Tag Archives: wine

V- Tasmanian Vineyards.

Welcome to Day 18 of the Blogging A -Z April Challenge.

As you could imagine, finding something for the letter “V”, can be quite difficult. However, while we were in Tasmania, we actually visited a VINEYARD, Wines for Joanie, in Sidmouth. According to Wine Tasmania CEO Sheralee Davies, we’re were in good company:

“The latest tourism figures show that more than 262,000 visitors called in to a cellar door during their stay in Tasmania last year, 21% of all visitors and an increase of 22.5% on 2015.”

So, today we’re driving from Ulverstone via the Batman Bridge where we spent ANZAC Day, and heading for Sidmouth, 35 minutes from Launceston in the Tamar Valley.

While we’re getting there, I thought I’d also let you know that Tasmania has four designated wine trails:

However, I should warn you that if you’re any kind of wine connoisseur or expert, I’m not the most appropriate tour guide. I don’t really drink wine. Indeed, I don’t like most wines, unless they’re really sweet and I used to be known to add Diet Coke to port in my university days. While Geoff does enjoy a bit of wine and has been nurtured by my father who is an absolute wine connoisseur with a very well-developed palate, his mother was a card-carrying member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. So, our expertise on the wine front is exceptionally limited.

“I can certainly see that you know your wine. Most of the guests who stay here wouldn’t know the difference between Bordeaux and Claret.”

― Basil Fawlty, “Fawlty Towers”

However, I do have my uses and, therefore, make a great designated driver. Well, somewhat good, because I still want to have a taste.

Strangely, I enjoy all the pomp and ceremony of a wine tasting. Moreover, being a lover of history and people, I am also interested in what possessed someone to turn an apple orchard into a vineyard and pin all their hopes and dreams in what to me, seems like a very risky venture. Why not become an accountant? (not that I followed that “guaranteed path” either!!)

I thought this, blurb from another Tasmanian vineyard, Sinapius, summed this up pretty well:

“Sinapius is about being; one of a kind, butting the trend, forging our own path, and not conforming. So who would be crazy enough to plant vines at 7700 to 11110 vines per hectare, with a fruiting wire at 40cm above the ground, and in a cold challenging climate such as Tasmania…..

We are!

With a true passion and respect for the environment, our wines are aimed to reflect the ancient soils from the region, each season, and the uniqueness of our special site in Piper Brook, Tasmania. We are not winemakers at Sinapius – we are wine growers as for us, there is no separation between vineyard and winery. Each vine is treated with the individual attention it deserves and provides us in return with a small yield, but with maximum intensity. With minimalist winemaking intervention, each wine represents a true expression of our terroir.”

Another thing I love about vineyards, is the relaxed, beautiful scenery where you could have a couple of glasses of wine, cheese and bickies, and simply fall asleep basking in the muted sun.

That’s if I wasn’t darting all over the place taking photos. You know me. My eye rarely falls asleep, especially travelling. We have more stop-starts than a learner driver.

Anyway, as I said, today we’re off to Wines For Joanie. However, out of all of Tasmania’s vineyards why  are we going there?

Well, the answer is simple. My mother’s name is Joan and when she was younger, she was known as “Joanie”. So, when we spotted the sign while driving from Devonport to Scottsdale via the Batman Bridge, we had to stop and buy her a bottle. To be perfectly honest, we were going buy a bottle no matter what, but, we enjoyed our tasting and bought a bottle for Mum and for Dad. Don’t ask me what we bought. My Dad’s the wine connoisseur, not me. Indeed, he considers my wine education an epic fail and he now refuses to even pour me a glass of wine, because I never finish it. I can have “some of Geoff’s”. I was much more interested in photographing the tasting, the former apple packing shed and their cottages. Wow! I’d love to stay there.

As an aside, have you ever wondered who writes wine reviews? It seems to me that most, if not all of them, are written by experts with very refined palates. That’s all very well for their own. But what you’re average Joe or Joan who doesn’t know riesling from chardonnay?

Moreover, why do wine reviewers always have to use such ridiculous language? Surely, their English teachers must’ve castigated them for regurgitating the thesaurus, just like mine did?

Whatever happened to the KISS Principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid!)?

Why don’t you ever read: “This is vinegar. Best drizzled over hot chips. Stop being such a cheap skate and buy something decent next time”. “More floral than a bunch of roses”. “Contains the ashes of my mother-in-law. Strain before use.” “More oak than an oak tree.” “Worse the cough syrup”? “The best thing since rocket fuel”.

Or, perhaps I’ve just tasted some funny wines.

I like how Paul Coelo put it:

“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.”

