It’s the Caledonian Hotel for a Rare & Fine night out in Adelaide

10.34am, Thursday 15th May 2015, Krispy Kreme Adelaide Central Market (couldn’t help myself!), South Australia

Morning folks, I just couldn’t walk past Krispy Kreme this morning without investing in one of their ‘Kruffins’ – basically a muffin with the centre drilled out and replaced with a Krispy Kreme cream filling! Here’s the coffee flavoured number I chose….so much more interesting than the old Apple bran or berry baked goods! 

  
So here we go. With my annual travel schedule being so busy, it’s a rare treat to be doing events in my own back yard here in Adelaide, and last night was a biggie at the Caledonian Hotel private dining room.Being  a South Australian crowd you know you’re going to have a pretty wine savvy audience, so it’s all about having that mix of behind the scene detail and Barossa wine story time. The kitchen at the Caledonian is outstanding with head chef Mark assisted by Ben and Will at the stoves, so with that part of the evening well under control, I’m pleased to report that our wines jumped out of the bottle and performed well.

We started with Jansz NV (the Methode Tasmanoise sparkling from Pipers River owned by the Hill Smith Family – Yalumba proprietors and Vignerons for 166 years continuously this year) and canapés……..but not just any old smoked oysters on crackers here! For starters – seared tuna with wasabi cream – thanks Rhiannon….

  
And then the house favourite….’Jins chicken’ – this is a secret marinade situation, then the chicken is rolled in potato starch and flash fried, which is why it’s a light crusty shell and not a thick greasy batter – fab! The staff call it ‘jintucky fried chicken’ and I’ll be going back to the Caledonian on my own time for another basket full! It was just the right thing for the sparkling, and had a herb aoli for dipping…

  
Then we were into the dinner proper, and the boys got serious at the stoves……thanks to head chef Mark….

 
And chef Ben…. Who definitely loves his work

  

scallops are an excellent choice for our ‘exotic aromatic’ Yalumba double of 2013 Roussanne and Eden Valley Viognier, and Mark’s ‘Pan Seared Scallops, cauliflower purée, peas and baby endive’ was just the ticket for the lime lights of the Roussanne and the slippery palate and stone fruit nose on the viognier. The cauliflower is that little bit extra that works. these were the comments from folks around me, as I unfortunately can’t eat scallops.

***so here’s what Mark made specially for me – barramundi with the same extras as were on the scallops!

  
Into the in between entree and main course – yes folks – the dining fan favourite ‘Pork Belly, book Choy, baby carrot & shiraz jelly’ – with our Yalumba Cabernet Shiraz blend 2012 vintage double header …..The (little brother) Scribbler and (big brother) The Signature. You cannot beat pork belly done well with that just crispy enough pressed crust and fall apart fibres, and the shiraz jelly and purée really showed out the lush dark plum fruit in both of the Reds……particularly the lush opening of the 2012 The Signature. Yes…..our main problem with that one is going to be convincing folks to leave the cork in for a little while! But then, that’s a good problem to have – theres a stack of beautifully integrated tannin there that’s going to hold it together well into its late teens and early twenties……but anytime you want to pull that cork…..the 2012 The Signature – named for our current spiritual leader and proprietor Robert Hill Smith – it will not let you down! Promise!

  
Then for the special interest Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignin fans, out came the ‘Slow cooked beef rib with pumpkin purée, leeks and red wine jus’. We opened the 2012 The Cigar (named for the ‘terra Rossa cigar’ which is the cigar shaped limestone ridge on which Coonawarra sits) and 2012 The Menzies to soak up this meaty goodness, and ……make a note……2012 is a stellar vintage and this applies to reds from the regions Barossa, Coonawarra, Clare and McLaren Vale in my opinion. Just look at the colours in the glass, that tells its own story.

  
And to finish? Quite rightly the variety that has become synonymous with the word’Barossa’…….shiraz. We put up the 2009 The Octavius Old Vine Barossa Shiraz, which has been a condensed brick of flavour and aroma up until quite recently as its started to blossom – and it’s ‘little brother’ The Patchwork Shiraz 2012. Lovely full stop to a top Yalumba Rare & Fine release roadshow night out in Adelaide…..with cheese

  
So thanks to  Fiona from The Caledonian and Kate from our distributor Samuel Smith & Son….. 

