Lunch at Mash Brewing – Swan Valley, Perth

I am very partial to the Mash “West Coast” wheat beer. However it’s never tempted me to have a meal. Recently a friend invited me to lunch at the craft brewery as it’s one of her and her husbands favourite spots in the Valley for a meal, so how could I say no 🙂 Continue reading

WA Qantas Wine Awards 2013

The Qantas Wine Awards are Western Australia’s most prestigious wine show which has been running since 1978. I was completely blown away to be invited along by the lovely team at Evans & Tate to the Awards Dinner at the Hyatt Regency in Perth.

The night was full of glitter and glam as the winners of the each categoray were announced. In between the announcements and entertainment we were served up some absolutely delectable morsels of food, which were paired with the top wine of each category.

It was an amazing experience for both Mr. Spittoon and myself to attend as guests and mingle with WA’s elite winemakers and sip on the best drops in the state. Plus I have to admit it was pretty cool to be sitting at the table of the winery that won 7 out of the 19 awards. The 7 awards won by Evans & Tate (E&T) included the prestigious trophy for Most Successful Exhibitor as well as the Highest Aggregate for a Winery. Well-done Matt Byrne and the E&T winemaking team.

It’s safe to say I will be stashing away a few bottles of the E&T 2010 Redbrook Chardonnay (which won Best White Wine and Best Chardonnay) and the 2011 Redbrook Shiraz (which won the Best Wine of the Show, Best Red Wine and Best Shiraz) when it is released in April 2014. Check out Evans & Tate blog post on the awards night here.

Another fantastic result was seeing Mandoon Estate from the Swan Valley pick up three trophies for; Most Successful Exhibitor Processing under 250 Tonnes, Best & Most Distinctive Character for their 2012 Cabernet Merlot and Best Red Blend also for their 2012 Cab Merlot. Well-done Mandoon!!

Click here for a full list of the 2013 trophy winners.

IMG_4180_2The food was definitely worthy of the award winning wines with the main dish being slow-roasted Liveringa Beef rib, white soft polenta, Manjimup truffle oil, braised leeks, sautéed cavolo nero, vine ripened tomato, glazed baby carrot and red wine jus and dessert was a rhubarb and Valrhona chocolate delice, hazelnut biscotti, symphony of tomato and raspberry. Click the image on the right to see a larger version of the menu.

It was an amazing night and it was so great to get to known the E&T team who are just so much fun and down to earth. Definitely no wine snobbery there, they simply love to make great wine and share it with everyone.

Well done to all the award winners and wines entered. I feel truly lucky to be living in a state with so many fantastic wines and wino people! For more photos from the night, check out my WA Qantas Wine Awards Facebook album here.

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Viva Verdelho 2013 in the Swan Valley

World-renowned Master of Wine, Jancis Robinson once said that the Swan Valley makes the best Verdelho in the world. I completely agree!

Viva Verdelho is the annual Swan Valley celebration of the Verdelho grape variety. Originally from Portugal the Verdelho grape thrives in the warm weather of the Swan Valley. It is a realitively straight forward grape to grow however it can be prone to diease in the vineyard. It produces a full-bodied white wine which can be bone-dry or sweet, drank young or aged and typically has notes of lime and honeysuckle.

What I loved about Viva Verdelho 2013 is that you are focusing all your attention on this one grape variety. We were able to taste Verdelho’s from 15 different Swan Valley producers and it was amazing how the wine styles differed between one winery to the next.

The majority of the Verdelho’s on show were dry 2013s. However Garbin Estate, Sittella & Lancaster also had off-dry to medium sweet Verdelho’s to taste, Lamont’s had a backlog of Verdelho’s to try including a 2005, 2007, 2012 and their 2013 which was incredibly interesting to see how the wines age and Talijancich and Harris Organic had fortified Verdelho’s to taste.

