Monthly Archives: July 2011

Big blue Barossa sky here – snowcaps in Queenstown there

2.53pm, Thursday 28th July, Yalumba Clocktower, Angaston, Eden Valley, South Australia
It’s a lovely, clear-but-still-a-bit-crisp afternoon out there in the Barossa folks, and the pruning teams are loving it – working in their shirtsleeves for the first time in weeks. The Barossa looks so jolly neat and tidy this time of the year as the freshly pruned canes are wrapped down on to the wires, row after row after row of them.

And meanwhile, our travelling winemaker Andy La Nauze is currently over there in New Zealand on the Yalumba bandwagon. Last night he did a top job at First Glass Wine & Spirits in Auckland; today he’s off to the snowcapped jewel in the South Island – Queenstown. He’s working with our bloke who babysits the southern half of the South Island, AJ Humphreys, and they will be a formidable double act this evening at the Queenstown Resort College – presenting a solid lineup of 10 wines.

And me? I’ve just finished the wine list details for our first event in Sydney next week. That would be the Yalumba dinner at Sea Level, the family-owned and -run seafood restaurant right on The Esplanade at Cronulla – one of Sydney’s southern beachside suburbs. It’s going to be a gangbuster week next week in Sydney folks, and I shall make sure I get lots of photos for the blog – especially if the weather cooperates.

Felled by the freight train flu!

3.28pm, Wednesday 27th July, Yalumba Clocktower, Angaston, Eden Valley, South Australia
OK folks – today we start on a bit of a medical tangent! What is roxithromycin? It is a ‘semi synthetic macrolide antibiotic’ that stops bacteria from doing nasty things to your body – specifically it treats respiratory tract infections. And I’ve been pumped full of those antibiotics for the past five days – flat on my back, felled by the vicious flu-like infection that is whizzing around the Barossa at present. So sorry for dropping off the air, and Air NZ Flight 792 went to Auckland without me last Friday for our Yalumba week in New Zealand.

We were in luck though, as young gun winemaker Andy La Nauze was home at the winery, and he has stepped in to the freezing conditions over there in the Land of the Long White Snow Cloud. Today he’s working in Auckland and has been at our office for lunch with the troops. Ali our engineroom over there organised a selection of cupcakes for dessert, knowing that the quest is always on to find the best fluffy sponge and buttercream creation in the world – and was good enough to send this photo of them through to me … so I didn’t completely miss out. I do like the look of the lemon meringue whip thing cupcake in the foreground!

The cupcakes Jane missed

Tonight will see Andy at First Glass Wine & Spirits at Takapuna for the annual Yalumba wine lovefest catchup with the seriously staunch customers of that store – and their NZ Wine Options Team lynchpin / store owner Kingsley “I know you like me, Ferrari” Wood! It is always a huge night over on the Auckland northside, and this year will be no different. There are 12 wines on for tasting – degustation style – and I have no doubt that they will have a blast with Andy. So I will keep up to date with how they’re travelling over there, and meanwhile at home I’ll be getting set to go to Sydney next Monday for two weeks of events through the city, the suburbs, out to Wollongong, Newcastle, Lake Maquarie – finishing in Canberra and Wagga Wagga.

Good luck with it all, Andy, and don’t get roped in to too many bets on the World Cup outcome! My early tip? Australia v England in the final. Call me nuts but I like those two backlines!

The Oxford Landing Boathouse Restaurant at The Good Food & Wine Show – Perth

9.19am, Tuesday 19th July, Yalumba Clocktower, Angaston, Eden Valley, The Barossa, SA
It’s a misty foggy morning in Angaston, and before I get excited about next week’s Rare & Fine adventure in New Zealand, I just want to finish off the “Oxford Landing visits Perth” story. This ‘Boathouse Restaurant’ idea has been a magic way to take one vineyard’s wines around Australia on this Masterchef inspired roadshow, but with their own matched food dishes. Throw in the tasting booth manned by winemakers and viticlturalists, and the wine interested public – no matter whether beginners or advanced – get an amazing opportunity to understand the winegrowing world for Oxford Landing – from vineyard to restaurant plate. So here is how some of it worked:

Pip, Matt and Adam

First,  the six-wine Oxford Landing masterclass in the Riedel Tasting Theatre – with Pip (in the role of Mother Clucky Hen keeping us all focussed on the job!), Matt talking the wines, and Adam talking the vines. Showing the three whites – Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio – from the new 2011 vintage gave folks a clear idea of what a good season it is for fruit drive that lifts even when the wines are chilled. And for a town like Perth that sits on the beach and has had most of the year between 30 and 42 degrees C – that’s got to be a good result!