 

Because these folks had a thoroughly good time! 

 

With any luck we’ll see you same time, same place, with another top wine set…… next year!

Taking care of business in Perth…..with a Twist (Club)!

6.09pm, Monday 11th May,The Panorama Room, Adelaide Convention Centre, On the Torrens River opposite Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, South Australia

Evening folks, and it’s a cold drizzly one at that as I’m waiting for the dinner crowd to arrive at The Panorama Lounge, one of the top dining rooms with a view at the Adelaide Convention Centre. Tonight is the opening Presidents Dinner for OzWater15 – the big international water fest on here in Adelaide for the next 4 days. Our wines are on the menu, so I’m doing the dinner chat.

  
Whilst I’m waiting, I thought I’d write up one of my favourite events on my annual calendar – that’s held in Perth –  capital city of the wild wild western part of Australia. It’s the Twist Club Businessmans lunch folks, and it was on Thursday lunchtime last week, at Mosmans Restaurant, nestled into a nice quiet corner of the Swan River. Why is it one of my favourite events?

1. Because the Twist Club is a fabulous group of Perth business blokes who have managed to stay ‘old school’ enough to keep one day each month to gather, swap business stories, and celebrate the excellent local Perth food and top wines from across Australia.

2. Because it always coincides with the Rare & Fine release roadshow, so I’ve always got a bag of red hot reds under both arms! Always good when you’re trying to impress the Perth business elite!

3. Because I’m the only girl in attendance, and hang me – but I do love having 35 bouncy business blokes to myself for a couple of hours!! And no…..no funny business!!

  
What more can I say? Oh wait….there’s more. Did I mention that some of these boys are really really good looking? You cannot blame me for running these lunches well into the late afternoon every single time!

  
And for the record, this year we were back at the most splendid Perth riverfront restaurant Mosmans….

  
And the view from every seat in the house?

  
And if you were thinking of motor boating across to Mosmans for lunch last Thursday…….sorry……all the parking spaces were taken….

  
And as for the meal – so good! The entree was ‘Corn Three Ways (creamed, roasted off the cob, and pop) with Scallops’

  
And then……the main event! The new 2012 vintage Signature Cabernet Shiraz, named for Robert Hill Smith – proprietor and vigneron. He couldn’t be at the lunch in person, but we did the next best possible thing to make sure he didn’t miss out on the day.

  
And as the sun started to set on yet another massively memorable lunch with my Twist Club boys, how did we rate the day? Gordon and I say…….tops! And we’ll see you next year……..stay safe and keep the Yalumba faith.

  
Thanks Mosmans, thanks Twist Club, thanks Perth for pouring on the weather…….I had another one of those days folks wish they could have!

“Whiskey and wine…..and fine fine fixins” ……….

8.05am, Rose Deli, Royal Street, East Perth, Western Australia

Morning wine fans – here’s hoping that this is going to be a bit of a different start to your usual morning reading. Let’s begin with Buck Owens….legendary American country music crooner, king of the ‘Bakersfield (California) sound’ that Dwight Yoakham keeps on keeping on. These boys are Americana to a ‘T’……and last night we tapped in to some of the same, delightfully crossed over with the best of Australian wine and foraged food! Yep, right here in Perth, Western Australia. Buck had a great song  “Cigarettes, and whiskey and wild wild women”…..you know the rest! And last night we turned that on its head with our first event of the ‘2015 Yalumba Rare & Fine – Changing of the Signature Cab Shiraz Guard’ Roadshow at Varnish on King – a whiskey bar that does fine wine and food…..really really well.

So last night I had a wonderful time with two delightful young men…….and that is pretty much how the fantasies of a lot of gals that live in my town – Angaston, Barossa Valley SA  population 1600 – start! But if you’re in the subterranean Brooklynesque redbrick, steel beam,  and timber vault with its high top tables and dark Chesterfield style buttoned leather banquettes lit by lovely old shaded lamps that is Varnish on King……and you throw in over a hundred whiskeys, bourbons and ryes from the USA and Canada, plus fried chicken wings, flights of bacon, pickled jalapeños and a great list of wines from the West as well as the rest of Australia…..run by the said two delightful young blokes – Lachlan Howarth (Kitchen and Wine) and Jamie Passmore (the spirit side of it all)….then that fantasy immediately becomes a tremendous reality. And what a top spot to start our national roadshow!