While we were tasting our way through these delectable tipples, a panel of 4 critics were judging the wines. The panel consisted of; Ray Jordan wine reviewer for the Western Australian newspaper, David Prestipino wine reviewer for the Sunday Times, Paul Murray journalist and radio broadcaster, and Fleur Bainger from White Noise Media. The judges evaluated the wines by themselves and then with 3 dishes created by head chef Jamie Skinner from Stewart’s at Brookleigh.

The food was AMAZING! Literally the dishes were a work of art and every morsel on those plates melted in your mouth.  All the ingredients were carefully chosen to compliment the flavours of the Swan Valley Verdelho’s. Please click on the image to the right to see the mouth-watering menu. I can’t decide which was my favourite dish, both the tortellini and the quail were heavenly. Mr. Spittoon couldn’t stop gushing over the pork belly, he even declared it to be the best pork belly he has ever had! Big words!

During the afternoon raffles to win packs of Swan Valley wines were up for grabs and we, the consumers, were also asked to vote for our top 3 wines which would ultimately determine the ‘Peoples Choice Award’.

After the 3rd course I was well and truly in wino-foodie heaven. Thank goodness for wearing stretchy pants!! It was also great how in-between the courses we had the opportunity to get up and try more wines and speak to the winemarkers/winery representatives. Mr. Spittoon and I had some fascinating conversations – it’s safe to say we now know a a lot more about Verdelho and the Valley. So it wasn’t just an afternoon of eating and drinking, it was educational!

So who did the critics and the people deem to have the best 2013 Verdelho in the Swan Valley you ask??

The Critics Choice Award:
1st = Chester’s Restaurant & Heafod Glen Winery
2nd = Faber Vineyard
3rd = Lamont’s

The People’s Choice Award:
1st = Lamont’s
2nd = Sittella Winery
3rd = Olive Farm Wines

The day ended perfectly with cheese from the The Cheese Barrel and nougat and chocolate from Mondo Nougat as well as fortified Verdelho’s to taste and new release reds from the Valley. I have to mention that the stilton blue cheese went amazingly well with the Harris Organic Fortified Verdelho, it truly was cheesey-wino heaven! Want to see more delectable photos? Check out my Viva Verdelho Facebook album here.

A big thank-you to the Swan Valley Winemakers Association for inviting me along to this great event. Bring on Viva Verdelho 2014! For more details on other Swan Valley events please click here.

Here are a selection of Swan Valley Verdelho’s I have tasted this year, please click the links for full tasting notes:

Viva Verdelho 2013

viva-verdelho-2013-swan-valleyAn event not to missed! Seriously, great wine, fantastic food in the beautiful Swan Valley – what’s not to like? If you do anything in the Swan Valley this year, Viva Verdelho should be on your list.

This weekend on Sunday the 10th of November twenty Swan Valley wine producers will showcase their best Verdelho’s matched with food at the lovely Stewart’s at Brookleigh restaurant (I can personally vouch for how great Stewart’s is, read my post here). Tickets are $82 per person for this long-table style lunch from 12:30-4pm.

Viva Verdelho is an interactive afternoon which invites wine and food lovers to sample wines and match them over three courses created by head chef Jamie Skinner at Stewart’s. The afternoon will involve raffles, interviews with the judges and the coveted ‘People’s Choice Award’.

So what’s on the menu you ask? Here is a sneak peek…

  • 1st course: Beetroot and fennel cured kingfish, petite panzanella, fried Lilliput capers and crispy mandarin. This has been designed to be a fresh, zingy and fragrant dish to compliment the more delicate Verdelho’s on tasting at the event.
  • 2nd course:  Swimmer crab and prawn tortellini, nero, samphire, mussels and verjuice cream. This dish is a little richer than the entree and will go well with some of the Verdelho’s with rounder and more tropical flavours.
  • 3rd course: Thyme confit quail, walnut gnocchi, waldorf flavours and apple slaw – a more earthy and nutty dish compared to the other two previous courses, to pair well with some of the more developed Verdelho styles at the event.

