Lunch at the University Cafe in Melbourne

March 6, 2011

University Cafe on a glass of wine

According to the Trip Advisor website visited today, the University Cafe in Melbourne is ranked 665 of 2,131 restaurants in the second largest metropolis of Australia.

When on the farm and vineyard in Glenburn we rarely come to town. This was an exceptional day.

We had visited Melbourne University to inform ourselves about the place since both our daughters, Lucy and Charlotte, intend to enrol their after they have finished their IB in Bangkok. The university people were very friendly and we had an appointment for lunch in Carlton with some very old friends.

Without further ado we jumped into the University Cafe, an eatery right in middle of Lygon street in the heart of Carlton. Before even considering food, we ordered a bottle of crisp Riesling from Delatite Winery, located near Mansfield in the Upper Goulburn Wine Region.

Ah, wine from Upper Goulburn, our wine region. Our own little vineyard is located at the most southern tip of this new wine region of Victoria. Delatite Winery, near Mansfield, planted in 1968 is one of the oldest vineyards there.

Delatite is committed to organic practices in the vineyard and winery. The winery was established in 1982 by Robert and Vivienne Ritchie. Today, their son David is running the family business. Delatite is famous for its aromatic wines. Their Riesling has won many international and national awards. The ‘2009 Delatite Riesling’ was a natural choice.

2009 Delatite Riesling

The wine went beautifully with the food, mostly fish and other seafood dishes. The crisp apple and citrus aromas with its finely balanced acids is a great refreshment during a warm summers day. Frankly speaking, I think the Delatite Riesling is the best Riesling the Upper Goulburn has to offer.

Mixed side salad

Ruccola with parmesan

Seafood risotto

Delicious mussels

Seafood pasta

The happy diners: Joe Mauch, Anthony Arthur, Charlotte, Lucy, Rainer and Margit Adam

Overall, the service was good, the quality of the food decent, and the atmosphere despite the lunchtime crowed, to our liking. It was good to meet up with friends and relax.

Address:
The University Cafe
255 Lygon Street | Carlton,
Melbourne 3053, Australia
Te.: +61-03-9347 0328


Max Allen, Australian wine writer, and the Upper Goulburn Wine Region

January 26, 2011

Max Allen’s book and three wines from the Upper Goulburn

One of my Christmas presents was a book on wine. I am now the proud owner of Max Allen’s latest book, titled “The Future makers – Australian Wines for the 21st Century”.

So far, I had not had the time to read it, but I glanced at the chapter dealing with our wine region, the Upper Goulburn Wine Region.

Wines from Rees Miller Estate and Jean Paul’s Vineyard

Only three of our vineyards in the region are described in the book. They are: Delatite Winery, Jean Paul’s Vineyard and Rees Miller Estate.

The latter two of these three are practicing biodynamic-organic viticulture which is, in the perception of many conventional vintners, a very complex, complicated and generally difficult way of producing wine. If you talk to biodynamic vintners that’s not at all the case; it’s different of course.

Many conventional vinters have great respect for their biodynamic colleagues. At our recent “welcome of the year 2011 party” at Two Hills Vineyard, the wine-makers and vintners present discussed the challenges of producing healthy grapes at length.

How can they (the bioynamic/organic producers) control the many fungal and other diseases, was one of the pertinent questions? How do they deal with mildew? How about the work in the winery?

Undoubtedly, many of their wines are of outstanding quality. This is also what Max Allen shows in his book. It is certainly worth to explore the production methods of the biodynamic and organic growers. In recent years also many of the larger wineries and vineyards have started to convert to more environmentally friendly methods of production.

Max Allen interviewed Will de Castella, owner and wine-maker of Jean Paul’s Vineyard, how he does it. I highly recommend the study of his answers.

Happy Australia Day veryone.


Vineyard work at Two Hills

January 20, 2011

Un-attended vines

A mothballed vineyard is not a pretty sight, especially not after downy mildew had gone through it. It was so humid this spring that mildew was a real problem and we missed to treat the outbreak in good time. Luckily it was only downy and not powdery mildew. The difference is shown in the next picture.

