Sittella Sparkling Workshop & lunch

Sittella Sparkling Workshop Swan Valley10:30am on a Saturday morning and I am sampling some of the new sparkling wine at Sittella Winery in the Swan Valley. Such a hard life! This is what I do to bring the latest wino news to all of you!

This past Saturday Sittella held a Sparkling Wine Workshop followed by a 3-course lunch. The tickets were $77.50 per person and quite frankly I just HAD to attend.

The morning started off by being personally greeted by our host and Senior Winemaker at Sittella – Colby Quirk. Mr. Spittoon and I were early one of the first to arrive so we got a head start on the sampling and had some one-on-one time to chat with Colby.
Sittella Sparkling Workshop Sparkling ShirazOnce everyone had arrived (we were a group of about 30) Colby introduced himself and his 16-year winemaking background before taking us through the process of making a sparkling wine as we stood in the winery. He took us through the full process from when the grapes come into the winery to all the machines involved right up to the labeling stage.

During this time, we tasted a couple of base wines (these are wines without the dosage added – this is the addition of sugar and preservatives) as well as the finished products. It’s not everyday that you get a chance to taste the base wines, this was a real treat in my books! Plus we were amongst the first people to taste Sittella’s two newest sparklings which are set to be released next week.
Sittella Sparkling Workshop Yeast in BottleWe then moved into the barrel room, which was set up for the tasting and presentation. The whole event was really casual and easy going, even Mr. Spittoon said that he didn’t get that snobby wine feel that he gets from a lot of the wine events I drag him along too!
Sittella Sparkling Workshop SetupOur first tasting was the NV Sparkling Chenin Blanc: the dosage trial! We had 4 lovely tulip spiegelau glasses in front of us; the first had zero dosage – just disgorged & crown sealed with no additions, the second with 5g/l sugar & preservative, the third was the standard Sittella sparkling Chenin and the forth had the most added sugar at a level of 18g/l and preservative. Again it was this type of exclusivity, which I think, really made the morning so special.

We then moved onto tasting the new yet to be released Blanc de Blanc and Rose made from Pemberton grown grapes as well as the 2007 Pinot Noir & Chardonnay blend and the sparkling Shiraz. Click here to read my tasting notes on the 2 new releases here.

While sipping on the above we also nibbled on tasty cheese & fruit platters with bread and crackers while Colby walked us through the wines and answered any questions we may have had.
Sittella Sparkling Workshop PlatterOnce the tasting commenced we moved onto the verandah of the restaurant. We all sat down at our own tables to look over the menu, which had a great choice for a set menu. Click on the image below to see the tasty delights we were offered.
Sittella Sparkling Workshop Lunch MenuI liked the setup of the entrée, very cool! In terms of the mains I went for the fish and Mr. Spittoon went for the Porterhouse, which was definitely the stand out meal. The meat was cooked to perfection and the onion rings were gone in the blink of an eye. The desserts were both simply amazing. The chocolate pudding was so gooey and moist and the brandy snap strawberry basket oh my… I was just about licking the plate!

With our main meals I had a glass of the 2007 Pinot Noir Chardonnay sparkling and Mr. Spittoon had a glass of Cab Sauv with his steak. Drinks with lunch were not included in the price so our bill at the end was a whole $16. All up it was $170 for the day, money well spent in my books.

It was a great experience and I am really looking forward to Sittella possibly hosting a Red Wine Workshop down the track. I’ll be first in line! Keep an eye on the Sittella website for upcoming events and the Sittella Facebook page.

Click here to see more photos from my visit.

My top 10 wine festival essentials

Sunset Wine 2014 festival Perth in Scarborough

Being a seasoned wine festival goer I have picked up on some handy tips and tricks along the way to make sure a day out at a wine festival is fantastic (and that I can still stand at the end of it!). Here’s my guide to surviving and wine festival:

  1. Water! It goes without saying really. But if you’re drinking alcohol then you MUST drink water otherwise you won’t know your mouth from your lovely white shirt which is now covered in red wine (not a good look!). All good festivals will have water stations however I do normally take a bottle with me to refill when needed.
  2. Eat! Again another relatively common-sense essential. Eat a nice big filling meal before the event and make sure you graze throughout the day as it’ll help soak up all that delicious wine nectar!
  3. Dress for comfort! Comfy shoes are a must as you will spend a lot of time on your feet. If it is an outside festival in summer make sure you have the essential sun protectors; hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Don’t bank on there being shade everywhere.
  4. Wine glass neck holder! You’ll never forget your glass again and you’ll be able to free your hands to instagram, tweet, facebook, take photos or whatever floats your boat.
  5. Utilise the “Notes” function and camera on your phone! If you like a wine, write it down! I hate those stories about trying the most amazing wine ever, and then they can’t remember what exactly that wine was!
  6. A designated driver or plan to take public transport! This is essential, drink driving is in no way cool. Actually it makes you a complete ******. Entice someone to be a sober driver, take public transport or a taxi – it’s that easy.
  7. Have a plan of attack! I always have a list of my ‘must-visits’ which I go to first and then proceed to visit the others. I also double check timings of demonstrations and seminars beforehand so I know where to be at what time.
  8. Spit! It’s not rude, trust me – nor will the exhibitors be offended if you spit or throw out some of your wine. The tastings may seem small, but they do add up much quicker than you realise. I am not saying spit everything, find a happy balance and try match all wine consumed with the amount of water you consume – or even better drink more water!
  9. Be inquisitive! If you want to learn about wine in general or about a particular exhibitors range, just ask. Wine should not be looked at as a snobby topic, it’s fun and by goodness it is truly enjoyable. I have asked many questions in my time and that’s possibly one of the reasons my wine knowledge is just growing and growing!
  10. And my all-time can’t live without’ essential – a pull along bag or someone with strong arms. This is where I have the lovely Mr. Spittoon – without him I wouldn’t nearly be able to spoil myself (and him!) with so many goodies to take home.