What about you? Have you sampled any Tasmanian wines? Or, perhaps you’re from the industry and could add something useful to my mumbo jumbo? You’re more than welcome to add even lengthy comments as I am well and truly out of my depth.

xx Rowena

PS: I was literally about to click on “post” when I had another look at the Wines for Joanie’s web site and read their story. They have actually posted a lovely “video” about their story, telling why they bought the vineyard and I chuckled to read that Prue is actually an accountant by trade. Anyway, I know you’ll love seeing this and my kids who love vlogging and have been telling me to post video, will think I’ve actually listened! The Story Behind Wines for Joanie. This really should go at the beginning but this was when I found it.

References

http://winetasmania.com.au/

https://www.winesforjoanie.com.au/

http://sinapius.com.au/

Tasting Tasmania…Spreyton’s Cider.

If you are what you eat and drink, I must’ve become a Tasmanian by now what with getting stuck into all this cheese, chocolate and now cider…the Three C’s.

family-portrait-by-michelle

The family at Spreyton’s. Photo by Michelle.

Anyway, today I’d like you to join me for a tasting at Spreyton’s. This is going to be a little difficult because I can’t quite remember exactly what we sampled, especially after I tried the Hard Ginger Beer, which I immediately appropriated as “my drink”. This is a bit of a problem because it’s a long way back to Spreyton’s to top up my glass, although I did find a somewhat local stockist online tonight.

Unfortunately, asking me about wines or ciders is a bit futile. My wine palate has been destroyed by years of serious chocolate addiction and I find most wine too bitter and even though I’d trying to be all sophistocated and refined, it is very hard for me not to screw my face up sampling most wines and ciders. Geoff really liked the Perry Cider, which is made from a blend of Tasmanian pears with a touch of gala apples thrown in. Rather than try to describe it myself, I’ve pinched the description from their web site: “Bottle fermented and conditioned, our Perry is refreshingly crisp and dry with a light carbonation and fine bead. The hints of sweetness and subtle pear flavour make Perry a wonderful accompaniment to any meal. Enjoy clear or gently roll the bottle before opening for added yeast complexity, either way Perry is a wonderfully sophisticated Pear cider experience.”

Photos Above: Walking through Spreyton’s Apple Orchard. Tasmania used to be known as the Apple Isle, so apple cider is right at home in Tassie.

We bought some of the Perry Cider, Hard and Regular Ginger Beer and enjoyed it back at our friends’ place with some Ashgrove Lavender Cheese. They were perfect companions.

By the way, I happened to notice that the family who owns Spreyton’s Cider Company goes back five generations in Tasmania and I can’t help wondering if they’re related to Geoff. Geoff scoffs when he says that I think he’s related to everyone in Northern Tasmania. However, there’s more truth to that than he’d like to admit. Those pioneers had big families and Geoff’s ancestors on a couple of sides arrived in Tasmania around 1830, which has given them plenty of time to “spread their wings”!

xx Rowena

 

 

Jazz in the Vines

It already seems like a lifetime ago. The weekend before last, Geoff and I escaped for a weekend away in the Hunter Valley about two hours North-west of Sydney. The Hunter Valley is wine country and we were staying at Cypress Lakes with Muscular Dystrophy NSW to attend Jazz in the Vines. We had an absolutely awesome time and really enjoyed living the high life.

Geoff took Friday off work and we went on a detour to Morpeth “on the way” to pick up the tea cosies which I’d bought on my last visit. We also had to restock our supplies of coconut ice, peanut brittle and fudge from Campbell’s and we enjoyed a lovely lunch.

We settled into our hotel and I had a short, long bath if that makes any sense. It was so relaxing and I could have stayed there for the night but we were off to the group dinner in the hotel restaurant. The food was magnificent even if I can’t quite remember what it was…a fish, a chicken dish perhaps. I don’t think I’ll ever get a job as a food critic.

Breakfast was included with our package and my excuse for eating so much was not having to buy lunch. I was good and started the day with yogurt, muesli and fruit but it soon went downhill and I was devouring the hash browns. There’s nothing like hash browns on a hotel buffet breakfast. They didn’t have pancakes on Saturday but they did on Sunday morning.  They were only fair…not the best I’ve had.

After breakfast, we all boarded the bus out to the Tyrell’s estate for Jazz in the Vines. Jazz in the Vines was celebrating its 20th Anniversary with an impressive line up of talent. We had special seating in the tent. I was just leaving the toilet when I heard Tom Burlinson (of Man From Snowy River – the movie fame) singing New York New York. I rushed down the front with my camera in tow like a woman possessed and captured a few new memories. I remember a band called Paris Dumper doing New York New York at the Nagg’s Head in Glebe too many lifetimes ago. We all used to do the Can Can back then when we could LOL!