The two mildews (with a spelling mistake)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Downy_and_Powdery_mildew_on_grape_leaf.JPG

Mothballed vineyards react forcefully to being chopped off at the top. If no spurs or canes are left there, the vines respond to the brutal treatement with increased and vigorous growth of side shoots all over the place. These need to be removed.

So what did I do during my holidays on the farm?

I was “desucking”, as it is called colloquially. Every morning from about seven to nine I walked through the Sauvignon Blanc and the Merlot blocks of our vineyard and brushed the suckers (side shoots) off.

The work is easy. It is ritualistic and has an almost religious quality. You bend down in front of the vine (and show your respect) while breaking out all the shoots except the ones on the top.

After my work of “de-sucking”

The fruit of hard labour: clean vines everywhere

Unfortunately, I could not finish the two other blocks, the Pinot Noir and the Chardonnay. Next time I will be smarter and take longer holidays.


Country meals with Rocky Passes Syrah 2005

April 24, 2010

Chicken, vegetables and cauliflower

Lunch in the vineyard is always a highlight, especially if the weather allows us to have it on the terrace outside with those spectacular valley views. Of course wine is an important ingredient in a successful lunch. We had another bottle of Rocky Passes Syrah, the 2006 vintage this time. It received 92/100 Parker Points by James Halliday.

2005 Rocky Passes Syrah

Later the same day we followed the 2006 vintage with a 2005 Syrah. I had just one bottle of the 2005 vintage left which had received a whopping 94/100 Parker Points. Vitto Oles is doing a great job on these stony slopes of Rocky Passes Estate. Good food and good wine, that’s what makes a great day. The other two ingredients are old friends and good music.

Hope you have a good Saturday yourself.


The last sip – a Delatite Riesling

April 18, 2010

Leaving Two Hills Vineyard in Glenburn is always a sad affair. The evening before departure we bid farewell to our old friend Steve and our family, Michael and Helen. On Sunday morning we said good bye to our neighbours, Hillary and Ken. Then we drove to Yarra Glen where we left the car at Gayle’s farm. We had a morning tea, moved the luggage into her car and off we went to Melbourne Airport. Gayle dropped us there and we did the usual stuff.

Fortunately, there was a nice bar called “Plonk”, right next to gate No. 4 from which we were to depart for Bangkok. We went through their wine list and chose a wine from our wine region (the Upper Goulburn Wine Region), a ‘2008 Delatite Riesling’. What a delight this wine was, fresh and fruity with citrus and passion-fruit aromas, a good structure and a long finish. The waiter was particularly charming. Here we said our final good bye. Reminiscing about the past is an old man’s vice, but the memories we took with us are treasures of a very special kind.


“Second-Christmas-Day” Party

December 27, 2009

The 26 December is called the “2nd Christmas day” in my native Germany. Since my father’s birthday fell on the 25 and was not celebrated because of Christmas, the 2nd Christmas day was usually the day his friends came to visit and congratulate him for his birthday.

Well, in this quasi tradition, we invited friends and acquaintances to our humble home for a Christmas barbecue, merging German and Australian customs of our family. I was very busy grilling pork and chicken, therefore no photos of the results of my labour at my “Weber grill”. Moreover, I grilled some veggies for the vegetarians among us (I was commended for the quality and the good taste). Margit had made various potato and bean salads; we had greens and white bread.

There are also no photos of the wines we consumed. Just two of the desserts. But a heck of a party it was. The 9 adults and the 9 children had a good time, as the two photos below show.

The “long” table

From 4 to 58 years old, 18 people around the table

The desserts:

Le Notre, the best dessert maker in town

The home made Pawlowa, Australian delight

Matthias and Beatrice had provided most of the wine (and the Le Notre dessert). We drank some beautiful drops. Here are the highlights:

‘2005 Rocky Passes Syrah’ (our last bottle) was perfect for the event: a Christmas party Australian style. It’s a beautiful example of cool climate Shiraz from our Upper Goulburn Wine Region. Vitto Oles makes great wines. James Halliday gave the 2005 Syrah 94 points.