Now to the Boathouse Restaurant.

Poh's stays

Here’s the food by Poh Ling Yeow. The entree of ‘Malaysian Beef & Chicken Satays with fruit and vegetable skewers’ was paired with the 2011 Oxford Landing Chardonnay. The recipe book that everyone had to take home explained in detail how to make the marinade from base spices, and with a bit of zing from the sauce and the chilled fruit of the Chardonnay – nice combo. Especially with the tart pineapple and cool cucumber skewers to clean up after the dark soy, brown sugar, garlic and lemongrass in the sauce.

Nonya curry

The main course of ‘Nonya Chicken Curry’ was paired with the 2010 Oxford Landing Shiraz. Again the recipe book gives you the method to put together a fairly good version of Poh’s traditional dish. It’s lashings of curry leaves, coconut milk and cream, cinnamon, coriander, chillies,cumin, fennel and star anise with potato and chicken pieces – all simmered together until fall-apart tender. No wonder it went so well with the juicy berry fruit velvet of the Shiraz!

And to finish off, we had a huge amount of help from the sales folk based in Perth who look after the sales of Oxford Landing throughout Western Australia – thanks Dean, Jacki, Lee, Emma, Pia, Byron – and we were powered by the fabulous turkey kranskys from the Mt Barker Free Range Turkey Company. I got it wrong earlier, folks, and said they were from Margaret River. Wrong! Mt Barker – specifically Kendenup – is where Lynette & Belle and the crew are from. The turkeys are raised on natural pastures and grains and are free of hormone and antibiotic growth promotants. And just for this Good Food & Wine Show event, they made the turkey kranskys with low fat cheese. Did they taste great!

Emma and Jacki and the famous turkey kransky

Have a look at these happy customers – our Emma (left) and Jacki. We sent a lot of folks down to get one of these meals on a stick, and there was a general thumbs up for the kransky with the 2011 Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc. Thanks again girls, and we hope to see you again, down the food and wine track.

OK – that ‘Boatshed Restaurant’ rolls on to the Brisbane Good Food & Wine Show next, so if you’re up that way from the 4th – 6th November, make sure you check it out.

Now it’s about getting set for next week in New Zealand. Napier, Auckland, Taupo, Wellington, Queenstown and Christchurch – here we come!

See you later Boomtown, back to the Barossa

3.46pm, Sunday 17th July, Gate 9, Perth Airport, Western Australia
There are a couple of very tired kids sitting here ready to fly back across the Nullarboar to Adelaide, then jump in the car and drive back up to the Barossa. It’s an absolutely memorable day in Perth, and on the way out to the airport, we saw people waterskiing along the Swan River in the sunshine! We, on the other hand, have been inside the convention centre at The Good Food & Wine Show over the past three days.

What have we been up to?

We have talked to thousands of people from all parts of Perth and beyond about where Oxford Landing is and how we grow grapes there, and then we’ve shown them six of the most fruit-driven, easy-drinking wines that are ready to jump in and make just about any meal taste better. We’ve done wine masterclasses, we’ve had contest winners come in for a meal with the chef Marian Grasby and viticulturalist Adam Hall, we’ve interviewed rockstar chefs, and we’ve spread good wine will left, right and centre! And now we’ve got scratchy voices and are ready to go home.

But here are some pics that I took on the phone to give you an idea of what it all looked like – everything being organised with the precision of a Swiss watch by Pip “Clucky mother hen in a good way” Hoare.

Here’s the Oxford Landing ‘boatshed’ restaurant – food by Mari0n Grasby and Poh Ling Yeow, wine by Oxford Landing.

