Sunday, June 19, 2005

Australia: Day Five

It's been a while...

Grange in barrel...lots and lots and lots and lots o' delicious liquid money Posted by Hello

...and the saga continues...
Saturday, October 11, 2003

I got a pretty good sleep as the weather was cool and I had the windows cracked open in my hotel room on the top floor of the Adelaide Hilton overlooking the city of Adelaide and the ocean. A good night's sleep was the perfect remedy to a long and busy day in the beautiful McLaren Vale. I again got an early started and took a shower in the world's greatest hotel bathroom (the shower was frickin' huge with regular and rain heads). Awesome! I meandered downstairs and moseyed out the front door, hung a left and made my way to the FABULOUS Adelaide Central Market. I made my way to a welcoming stall and ordered myself a meatpie and a double-short black. Fantastic! Nothing starts the day like hot beef and vegetables in gravy surrounded by pastry dough and chased down with the world's greatest coffee. I looked around a bit at the produce and admired lots of the fantastic local cheeses, sausages, and various charcuterie. I returned to the same bakery stall that I had discovered the day before and again ordered a fresh, still warm croissant as well as another sourdough loaf. Damn good shit if I may say so myself! I returned to the hotel and sat in the lobby waiting for my vinuous compatriots. I devoured my croissant and enjoyed my sourdough, offering pieces to my fellow travelers. We were to meet in the lobby at 9:00AM and board a bus to adventure. Our bus arrived and we were off...

Our first stop of the day was the famous Penfolds Magill Estate Winery.

Penfolds Magill Estate Posted by Hello
A young wine-maker was energetic as could be after a late night of World Cup Rugby watching the night before and showed us around the grounds. We saw where the infamous Penfolds Grange was produced and also saw tons of it in barrel storage as well as Magill Estate Shiraz.

Vertical of Grange Posted by Hello

Grange in barrel Posted by Hello
That's a very exciting site to a wine geek. Grange is considered one of the world's top wines. Our guide informed us that Maynard from Tool/A Perfect Circle had been at the winery the week before and bought a large-format bottle of Grange and had trouble getting it insured for the flight (Maynard apparently is an avid wine drinker and a huge fan of Grange and other Aussie offerings). Pretty cool. We ended our tour at the Cellar Door and tasted a lot of the Penfolds offerings (no Grange). Our guide/winemaker was a hell of nice guy and gracious host. He was leaving Penfolds shortly to go to a another winery (Brown Brothers, I think). There was an Australian wine industry 'zine display and I noticed Peter Garrett on the cover (singer from Midnight Oil, activist, politician, very cool guy). I grabbed a copy and we were off to our next stop...

We boarded the bus and made our way to Mt. Lofty. We made our way to the summit of Mt. Lofty (the highest point in the Mt. Lofty Ranges and in the Adelaide area) and treated ourselves to a beautiful view of the city of Adelaide below.

Adelaide from the summit of Mt. Lofty Posted by Hello

Adelaide from the top of Mt. Lofty Posted by Hello
It was really stunning! I looked around in the gift shop a while and picked up a few postcards and hopped back onto the bus. We began our descent and stopped at Bridgewater Mill for lunch.

The mill. Posted by Hello
We met our hostess and one of the winemakers from Petaluma/Bridgewater Mill. We had a brief tour of the operations including the mechanical riddling racks for their sparkling wine.

Riddling rack at Bridgewater Mill Posted by Hello
Our lunch was fantastic! Bridgewater Mill has been voted best winery restaurant in Australia. I enjoyed the...

Rabbit terrine with rabbit rillettes, smoked rabbit & liver parfait with preserved cumquats

Cwazy wabbit... Posted by Hello

Roasted rack of milk fed lamb with sweet red pepper crusted leg and lamb charlotte with Indian spices

Mmmmmmmmm... Posted by Hello

and assortment of petit fours (inluding a delicious gianduja, an intensely flavored jelly, and a chocolate one with orange rind)

Someone else's plate at Bridgewater mill Posted by Hello

DELICIOUS!!! Fan-flippin'-tastic!!! It paired very nicely with some of the fantastic wines from Petaluma.

