Jun 23, 2015

National Wine Centre Adelaide, with Hentley Farm

Having blown into town Friday morning what better thing to do to clear out the jet lag than a Meet The Maker Uncorked Master Class at the National Wine Centre in Adelaide.
Luckily some forethought was applied and tickets were procured prior to leaving California. Do they always sell out you ask? Not sure, but probably most times as these are some really nice events. At only $25 one of the best values we have come across.
This Uncorked event was with wine maker Andrew Quin from Hentley Farm. Having had a chat with Andrew on his recent trip through California it just seemed right that he would be at the National Wine Centre the night we went.

There are some Hentley Farm wines in the wine fridge and resting in foam casks at home and their wines are ones that we never turn down a glass or three.

Andrew started us all of with a lovely 2015 Riesling from Eden Valley. This is not only a lovely wine, but have had some nice ones from this special region and it seemed that even a couple of the 'not into Riesling' brigade slurped it all down.
Andrew told the story of how Hentley Farm came to be and the evolution of the place and talked us through the respective vintages.

A little history from the website;

'Set on the red-brown soils of the western Barossa Valley, Hentley Farm founders Keith and Alison Hentschke acquired the 150 acre vineyard and mixed farming property in the 1990s. Following extensive research to find out where the best red wine grapes in the Barossa Valley were being produced, their studies led them towards the rich red soils of the Seppeltsfield area. Keith used an old soil map from the 1950s to strategically locate the best parcels of land and after a number of years acquired Hentley Farm. 
With a focus on perfecting the vineyards, the first wines weren’t released from the property until 2002. The estate was extended with the purchase of the neighbouring high quality Clos Otto block in 2004.'

The tasting went on to the 2014 Stray Mongrel, 2014 Barossa Shiraz, 2014 Grenache and last but not least the lovely and sensual 2013 Beauty Shiraz. What a great evening with tons of interesting info and a lot of insight to the wine making and vineyard philosophy of Andrew and Hentley Farm. Not to mention those lovely Hentley Farm wines in the great setting of the National Wine Centre.

Again the National Wine Centre Uncorked event was a smashing success!

Happy tasting Adventures,


Jun 14, 2015

Some pet peeves when wine is ordered at a restaurant.

First off let me just say that this first pet peeve actually happened recently at a Four Star International Hotel that Paris's family runs when a bottle of wine was ordered for dinner.
If we order a bottle of wine at a restaurant, we want it to come to the table unopened so we know it's the right wine and the bottle hasn't been refilled out of a box. Yes really picky we know, but this is just not on, and down right dodgy. We will make a scene... Oh and by the way bring it at the right temperature. Don't even try the 'but it's at room temperature' ignorant crap, you should know better!

There are four basic components of the wine tasting ritual that a lot of people perform when they order a bottle at a restaurant: sniff  the cork, swirl the glass, sniff the wine, and hold the glass up to the light to inspect its contents. People go through this ritual, but they don't always know why they're doing it.
By sniffing the cork you are supposed to be looking for TCA taint.  But it's virtually impossible to tell without tasting the wine. It's really just a waste of time. So don't be a boor, forget the cork and smell the wine.
Another thing, when your server pours you a little splash of wine to make sure it tastes okay before serving the rest of the table, this is supposed to be a somewhat quick assessment. But then there is the ponce that wants to dissect the wine on the initial pour. Come on you wanker. Just give a sniff and a quick taste and if all is good let the server pour some bloody wine so the rest of us can have a drink
On the other hand, many people who have observed some ponce do it think they're supposed to slow down and dissect the wine, talk about it, and tell the waiter whether or not they like it. Come on ya daft cow this is not the point of the initial pour. The server simply wants to know if the wine is corked or has some other flaw. A quick sniff and sip will do. Taste vinegar or some other flaw? No, then give the server the nod to pour the rest of the table. Then you can dissect the wine and impress the rest of your party.
Then there is the 'I only drink Pinot Noir types. Think you only care for certain wines? Think you only care for specific varieties? Think you only care for specific regions? Nonsense. There are over 7 million wines out there, stemming from thousands of different regions and grape varieties. What makes wine fun is the infinite possibilities. You can always find something new and interesting to sip on to explore and enjoy. Don't get trapped into thinking you only like a handful of grapes and regions. Add the dimension of food to this and it is endless mix, so branch out a bit and try that Somm recommended wine from Spain, Chile, Australia or New Zealand. So basically anything that is not familiar. Tell them what you like and how much you want to spend and put their education to work for you. You may be surprised!
I realize after a few glasses of wine and in dim lighting we can look pretty attractive, what with all the witty repartee and all, but kissing the wine guys is generally frowned upon (by our wives) and usually won’t get you any more wine.  Feel free to flirt, get sassy and bat your eyes all you want. It’s great for the ego, but it might be best for everyone if you found someone else to kiss (or spank or grope).

