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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.


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.


Rocky Passes Vineyard


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.


The house and the picnic area


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


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.


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.


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.

Vitto Oles & Candi Westney
Rocky Passes Estate
1590 Highlands Rd
Whiteheads Creek
Vic 3660
+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.

Upper Goulburn Winegrowers Association, Victoria

May 2, 2009

For some time now our vintners and wine producers association has had a website, but it was work in progress and filled up only step by step. Now the webpage of the Upper Goulburn Winegrowers Association is completed and fully functional. I would like to invite you to check it out.


I am very proud of this new piece of public relations and education. First of all I like the front page with its romantic touch. The subdued colours give it the historical foundation and substance which a new kid on the block usually seems to lack.

It’s typical Australian too since it tell stories, many different ones of the wineries and the other members of our organisation, the grape growers and the ones who do not have a cellar door.


It tells us stories about the region, it’s soils, the climate, the grape varieties, the history and what one can do their in term of leisure and tourist activities. It carries useful information such as maps, news and events. It also features a “wine of the month” where one of the many excellent wines are presented to the public.

Come and visit us, first on the internet and then jump into your car and drive out to the High Country and meet the friendly vintners of the Upper Goulburn Winegrowers Association. See you soon.

Upper Goulburn Vintage Celebration 2009 – A Day on High and Long Lunch

April 24, 2009


This coming weekend I would love to be in Mansfield, Victoria. That weekend, our association, the Upper Goulburn Winegrowers Association (UGWA) is going to host its 2009 vintage celebrations. What a treat, I tell you, the best of our wines are going to be on display, what a wonderful tasting out there in the High Country. On Saturday, 25 April (11:30-17:00) a day of wine and food tasting is going to be held, titled: “A Day on High”.


And on Sunday it is followed by the so called “Long lunch” at Orchard Farm Cottage where various chefs present their food combined with Upper Goulburn wines. The menu sounds delicious, though for a conservative European like me, Australian food is often too rich. I explain this in my postscript, no offence.

The following wineries are presenting their wines:
– Buller View
– Buxton Ridge
– Delatite
– Gioielle Estate
– Growlers Gully
– Kinloch Wines
– Mt Samaria
– Murrindindi
– Nillahcootie Estate
– Penbro Estate
– Sedona Estate
– Snobs Creek
– St Winifred’s

Apart from the wines, one can also taste local food produce and buy a whole lot of other things. There is music and a program for children, in short it should be a fun day out there.

At the “Long Lunch” on Sunday, things are more structured. The dishes on offer are appropriately paired with the various wines from the region. I leave out the food so that there is something left for you to be discovered by yourself.

First, there will be canapés served (prepared by Café 41 and the Mansfield Regional Produce Store) with the following wines:

– Buller View Sparkling Merlot
– Buller View “Scarlet” Rosé
– Buxton Ridge “Molly Jean” Sparkling
– Delatite Riesling
– Kinloch “Don” Sparkling
– Murrindindi Shiraz
– St Winifred Pinot Noir

Entrée is by Christian Bergmoser (twice cooked goats cheese soufflé with a lot of other stuff) and paired with:

– ‘2008 Buxton Ridge Sauvignon Blanc’
– ‘2005 Murrindindi Riesling’

The main course is by Dave Livingstone of Crawford Kitchens (roasted quail on another assortment of various items). The wines are:

– ‘2007 Growlers Gully Pinot Noir’
– ‘2008 Kinloch Pinot Meunier’

The dessert is by Michael Nelson from The Deck on High in Mansfield to which a ‘2008 Delatite “Catherine” Gewürztraminer’ will be served. Goodness me that sounds all so nice. We have never participated in the vintage celebration ourselves, but the time will come, I am sure. In the meantime I will further explore Thai and other wines and train my palate. If anyone who reads this is in the vicinity of the High Country, I suggest you better check it out.

Cheers to all the good wines, the producers and presenters and: have fun.

PS: Australians like to not just use one or two main ingredients for a dish but many, many. I give you an example to illustrate that: a typical pizza margherita, with only tomatoes and cheese with some basil leaves, is considered by most Australians a kind of rip-off. There needs to be more on a pizza, at least 3 to 4 toppings and heaps of it (a little mountain on top of the dough). If you read the above menu, you see what I mean.

Jewels of the Upper Goulburn Wine Region Part I.

