Monday, December 19, 2011

wine, roses and jazz festival

In Canberra, graduates across government departments have many opportunities to attend interdepartmental social mixing events. I wanted a wine tour to happen, but rather than asking someone else to do it (and it possibly not happening), I put up my hand to organise it (yes, I am a sucker).

The capacity of the wine tour was 77 people. 3 separate groups of approx 25 rotated around different wineries, essentially a ‘tour’. The tour purposively fell on the same weekend as the Wine, Roses and Jazz Festival. This allowed the graduates to not only go wine tasting, but enjoy the music and pretty scenery. We visited the Murrambateman region because a committee member advised that it is one of the more picturesque regions.

Tallagandra Hill Winery
This was, by far, my favourite winery on the day. The winery has a contemporary café feel. We enjoyed a sit down wine tasting outside under shelter. Brad, one of the owners of the winery, talked us through each wine we tasted, what food would complement each wine and answered our (mainly mine) bizarre and inane questions. For example, I asked why do people swirl their glasses before they drink the wine? I can’t remember Brad’s exact response but it was something along the lines of allowing people to fully smell the wine and to allow the aromas of the wine to come alive. After all, the sense of taste is dependent on smell. Brad also told us a bit of history of the winery and made the whole experience very personal.

Another group had lunch at this winery and they were thoroughly impressed by the generous servings of food.

I’m not a red wine drinker, because I find it too strong and too fruity. I actually feel like a Queen Lear when I drink red wine. However, the 2011 ‘Sassy’ Red was amazing. Even a couple of males liked it. My wine tasting notes describe it as being made from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, tasting and smelling of sweet berry fruits, with a delicious touch of sweetness on the palate. I thought the wine was zangy (like citrus), playful and light. My favourite red wine in the world, so far!
Dionysis Winery
This winery reminds me of the cute country cafes and shops that you’d find in small towns, such as Berrima. Normally guests enjoy a stand up wine tasting in the shop front, where they are surrounded by delicious condiments etc. For our wine tasting, we were in the back shelter where all the barrels of wine were stored – it felt natural and raw. The new 2011 Reisling was my favourite and was well liked by the male/female crowd. It wasn’t overly strong and had a good balance between fruitiness and sophistication.

At this winery, we had a light lunch – either a smoked salmon salad or goats cheese salad. I enjoy the first offering but many of us still needed more food to soak in the wine that we consumed throughout the day. A few of us shared a Dionysis platter, which included cold meats, cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, dips, chutney, relish, tapenade, pesto and olives. This dish has a better presentation on non-festival days, as it would be served on a wooden chopping board, giving the dish a country gourmet feel.
Long Rail Gully
This is a large shed filled with barrels of wine and make-shift wine tasting tables. I didn’t taste much wine here because I was trying to sober up for the drive home. This was the first winery where my group actually got to listen to jazz. The highlight of this winery would be the gorgeous dam at the back. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of it.
Jeir Creek Winery
This is a small and cute winery. There are flowers and leaves climbing the walls and is exactly what I imagine a country winery to look like. I remember tasting a nice dessert wine here… But my technical memories of this part of the wine tour are pretty vague.

People seemed to enjoy themselves a lot at the wine tour. I had a lot of fun planning it (thanks to the committee) and hanging out with the grads. This was probably my favourite social event of the year!

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