Lisa Hunt was the final performer and she was fabulous. My favourite song was Leonard Cohen’s Alleluia. It was amazing. It was so good that I tried recording it on my mobile phone. I’ve never done that before but it was really, really good. Unfortunately, the recording sounds dreadful. Not worth keeping. I was down the front in what I guess you’d call the mosh pit and it was awesome being amongst it all. Looking at all the crazy and outlandish outfits and trying to dodge the many wine bottles which were rolling around in the grass. They did look rather deadly.

Jazz in the Vines wasn’t all just about wine. The Hunter Valley Cheese Company had a stand and we bought ourselves a cheese platter for lunch. Yum. Made plans to visit the factory on Sunday to continue my adventures of a cheesy.

As much as we loved Jazz in the Vines, perhaps the real entertainment was on the bus on the way home. There was a very interesting character…a bloke wearing a black afro wig. Geoff tells me an old lady on the bus asked if she could feel his wig. I missed that bit and all I saw was this bloke putting his wig on ton this old woman’s head. Then shoved it under her armpit and that wasn’t all. Then he was doing back flips in the aisle. I should be thankful. At least he kept his gear on although I’m surprised the bus driver didn’t throw him off. Kids have been busted on the school bus for much less.  This was all on a crowded bus. He kept saying that he came from Newport Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Geoff asked me how I’d feel if he was saying he was from our area. Hmm. Glad he wasn’t. We have dubbed him “the Ambassador for Newport”. He did a very impressive job…unforgettable at least!

I should also add that this bloke ended up sitting next to Geoff…what a contrast! I don’t think Geoff knew which way to look.

We had dinner back at the hotel. Again, it was fabulous and I do remember consuming a rather decadent chocolate pudding!

Sunday morning, I felt like a stuffed chook after yet another buffet breakfast. It was goodbye to all the Muscular Dystrophy crew and we were off to tour the vineyards after stopping off for a few photos along the way. I just had to photograph the roses and the vines together and I just might have photographed my teacup out there. Who would do something crazy like that??

We aren’t big wine drinkers and to be honest, I was more interested in the cheese. We went to the Hunter Valley Cheese Company for a tasting and a tour. This place is definitely worth a visit even if cheese is just a little naughty. http://www.huntervalleycheese.com.au/index.html

We bought some of the Hunter Gold Washed Rind Cheese and they had some kind of Irish cheddar which came in green wax. We didn’t buy some but I wish we had. It tasted great but also looked rather quirky with its green skin and I love quirky!! Might have to go back!

Our next stop was McGuigan’s next door where we entered the weird and wonderful world of wine.

As far as I’m concerned, wine comes in a bottle and most of it is undrinkable. I prefer very sweet, fruity wines and I’m usually offered Chardonnay which is very dry. I drink a wine and I either like it or I don’t and I almost burst out laughing when I hear people rave on about their wines:

“A kaleidoscope of flavours; ginger, apricots, honeycomb and toffee brittle. The palate is intensely rich however the acidity is a supreme counterfoil”

It sounds like something from a candy store!

You won’t get any of that fancy wine talk from me.

I didn’t even try to pretend that I knew what they were talking about. I didn’t need to show off although I was wishing I’d listened just a little more to all Dad’s wine talk. He is a wine connoisseur with a serious cellar. When we were kids, my brother used to do a very good send up of Dad sniffing his wine and pronouncing it a “jolly good year”. If it wasn’t, it was poured down the sink…no matter where it came from!

As for me, I don’t know a good year from a bad year. We bought a bottle of Merlot and a dessert wine…a Traminer. I have trouble writing about food and describing it. I have no chance of describing the wine other than to say that I could drink it. I am not much of a wine drinker and prefer sweet, fruity ones. I might as well stick to lemonade!

Next we drove round to Constables Vineyard http://www.constablevineyards.com.au/gardens/sculptures, mainly to see the sculpture garden, however, we did buy another dessert wine. This one sounds like it could transmit a deadly disease..a Botrytus Semillon. I wasn’t far wrong. With this Botrytus stuff,  the vine is exposed to the “noble rot” of Botrytis cinerea which is a necrotrophic fungus. In other words, it’s a parasite. It consumes the water content of the fruit, concentrating the sugar present in its pulp. When attacked by Botrytis cinerea, the grapes shrivel and the acid and sugar levels are intensified.

All day Sunday, I had this sense of living on borrowed time. You know how it is when you are having a great holiday and you know you’re about to come crashing back to reality.

All too soon, we were at the station meeting up with my mother and the kids and I also had violin practice. Not good having to rush of to rehearsal after not touching the thing for a few days and right before the concert. Should have been practicing all day and being prepared.

Thank you Muscular Dystrophy for a fabulous weekend away.

xx Ro