint, inner-west suburb of Rozelle offers those lucky enough to visit, a vibrant exciting bar and pub scene that is unparalleled in the region. At the pinnacle of ‘destination restaurants’ sits 3 Weeds Restaurant, Bar and Bistro. Established in 1881, 3 Weeds is a newly renovated local favourite where the staff are as friendly as the food is delicious. Move through the charming front bar to the restaurant to discover a revamped menu that has been carefully obsessed over by new Chef, Nathan Jackson.
3 Weeds diverse approach to dining is perfectly aligned with Partisan Tempranillo’s pure, unadulterated style that aims to create maximum regional and varietal expression in a bottle. Harnessing only the finest fruit from the foothills of Willunga (McLaren Vale), Partisan is awash with leap from the glass aromas of cherry, herbs, citrus peel and more dried spices than you can poke a stick at. Bright, fresh fruit tones are the name of the game in this utterly mouthwatering red – an un-oaked Spanish-style that places focus on fruit purity rather than wooded characteristics aptly suited to Jackson’s hearty homestyle menu.
Catalina – Rose Bay
It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is at Catalina, if Sydney turns on the weather, it’s packed. Fine dining in the Eastern Suburbs really does begin and end with the world-class Catalina Restaurant. Following a refurbishment in 2008 the restaurant has well and truly seen a return to its glory days with laid back lunches turning into all evening affairs. The menu is diverse and the food is consistently spot on and whether your inside the restaurant or sitting at the bar on the deck, the view is as good as it gets.
To complement the carefully constructed menu selection Citibank offers the spicy and elegant Under & Over Shiraz from Victoria’s Heathcote region. The beneficiary of old, low-yielding vines this juicy red presents bright aromas of cranberry, red cherry and plum with attractive spice notes. Fine grained tannins provide a structured back bone to the wine’s exciting raspberry and plum laden palate. A textbook example of Heathcote Shiraz, you won’t be short of gentle warming spice in this wine, all rounded by a soft undertone of fine, seasoned oak.
Sokyo – Pyrmont
In my opinion Sokyo has flown fairly ‘under the radar’ since it opened in The Star. As a dining experience Sokyo has it all. The restaurant is a feast for all the senses with a fabulous modern interior, resident DJ spinning lounge delights, Sake sommelier and some of best Japanese food in the country. It’s like your stereotypical funky mid nineties New York restaurant – something Patrick Bateman would visit. Chef Chase Kojima is a master of Japanese fusion taking traditional dishes and making them his own.
What better way to complement Kojima’s delicate seafood dishes than with the very en vogue Albariño varietal. Camino del Pelegrino Albariño is a classic – lively and aromatic, with a heady mixture of citrus and tropical fruit flavour. The nose displays apple and lemon-zest aromas with underlying minerality. The palate possesses striking purity with lashings of pear, nectarine and peach, all balanced by a clean acid backbone. This super-fresh 2012 was cool-fermented, a fancy winemaking process which locks in intense aromas (like the lovely floral and herbal notes you’ll notice here). Like most wines, Camino pairs to its hometown’s famous produce; fresh seafood. A worthy 92-point recipient from the team at Wine Front.
Roberts Restaurant – Hunter Valley
To put it simply, Robert’s Restaurant is a destination worth the drive. From the moment you drive through the gates and step inside you are instantly overwhelmed by the quaint ‘country’ atmosphere the restaurant and its beautiful grounds offer. Chef George Francisco is the man behind the revival of this Hunter Valley icon returning it to the list of the area’s finest eating destinations. The contemporary Australian menu is scattered with organic vegetables grown by George and his team on site at the restaurant.
Naturally the Hunter Valley’s premier dining experience should be toasted with the one of the best value Semillons on the market. A graceful wine with the perfect amount of bottle age, ‘Anne’ offers expressive lychee, grape fruit and lime aromas, leading forth to citrus, stone fruit and honey on the palate. As versatile as white wine comes, this mouthwatering, complex Sem matches perfectly with almost everything on the carefully constructed Robert’s menu. This Hunter Valley masterpiece proves the theory that Semillon is indeed the region’s greatest gift to the wine world, scooping 4 gold-medals in show and 95 Halliday Points.
You can see the full list of restaurants on the Program here.
All Images Via Facebook.