After lunch there will be feature tastings of new red wine releases and fortified Verdelho matched with cheese from The Cheese Barrel and chocolates & nougat from Mondo Nougat.

I am already having foodgasms at the thought! For more information please check out the Viva Verdelho Facebook page and to book tickets please click here.

What is Verdelho?
It is a white grape variety which thrives in the Swan Valley. It is a very aromatic variety which is typically full-bodied and it can be enjoyed young or it can be aged. With great fruit and acidity balance it is the perfect accompaniment with fish, chicken and Asian cuisine.

I hope to see you all on the weekend!

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Core Cider House – Perth Hills

I needed a break from wine. I bet you never thought you would read those words from me. You may have read my post about my parents visit a few weeks ago when we went on a massive tasting journey throughout the Swan Valley and Perth Hills. After 16 wineries we decided to mix it up a bit which led us to Core Cider House in the Perth Hills.

I had heard a lot about this wee spot however I tend to find a lot of cider far too sweet for my liking so I always get distracted by visiting the wineries instead. Since my Mum is a fan of cider and well the boys are up for anything you can gulp down I decided brunch at Core was to be done!

This out of the way spot in the Perth Hills is only a 30-minute drive from Perth city, you will instantly feel like you are on holiday. Those rolling hills covered in sweeping orchards and cherry blossoms are just the perfect spot for a wee cider or two. It truly is idyllic and every time I go up into the Perth Hills I am ever so slowly building my dream home in my mind somewhere up there.

It was long weekend when we visited Core and thankfully we showed up just as they opened and an hour or so before the lunch rush which they were completely booked out for (I would suggest making a reservation!). We sat on the lovely veranda overlooking the orchards, 10:30am seems accepted for cider tasting doesn’t it? It was a touch chilly, as Perth was protesting against Spring with all the rain however thank-fully our lovely server set up a heater and offered us blankets to keep cosy.

There is plenty of outdoor downstairs seating, so I could image Core absolutely goes off during the summer months. Perfect spot for a Sunday session.

Naturally we all had to go for the tasting plate which included a very generous sample of 5 ciders; Sparkling Lemon – ’PITH’D’ (4.5% a/v) Sparkling Pear – Peace CORE (3.5% a/v) Sparkling Apple – CORE Meltdown (5% a/v) Traditional Apple & Pear – CORE Reactor (6.5% a/v) Traditional Apple – Hard CORE (7.4% a/v).

The consensus from our group was that overall they were all very good and not horribly sweet bottle shop ciders at all. The sparkling’s were definitely preferred over the tradition ciders and the unanimous winning brew was the Pith’d Sparkling Lemon – absolutely divine, I could definitely put back a few of those on a summers day.

The menu consists of meals as well as shared plates which is what we went for. I love this style of eating as you get to try a bit of everything! We decided to keep it light and easy and went for the below between 4 people:

  • Warm Brie: Thyme & garlic infused brie served warm with CORE Cab/Sauv sultanas, Candied walnuts & Turkish bread for $20
  • Ciderman’s Taster: Ciderman John’s favourite: Cave Aged cheddar, caper & and green peppercorn salsa, half semi dried tomato’s, WA air dried Brescola, shaved champagne ham, mild salami slices, pickled cucumber ,warmed parmesan flat bread, croutons for $32.50

We were 110% happy with the food. It tasted absolutely palate-blowing and the presentation was just beautiful. That creamy warm brie and the candied walnuts were a taste memory that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. And the tomato’s filled with the caper and green peppercorn salsa with the flat bread… YUM! For a light brunch for 4 people it was exactly the right amount.

Core Cider House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato You know a place is good when everyone cannot stop talking about it when you get back into the car. I am really looking forward to going back to Core sometime soon and tasting through more of the tasty morsels on offers as well as giving the Quince Sparkling Wine a go!

For more information please check out the Core Cider House website and the Core Cider House Facebook page.

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