Friday, December 24, 2010

Cellar Door & Vineyard Hopping - The South Australia Experience (Part Two)

The families stayed at the "Barossa Country Cottages" during our 4 days at Barossa. It was located at Lyndoch and few minutes drive from Ross Estate Cellar door. It was made up of two self contained modern cottages - Geranium and Jacaranda in an Australian bush garden setting.

Other than the first night, when we had a forgettable dinner at "The Lord Lyndoch", we cooked and had our dinners at the BBQ area between the two cottages.

For the next couple of days, vineyard and cellar doors that we visited include Barossa Valley Estate, Torbreck, Peter Lehman, Turkey Flat, St Hallett, Henschke, Gibson, Penfolds, Kaesler, Saltram and Yalumba.

Barossa Valley Estate
Barossa Valley Estate Cellar Door and Function Centre is a contemporary new building amongst the rolling hills of Marananga. With its local stone walls, jarrah floors and bar, open fire and panoramic views, it is certainly an inviting place to enjoy and stay a while. 

I told wifey and the others that if we were to build our own house later, it would be this kind of concept.

Here is a little interesting history about the estate extracted from their website:

In 1984, the consumption of red wine was declining. Offering handsome subsidies, the federal government urged growers to pull out their ancient Shiraz vines and replace them with Chardonnay. 

But there were eighty 3rd and 4th generation Barossa Valley grape growers who refused. Stubbornness became their strength. Instead of trying to sell the grapes to winemakers for little reward, they decided to take control of their own destiny by forming a cooperative and making their own wine. 

Happily, Barossa Valley Estate (BVE) was formed.

The kids enjoyed the surrounding and happily snapped away with the cameras while we were doing the wine tasting.

They are famous for their E&E Black Pepper Shiraz, which has been awarded 90+ points in Wine Spectator 10 years in a row plus named in the top 25 Benchmark wines from Australia by Wine Spectator. The wine can be found in local wine store too if you are interested. Pacific Wine is the importer and the RRP is S$113.

This winery grew in the early '90s nurturing dying dry-grown old vines back to health. The name comes from a forest in Scotland where the founder, David Powell, once worked as a lumberjack.

Torbreck is based around some classics of the Barossa - shiraz, grenache and mataro, and also takes on French inspiration. This is a pretty wine stop - picturesque countryside around a cellar door based in a restored settlers hut.

The winery is known for mixing the best of both worlds, combining the winemaking heritage of Barossa and the Rhone valleys.

Signature wine - RunRig Shiraz Viognier. This is not your everyday drinking wine, RRP is S$292, but could be a cheaper alternative to the Penfolds Grange?

Maggie Beer's Farm Shop
The group stopped by Maggie Beer's Farm shop for lunch and some shopping. There was also a cooking demonstration class which the kids enjoyed.

Here, you have the opportunity to pick your own collection of goodies from Maggie’s famous delectables; pates, Pheasant and Porcini Terrine, cheeses, olives, woodfired bread and quince paste galore.

Peter Lehmann
Peter Lehmann Wines Cellar Door won the Australia National Tourism Award for Best Cellar Door. The art piece display in the cellar door left a deep impression on me. It was like visiting an art exhibition and a wine cellar together.

Art work on display are also printed on the labels of their Barossa Art series wine bottles.

Signature Wine - Stonewell Shiraz.

Turkey Flat
The sky was turning dark when we reached the last cellar door of our Day 2 itinerary at Barossa. The cellar door was housed in a restored bluestone butcher's shop and nestled among native Barossa Valley flora and century-old vineyards.

I supposed we were the last visitors of the day as the lady was seen packing up when we stepped in. Nevertheless, she was very friendly and guided us through the tasting session. I like their fortified Pedro Ximénez which is a sweet dessert wine. It has this intense marmalade aromas with some sweet spice and dried figs. The palate is lusciously rich with some pure marmalade and dried figs characters, very long, sweet and rich finish but with a good freshness.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Dinner 2010

After much research and planning, I have finally drawn up the menu for the coming Christmas dinner. It will be a fine dining event with wine pairing for each course. Slightly different from the previous fine dining event, I am attempting a degustation menu so that we can sample more courses and wine.

The obvious challenge is to serve 7-8 courses on the night itself while I am also one of the diners. To simplify things, I have decided to prepare and cook two of the dishes (Braised beef cheek and the poached pears for the foie gras) few days earlier. In fact, the favour will deepen with few days of refrigeration and the braised cheek and pears will taste better this way.

Are you guys feeling hungry now?