October 31, 2008

Today, I want to start a new series and introduce to you some wine and grape producers from our wine growers association, the Upper Goulburn Winegrowers Association. I plan to feature three to four wineries and vineyards at the time. The selection is random. I will start with the wineries with open cellar doors. Of the 30 odd members of our association, about 9 belong to this category. Another 12 are vineyards which also produce some wine under their labels but conduct wine tastings only by appointment. All the others are fruit producers only and do not sell wines commercially.

The first cohort of wineries to be presented consists of Kinloch Wines, Rees Miller Estate and, a small boutique winery, called Rocky Passes Estate. I want to be honest with you. I have tasted wines made by Malcolm Kinloch (Kinloch Wines) and David Miller (Rees Miller Estate) but not the ones made by Victor Oles (Rocky Passes Estate). I have visited the two former wineries (and I know Malcolm and David) but not the latter.

But this is no impediment to write about all three of them. Anyway, we are going to visit Australia for Christmas and we might take this opportunity to get to know the Rocky Passes people.

I am starting with Kinloch Wines. Malcolm and Susan Kinloch have established a wonderful wine business. The vineyard is located in the Booroolite Valley, about 15 minutes by car from Mansfield (almost next to another famous winery of our region: Delatite Winery).

This year at the Federation Sq Showcase Series the Kinlochs were rewarded two gold medals, one for their “2004 Mary Friend Cabernets-Merlot Blend” and another for their “2006 Don Kinloch Sparkling white”. Moreover, the “Mary Friend” red was judged the Overall Best Red Blend in its class at the Award presentation for the Victorian Wine Awards.

2008 was a most unusual year in the Upper Goulburn. Kinloch Wines harvested a record 34 tons of fruit of outstanding quality. From the 2008 vintage three wines have been released so far (cellar door prices in brackets):
-Unwooded Chardonnay (A$ 18)
-Sauvignon Blanc, and (A$ 22)
-a first rosè (A$ 18) made from Pinot Meunier grapes.

I have tasted earlier vintages of the two white wines and they are delicious. When we visited Kinloch Wines in winter, one could see Mount Buller in a not so distant distance, all in white with a beautiful snow cap.

How to find them:
Kinloch Wines
In the Booroolite Valley, the cellar door is warm and friendly and offers gourmet luncheon platters on weekends and public holidays.
Address: 221 Wairere Rd, Boorolite – 15 minutes from Mansfield
Open: 10.00 am to 4.00 pm daily
Tel: 5777 3447
Contact: Susan and Malcolm Kinloch

Rees Miller Estate is the next winery in my cohort. Located near Yea – about 15 minutes drive on the highway to Alexandra/Mansfield – Sylke Rees and David Miller own and operate a fully certified biodynamic vineyard and winery. Today about 7 ha are under vines, the farm has a total of about 64 ha. Sylke and David are both very much committed to the protection of the environment, and the organic production of food. They intend to produce pure products for consumption in a way that supports the land and its people.

We got to know Sylke and David when our wine stall was just adjacent to theirs at the 2007 Alexandra Food and Wine Expo. David conducted a very interesting wine tasting, actually my first wine tasting at such an event, and Sylke sold the wines. When we visited their cellar door some time later, they were both on Christmas holidays. To my great surprise Rees Miller wines were available at our duty free wine store in Jakarta, and we did not have to suffer any shortages of their beautiful reds.

How to find them:
Rees Miller Estate
Fully certified biodynamic vineyard situated on the Goulburn Valley Highway, just east of Yea.
Address: 5355 Goulburn Valley Highway, Yea
Open: 10.00 am to 4.00 pm daily
Tel: 5797 2101
Contact: David Miller or Sylke Rees

The last vineyard in this first cohort of Upper Goulburn wineries with cellar doors is Rocky Passes Estate, a small boutique vineyard of about 6 acres (5 acres Shiraz and 1 acre Viognier) located in Whiteheads Creek, near Seymour. I only know their one-page website and their listing in our membership directory. Rocky Passes Estate is another vineyard dedicated to organic grape growing and wine making (there are quite a few in our region). Cropping levels are kept low (about 2 tonnes per acre). The cellar door was opened in 2006. The wines can be ordered by mail, phone or e-mail.

How to find them:
Rocky Passes Estate
Situated at the southern end of the Strathbogie Ranges, the wines are made using organic practices and biodynamic preparations.
Address: 1590 Highlands Rd,
Whiteheads Creek, Seymour
Open: Sundays 11.00 am to 4.00pm or by appointment
Tel: 5796 9366
Contact: Victor Oles or Candy Westney

I hope I could stimulate your curiosity. The Upper Goulburn Wine Region is a rural place with real people who love what they are doing, have passion for their wines and commitment to the environment.