Archives for posts with tag: Winter Wine Weekend

It is a strange thing, but in Australia we have a public holiday so that we can celebrate the birthday of the Queen of the United Kingdom.  Now I grant you that she is still the Australian head of state, and in terms of ruling things she does a pretty good job, and she has been ruling things for a very long time – but this is something they don’t even get time off for in the UK!  Not that I am complaining – I’d much rather have Queenie (God bless you Ma’m) as head of state than some hideous Abbott-Berlusconesque character as President complete with Bunga Bunga parties hosted by good catholic virgin girls.

I digress.  The sound people of the Mornington Peninsula Vignerons Association (MPVA) have picked the Queen’s birthday long weekend as the time for the Winter Wine Weekend – a festival of fine Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and the latest in ModOz cooking.  This year 49 wineries assembled their wares in the shed on the Red Hill show grounds to showcase their wines.

Inside the Red Hill shed - Winter Wine Weekend 2015

Inside the Red Hill shed – Winter Wine Weekend 2015

One of the most important skills you need to take with you into the shed is the ability to swirl, slurp and then spit.  Technique is everything.  You will be swirling and slurping with some of Melbourne’s most fanatical and fastidious wine bores – it’s just as important to have the correct glass action as it is to have your Hunter wellies in this season’s colour or your hipster beard trimmed to perfection.  Of all these skills however, the spitting is the most important, for this simple reason – if you don’t you’ll end up so drunk that you probably won’t remember how the day ended – and chances are it will not have ended well.  The maths tells all.  There are 49 wineries.  Imagine you were able to get round them all and taste everything.  You’re looking at roughly half a glass of wine per winery, so say 25 glasses in total.  25 glasses of wine equates to about five bottles.  Five bottles of wine over lunch is a huge – but dangerous – achievement, so back to the spitting.

Most people find the spitting a bit unpleasant – it doesn’t feel very polite, and it’s hard to remain chic and elegant when you’re lining up to douse the spittoon.  All I can say is that it comes down to confidence.  Spit with confidence.  Announce to the world “I do this all the time!” and let rip.  Add a flourish at the end.  There are only two major risks with spitting – the first is that you don’t form the correct shape with your teeth and lips and manage to shoot the wine down your chin and onto your shirt – very messy.  The second is that you miss the spittoon completely and hit the glass of the person standing next to you – very embarrassing.  While you are getting the hang of it, there is no reason why you can’t move the spittoon to a place where you can guarantee a hit.  But with the spittoon in your hand, NEVER feel tempted to do a Sideways, no matter how desperate the urge.

Winter Wine Weekend 2015

Winter Wine Weekend 2015

I tried quite a number of wineries.  The ones I was most interested in were those that don’t have a cellar door.  Yal Yal put on a good show.  Very well made wines.  The Chardonnay is of that acidic style – no malolactic fermentation.  I think my preference is for the rather more traditional and softer Chardonnays, but alternatives are always good.  Principia also showed some good wines.  My feeling was that they needed just a little longer in the bottle to settle and integrate.  I bought Phaedrus Chardonnay to go with lunch, and Elan’s sparkling was superb as always.

A good day out.  May it continue for many years.

 

The cellar door at Yabby Lake is closing for a month, to reopen again in early July.  The plan is to build a new cellar door away from the main dining area, and to increase the size of the restaurant.

Having shut up shop at Willow Creek, Salix has reappeared close by in a more casual form.  The vineyard that was Merinda Park, and then Mrs Nicks is now re-branded as Barn & Co.  The plan is for share plates, pizzas and a few more substantial dishes with a wine list not restricted to the vineyard.  This is on Myers Road between Stumpy Gully and Balnarring Road.  I look forward to trying it out.

The Mornington Peninsula Winter Wine Weekend is in full swing.  Just about all the cellar doors on the peninsula will be open, many with special offers and their own “entertainments”.  I was up at the Red Hill shed yesterday and it was buzzing.  It gets a little squashy in there by 1 pm, but the range of wines available to taste is huge.  The food was great this year too – excellent rabbit baklava from Paringa, superb Italian pulled pork burger from Red Hill Epicurean and Salix Barn came up with slow cooked beef.  There is still time to head on down.  Do be careful with drinking and driving – Victoria’s finest will be out in force.

I spent most of the weekend hiding, safely ensconced in a peaceful backwater while the well heeled of Melbourne toured the peninsula in their huge Mercedes – it was Winter Wine Weekend.  On the Saturday the big shed at the Red Hill Show grounds hosts most of the wineries on the peninsula, and for AUD$60 you get your Riedel glass, something to eat and as much pinot collapso as you can taste.  I tend to avoid it at all costs because the local constabulary set up check points at either end of Arthurs Seat Road and nothing gets in or out without the obligatory breathalyser.

I did get to visit Elgee Park on one of the rare days it was open, but that for another time.  Another thing I did was make an interesting find in the Dan Murphy’s at Bentons Road.  Dynasty – a genuine Chinese wine.  It claimed it was a Merlot, and I wouldn’t argue with that.  And at AUD$12.99 a bottle it wasn’t bad as a quaffer.  Now I’d heard that China was producing a lot of wine, that they are now the fifth biggest producer in the world, but this was the first example of a Chinese wine I’d seen in Australia.  The Chinese are also very actively buying up chateaux in Bordeaux, so a part of their society is obviously taking wine very seriously.  I like this Dynasty for no other reason than it’s a fascinating glimpse into this whole new world of wine.  If you see it give it a go.

Dynasty Merlot, front label

One peculiar thing is the bottle.  A typical commercial wine bottle weighs in at around 500g, half a kilogram.  The Dynasty bottle weighs the best part of 1.3kg in it own right, before they fill it with wine.  It is a substantial bottle by any standards.

Dynasty Merlot, back