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!!

Hot new wine event in Perth – Sunset Wine 2014!

Sunset Wine 2014 Scarborough BeachWhat’s the best way to start off the new year? With a wine event of course!! Sunset Wine is a brand new Perth wine event making its debut in 2014.

The event is part of the Summerset Arts Festival and will be held at the gorgeous Scarborough Beach Reserve on the 1st and 2nd of February. Ohhh the romance, grab your partner and get on down. I can’t think of anything more romantic than enjoying some gorgeous Western Australian wine with tapas, live music and the beautiful Scarborough sunset. Swwwoooooon!

The event will run later in the day to catch the sunset, it’ll start at 3pm going through to 7:30pm both on the Saturday and Sunday. You can either pre-order tickets for $21 (plus a 30 cent booking fee) or buy tickets at the gate for $25. Children under 18 are free however they must be accompanied by a legal guardian. Buy your Sunset Wine tickets now.

For more information on the event please check out the CMS Events website and also the Summerset Arts Festival website. I hope to see you all there!

Swan Valley Gift Vouchers – Last Minute Gift Ideas!

Upper Reach Winery Cellar Door & Glass of Bubbles

It’s a couple of days before Christmas/someone’s birthday/a big event and you’ve completely forgotten to buy a present for Mr & Mrs Smith…uh ohhh! Don’t fret because I have the perfect solution and the best bit is that you don’t even have to get those elbows out to get through the masses at the mall. Actually you can organise it while downing a bottle of wine!

Various wineries in the Swan Valley have gift vouchers! Many of them can be bought and printed online while some need to be ordered and are then sent out to the recipient. To avoid that awful awkward situation of trying to explain why you don’t have a present for someone who has given you one, this is it!

Here is a good handful of Swan Valley gift vouchers you can order right now!

Oakover Grounds Vouchers

As you may have already seen on the blog, Oakover is a fab spot for a cheeky glass of vino and bite to eat. They have recently announced they will be doing gift vouchers, more details here.

Upper Reach Winery Vouchers

Upper Reach Winery Cellar Door & Glass of BubblesGiving the gift of vouchers for Upper Reach would make an excellent present as the vouchers can be used on wine, event tickets (Upper Reach do awesome Twilight Concerts) and also to put towards accommodation at their vineyard cottage (this is a must do!)

Sandalford Estate Vouchers

Lunch at Sandalford in the Swan Valley

You can choose either a voucher for wine, concert tickets, a restaurant meal or a wine tourism experience with a minimum value of $50 and no maximum limit. You order online and can either send the voucher straight to the recipient or email it to yourself to then pop in a card! If you want to be really creative you could print it on some nice paper and really fancy it up. Super quick and easy. Check out my post on my super divine lunch at Sandalford here.

Harris Organic Wines Vouchers

Harris Organic have made it super easy for you. Simply place your order online and receive your gift voucher straight away. Minimum value of a Harris Organic gift voucher is $35 and a maximum of $1000. You can also pop in a lovely message for the recipient. Check out my post on Harris Organic wines here.

Lamont’s Winery Vouchers

Sparkling wine at Lamont's in the Swan Valley

You can order vouchers for the Lamont’s Swan Valley cellar door or their Bishops House restaurant. Vouchers range from $50 up to $150. The only catch for these one’s are that the vouchers are sent out in the post. So if you are ordering today it is likely the recipient won’t have these before Christmas. If you’re not worries about it being a little late at least you can be rest assured that they will receive a well presented voucher which will be sure to go down a treat! They also have various other gift ideas in their online shop, click the link below to see more. Check out my post on my visit to Lamont’s in the Swan Valley here.

Sittella Winery Vouchers

Sittella Winery in the Swan Valley

Sittella, another beautiful spot in the Swan Valley offer gift vouchers. You can either order online, via phone or pop into the cellar door. If you’re doing the latter you’ll be able to get the voucher on the spot otherwise if you order online or via phone the voucher will be posted out. As far as I know there is no minimum or maximum value for the vouchers. A Sittella voucher would be a fantastic idea for someone who loves bubbles. Check out my latest post on visiting Sittella Winery here.