The 'boatshed' restaurant

Here’s Marion after hosting a lunch in the boatshed, with the recipe for her confit duck with star anise that has been such a hit this weekend.

Marion and her hit recipe

Here’s Adam explaining the ins and outs of grapegrowing at Oxford Landing to an extremely interested crowd!

Adam and his fans

OK folks, now I’m going to grab a coffee, find a copy of the latest Woman’s Day and kick back. See ya when we’re back in the Barossa.

And Matt Moran dropped in …

8.01am, Saturday 15th July, Same place and time, Perth
Wow! These internet kiosk coin units are vicious! When the money runs out, the time just stops dead – nearly lost that whole section below, and just got the turkey kransky sentence in. But seriously folks, we sent a stack of people over to their little kitchen, recommending they have the turkey sausage with our 2011 Sauvignon Blanc as a benchmark for their day grazing around the event – how stellar food and wine flavours can be when the original produce is so red hot!

Matt Moran

And then during our afternoon food matching masterclass, where each of the sixOxford Landing wines were set up with the matching Poh and Marian dishes, we had Matt Moran drop in to talk about what’s happening in his food world – which is a lot! He’s going back to where he started in Sydney, adding a new restaurant to the fold – with its own produce garden – in the middle of Paddington with Pruniere’s. There’s also a new book, “Dinner at Matt’s”, coming out in October with recipes for the sort of food he does for friends at home. Here he is signing after the session – lovely bloke up close gals … and his chat capped a top day in the Oxford Landing boatshed for us .

Now we get to do it all again today!

Turkey kranskys from Margaret River?

7.22am, Saturday 15th July, the coin in the slot internet kiosk, Perth Covention Centre, Western Australia
Morning folks, it’s just me and Powderfinger (singing ‘My Happiness’) in the place right now. Yesterday the Convention Centre was completely heaving with the Good Food & Wine Show. We were flat out with the Oxford Landing boathouse – I’ll get some photos today – using the snapping new 2011 vintages of Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and  Pinot Grigio, and the 2010 reds Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Shiraz. These wines were all paired up with food from Marion Grasby and Poh Ling Yeow – those photos are on the agenda today also! – and it was an oasis of relaxed sit down dining with proper cutlery and stemware in there all day whilst the whirlwind of the whole event spun on around it.

Trukey Kransky!

I went on a ‘research run’ early and found the best snack option in the whole Good Food & Wine Show – the Margaret River Turkey Company’s ‘Turkey Kransky’ – 6 inches of solid turkey, spices and low fat cheese on a stick!

Back to Perth for The Good Food & Wine Show

11.15am, Thursday 13th July, Gate 22, Adelaide Airport amongst a stack of road and building works!
It’s a lovely clear day, and Adelaide Airport is overrun with ‘little people’! No, not an Irish leprechaun convention – it’s school holidays, and there are kids of all shapes and sizes everywhere! I’m off to Perth to talk all things Oxford Landing with winemaker Matt Zadow, PR queen Pip Hoare, and viticulturalist Adam Hall. Should be a top weekend, as we’re working with some stellar chefs – Marian Grasby and Matt Moran for starters – plus we’ll have an excellent opportunity to have a good look at the WA produce on show. Then, if we get a bit of spare time, there’s also the AC/DC exhibition on at the Perth Museum – seeing as legendary original lead singer Bon Scott was a West Australian boy. So we’re heading west with a full agenda, and I’ll let you know how we go.

PS When I get back, I’ll fill you in on another hole in the wall eatery I’ve found on one of my rare trips to Adelaide. It’s a Korean version of a sushi train, and not only is it fab flavourwise – it’s a seriously healthy way to eat.

Freezing in The Barossa – Literally!

10.15am, Tuesday 12th July, Heggies Vineyard, Eden Valley
It’s icy out in the vineyard today, folks, but at least there’s not that gale coming up off the South Pole adding wind chill to an already freezing situation. And it’s not raining, so it’s possible to get a fire going to re-liquify the blood every now and then whilst the pruning goes on and on – and it actually throws some serious heat!