Sorry about the quality of my photos, the lighting is quite romantic, and I couldn’t locate the flash on my iPad! Here’s the bar….in my opinion – the best collection of bourbons, ryes and whiskey from America and Canada that I’ve seen in Australia. 

  
The chefs put together a ‘foraged and found’ menu together for the dinner that included sea spinach from Sunday nights surf line at a local beach…..for the salt lights in the Pearl barley mushroom risotto that was paired with our 2013 Risotto

  
***before we go any further, I’m making up for any high cholesterol stuff last night by having breakfast at the organic Rose Deli this morning – buckwheat porridge with rhubarb and fresh ginger!! I can feel my body thanking me already!

  
Now the star turn of the night folks – the new 2012 vintage The Signature Cabernet Shiraz named for our fearless leader and fifth generation wine man at the helm Robert Hill Smith – was paired with a ‘Scotch Egg with duck and barrel aged smoked chilli dressing’. Yes, the boys at Varnish have the chilli sauce ageing in a small barrel at the bar, and I suspect the odd bit of bourbon and bacon dust finds its way in there as well as the heat……and it set the shredded duck meat off nicely, once you broke through that crispy outer just thick enough to be a shell layer of ‘the egg’. No photo sorry….but trust me, the lush layers of the Signature loved the texture of the duck, and sometimes it was coffee, dark fruits, cinnamon spice from the wine and twangy heat and richness from the duck – bit of a fabulous food wine ebb and flow really – well done the chefs, and the Signature as well – it loved the chilli!

I didn’t have the last course of the evening, the ‘very cool take on surf & turf’ – “Pressed Beef Cheek with Prawn, plum chutney and bacon powder”, but going by the oohs and ahs of the other diners……it hit the mark paired with the big elegant Barossa Shiraz double header of the 2010  Paradox and 2009 The Octavius!!

So remember how we started this write up? “Whiskey and wine and fine fine fixins**”…….thanks Buck Owens, Dwight Yoakham, and everyone else keeping Americana alive…..and to Varnish on King who have tapped in to its distilled heart and tangled it up beautifully with great Australian wine and local food and talent from the West. Get on to King Street in Perth, find the massive timber doors at number 75, and go down those stairs and introduce yourself. I’m  on their mailing list and you should be too!! 

**fixins in the American South folks means the sides that go with the main course

PS Mike Bennie – they have an excellent green truckers cap too!!

Thanks a million Varnish!! Our roadshow is away!! 

 

Changing of the Yalumba Signature Guard

9.46am, Monday 4th May, Adelaide Airport, SA, Australia

Morning folks, sorry to drop off the air for a bit – still haven’t completely unpacked from Canada and the USA, but we’re off again – this time around Australia for the “changing of the Yalumba Signature Cab Shiraz guard” from my 2010 vintage to the ‘wine fireworks’ of Rob Hill Smith’s 2012.  

 

How sharp is that XX 2010 to XII 2012 vintage changeover swords crossed thing….I suspect it would make an excellent tattoo! And I still don’t have one!! Hmmmm!!

So after a most magical year showing the 2010 Signature around the worlds of wine across Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Canada, the USA, New Zealand and at home……and yes we sold out in September last year, so every bottle has gone to a good home – it’s now time to unveil the much anticipated 2012 Vintage.

 PS We didn’t bottle a 2011 Signature folks, as that vintage was the first time since 1974 that we got inundated with rain at harvest and consequently battled some outbreaks of powdery and downy mildew in the Barossa. Fortunately due to the diligence of our vineyard crew, winemakers and cellar crew – we lost a few rows at two of our vineyards, but we’re largely unaffected by the mouldy stuff around. However the parcels of Cabernet and shiraz that were ear marked for Signature  were good to very good, but not great – so the decision was made to put all the Signature fruit into the ‘little brother’ Scribbler……and the 2011 Scribbler sold out at a rate of knots!! Consumers aren’t silly – they know exceptional value for money when it jumps out of the glass!
Which brings us to the ‘changing of the Signature vintage guard’. We go from this…….Jane Ferrari (me!) 2010…

  
To the ‘Big Kahuna at the helm of Yalumba for 30 eventful and handled incredibly well years’ 2012 vintage…..Robert Hill Smith

  
Tess Fisher – our home based PR guru – asked me “did I have any advice” for Rob as the new signatory coming in….and they popped my answer into the booklet doing the rounds of the events with us, and it goes like this….

