My wine of the month: Jean-Pauls Vineyard 2007 de Castella Shiraz Cabernet

August 29, 2011

I have written about the wines produced by Jean-Pauls Vineyard near Yea, Victoria earlier.

August is a special month anyway since it carries my birthday, and I needed to be spoilt somehow. That is why I opened one of “my treasure wines” the other day. Wine bottles are heavy and one cannot carry many on the plane. Moreover there are customs regulations which somehow limits further the number of bottles on can carry. Believe me it is not easy to decide which bottle to take on the plane.

But we brought this bottle of ‘2007 de Castella Shiraz Cabernet’ by Jean-Pauls Vineyard.

William de Castella is one of our neighbours so to say. His Jean-Pauls Vineyard is situated near the pcituresque country town of Yea, about a 30 minutes drive from our farm in Glenburn. Will is also a member of our association, the Upper Goulburn Winegrowers Association.

Will de Castella started his operation in 1994. From about 6 acres under vines he produces only 200 cases a year, a tiny amount in comparison to much larger family and industrial operations. His vineyard is organically certified and produces exquisite fruit. I just love boutique vineyards and wineries since the passion of the people behind the operation directly transpires into their wines.

The de Castella family carries a famous name, Will’s ancestors where the pioneers of the Yarra Valley and the Victorian wine industry in the 19th century. I love his fruity and delicate wines which are well balanced and just a delight. This blend of Shiraz and Cabernet combines the strength of both varietals.

So this wine made my day after a busy and stressful day in the office. We had it with food, of course, one of our customary family meals which are so enjoyable.

If you should visit Victoria, please take a day and drive up to Yea and check out some of the wineries along the way. You will not regret it.

Address:
Jean-Pauls Vineyard
RMB 6173, Yea, Vic 3717 (postal)
Upper Goulburn VIC
Tel.: +61-03-5797 2235
www.jeanpaulsvineyard.com.au

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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


Upper Goulburn Vintage Celebration

April 26, 2010

Autumn is a splendid time in Australia. It is the time of colours and, of course, harvest festivals. The past weekend saw two such events celebrating the 2010 vintage of the Upper Goulburn Winegrowers Association.

The first was the traditional “Day on the High” in Mansfield, High Street, which is a street festival. The second event was the “Upper Goulburn Long Lunch” which was held in the Mansfield showground pavilion. Both events are the highlight of the year for many of our winery members and the many related trades displaying their wares and produce, meeting friends, eating and drinking and being merry.

Australia’s 2010 vintage was the smallest in a decade. Instead of 1.8 million tons of grapes, only about 1.4 million tons were harvested. The wine industry is being plagued by oversupply in general. Moreover, 2010 was another drought year with poor grape prices. Many grape growers just gave up. More than 8,000 ha of vines have been pulled already and many more vineyards have been abandoned.

So therefore, this autumn was also a great time for the birds feasting on the many unharvested grapes on the vines. The wine industry crisis is hitting many family businesses, not so much the very small weekender and backyard vintners, but the full-time and medium-sized ones. Some of the investor driven schemes have also suffered. The corporates, however hard hit, are shedding “the fat”, meaning they are “selling the crap” and keeping the profitable brands and vineyards.

For many vintners 2010 was not a good year and for many more, crunch time is still to come. But on this weekend those sombre thoughts were stashed away for a few hours. Let the good times roll on (even if only for a couple of hours).


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.


Liz Mazurek Art Exhibition at Rocky Passes

April 11, 2010

Rocky Passes 2006 Syrah

One of our favorite “house wines” is Syrah from Rocky Passes, a winery about an hour north of Two Hills Vineyard. Rocky Passes Estate has received rocking reviews from James Halliday, one of the “popes of wine” from the Yarra Valley. The 2006 vintage received 92 points. Vitto Oles is a jolly good fellow, excellent wine maker and carpenter.

James Halliday wine reviews of Rocky Passes

Liz Mazurek painting

Today the newest art exhibition of Liz Mazurek starts at Rocky Passes. The theme is “The Persistence of Existence”. There is also a three course Spanish dinner available at the opening. If you have not reserved just go for some wine tasting and have a look at the colorful paintings of Liz. Rocky Passes Estate is worth a visit.

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


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


The Australian Wine Regions

June 21, 2009

On the blog of Geoff Bilbrough I found a most useful tool: the Australian Wine Region Map. If you are planning a trip to Australian and you want to visit some wine country, this map is exactly what you always wanted.

On Geoff’s link, the “Wine Wine Wine” (which by the way is a wonderful informative site) the map looks like the sketch below in the left corner:

Snapshot wine regions web

I played a little around with the Google based map, and found it amazing, especially the Yarra Valley part. Unfortunately, our wine region, the Upper Goulburn Wine Region is not (yet) on the list of Australian wine regions.

Australian wine regions map web

The interactive map allows you to select a wine region and/or a winery so that you can plan your winery tour. It prints out the map as well, if you like. Precondition is of course that the wine region and the vineyard/winery you intend to visit are somehow included in the system.

I will try to use the tool soon when we all go to Australian for the winter break. I’ll report back to you.