Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hunter Valley Wine Tour Saturday

Spent my first Saturday in Sydney on a wine tour of the lovely Hunter Valley - about 2 hours outside of the city. Sniffed around the innerdnets for a few days, and settled on these guys.

Morning almost got off to a rocky start. Part of the group (Sheena, couple of Irish couples, some Aussie newlyweds, and assorted Brits) were late because they missed a ferry. The Irish couple flipped out and started pouting that they wanted off the tour. It was then that I began to appreciate the charm, patience and steely seething wit of our guide for the day - Nigel.

The stragglers showed, the tempers soothed.. and off we went.

First stop - the joint complex of Rosemount & Lindemann's. Nothing special wine-wise, but a good place to kick off the day with a tutored tasting and quick tour. Learned a bit about the history of the regions, the brands. They're both owned by Foster's now.

For next year's Xmas party:

Fave stop of the day: Tintilla Estates. Reminded me more of the Niagara family estates. Poured an astounding 11 samples. Some quite nice. Hosts were very indulgent and let us stroll the grounds and play with the recently picked Shiraz.

License Inspector. No fun zone.

Tempus Two winery - has an on premise cheese shop that was good fun. Plenty of free samples of some of the local soft cheeses. Good international selection. Picked up a couple of small blocks of King Island cheeses to hide in the hotel mini bar for snacks during the week.

Lunch stop was at the Blue Tongue Brewery. For 12 bucks Aussie money, a tasting paddle of 6 beers, and you could go back for a pint of the one you liked best. I went for the ginger beer - very distinct ginger aroma and flavour - crisp and yummy.

Last stop of the day was a bit of a rip off. The Golden Grape was a bit of a stunt winery - doing the kind of goofy flavoured sticky wines you'd expect to find from the crazy guy at Niagara's Crown Bench. But I suckered into a Dragon's Breath - a chili flavoured sweet wine (actually Butterscotch schnapps, chilies and rosemary) that I think will make a kick ass lemonade cocktail this summer...

Great day. Met a great bunch of oddballs from across the world brought together for 7 hrs by a shared common love of vino and a sense of adventure. Recommended.


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