“Rob, I’m taking the role of Masters Apprentice here.

My year on the road showing Yalumba The Signature 2010 around the traps was just magic – “old school” is definitely back in style when it comes to Cabernet Shiraz & Shiraz.its been a treat to be the latest in a long, long line of these blends from our house, keeping the Australian ‘claret’ dream alive. So if I had any advice for you at all – seeing as you’re about to take your Yalumba The Signature 2012 around the world- it would be to make sure you have a handful of silver sharpie marking pens on board at all times! 

Why? Because, just like I get my theatre programs signed because they mark a great night I’ve been able to see on stage (one of my favourite things), folks everywhere have loved having their Signature bottles ‘signed again’ – because they mark a great moment in Yalumba wine time for them. And be prepared to be a good listener, because everyone wanted to have a yarn at events all over the world about their best times with The Signature Cabernet Shiraz down the years.

Chief – the stage is set. My 2010 vintage was good….but now – with your 2012 – pull those corks and let the real fireworks begin!”

So folks – we’re off to a flying start with our around Australia 2012 Signature release roadshow tonight in Perth – at Varnish on King – you have to love folks who put on ‘flights’ of bacon and bourbon, and are a wine bar as well! My kind of place, and I’m debuting a new t shirt this evening for the occasion! Fully imported from Abe’s BBQ in Clarksdale, Mississippi – yes folks, that is at the blues “crossroads” of highways 61 and 49 smack bang in the middle of the Delta – where I was having lunch just two weeks ago! Still pulling the charcoal from those rib tips out of my teeth!

If you get a chance, drop by and try the 2012 Signature – here is where we are in the West:

Tonight – Varnish on King

Tuesday 5th May – dinner at Lamonts Cottesloe – thanks Johnny Jens for being such a staunch supporter forever!

Wednesday 6th May – dinner at The Royal Perth Golf Club

Thursday 7th May – lunch with the ever dangerous Twist Club business blokes! At Mosmans

                                 – dinner at Cocos Restaurant, South Perth

Friday 8th May – masterclass at Your Shout Liquor, Mt Lawley – thanks to Neil and the hard core Barossa fans (you know who you are!) for always waving the Yalumba flag

And for folks in Adelaide – we’re at home the week starting Wednesday 13th May with lunch at the Edinburgh Hotel.

Cheers for now, and I’ll let you know how we go at Varnish. They do have Four Roses Single Barrel on their list, so it could all get a little interesting later on tonight as we compare those aromas, flavours and textures with those of the 2012 Signature!!

PS I nearly forgot – heres a massive “thanks very much” to Tony McManus at Perthshire 6PR radio, who rang us up for a chat on the wireless on Saturday night – hope to see you at one of our events, so that you can see what we were talking about with that ‘layer upon layer upon layer’ with respect to the depth of that 2012 Signature. Thanks again!

Barossa Vintage Festival …..at Yalumba

6.28pm, Friday 17th April, Angaston, Barossa Valley, SA

Morning again folks, and back in the Valley  just in time to catch the biennial local Barossa Vintage Festival. At Yalumba, we invite the local producers to set up at the winery for the day, add all of our wines by the glass, bring some dusty bottles that just happen to be vinous gems up from our Museum for a special tasting in the Cooperage, run a cooking school – this year with Jordan Theodorous from Peel St in Adelaide, invite some local musicians to play on the front lawn……then open our doors to anyone who happens to be in the Barossa who would like to spend the day with is. This all happened day before yesterday…..and I whipped around and caught as much as I could on camera…..even the weather co operated, and a top day was had by all!!

Our side lawn Producers Marketplace being set up early

  

Then mid afternoon in full swing…. 

 

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Meanwhile, at the Jordan Theodorous (Peel St, Adelaide) cooking school….

  

  

  

  

The big wine auction is on this morning, the street parade between Nuriootpa and Tanunda is tomorrow, then the long lunches on Sunday…….

