Raising Riesling – Everything Happens for a Riesling

riesling-tattoo-raising-rieslingAnother year and another fabulous afternoon of tasting Great Southern Riesling at this years Raising Riesling event at the Perth Royal Yacht Club. There’s something about heading along to a yacht club and sipping on Riesling all afternoon that has a certain appeal. I went dressed in nautical attire with a navy and white stripped dress and matching shoes so it’s safe to say I was in the boats & wine mood! Continue reading

“Holy shit, it’s Maverick and Goose” in the Swan Valley – Top Gun Tours

Top Gun Tour Bus Swan ValleyOn July 8, 2007 Matthew Attwood established an elite Swan Valley Tour company for the wine lovers of Perth. Its purpose was to teach the lost art of wine tasting combat and to insure that the handful of drinkers who graduated from the tour were the best wine tourists in the world. He has succeeded. Today, Perth calls it another Swan Valley Tour. The passengers call it: TOP GUN.

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Margaret River Wineries: Fraser Gallop Estate

I felt like I was in Europe again when I visited Fraser Gallop Estate in the Margaret River Wine Region as the cellar door is only open by appointment only. It gives the experience of visiting the winery an air of exclusivity and leaves the winery up to the task of concentrating on making amazing wines – which I don’t mind at all.

Fraser Gallop are all about letting the grapes speak for themselves. With minimal intervention during the viticulture and winemaking processes, they really want their wines to show what an amazing spot in the world their grapes come from. This encompasses the geography, geology and climate of the area, or as the French call it, the terrior. The vineyard grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Chardonnay and Semillon grapes.

At Fraser Gallop Estate there is the winery where all the magic happens. Of course it is spotlessly clean – if you have visited a winery before you’ll notice that they’re always impeccably clean, it is a mandatory trait of a winemaker! I can tell by the look of my closest that I was definitely not destined to be a winemaker. And beside the winery is the barrel room. I love walking into a barrel room, barrels as high as the eye can see and they have that absolutely gorgeous smell to them of wine and oak. I wonder if I could pick up an air-freshener so that my house could smell like that? Let me know if you come across one!

Anyway our tasting was run by Phil Callaghan who is the Sales & Marketing Manager of Fraser Gallop. Considering we were running over 30 minutes late for the appointment as we were caught up at another winery, he was still in good spirits which was very nice of him! Personally I hate when people are late!

I loved how the winery and barrel room were right down the end of a long driveway. You drive pass the vines and then get to what feels like a super secluded spot amongst the vines. Private, quiet and surrounded by wine – what more could one want!

Phil took us through the history of Fraser Gallop and explained about the wines while we tasted through the range. Is it bad that I loved every single wine I tried?? They all had a certain elegance to them with a taste of intrigue – they’re those types of wines that you sip, sit back, mull it over, go in for another sip and repeat. Interesting wines.

My favourites had to be the 2012 Parterre Chardonnay – it had such lovely complexity, length and texture that I could have easily sat there and drank the whole bottle. The thought did pass through my mind of swiping the bottle into my handbag for the drive back to Perth. Buuutt.. I’m not that bogan! The reds were all fab, don’t even ask me which one I liked the most – I want them all!

The other interesting wine I quite enjoyed was the new Ice Pressed Chardonnay. It’s the only one of it’s kind in Western Australia and is modelled off the famous German Eiswein and Canadian Ice Wine. It’s made by freezing bunches of Chardonnay grapes and then pressing them while they’re still frozen. This allows only the most succulent and concentrated juices to come out of the grapes resulting in a dessert wine with exceptional acidity that makes the wine so crisp and juicy. I’m not a huge sweet-tooth but the sweetness and the acidity married together just danced across my palate. And yes I nearly swiped this bottle into my handbag too.

Overall Mr Spittoon and I really enjoyed our visit to Fraser Gallop. Beautiful spot and totally classy wines. For more information or to book an appointment to visit the winery and vineyard please check out the Fraser Gallop website. Or you can connect with Fraser Gallop on twitter or Facebook.