After a wonderful lunch we made our way to the delightful Paracombe Winery in the Adelaide Hills. At Paracombe we actually met a few other wineries as well. As it would make for a very long day to visit all of the wineries on our itinerary they came to us rather than us going to them.

Wine tasting at Paracombe Posted by Hello
We also met with Marty (again) from Starvedog Lane Winery, Nepenthe Winery, Bird in Hand, and Chain of Ponds. The view at Paracombe was surreal. It was as if we were in a fairytale. It was so beautiful, lush, and green.

The view from Paracombe... Posted by Hello

The view from Paracombe Posted by Hello

The view from Paracombe Posted by Hello
I was looking for hobbits, but all I saw was sheep. This amazing view is not even as good as the one we had. The view we had behind the winery was not actually of vineyards, but of trees, sheep, valleys, hills, billabongs, and just pure beauty. Everyone was very gracious and the wines were great. The Adelaide Hills region produces some fantastic sauvignon blancs, chardonnays, rieslings, and shiraz. The Nepenthe Sauvignon Blanc, Tryst, and Fugue I thought were especially good. Everything was good but those especially stood out to me. Our bus driver took some group pictures of us overlooking the valley below.

Group shot at Paracombe Posted by Hello
What a fantastic day!. We enjoyed conversation, homemade pastries, and coffee. It was a very casual presentation and it was really just what we needed (not that anything we'd encountered thus far in Australia has been overly formal). I remember feeling very "comfortable" that day. I was content with life.

We eventually had to bid farewell to all of our gracious hosts and our bus headed back to Adelaide (city proper). On the way we back we all started singing "Waltzing Matilda" and it seemed really appropriate. Life is good. We made our way to the National Wine Centre in Adelaide.

National Wine Centre Posted by Hello

National Wine Centre Posted by Hello
We were running late and didn't have much time, but it was an enjoyable experience. First of all...the architecture of the building was absolutely amazing. Modern Australian architecture is some of the most daring and beautiful that I've ever encountered. It's very imaginative. The exterior is meant to resemble a wine barrel and the interior is very modern and clean in design. We walked around a bit and enjoyed some of the thematic wine exhibition rooms and played some wine games and then headed downstairs for quick a tasting. They had arranged some blind-tastings for us, but we were in a hurry and we had to "power taste". It would have been nice to spend a little more time there, but we had an interesting night ahead of us...

We returned to the hotel to get "all dressed up". Shortly before the trip was finalized we were invited to a gala black tie event, "The 2003 Jacob's Creek World Food Media Awards". While none of us actually donned penguin suits we did at least wear ties (the guys, obviously). By the time we arrived to the venue it was dark and we were running a few minutes behind. It took us a long time to find the right entrance (there were a lot of fancy events going on that night at the Adelaide Festival Centre). We entered and were greeted with splits of Jacob's Creek Brut (a nice start). We were seated and watched the presentation of the "Ladles". The "Media Awards" is a ceremony giving awards to the top food/wine media (print/television/radio) personalities in Australia and beyond. Awards were given for cook books, journalisms, wine books, etc. The entertainment was clever and unique. There was a gentleman that absolutely "wowed" us with shadow puppets. His performance was stunning and even touching. That guy has some very unique and special talents. Never did I think that a "shadow puppet" guy would blow me away. One of the most interestng aspects of the event was that Vincent Schiavelli (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Ghost, etc.) was one of the presenters.

Vincent Schiavelli presenting... Posted by Hello

Once the last award was presented we were all welcomed to the gala party.

The gala before the mad rush... Posted by Hello

Wine was flowing and lots of top chefs were sampling their wares. Great satay, oysters, cheeses, pot-stickers, and numerous assorted passed hors' douvres. I actually got to meet Vincent Schiavelli...that was cool. There were Cirque de Soleil-style dancers in costume stopping in random poses through the night. I met an interesting food writer (to say the least) from The Age in Melbourne who was wearing an aluminum foil hat. Let me just mention now that we ran into Anna from the AWB at the event. I'll come back to it in the next Australia post. It was pretty fun, but we obviously didn't know any of the folk there and eventually left to return to the hotel. It was late and time to go to bed...the next day was going to be full of new adventures.

Sunset in Adelaide Posted by Hello

To be continued...



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