A few almond trees around the Eden Valley and Barossa Floor are starting to poke out some blosoms, but I think they’re a wee bit early yet. The ice in the air today might just get them to rethink things and pull back like a sea anemone – just for a bit longer. And we don’t want the vines pushing out their shoots for a good while yet, as there’s definitely more frost to come!

As far as our pruning situation goes, we’re nearly finished at Pewsey Vale and Heggies, then there’s everything around Yalumba itself to do. Here I’ve got some before and after shots of the old vines up on top of Heggies.

Basically the idea is to take off the ‘skeleton’ of this last vinatge’s canopy, and leave the amount of buds on the vine that will determine the next – or 2012 – vintage’s crop load. The other aim is to distribute the canopy and fruit load evenly so that the fruit ripens evenly and that we have the balance right between the canopy, which makes all the goodies, and the bunch number, which stores all the goodies. Here’s how that works:

This is the vineyard row before being pruned …

Vine row before pruning

… and this is the same section after. You can see the shape and structure being set up for the 2012 vintage …

Vine row after pruning

… and here is a closeup look at the two bud ‘spurs’ left behind. Next vintage’s fruit-bearing canes will shoot from those.

The bud spurs left behind

In the front part of the Heggies vineyard are some old riesling vines that have been pruned onto a single wire …

Pruning complete

… again I’ve got a close up showing the spurs left behind that determine the next vintage’s crop load.

Spurs left for the 2012 vintage

That’s pruning folks, and there’s a heap more to get done before budburst signals the start of the new season. Then the trick is to have budburst happen safely and to get those new shoots nice and strong and solid without being smacked around by late frosts.

You’re always at the mercy of the weather when you’re talking winegrowing, don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise!

Stay warm out there in the Hills folks!

Saints fans find each other – and where to find Jane

1.10pm, Thursday 7th July, Yalumba Clocktower, Angaston, The Barossa, South Australia
The sun is trying really hard to push in between a couple of big black rain clouds hovering out there over the Barossa, and at least the wind is not whistling straight in from the South Pole as it has been the last couple of days!

It’s always good to be home at the winery for a few days to catch up on the local goings on, to get set up for the next job away, and to spend some time on the bench down at the tasting cellar. I’ll often get called down if someone from one of our jobs away comes through to visit, and that’s what happened yesterday afternoon. Whilst I was looking after a chap who runs the Dan Murphy’s store at Doncaster in Melbourne, there were a couple of lovely older ladies – also from Melbourne – who I more or less ‘joined in’ our tasting group. As karma would have it, they ended up being members of the St Kilda Football Club – as am I! – and had driven over early for this weekend’s game down in Adelaide against Port Power. The gals had been there at the 1966 Grand Final – the last one that St Kilda won … and the only one! That deserves a reward, and so I sent them with a bottle of the Moscato Split Pick sparkling – just in case we win on Sunday. Both teams are doing such a miserable job at the moment – anyone could get up.

There’s actually not a lot going on right now in the Barossa apart from pruning. Mind you, sticking with the footy, Sam Newman will be the guest speaker at the Nuriootpa Tigers’ FC Dinner this Friday night, and he should pull a pretty solid crowd – given the staunch support for the Adelaide Crows up this way and the way most of the blokes all watch the Footy Show religiously.

And of course, I can’t let today go by without recognising the magnificent effort last night from the Maroons as they nailed the Blues in last night’s State of Origin rugby league decider. As an adopted daughter of Queensland – FNQ specifically – I was sat on top of the heater and the telly in the lounge last night, clapping and yelling away on my own as the boys did magic things to confirm once and for all that they are the much better side. In the immortal word of Billy Moore, “Queeeeeeenslander!”

And you know what? There’s every chance that just as the celebration of the State of Origin win dies down, there could be a kick on if the Queensland Reds get over the Christchurch Crusaders this Saturday night again at Suncorp Stadium with the Super Rugby final. This could very well be a bit of a World Cup preview – with the number of Wallaby and All Black options in the teams. I’ll be down at the pub watching, that’s for sure.

What’s coming up travel wise for the forseeable future?

We have the Oxford Landing Boatshed going to the Good Food & Wine Show in Perth next weekend, July 15th & 16th.