Juke joint Festival – Clarksdale MS

5.37am, Friday 17th April, Barossa Valley, SA, Australia

Morning folks, back in the Barossa Valley and time to catch up with the Vintage Festival which is in full swing…..but first, here’s a picture postcard story of one of the best music fists I’ve ever seen – the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale – smack bang in the middle of the Mississippi Delta…..a big flat runway of row crops and pecan groves that hugs the River and runs from south of Tunica down to north of Vicks burg and Jackson. This is for all intents and purposes the birthplace of the Blues…..and if you’re a complete novice to that musical world – like me – then the easiest way to explore is by using the fabulous ‘Mississippi Blues Trail markers’. These will take you across the state and introduce you to the folks who wrote, played and recorded The Blues……and where they lived, travelled and performed. Occasionally you’ll come across a ‘juke joint’ which was a local hole in the wall venue for folks to hear the blues – usually open one or two nights only, at the end of the working week – and always with some sort of food ……generally southern BBQ. I tracked across the top third of the state of Mississippi, ending up in Clarksdale the week of the festival, and stayed at the Shack Up Inn. This is the brainchild of a couple of local blokes who bought an old cotton gin on a few acres, then over several years turned the gin buildings into a motel, bar, and music venue. They salvaged sharecropper shacks around the area, and re located them onto the Shack up Inn grounds……nd the result is a ‘trailer park’ community of shacks of all shapes and sizes, all modified just enough to have hot running water, indoor plumbing! And a kitchen. Just about all the work has been done with ‘found’ and salvaged stuff from the region, so it’s one of the most unique accommodation venues in the USA, and I love it. I stayed for one night about 4 years ago, and it took me a long time to get back for the Juke Joint Festival….but it was well worth it!

So here’s the week leading into the Juke Joint Festival ……as I had to leave town early on the Saturday morning to get across to LA and on back to Australia. Next time I’ll try and do the whole thing.

 

 

 

Here’s the Shack Up Inn…

 

  And my home for 5 days ….used to be that of the “Fullilove” family

  

Then off to explore Clarksdale MS and find the best food stops….

  

 

   

  

  

Then more exploring to find the local ‘juke joints’, and find out who’s playing when

  

Reds – on Sunflower Avenue, lucky enough to see ….

 

Then there’s other buildings in town set up for the Festival as venues….sometimes it’s just the footpath in front of a store….everything possible is used, as come Saturday and Sunday the streets of the central town grid are closed to cars, and you just trundle from one artist to another…..stuffing the tip tins as you go. Here’s a few that I saw, with some of the Friday acts

  

  

This is Morgan Freeman’s ‘Ground Zero’ blues club and cafe

  

  

  

This years poster – art by local Cristen Barnard

  

  

  

 

 

Then it was goodbye Shack Up Inn….and Clarksdale MS….till next time

  

“Put on my blue suede shoes……and I ….boarded the plane…..”

8.51pm, Friday 3rd April, 2979 Millbranch Road, Memphis, TN, USA

Evening folks, and I spent a lot of the day trekking across the U.S. at 33000feet – finally arriving in Memphis, this being  my fourth pilgrimage to the town who’s fortunes were tangled up with the Mississippi River trade and shipping cotton, site of the National Civil Rights Museum in the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and the home of Elvis Presley for most of his adult life. This is just the jumping off spot though – the road trip is all about criss crossing the top third of Mississippi – ‘the delta’ – and the Juke Joint Festival next week in Clarksdale. So welcome to Memphis roadtrippers….early night tonight because it’s going to be a big week!

  

  

So much to see…..but this trip it’s just the Stax Soul Label Museum, then off to Corinth, Mississippi. I’ve done Graceland three times, so I’m not letting the international fraternity of Elvis fans down, and I’ll be in his home town Tupelo in a couple of days – watch this space for an Elvispotting moment I’ve got planned!

Had to have dinner though, so I chose Gus’s World Famous Chicken downtown on South Front Street

  

Top first stop! Lovely folks, and all I’m going to say is that when they say their fried chicken is spicy, they mean it! Now that I’ve eaten at Gus’s, I’m of the opinion that you can never have too much snap, chickeny crackle and zingy spice pop in your fried chicken ! And to my mates in Texas, I even ordered a whole jalapeño, sliced it up and laced the bbq baked beans – aren’t you proud of me…..waving the flag for the lone star State’s favourite vegetable!

  

  

Memphis….it’s an “All King” kind of town……the King of Rock’n’roll that is! Sun never sets on a legend roadtrippers…see ya when it’s Mississippi