All good things must come to an end

January 28, 2014

THV family

Margit, Helen, Michael, Lucy and Charlotte

After six weeks on the farm the time has come to go back to Bangkok. All good things (bad ones too) must come to an end, and the last days on the farm are always the most difficult ones. The brain tends to wonder off and indulges in the planning of activities which need to be done after the return to the job. At the same time last minutes projects await to be completed on the farm and in the vineyard. It is always the same anxiety which descends on the unprepared but well informed holiday maker.

As always it is very educative to spend such a long and uninterrupted time in Glenburn. The learning is amazing, and this on many different levels. Time and place attain a different meaning, and the observation of nature enriches the mind. The nights at the vineyard are dark when there is no moon, The milkyway looks stunning and the quiet is amazing. No street noise, nothing, things we are used from our life ini Bangkok where the city never sleeps.

While I was reading a historic account of the Crimean war from 1853-56, written by Orlando Figes, I was also browsing through a book about the history of Yea (by Harvey Blanks), the charming country town just 35 km north of Glenburn, which I have in our bookshelf. I found out that Yea, formerly known as Muddy Creek, was named after Colonel Lacy Walter Gilew Yea, an English officer who took part in the battles of Alama and Inkerman, and who lost his life during the siege of Sebastopol on June 18, 1855. After that, Melbourne street names such as Alama, Inkerman and Balaklava gained a new meaning. Who would have thought that innocuous things such as the name of a country town in central Victoria and a war fought more than 150 years ago in a very different part of the world could be connected?

Living on the farm right in the middle of an ancient Australian landscape also connects you to arts. In this case the Australian pastoral landscape paintingS. We visited the TarraWarra Estate to see the current art exhibition and have a bite at the restaurant of the TarraWarra Winery. Surprise surprise, a show by Russell Drysdale was on display, whose modernists pastoral landscapes connects the interracial histories of Australia.

The highlight on the culinary front were certainly the meal we had at the TerraWarra restaurant. I also liked the Viognier-Marsanne-Rousanne blend, an excellent white for hot summers days. Moreover, a visit to Rocky Passes Estate which is located between Seymour and Yea, gave us the opportunity to reconnect with Candy and Vitto, the charming owners. Candy prepared delicious tapas for us, and the award winning 2010 Rocky Passes Shiraz is just a ripper of a wine. Vitto does not only make delicious wines (with 90 plus Parker points) but also exquisite furniture. A visit is highly recommended.

I also discovered the Fratelli wines who make a very nice Riesling from grapes grown in the Upper Goulburn region of Central Victoria. Timo Mayer has a new Pinot Noir made from grapes grown in the Yarra Valley on granite soil. The current release is the first vintage and promises to become another star at the “Pinot Noir heaven”, if you know what I mean.

A week of sweltering heat above 40 Celsius taught us the importance of a fire plan (which we did not have but have now) and the positive effect our 12 mega liter irrigation dam can have for suffering humans. Every two hours we jumped in to cool down during those hot days. We survived a second heat wave with temperatures in the high 30ies. The hot weeks were interrupted by very cool days with even cooler nights. That might be one of the reasons why our own wines last so long. The fine and firm acids of our grapes allow for the Merlot wines to age so well. We tasted the 2004, 2006 and 2008 vintages and found that the 2004 Two Hills Merlot did still hold its freshness. Also the fruit (red cherries mainly) was still vivid. The younger vintages were less elegant and showed rather “umpf wine” characteristics.

THV Merlot 2004

2004 Two Hills Merlot

Our vineyard is still in a “mothball state”, meaning we are keeping the vines alive but do not produce fruit. Nonetheless, together with my twin daughters, I attacked the blackberries whose roots we tried to dig out. We did the Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir blocks, and left the other two (Merlot and SB) for my next visit. Various repairs of the cottage and the shed were completed. We also cleared fallen branches and other wood from the paddocks. All in all, the property looks very nice and well kept. I can leave it behind with a laughing eye, as we say in German. The other one will, as always when leaving Two Hills, filled with tears. Cheers

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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


“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.