We take the Yalumba Rare & Fine wines to New Zealand:

Thene take the Rare & Fine wines to New South Wales & the ACT:

See ya out there somewhere!

Angela at Watermark pouring The Signature!

PS this came through via the iphone this morning – Angela pouring the 2006 Signature cabernet Shiraz by the glass at Watermark, on The Strand, looking at Magnetic Island across the bay, Townsville, FNQ

Perth with a Twist and a Masterclass

8.56am, Tuesday 5th July, Yalumba Clocktower, Angaston, The Barossa
Back home to the ‘wind chill factor means it’s about 6 degrees C outside and I’m so glad I’m not out there pruning ‘ Barossa Valley. It’s very, very wet out there, people, so if we’re looking for good ‘next vintage’ omens, that’s certainly the start. If we keep with this solid soaking winter rain, and the vines get a big recovery drink, then that’s starting to set a nice foundation already for Vintage 2012.

Now before I get cracking on the followup from the Adelaide and Perth events, as well as the preparation for the next job – which will be a full week in New Zealand – I just want to write up our last day in Perth, because it was a popper! (That’s good.)


THE TWIST CLUB BUSINESSMEN’S LUNCH at The Bluewater Grill – one of my favourite jobs of the year. Not only do I get to have 40 or 50 of these lovely blokey pillars of Perth business to myself over lunch, but they just love red wine and genuinely can’t hear enough about what we’re doing at Yalumba – at home in the Barossa and in the domestic and international arenas. This is the seventh year in a row that we’ve done an event with The Twist Club, and this year I really had to be on top of my game, as we had David Atkinson, owner of Jane Brook Estate Wines in the Swan Valley along. No fluffy stuff this time, I really had to do solid fact and details! But not a problem, as the wines this year are strong and all very representative of their varities and region in the glass.

Even though it was a drizzly Friday lunchtime, which is a rarity for Perth, being on the Applecross waterside at The Bluewater Grill – in The Private Wine Room no less – was a top place to hide from the weather with an excellent view across the Swan River to the city. Oh, and then there’s the food at Bluewater … here we go:

Not just any seafood plate

With the 2008 Yalumba Virgilius Viognier, the kitchen – resident head chef is Brad Leahy – sent out a “Seafood Plate”. In the photo, left to right: slow cooked salmon, tuna with sherry onions, tiger prawn & Asian noodle salad, and oyster with lime. All these flavours and textures just work with the stonefruit, perfume and lemongrass over the top – and the heatless viscosity of the palate when it comes to this wine. It’s the only white wine of the day for The Twist Club, and it’s like a white wine for red fans anyway, with the length and complexity that’s involved with Virgilius – so it does fit well into their day!

And then it’s all about the reds folks.

Great beef and great cooking

The boys had a choice of ‘Roast Duck Breast and Confit Leg’ or ‘Peppered Fillet & Braised Beef Cheek with Whipped Potato, Shallots & Gremolata’. Sorry about the duck – I didn’t get a photo, but I did snap the beef, and yes it does have sticky onion and reduced cooking juices holding it all together. It smelled great and tasted even better. The beef over in the West is nothing short of fabulous, and on the day, you just had to wave the steak knife across the meat and it fell apart – for real! That’s great beef and great cooking folks, in the same place at the same time.

The wines served with the meat?

Cabernet Shiraz time of course – the 2008 Scribbler and the 2006 The Signature. As the Rare & Fine tour keeps rolling, The 2006 Signature just keeps opening slowly and is this layer cake of dark fruits and elegant oak that promises a great deal for down the track, but wraps itself well around the sticky onion, beef and whipped potato on the day! As for the 2008 the Scribbler – being the declassified barrels from the 2008 blending of The Signature for that vintage – it gives us a look into the crystal ball to see just how strong that wine will be when it’s released next year.

Then it was a change of foodie pace, and it was “Fig & Ginger Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream” with the Barossa Shiraz double of the 2008 Patchwork and 2006 The Octavius. No photo of the pudding because I got carried away – usually do when there’s butterscotch sauce involved in anything – and forgot! I was too busy demolishing the cakey fruit tower really, if the truth be told. But the combo worked, especially the sweet sauce and the old fashioned Xmas pudding characters of The Octavius – cloves, cinnamon, sweet pruney fruits and a long, long, no-aggression-at-all tannin and fruit palate.