‘2007 Altenkirch dry Riesling’, Lorch, Rheingau/Germany. Friedrich Altenkirch is a very well known vintner. Some of his wines were just rewarded silver and bronze medals at the International Wine Challenge and the 2009 Decanter World Wine Awards. The 2007 Riesling is young and fizzy, a solid German wine. The wine-maker, Tomoko Kuriyama, comes from Japan not a common trait of German wineries.

‘2005 Château La Raze Beauvallet, Cru Bourgeois’ from Medoc, Bordeaux, France. The château (45 ha) is owned by the Sourice family and has retained the original ‘cru Bourgeois’ classification from the 1930s because of the wine quality. The wine style is fruity and soft, easy to drink.

Needless to say, we had some bubbly as well, mostly from Taltarni, Australia. We will do this again.


Vineyard profile: Rocky Passes Estate, Upper Goulburn, Victoria

August 25, 2009

During our last week together in Glenburn, we decided to go on an outing and visit a boutique winery near Yea: Rocky Passes Estate, a micro vineyard and also a member of our Upper Goulburn Winegrowers Association. Rocky Passes estate is owned and operated by Vitto Oles and Candi Westney. Candi had left a message on my blog inviting us over to get to know them and their wines.

We went the long way passing through Yea and Trawool, then through some bushland searching for Highlands Road. It was a very beautiful drive through the Victorian countryside. On the hills one sees those rock boulders as in the photo below.

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Rocky terrain

The only vineyard in the area is on the right hand side: Rocky Passes Estate, about 15 minutes east from Seymour. A sheep shed stands in the middle of the vineyard.

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Rocky Passes Vineyard

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Vineyard near the house

The house and the cellar door are very pretty. Vitto is not only a talented vigneron and winemaker but also a carpenter by profession. He has applied his skills to the winery as well. I just loved the tasting room which is quite cosy.

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The house and the picnic area

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Charlotte and Lucy with the emblem of the estate: the eagle

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The tasting room

Rocky Passes Estate is a boutique winery in the artisan tradition, inspired by the simplicity of the Argentinian cantinas. It produces biodynamically grown fruit. Yields are kept low to achieve outstanding wine qualities.

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Margit tasting the Rocky Passes wines

Rocky Passes Estate produces exclusively Syrah grapes (1.6 ha) and wines. Vitto had recently planted some Viognier (0.4 ha) which will extend the product range. We tasted all of the released wines. Excellent drops, I can confirm it.

James Halliday awarded to the ‘2005 Rocky Passes Syrah’ 94 Parker points and ranked the estate as a top winery (five stars). This is a great achievement. Nothing to add. The verdict is clear: these are top of the rank wines. Also the other vintages show their character as fine cool climate wines of Central Victoria. We bought a mixed dozen bottles and took one of the 2005 vintage back to Bangkok.

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Vitto, the artisan, and Margit in the winery

Vitto also introduced us to the wines in the making, some blends of Cabernet and Shiraz, and straight Cabernets. The vineyard is an extreme cool site and prone to late frosts in some years. Everything is hand made, from pruning to harvesting as well as the work in the small winery.

Established in 2000 total production is only about 800 cases. The wines are very reasonably priced. The 2005 Syrah with the 94 points cost only A$ 25 at the cellar door. The winery is worth a visit. Vitto and Candy are excellent hosts and extremely kind, full or energy and enthusiasm. Vitto has lots of interesting stories to tell. Give them a ring before going there.

We drove back along Highlands Road directly to Yea. Also this drive is worth it. What a lovely outing this was on a fine winters day in rural Victoria. Don’t miss it.

Address:
Vitto Oles & Candi Westney
Rocky Passes Estate
1590 Highlands Rd
Whiteheads Creek
Vic 3660
Australia
+61 3 5796 9366