7.19pm, Thursday, 27th May, Russell Street, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
It’s been a busy couple of days, and we’ve covered some ground, so here we go at finally catching up to today.
Tuesday, 25th May: University House Fine & Rare Dinner – Melbourne
The University House is the home of The University Club at the University of Melbourne. Translated, that means this lovely old stone building just off the main quadrangle of the University of Melbourne is where current and past professors and students of this famous educational establishment have the opportunity to catch up, dine, and attend special events – hence our wine dinner.
The House has had our wines on the list for a long, long time, courtesy of the relationship built between their Wineman John and our gal Princess Signature – otherwise known as Rhonda! (Who just happens to be on the back of the 2002 Signature.) That’s us in the ‘before’ the event pic! We had 150 people turn out on a rainy old Tuesday night that proved to be great company for our big dry reds and elegant Bernard clone chardonnays – accompanied not just by specially matched dishes, but with the Caritas Chamber Singers, who all perform with the Victorian Opera or the Melbourne City Opera. Big night indeed!
I’ve put in a pic of the cheeseplate because it’s all from the Barossa Valley Cheese Co – to be found in the main street of our hometown – Angaston. There’s the Baillie Brie, Washington Washrind, and La Petite Princess, all made by our friend Victoria.
We used something like 800 glasses on the night, and between the wine, song and old school food, it would be a fair thing to say that “a jolly good night was had by all”. We did a lucky draw, and the very popular winner was the legendary Australian pianist Ronald Farren-Price, Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne School of Music. He has played as a recital and concerto soloist on some of the great stages of the world – New York’s Carnegie Hall, London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Sydney Opera House and the Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow. Mr Farren-Price took home a double magnum of the 2006 Menzies Coonawarra Cabernet, and he assured me that it was destined for a very special dinner party for six in the near future. Lovely man, and a good karma finish to our first dinner at University House. Not to be our last either, seeing as it’s been made an annual event by popular demand!
So thanks especially to Rhonda & Johnny, it’s not every day that I get to feel like walking through the movie “Goodbye Mr Chips” with the quadrangle and everything – and I’ll be looking forward to next year’s event with my ears pinned back.
Wednesday, 26th May: Templestowe Cellars Tasting – Melbourne suburbs
Another job with our gal about Melbourne – Rhonda – only this time we had to pack a lunchbox for the big drive out to Templestowe in the eastern suburbs, to see our man with the wine store, Geoff Mickan. He’s a great Barossa supporter and a good friend of the chief winemaker at Peter Lehmann Wines, Andrew Wigan. In fact we’re pretty good friends with ‘Wig’ ourselves. The relationship between Yalumba and Lehmann’s goes back a long way, as Peter Lehmann himself started his career as a winemaker at Yalumba before moving on to open his own place in Tanunda.
This was our first invitation to show our wines out at Templestowe Cellars, so we didn’t muck about. We took a bagful of wines – not just the new Rare & Fine reds, but Vermentino, aged Riesling, and Tempranillo as well.
The progression of Cabernet Shiraz blends – the 2006 FDR 1A (subset of the 2006 Signature barrels, all from Eden Valley vineyards), 2005 Signature (combined Eden Valley and Barossa Valley floor vineyards) and the 2004 The Reserve (solid, deep, dark subset of the vineyards that went into the 2004 Signature, were left in oak six months longer, then bottled and aged for four years before being released four weeks ago) – were the last three wines of the night, and they really showed the strength and versatility of this classic combination.
Lots of questions on the night and a lot of fun – before we ended up next door at George’s pizza bar for dinner. We have to say “thanks for having us on the shelves, and for asking us to drop by” to Geoff and the boys. We’ll definitely be back next year with another bagful of wines for your people to have a look at, and I promise to have a couple of new stories as well.