Hopefully the above list will be a good start in preparing you for an amazing day of drinking and eating (uhhh.. it’s the good life!). If you are keen to follow my wine festival experience make sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all the latest updates. Cheers everyone! If you live in Western Australia, there are plenty of fab wine festivals to attend, here’s a taste:

Asparagus Master Class at Edgecombe Brothers Winery

Edgecombe Bros Asparagus Masterclass - with cheeseThree hours devoted to asparagus? It may sound a little weird or a little crazy but it can be done and it’s actually very enjoyable or should I say it’s a big green thumbs up!

I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in an Asparagus Master Class last Friday by the lovely folk at Edgecombe Brothers Winery who are known for their tasty green spears throughout the area. My parents, lovers of gardening and eating came along as well as Mr. Spittoon. Their tickets were $48.50 each.

The adventure began at Edgecombe Brothers winery in Henley Brook in the Swan Valley around 10:30am for a 11am start. We were instructed to wear decent footwear however a couple of the men in our group did only have jandals/thongs on and they were fine. Thankfully it wasn’t raining or muddy!

We started out with coffee/tea and freshly made ANZAC biscuits which went down a treat. We then sat around a big table with our group of 8 for the presentation. We were introduced to Alf Edgecombe our fearless asparagus leader who we would spend the following 3 hours (11am-2pm) with. Alf is extremely knowledgeable not only on the cultivation of asparagus but on the area and the history of the Swan Valley.

After finishing our coffees and chatting, Alf then took us over to one of the asparagus fields on the property. We were armed with big yellow buckets and Ikea knives, ready to muck in and collect some asparagus.

After a short demonstration by Alf, we were let loose on the asparagus and before we knew it we had filled up most of the buckets and had worked up a bit of an appetite. The brave out of the group munched on a few spears of fresh asparagus which I must say were delightful – they tasted rather like peas in a pod!

We then made our way back to the winery to sit under the beautiful purple and white wisteria to enjoy a wine tasting of 3 white wines with freshly baked bread, olives, cheese, dukkah, olive oil, balsamic and some ultra delicious tapenade. Yes I have to admit the wine and food tasting was more my thing!

After snacking and getting into full relaxation mode we then proceeded to learn how to prepare and cook asparagus to perfection. I’m not much of a Masterchef but Alf made it so easy and delicious that I’ve been living off asparagus for the last 2 nights!

As we enjoyed our freshly cooked asparagus topped with Parmesan we enjoyed another wine tasting of 3 red wines. The table went silent. You know the food and wine are good when all you can hear is everyone munching and slurping.

Once we were finished we were then brought more wine (3 fortifieds), coffee and chocolate covered figs! Here I was preparing for a light lunch and I think I spent most of the time eating. I’m not complaining though!!

Overall our group of 4 had a great time. It was nice to do something different for a change and I definitely have taken new knowledge away with me. At the end of the class we were given a 250 gram pack of asparagus each and a bunch of recipes to take home and put our new skills to use.

At just under $50 for a midweek class and just under $60 for a weekend class I think you’re getting bang for your buck. A great class for foodies, winos, green thumbs and anyone up for a delicious taste of craziness!

For more information on the Asparagus Master Class click here and for more details on Edgecombe Brothers Winery click here.

Breakfast in the Swan Valley at Broads Restaurant, Upper Reach Winery

Is wine at 9am acceptable? Hell yeah it is! Banish those fears of looking like a complete alco by drinking with breakfast, a Champagne breakfast or sparkling wine breakfast is a true sign of luxury and indulgence, trust me – google it.

There are actually not that many places in the Swan Valley that do a bubbly breakfast. Having tried a bubbly breakfast at Edgecombe Brothers Winery and Jezebelle, the next on my list was Sunday breakfast at Broads Restaurant at Upper Reach Winery.

Broads Restaurant only do breakfast on Sundays from 9am till 10:30am with the latest seating at 10am. It was a bit of a struggle to get up and out there for 10am, but I was happy that we did!

The restaurant overlooks the vineyard, it really is a beautiful spot. The floor to ceiling windows allow you to really soak it all up, and having lunch on the balcony is truly a lovely experience (read my post here).