All told, it was a lovely day out with the wine-interested business boys yet again, so I put on a treat for them, seeing as it was seven years that we’d been lunching together, and I spied a very special bottle sitting in their sweet wine fridge. Not sure how they ended up there, but seven bottles of the 2007 Heggies Vineyard (owned by the Hill Smith family) Botrytis Riesling 242 were in the Bluewater Grill cellar that day.

Now this is something seriously special folks, as Peter Gambetta – the Heggies winemaker – has said that he reckons the 242 Botrytis Riesling is a “once in a career ‘ wine.

That vintage, a mist cloud settled on a section of the Riesling vineyard when the fruit was super ripe, and prompted the most solid infection of Botrytis cinerea that Pete’s ever seen, so he made the decision to only harvest the Botrytised berries and have a crack at the classic ‘trockenbeerenauslese’ style of sweet wine.

What’s that?

It’s the German classification for a sweet white table wine where ONLY berries that are affected by the ‘noble rot’ of Botrytis cinerea are harvested and fermented out. Now this means that all the pickers go out into the vineyard with scissors and snip only botrytised berries into their picking baskets. Noble rot botrytised berries are those where the ‘good’ mould has sealed off the berry and inserted their tube roots through the skin, and drained off most of the water (fact – grape berries are 85% water) and so effectively concentrate the sugar and flavour in each berry. As you can imagine, this means a lot of sugar for some very hard working yeasts to ferment out – which they did – leaving a residual sugar content of 242 grams per litre of wine!

Hence the label Heggies Botrytis Riesling 242.

It really tells its own story right there. You could be forgiven for thinking that the wine would be like thick syrup. No! With 40 fellers at lunch, we had to use shot glasses, sherry glasses, and a few parfait glasses so that 3 x 375 ml bottles could give everyone a taste. And the wine is a light, luscious, honeyed orange marmalde shot of citrussy sweetness that is just unforgettable! Yes, the boys bought whatever was in the cellar, and will now be searching for anything else that might have made it to Perth retail or restaurant shelves. If you’re lucky enough to have a bottle stashed away – it’s in really good shape!

And then it was lots of hugs goodbye, lots of see ya next years, and we were off to get ready for the evening masterclass. But thanks very much to The Twist Club and Gareth for yet another great day, and I’ll be looking forward to continuing the tradition next year. Stay safe, and good luck in the world of big biz!

THE MASTERCLASS WITH VINTAGE CELLARS SHENTON PARK – was in the city centre at E’Cucina, and we had a huge turnout of 55 wine fans to work through a set of nine wines and matched canapes. The wine list was:

We were originally scheduled to use the private room, but because of numbers (good problem to have!), ended up in the back section of the restaurant, which was pretty noisy really. With the combination of a busy Friday night drinking and dining crowd, timber floors, big glass window walls, and a nonstop rainstorm outside – it was a bit of a difficult night for folks to stay focussed on the wines. But they did a great job, and the best way for me to illustrate the evening is with these photos:

The spirit of the evening

First up this is table 1 & table 2 – including the brake parts man and his very attractive Canadian friend and their gals, the Perth girls wine club with the Scottish boy, the Burra transplants to Perth, the vet and his ageless mate, and the local crowd! This catches the spirit of the evening, and we did brief thumbnail sketches of the wines to the group – which is why I lost my voice Saturday – and then answered a hundred questions around the tables. What a great result – thanks a huge amount to Paul for the ongoing staunch support, to Emma for setting it all up, and to the Dalkeith Store boys for escorting us to the Hula Bula club afterward. You know who you are, and we’ll be catching up again in a couple of weeks.

The Vintage Cellars crew discuss Shiraz

And second is the crew from VCs, shown here discussing the finer points of Barossa Shiraz. There are no photos of the canapes as I was flat out around the tables as the platters came out, and they must have been good, as they went really quickly.

So what nice Rare & Fine way to say goodbye to Perth … thanks for having us to visit, and we’ll see ya when the mud dries!