If you’re planning a trip to the Margaret River Wine Region, make sure to check out the accommodation, wine tour & attraction ideas on margaretriver.com, email welcome@margaretriver.com or call (08) 9780 5911MargaretRiver.com tourism logo

My 2014 Wine-olutions !

New Years Wine & Sparkler
Do you make New Years Resolutions? I like the idea of them as long as they are realistic… and involve wine!

In 2013 I had a moment of craziness and decided to aim to taste 365 different wines in 2013. I’m proud to say I did it, learnt a lot (I’m especially good at curing the wine-flu now!) and met some very cool people through it. However I must admit that there were some trying times throughout the journey when I wondered why I was doing it.

Despite the fun of 2013 I’ve decided to take it down a notch, even though I can now successfully write a tasting note, entertain a group of people and prepare a dinner party simultaneously I’m in the mood for quality over quantity!

So this year I’m aiming to drink the good stuff. No I’m not meaning only $100 wine. I’m meaning drinking the stuff I like and enjoy. I want to celebrate my palate. If I’m feeling like a $10 bottle of plonk after a long day at the office I’m going to do it and by darn it if I feel like a bottle of vintage Cristal Rose Champagne I’m going to find one and drink it.

I get sick of friends and family telling me I won’t like a certain wine because it’s what they call ‘cheap’ – honestly who cares, if you like it drink it!! Taste is what matters to me. Plus I’m a strong advocate of the fact that life is seriously too short to drink wine “Robert Parker” or “James Halliday” likes. Drink what you like and celebrate it!

I do have a second wine-olution this year and that’s to master the art of sabrage. Sabrage is the technique of opening a bottle of Champagne with a sabre (sword). Sabrage began just after the French Revolution by Napoleon’s army whose weapon of choice by the light cavalry was the saber. As Napoleon said “Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it”. I couldn’t agree more! Keep tuned, there’ll be video blogs soon on my training to become a Champagne sword master!

Have a fantastic wine-filled-2014 everyone!! If you have any wine-olution’s of your own for 2014 please share them by commenting below!!

Ugly Duckling Wines in the Swan Valley – pie & wine.. ohh yeah!

Ugly Duckling Wines Swan Valley - Pie & WineSeriously meat pies and wine – someone knows me well! Being a kiwi I grew up on mince & cheese pies, I love them to bits. So when I heard about Ugly Duckling Wines in the Swan Valley serving up gourmet pies how could I say no??

Ugly Duckling Wines is a small winery on West Swan Road not far from Reid Highway. The owners Andrew and Joanne are true delights and you’ll normally find them manning the open-air cellar door at the rustic cottage overlooking the vineyard that they operate out of. They have recently extended the counter which was a great idea as it use to be a bit crammed but it’s much more roomy now.
Ugly Duckling Wines Swan ValleyWine tasting is free of charge and they have a great selection from sparkling to Rose to whites and reds. If there is one thing I can recommend it’s paying the $2 tasting fee to try the Reserve Shiraz – this wine is an absolute beauty.

There are a number of tables set out on the lawn where you can enjoy a glass/bottle and some food if you wish. Either sit in the sun or undercover, they have it organised! They have cheese and meat platters available as well as the gourmet pies made by Bindoon Bakehaus (some of them have Ugly Duckling wine in them too!) which are served up with a fresh garden salad. Click on the images below to view the wine and food menus.

I decided to go for the chicken, leek and Chardonnay pie which was totally scrummy and I matched this with the 2009 sparkling Chardonnay for $9 per glass (read my tasting note here). Mr. Spittoon opted for the Steak, Mushroom and Shiraz pie matched with the Reserve Shiraz for $10 a glass (read my tasting note here) – delicious! I was also eyeing up the lamb and rosemary pie for round two but thought I better save that for the next visit.

Ugly Duckling Wines Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato For $13.5 a pop for a pie and salad it’s a pretty good deal. They make for a nice light lunch or simply a snack to help soak up all that wine on your day out in the Swan Valley.

For more information please visit the Ugly Duckling Wines website or the Ugly Duckling Wines Facebook page or better yet go and visit them out in the Swan Valley, they’re open 7 days a week and always up for a good yarn over a wine tasting or two!