Swan Valley Tours Vouchers

Swan Valley Tours bus

Give the gift of a Swan Valley Tour! Transport, wine and food are all taken care of – who wouldn’t love that! To give the gift of a Swan Valley Tour you simply choose a tour and the number of people you want to give this awesome gift to and the voucher will be valid for 12 months. The voucher is automatically sent to you, you then add in the names and message manually and you’re done! Check out my post on doing an Indulgence Tour with Swan Valley Tours here.

Top Gun Tours Vouchers

Top Gun Tour Bus Swan ValleyI was lucky enough to go on a Top Gun Tour and I had a blast – read all about it here. And yes the post does include a few references from the film Top Gun!

The above is just a handful of Swan Valley gift vouchers and gift certificates you can order online. Please click on the below links for even more ideas:

Dinner in the Swan Valley at Chesters Restaurant

Chesters Restaurant in the Swan ValleyForget Rockpool or Hippo Creek, your next fine dining meal needs to be at Chesters Restaurant on West Swan Road. The food, the wine, the service and the ambiance of this winery restaurant is I hate to say it but it’s ‘totes awesome’

I won’t mislead you; this isn’t a five fork, 6 wine glasses per table seating type of place. It is actually a rather casual rustic restaurant, which simply blew both Mr. Spittoon and myself away. We are actually both biting at the bit to get back there for round two!

Chesters is a 3 times wining gold plate restaurant. It is quite a small-scale venue so I would suggest to book ahead. I booked on a Friday morning for that night and thank-fully I got the last table for the night. Phewww!

Since it was a Friday and both Mr. Spittoon and I were looking forward to a drink or 5 we decided to taxi since it isn’t too far from where we live. I cannot remember our waiters name but he was truly awesome!! What he didn’t know about the wine he definitely made up for in his pours.

We thought we would start with a glass of the Heafod Glen (this is the winery attached to the restaurant) 2013 Verdelho since it won the critics award at Viva Verdelho 2013 for $8.50 a glass filled to the brim!! The fresh orchard fruit and honey melon flavours of the wine were a perfect complement for the Baby Turkish Bread, Dukkah and Smoked Olive Oil entrée for $12. The 50-cent surcharge for their speciality house-made smoked oil is absolutely worth it. Truly divine!
Chesters Restaurant in the Swan Valley - Breads & DukkahNext up we asked our waiter what he would suggest to go with the mains we had picked. He suggested a couple and he even brought us out a wee tasting sample so we could make sure they were the ones we were after. Awesome!

For the main I went for the Nacho crusted fish of the day, zucchini & coriander fritter, spiced red pepper coulis, jalapeno avocado puree, and sour cream for $39 with a glass of the Heafod Glen 2013 Semillon for $9. Absolutely divine meal, the aromas coming from that fantastically designed plate were sensational. My only critique of this meal was that I would have preferred the nacho chips to be put on last so that they were crunchy – I wasn’t really keen on the soggy soft texture of them. However I still ate every bite!
Chesters Restaurant in the Swan Valley - Nacho FishIt was hard to get any conversation out of Mr. Spittoon as he devoured his, he was utterly food drunk. His Seared and roasted Katanning rack of lamb, caramelised onion Yorkshire pudding, pistachio salt, port wine & thyme syrup for $39 was AMAZE-BALLS! The lamb was cooked to perfection and the Heafod Glen 2009 Cab Shiraz at $9 a glass topped it off nicely.
Chesters Restaurant in the Swan Valley - Lamb RackBy this stage I was rammed (where are those stretchy pants when you need them!) however since it had turned into a mini-degustation I HAD to have dessert! The highlight of dessert for me was a half bottle of the Heafod Glen 2013 Damascus which is a blend of Shiraz and Viognier to create a moscato style dessert wine. This $21 bottle made my eyes roll back into my head and thank goodness I was sitting otherwise my legs would have gave way. I’m not really a sweet wine fan but this gorgeous silver pink elixir seemed to have the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity that it went down a treat! Mr.Spittoon was lucky he got in quickly as I swear I would have downed it all in a couple of gulps.
Chesters Restaurant in the Swan Valley - Damascus 2013To match such a delightful wine I went for the $15 Eton Mess – Vanilla scented chantilly cream, meringue, confit strawberries, strawberry champagne jelly, white balsamic syrup and vanilla pashmak which was lovely however nowhere near as insanely tasty as Mr. Spittoon’s Sticky date pudding, candied walnuts, salted butterscotch sauce with tonka bean ice cream for $15. Heaven on a plate, seriously!

