Followers of @LTLTwine on Twitter and Instagram have probably picked up that I’ve been out of Melbourne for the last week. The venue for this week of relaxation has been the totally awesome town of Port Fairy in Western Victoria, a substantially quieter weekend than my last trip there but that’s a story for another time. Whilst the ostensible reason for the trip was for some study and downtime around an exam, it would be remiss of me to miss the opportunity to get a few surfs in, cruise the region and practising a bit of food and wine matching. So here’s the rundown of Melbourne cup week in western Vic and the wines that were sacrificed along the way…
Arrived on Monday night and chilled out. After a failed surf check on Tuesday morning (too small, only happens about once a year out that way!) and a heap of study it was time to reward ourselves with a mexican feast. Some spicy bean dip and slow cooked pulled pork tacos were lined up with the 09 Twofold ‘Irene Lily’ Riesling, a real cracker that shows the great citrus and floral drive of Eden Valley riesling with a bit of extra palate richness provided by just the tiniest amount of residual sugar. Once that was done we had a glass of the 10 Oakridge LVS Shiraz, recent trophy winner at the Yarra Valley wines show. This wine was a total knockout. Peppery, briary, rich, silky. So good and integrated that it’s hard to describe. And all for under $30! What a knockout.
Wednesday surf mission was far more successful, which made for a more enjoyable day of study! In the evening we cooked up some baby squid stuffed with a caper, olive and herb risotto. Matched it with an 08 Willespie ‘Old School’ Barrel Aged Semillon. Willespie are one of the oldest wineries in Margaret river and this wine was absolutely singing. Straw and stonefruit on the nose and a great match for the food.
After a few more waves on Thursday morning before my exam I popped into a large, supermarket-owned liquor barn to pick up a bottle of champagne for the post-exam celebrations (I don’t advocate these places but sometimes beggars can’t be choosers…). Waiting at the door for them to open they probably thought I was heading for the casks of port when I picked up some decent fizz and found a single bottle of super rare Chablis (07 Raveneau 1er Mont Mains) that they must have ordered years ago and been unable to sell. Was pretty much at cost price too. Boom!
With the exam out of the way it was time to celebrate. After a glass of the old reliable NV Jansz we headed out to the fantastic Merrijig Inn for dinner. It used to be a two-hatter but they’ve wound it back a bit recently to a well above average bistro with a nice interesting wine list. Kicked things off with a couple of glasses, I had the 10 Chalmers Fiano from the riverland which sat nicely next to my beetroot caprese salad with its steely flavours, while Ali (aka Mrs LTLT) had the exceptional 11 The Story Riesling which is made by the talented and seriously nice bloke Rory Lane. One to watch, his wines get better and better every year. Next up was a bottle of 09 Hochkirsch Maximus Pinot from Henty (local) which was ok but nothing to write home about. Kind of like an earthier version of Kooyong’s Massale pinot.
Friday dawned with neither surf nor study, but a planned visit to the excellent Crawford River winery in Condah. We were showed around by globetrotting winemaker and viticulturalist Belinda Thomson. Wines tasted were the 11 Young Vines Riesling, 10 Sem/Sauv, 11 Rose (cabernet), 06 Cab Merlot and 05 Cabernet. All were exceptional, all are worth your time, the estate rieslings are in the top echelon of Aussie rieslings and have a unique and very european textural element to them and the cabernet rose is just plain delicious. A philosophy based around texture and savoury flavours means that these are smart wines indeed. Lunch at Dunkeld’s Royal Mail (worth the drive, wherever you live in Australia) with a bottle of 08 Dalwhinnie Moonambel Chardonnay (developing quickly, but looking good right now) we took a walk around the gardens before heading home to crash out in a food coma.
Not much to report from Saturday aside from extreme relaxation and a final flurry in the kitchen to round out the week. Warmed up with a bottle of the 02 Moet et Chandon Grand Vintage. 2002 was an incredible year in champagne, high acid, high minerality, this wine was showing almost no development at all. A tight, focussed nose with just a touch of breadiness and quince hides an incredibly rich palate that is all fleshy stonefruit. Great stuff. BBQ’s steaks for dinner with the recent Jimmy Watson winner, the 11 Bests Bin 1 Shiraz; an Australian icon that has never looked better. Pepper and spice jumps out of the glass and the fruit is backed with smooth, gentle tannin, Pure class and a great way to end a great week away.
Back to the grind now, although at this time of year the weeks seem to fly by so the weekend will be here before I know it no doubt.