Le Menu Dégustation

Foie gras de canard poêlé aux poire pochée
Pan seared duck liver with honey poached pear and red wine dressing

Bottega Prosecco Brut Vino Dei Poeti 2009
Veneto, Italy
Cappuccino de champignons
Mushroom Soup served Cappuccino Style
Cabillaud grillé avec mash de patate douce
Grilled Cod fillet served with sweet potato mash

Loredona Vineyards Monterey Riesling 2008
California, USA
Roti de Porc Au Lait servi avec du ventre carviar saumon et de pain grillé
Roast Pork Belly in Milk Sauce served with salmon carviar and toast

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir 2008
California, USA
Remise en bouche
Sorbet palette cleanser
Ragoût de boeuf joue aux épinards
Stew Wagyu Beef Cheek in Red Wine served with baby carrot and spinach

Wolf Blass Shiraz Cabernet Merlot 2008
South Eastern Australia
La Banane chaude avec du rhum et raisins secs
Hot bananas with rum and raisins served with Vanilla ice cream

D’Arenberg The Noble Mud Pie 2008
Adelaide, Australia
Sélection de fromages
Cheese Selection

Chateau Cote Du Chay - Puisseguin Saint-Emilion 2007
Bordeaux, France

Darling Cellars Six Tonner Merlot 2009
South Africa

Rare Vineyards Pays D’oc Carbernet Syrah 2009

Languedoc-Roussillon, Southern France

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cellar Door & Vineyard Hopping - The South Australia Experience (Part One)

According to Wikipedia, the Australian wine industry is the fourth largest exporter of wine around the world, with 760 million litres a year to a large international export market and contributes $5.5 billion per annum to the nation's economy.  Wine is produced in every state, with more than 60 designated wine regions totaling approximately 160,000 hectares; however Australia’s wine regions are mainly in the southern, cooler parts of the country, with vineyards located in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia.

We had so far explored the Margaret River Region in Western Australia twice and Yarra Valley, Victoria. Being a great fan of the full bodied Barossa Shiraz, we decided to head for South Australia during the June school holiday this year. Joining us this time were CJ, Jazz and their two kids. 

Adelaide City

We spent the first two days touring the City of Adelaide and Hahndorf, an old German Town.

Within Adelaide City, we immersed ourselves in the culture of Adelaide's North Terrace, with its museums and city cafes. Other highlights include shopping at Rundle Mall, sampling the tastes on offer at the famed Adelaide Central Market, and sip award-winning wines at the National Wine Centre, which is located within the Adelaide Botanic Garden.

Harndorf is the oldest German community in Australia. It is now a a tourist attraction with old buildings reflecting the early architecture of the community.  You will like the quiet, serene atmosphere of this place. Enjoy walking along the interesting shops lined along the street.

South Australian Museum

The Art Gallery of South Australia

The University of Adelaide

North Terrace

Botanic Garden

National Wine Centre

Wine Storage inside the Wine Centre

Adelaide City Central Market

Quaint Hahndorf German Town

One Planet - Cellar Door in Hahndorf
Have you seen wine stored in paper packaging like milk?

Barossa Valley

Home to big, rich reds, the Barossa is Australia's most famous wine region. Ancient, ancestoral vines yield robust and opulent shiraz and grenache, with great lightening giants ruling the north and north west. Succulent cabernet sauvignon, semillon and chardonnay also thrive along the valley floor and emerging new varieties - tempranillo, vermentino and savagin - are suited to a changing climate.

Charles Melton
This was the first cellar door that we visited at Barossa. Charles Melton Wines is known for quality reds, which it has made since 1984. The two families had spinach and pumpkin tarts, lamb pies (real hot and yummy) and cheese platters for lunch and paired with their signature wine - Nine Popes. 

Charles Melton Tasting Room

Nice Tart for lunch

Rockford has a loyal following and a strong word-of-mouth appeal. Established in 1984, it is known for traditional Australian wine styles. It's worth seeking out the rustic cellar door for these iconic Barossa wines. Signature wine - Basket Press Shiraz.

Grant Burge
This is a fifth-generation Barossa vigneron. Their iconic Meshach Shiraz is produced from vines nearing 100 years of age. One thing that left a deep impression on me is the interesting swirling design of their Moscato bottles.

Ross Estate
This was the last cellar door that we visited on our first day at Barossa. It was family owned and known for hosting small tour groups. 

Before tasting, the lady poured the wine through a wine aerator that supposed to draw in and mix the proper amount of air for the right amount of time, allowing the wine to breathe instantly. Very interesting. Found the product website -

Can I have this for Christmas? :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Our Wine & Dine Gathering

Christmas is around the corner and this year we are inviting the drinking kakis to our place for fine dinner with wine pairing. We had been meeting up regularly for drinking sessions and the occasional pot-luck themed dinner sessions but it has been more than a year (16 months to be exact) since we had our last fine dining at The Floravale before we moved.

I refer to the menu we had the last time and decided to drop all items except the pan-seared foie gras. Maybe I can give a little twist to the pairing pear by poaching whole pears in a sweet wine (thinking of using moscato) and honey mixture? This should provide some balance to the heavy and rich duck liver.

Menu for our last fine dining event at The Floravale

Hmmm... I think I will go into the planning details for the coming Christmas dinner in my next post. For now, let me just recall how we had really enjoyed the previous one. If I remember correctly, it was after that dinner that the kakis started our series of pot-luck themed dining sessions when each family would need to prepare a dish or two (based on the agreed theme of course) and brought along a bottle of wine to pair with the dish they prepared. We had tried Thai, Italian, Mediterranean, Chinese and many more. (Somehow Richard's roast pork was the most versatile and was featured in many of the sessions)

I remembered we conquered more than 10 bottles that night with Alan, CJ and me finishing the last drop at close to 3am.

I am sure the pictures will bring back fond memories and make us all looking forward to the coming Christmas dinner...

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