Chesters Restaurant in the Swan Valley - Eton MessChesters Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Check out the Chesters Restaurant menu here.

We ended the meal with a $3.50 short black each, boy I needed something to help digest all that tucker! It’s safe to say Chesters is definitely up there in my top 3 restaurants in the Swan Valley. I can’t wait to go back again!

For more information check out the Chesters Restaurant Facebook page.

Chesters Restaurant in the Swan Valley - Sticky Date Pudding

Wine & Chocolate Master Class in the Swan Valley, Perth

Coward and Black wines and Margaret River chocolate tasting at Providore in Swan Valley PerthWine, chocolate, chocolate liqueur.. does life get any better? The master classes are at 11.30am every Saturday and Sunday, or by appointment at Providore (5123 West Swan Road) in the Swan Valley you can participate in a wine and chocolate master class for $30pp. You’ll try 4 chocolate liqueurs, 6 wines and 9 chocolates PLUS you will get a bottle of your favourite chocolate liqueur to take home. At $30pp this is an absolute bargain!!

Coward & Black Vineyards along with their sister company, the Margaret River Chocolate Company are the fantastically tasty companies behind this incredible 30 minutes of your life. Not only do you get to eat and drink your way to pure happiness but I have to admit I walked away with a lot of new knowledge on all things chocolate.

A friend and I decided to book in for the class on a Monday to avoid the masses and luck was on our side as we were the only 2 participating on this particular day. Unfortunately there was a mix up in their system with our booking and as a result they weren’t set up for us however they shouted us a complimentary coffee at The Margaret River Chocolate company while we waited for them to set up. Free coffee is always a good thing in my books!
Margaret River Chocolate Company truffles wine tasting Swan Valley

Matthew the half Aussie half American manager of Providore took us through the tasting. I was shocked to see how much was included in the tasting, I was expecting a handful of chocolate and a couple of wines, but no make that 10 items to sip and 9 chocolates to melt in your mouth. I actually had to get a little bag to put half my choccies in as I couldn’t get through them all.

We started with the 4 chocolate liqueurs; the original, hazelnut, macciato and the mint chocolate liqueurs. ABSOLUTELY DIVINE! Each one was so chocolatey and divine I knew the decision of choosing my favourite was going to be a tough choice. The difference with these chocolate liqueurs is that the chocolate is in your face and the alcohol hits you at the end. In the end I choose the macciato to take home as Matthew told us it’s fantastic to go in your homemade espresso martinis! Check out their favourite espresso martini recipe below.

Next up we learnt about the international cacao and tasted our way through them as Matthew explained to us the all important ‘pop’ with chocolate (I won’t spill all the secrets!).

After tasting the buttons, we moved onto the 6 wines from Coward & Black and the chocolate and truffles suggested to match these. What I found very interesting and never spotted on the Coward & Black labels before is that the clouds are in the shape of England and Western Australia – a homage to the owner’s heritage. From the Cabernet Sauvignon through to the Chenin Blanc and white chocolate through to salty caramel truffles and dark chocolate lemon truffles I was in heaven.

I was also pleasantly surprised that the chocolates and wines were all matched really well. Who would have thought white wine and chocolate would work so well! My favourites had to be the Chenin Blanc & lemon truffle and the Semillon & Sauvignon Blanc blend with the salty caramel truffle. YUM!

The only downside about this wine & chocolate master class in the Swan Valley is that there are no seats, you have to stand up and let me tell you that the immense pleasure in your mouth will have you week at the knees after each and every sip and nibble!

This has to be one of my favourite wine and food experiences in the Swan Valley, it is great value, tons of fun and  truly delicious. Sorry diet, you loose!

To book in for a Wine & Chocolate master class please click here.