So go on out and have a good time but don't get caught up in some of the faux wine ponce behavior. 

 Happy tasting Adventures,


Jun 6, 2015

Paso Robles Cab Collective Part 3 Ancient Peaks

View from breakfast at the Paso Robles Inn
The morning came fast and our plan to sleep in and have a leisurely breakfast was put to the test. Moving very slowly it took longer to be ready for our leisurely breakfast and so it was not quite as lengthy as originally planned. The breakfast at the Paso Robles Inn is legendary. A good hearty (if you want) meal of standard USA breakfast choices are to be had. Coffee and lots of it was a good start before the eggs and bacon arrived.

Today was going to be a good day, we could feel it. We were lucky enough, thanks to The Paso Robles CAB Collective to be heading to Santa Margarita Ranch to go on an Adventure! The Adventure was a tour of some of 14,000 acre ranch and then some zip lining, including zip lining over some vineyards. After the Zip line Adventure it was to be off to continue our tour of the property before a tasting of some unique wines.

We arrived a few minutes early at the Margarita Adventures office in down town Santa Margarita and took a couple minutes to make some jack decisions as the weather was looking a bit dicey. With Jackets on it was in to the office to fill out some paperwork and sign our lives away. Then we were loaded into the van and with two other lucky folks and we were on our way.
We were told the story of when the ranch was first established and how it had arrived to the current time.

At one time it was owned by Patrick W. Murphy, who was the second owner of Santa Margarita Ranch beginning in 1861. He and his father Martin hailed from Sutter Creek, the epicenter of the California Gold Rush. As Sutter Creek farmers during the Gold Rush period, they made a fortune selling food and goods to the incoming miners. Patrick W. Murphy was later instrumental in bringing the Southern Pacific Railroad to Santa Margarita.

“Imagine you’re standing at the edge of a hill more than 150 feet high, sprawling vineyards ahead and oaks in every direction, red-tailed hawks soaring at eye level, and you’re about to step off the edge and fly out into the air. You soar like a bird and it’s a breathtaking sensation and not just because of the thrill of the ride. The landscape these zip lines navigate is spectacular and the final one has you soaring along an 1,800-foot zip line.

This fifth and final zip line called the Pinot Express, will send you out through the oak trees and over the Pinot Noir vineyards and at the end you will zip under an antique-style water tower with the optical illusion that you are about to careen into the mouth of an old mining shaft. The P.W. Murphy Mining Company themed water tank and mine is a reimagining of those historic times, pairing California’s Gold Rush period with Murphy’s personal experiences in Sutter Creek and Santa Margarita.

Once done with the thrill of the zip line we loaded back into the van to tour some more of the ranch. We learned that Robert Mondovi planted the first grapes here and were it not for some extenuating circumstance would probably be harvesting them today. We saw a number of Red Tailed Hawkes, a couple majestic Bald Eagles as well as deer, cattle and the usual assortment of birdlife.
We went into the old barns and saw the old train tracks.

When we arrived back in town it was across the street to Ancient Peaks Tasting room to taste a special selection of four Cabernet Sauvignons that are all estate, made identically but grown in different soil types.

The Ancient Peaks Cabernet Sauvignon Trial was a very interesting. The vineyards were farmed the same way. They were picked the same day at similar ripeness and fermented with the exact same methods. Barreled down the same day to Taransaud medium-plus toast barrels with toasted heads, all used once previously on a Cabernet lot for Oyster Ridge. These four wines were noticeably different and on one pair it was primarily elevation within the same block. This was a great way to experience how Ancient sea bed type soil vs a Diablo Clay or a Monterey Shale. Given that these wines were a test to show soil off they were very nice drinking and we think that Ancient Peaks should do this again on a larger scale and sell the wine this way. We recon not only will John Q Public enjoy the wine but will be intrigued by the subtle but noticeable differences and would embrace a four pack to share with friends. What a great wine themed party that would make with four nice Cabernets that have a story and some science. Terrior is real and you can taste it!

Thanks to Kristen from Ancient peaks and Kyndal from the Cab Collective for being lovely hosts and making the experience so nice. We tasted a number of their other wines and really enjoyed them all.
To sum up the experience, Paso Robles is a great presence in Cabernet and second to none and to the lovely ladies that helped organize us a heart felt thank you.

Happy Travel Adventures,