Legends of Lunch

8.43am, Thursday 5th May, Yalumba Clocktower, Angaston, Eden Valley
Sorry I’ve been off the air for a few days folks. I have been running around like a cut cat with visitors this week, as well as actually attending a couple of Vintage Festival events at the end of last week. So now I’m going to catch you up on all of that, plus we start our new Rare & Fine roadshow next week in Victoria and Queensland. So the ‘dates’ section will become active again, and you’ll be able to track the winemakers and me as we take these big wine guns out on the road. And we’re definitely opening the all of the good stuff people, just in case there was any doubt whatsoever.

So I’ll start with the “Legends Of Lunch” at St Hallett on Friday. If there’s ever a top storyteller coming through the Barossa, I’ll always try and get along to see them, because no matter what their background – I can never collect too many good stories. The guest speaker at the Legends of Lunch was Peter Fitzsimons – Wallaby of the Nick Farr Jones era, TV interviewer, radio personality, and author of sports, political and historical non fiction books. He’s just put out the new book “Batavia”, so I was pretty interested to see what he’d be like on his feet up close – with the added bonus of trying some St Hallett wines and Stuart Oldfield’s food. Plus I got to sit next to the ‘silver fox’ Stephen John – winemaker in Clare now, but once upon a time winemaker at Chateau Tanunda when it was still in the Seppelt’s family, and first trumpet in the Tanunda Town band – a bit of a local legend himself .(Don’t think I didn’t collect a few Barossa gem stories during the day!) So here are the highlights of my day down at St Hallett – there were a few!:

With the first course of ‘remoulade of blue swimmer crab, beetroot & basil’- the sweet light crab centre loved the 2010 St Hallett Eden Valley Riesling – eye crinkling lemon sorbet acid, very citrus peel palate, fresh and snappy.

The second course of ‘goat cheese, 36 month Iberico jamon, Barossa fig & wild quince’ was my favourite of the day – fresh figs just bulging with flavour from the lush season, topped with the paper thin slices of cured ham cracking apart with the quince sweet stuff on the side and melt-in-the-mouth goat cheese. Memorable stuff, and it was the ‘old school style’ 2008 St Hallett Grenache Shiraz Touriga blend that stank beautifully of mulberries and blackcurrants and had a grainy savoury palate that wrapped the whole thing up for me. Pity I left the camera home!

As you’d expect, the main course was beef – slow roasted on this occasion. But the stars were the two shirazes – 2002 St Hallett Old Block poured from magnum and the 2008 St Hallett Blackwell. Two more sides to that fabulous Barossa Shiraz coin. Trust me – the 2002 Old Block is just getting into its stride and is all a raspberry and blackberry lid on a classic dark fruitcake base. And the length of palate … it just kept unrolling like that long red carpet the royal newlyweds walked down in Westminster Abbey that night! (The English do pomp and ciscumstance better than anyone else!) And the 2008 Blackwell? Deceptive. The tannins are there, but buried so nicely you don’t even notice. But they keep the lashings of dark fleshy juicy fruit on nice tight tracks and this thing is a bit special. Don’t take my word for it – do what I’m going to do – buy a couple of bottles and drink them with someone you like.

And the main event – Peter Fitzsimons.

Boy am I glad I went. This guy could talk underwater with a mouthful of marbles! He did two 30 minute slots, and I have no doubt he could have done half a dozen more without even raising a sweat. I liked one of the stories from when he first started ‘crossing over’ from the world of sports into ‘the arts’. At a very high end reception at the Sydney Art Gallery, he felt seriously under evaluation by the then gallery director as to what someone like himself would be doing there. In an effort to establish some sort of credibility, our Peter announces to the Director, “I’m very pleased with my recent achievement – I’ve finished my first book!” To which the director replied, “Commendable! I encourage you to read another!” So not only does the man have a huge Santa sack full of sports icon stories, he has a great sense of humour, and that lovely Australian larrikin thing of being able to tell jokes against yourself.

When he finally got into the story of The Batavia, the infamous shipwreck off Australia’s coast in the 1600s that you vaguely remember from high school history, he really hit his stride. He’s meticulously researched the whole thing – the lead up to and its aftermath – and he reckons it’s got everything and he’s won me! In his own words, “It’s an adults only version of Lord of the Flies. In one tale you have seafaring, mutiny, shipwreck, murder, sex slavery, medeival battles, rescue, redemption and revenge”. I’m reading it!

Oh no – I’ll have to leave it there for a bit – have to go decant a bottle for another visitor group, but I’ll be back as soon as that’s done.

PS The boys game me some of the dessert from lunch to take home – raspberry cheesecakes – made like mini cornetto ice creams – these I did get a photo of at home.

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