This be wine country

10/31/2010 10:52:00 am

I am going to give you some advice about travelling (I'm an expert, didn't you hear?...):

  1. Never go in school holidays. Ever.
  2. Places like the Hunter and Blue Mountains are much better for relaxatory visiting during the week. The only people there on weekdays are asian tourists (matching outfits, check), people from Switzerland, and retired people touring the country in caravans of motor homes, polluting the radio waves with discussions about cheese, and generally annoying locals who actually have to use the radio waves, and who like to drive very fast on unsealed roads. Anyway, since I don't like people, especially Sydney weekenders in Europeans cars, midweek is a great time to travel.
  3. Be a tourist without shame.

With these pieces of knowledge, we set forth into wine country, armed and dangerous with a fully loaded credit card.

I'm going to give props to myself for finding a great hotel. I'm going to give props to myself also for planning an awesome holiday, even though I chucked a fit in the months before, sobbing and declaring to my beloved that, "this time you plan the fucking holiday, that way when we do something you think is boring, you can shove it up your ass because it was your idea." I discovered last time that when he says, "I don't care what we do," shopping, museums, and most kinds of cultural activity are not included in that umbrella statement. Love you, honey xx.

The Sebel at Kirkton Park is set out in different wings. You need a map to get to your room. It's all very English. We were in the West Wing, which was in the general direction of the Manor House. We had a verandah. I saw a bunny playing in the garden.

Don't tell anyone, but the first night we were there, we went into town and bought beer, cider and cheese for afternoonsies. And they weren't even boutique... gasp. It's ok though, we ate quail for dinner, so on balance, I'm sure we were being wankers enough.

I drank cider and ate macarons. I could eat by that point, and I was damn well going to make my way through the box of macarons which Rob's mother had given me the night before.
It was generally just schmancy, although the restaurant, which is expensive and alleged to be fine dining, was not that great. Ok, but not great. Ok, I'll admit I'm a snob... in fine dining restaurants, the waiters don't say "youse". There, I said it.

And breakfast, fine but not great, especially because we got charged for it twice. Note to self, must email and get that fixed...

Go me! Look at the view!

What's wine country without wine? We elected to go wine touring with a small group in a mini bus. See point 3, above.

This was good because we didn't need a designated driver, and we didn't have to put any thought into which wineries we would go to. Also, in my experience, tour groups get better service when it comes to tastings because the tour operators usually have a relationship with the winery.

It was bad because we got no say over which wineries we would go to. Which is how we ended up at Tempus Two. Wow, it was quite horrible. Mainly because of the tight-jeaned hipster doing our tasting. When asked if he could turn the music down a little because some of our group were unable to hear him speaking, he replied haughtily, "No. It's part of the Tempus Two experience *head toss* and if you don't like it, you'll have to bring it up with Lisa McGuigan herself."

He was a self-important little wanker, and the wine was nothing special. My personal feeling too, is that I would rather pay for what is in the bottle, rather than the bottle itself, so I don't actually care if the bottle is made from Venetian glass and the labels from pressed copper. I'm obviously not cool enough to understand the hype.

Anyway, as luck would have it, there is a cheese shop at the Tempus Two site. There was apparently a sign on the door which said no photos, but I didn't see it, so I was exempt from the rule.
Mmmmmmns fromage

Our tour man said not to buy anything while we were there, as we would stop back in the afternoon rather than leaving the delicious cheese in the bus all day. But then, in the afternoon, he changed his mind and didn't take us back. Not cool Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Tours. When it became apparent that he was going to be killed if we didn't get some cheese, he detoured to take us to the smaller, sister cheese shop, telling us that we only had 5 minutes. It was a shit fight because everything was in different places, and no one could find what they wanted, and it didn't have the same stock. The old people on our tour were really pissed, and so he said we could go to the original cheese shop, which turned out to be about two minutes away, and everyone was annoyed that we didn't go there in the first place.

The worst part was that we had already dropped one couple off at their hotel, and as we drove away from the cheese shop, we saw them walking in. Not cool Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Tours. Not cool at all.

I managed to get the cheeses I wanted, and for dinner that night we ate an entire packet of crackers and a wedge of triple cream brie. I'm still working my way through the aged cheddar, and we demolished (...mostly I demolished) the double brie last night. It was really good cheese. Like.. Really Good Cheese.

At McGuigans, I bought a 2007 merlot (drank it last night, was deliciously plummy), a 2008 sparkling pinot gris, and 2007 late picked traminer dessert wine. Yum.

At Oakvale, we heard a bit too much about the tasting lady's divorce, but they had some nice wines, and I bought a 2008 Gold Rock sangiovese, which meant I got a 2008 chardonnay for free. Not being a chardonnay drinker, that one will go to someone for Christmas. I'm a giver like that.

We lunched at Blue Tongue Brewery. The food was standard, and the alcoholic ginger beer was ok, I suppose. It was nice to lounge in the sun after lunch, but we didn't buy anything, since Blue Tongue is fairly readily available in most places.

We finished up at Ernest Hill, which is a small estate growing mostly semillon. The lady doing our tasting was really great, she was so knowledgeable and engaging, and she was happy to answer so many questions about their wines, and also wine in general They only sell through their club and cellar door, and their wines were fantastic. I bought a 2010 rosé, and intend to drink it soon, on a hot afternoon when I've had a shit day at work. I bought a 2009 merlot as well, even though someone made fun of me recently for being a merlot drinker, because everyone knows that merlot is what people drink when they know nothing about wine. Whatever. And anyway, I don't like shiraz very much, so just eff off with the wine snobbery.

I'll leave the merlot until next year at least, and drink it with roasted lamb in the winter. You should go to Ernest Hill. You can thank me later.

The moral of the story here, is that it's fine to be a tourist. It's fine to like drinking merlot. Hotel restaurants are usually over-rated, even if they do have quail. And good cheese tastes even better when eaten on a verandah with a view, in a warm afternoon breeze.

As long as it's a weekday and well inside the school term.

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5 comments on this post

  1. Anonymous11:39 am

    What, you weren't affected by Miles' declaration of detest at the mention of Merlot in 'Sideways'? I certainly was.

    My true love is double cream brie. Simple, I know, but you can't go past a cheese that was meant to melt in your mouth.

  2. Anonymous1:18 pm

    Note to daughter-chardonnay is not my favourite white wine-just saying.

  3. Anonymous9:13 pm

    Pftt, wine country is awsome. just sounds like you know nothing about anything and shoot off at the mouth, Not cool ellie. Not cool.

  4. Oooh yup, totally shooting off at the mouth. You're an asshole, and if you'd actually read my post, then I think think you'd find that I wasn't claiming to know anything about wine country, nor did I say anything bad about it.

    How about next time you come and make smart ass comments you post with an actual name instead of hiding behing "Anonymous". Dick.

  5. Actually, now that I think about it, why don't you say that you work for Tempus Two next time you write me a lovely comment. Skinny hipster, is that you??


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