The menu is compact, just a one pager with a handful of food and drink options. My kind of menu since I am one of the most indecisive people around!

A glass of the sparkling Chardonnay is $10 a glass or $38 a bottle which I find a little cheeky since at the cellar door it’s $28 a bottle. I presume this is to do with the restaurant being a separate entity from the winery. It just meant that I had to pop in to the cellar door to get a couple of bottles to take home!

You can also opt for a glass of ‘Bucks Fizz’ for $7 which is a mix of the sparkling and orange juice plus there is a selection of plain juices, teas, coffees and hot chocolates.

In terms of the food, 3 out of 4 of us went for ‘The Lot’ which includes poached eggs, grilled bacon and tomato, a sausage and a delicious potato hash cake (finally potato hash that lives up to my mighty high potato expectations!). All topped with freshly cracked pepper for a reasonable $17. Mr. Spittoon is not a fan of poached eggs and asked for scrambled eggs which was absolutely no problem.

Our other friend went for the Moroccan breakfast and as soon as it came out we were all ‘oooooing’ as it came presented in a traditional Moroccan tagine dish. What a lovely touch! Inside the tagine were two baked eggs with chorizo sausage, spinach and tomato. This was also $17 and our friend seemed suitably happy with his choice. We were also brought over a basket full of toasted fresh bread and butter.
Broads Restaurant & Functions at Upper Reach Winery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Overall I think the meals were well priced with lovely presentation and most importantly were very tasty. The Sparking Chardonnay went down an absolute treat. I may have been grumpy at getting up so early on a Sunday but it was definitely worth it. I’ll go back again for sure.

Unfortunately I lost most of my photos from my visit. It looks like i’ll definitely have to go back soon šŸ˜‰

Similar posts you may enjoy:

Harris Organic Wines in the Swan Valley

Harris Organic Wines in the Swan ValleyTo be honest I have never been a fan of organic wine. There is no particular reason for this, I just simply haven’t found many that I like.

As part of my ‘research’ for my post Why does white wine affect me more than red wine? I decided to make a trip to the small family owned Harris Organic Wines winery in the Swan Valley.

Duncan, the owner and winemaker was actually out the back disgorging (removing the dead yeast cells called lees) sparkling Shiraz when I arrived and he invited me out the back to see this process first hand.

Duncan from Harris Organic Wines in the Swan ValleyI thought this was great and I definitely wasn’t expecting this added bonus to my visit. The last time I saw this was at the Cava producer – Rimarts when I spent time in the Penedés in 2011.

Everything at Harris Organic Wines is done by hand, including the disgorging. Duncan was dressed in a long plastic blue apron and was literally covered in red wine from head to toe. The wine surgeon!

Hand disgorging will leave no yeast in the bottle however it is a very time consuming method. Machine disgorging involves the bottle necks being frozen by machines to remove the lees sitting at the top of the bottle after settling there over the previous months. Machine disgorging can cause a tiny amount of dead yeast cells and ice in the final product, which is why hand disgorging is the preferred method.

Harris Organic Wines Chardonay from the Swan ValleyNext minute there was a loud pop and Duncan had removed the crown cap from the bottle, shot out the dead yeast and was topping up the bottle with a little bit of extra wine and capping it again. The process was complete in a mere 30 seconds. I thankfully got a couple of photos in – next time I will be sure to video it for you all!

What an awesome way to start my tasting, it’s not everyday you get to be part of the action. I then popped back into the cellar door to taste through the range with some other visitors. We tasted about 6 wines (Verdelho, Chardonnay, a couple of Shiraz’s, Tokay, Liqueur Shiraz) while Duncan chatted away happily about his wines and the area.

Harris Organic Wines Swan Valley, Duncan disgorging wineHarris Organic use no pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilisers in the vineyard which makes them a green vineyard. Simply put, “organic wine is better for you and the environment” stated Duncan.

My verdict? I’ve found not one but a handful of organic wines that I like! Enough to buy a few bottles of the:

And my other purchase was a bottle of their organic vodka for $59. This is not any old vodka this is the only Australian certified organic vodka and guess what, it’s made of grapes!!

Harris Organic Vodka - Australia's only organic vodkaI’ve drank my fair share of cranberry and vodkas however I am no connoisseur when it comes to vodka. This one was crystal clear on the eye, which is a good thing. It actually has a rather pleasant aroma on it like grape hubba bubba with a warming alcohol kick. On the palate, well it definitely warms the throat however it has a very clean and silky mouth feel with notes of anise and I do believe it had a grapey flavour. I’m not one to sip my vodka straight but this one is not bad. Would I buy it again? For sure.

There is also an organic brandy and eau de vie (grappa) available to buy alongside some organic cleanskin wines and herbal tea at the cellar door.

Plus I got 18 freshly laid eggs for $6. I was one happy chappy that’s for sure! All up I found the Harris Organic wines absolutely lovely to drink, visiting the winery is a fantastic experience and I am looking forward to going back again to try their sparklings next time. It is also great to see they have a loyalty card – 1 free bottle for every 12 bought.

For more information please visit the Harris Organic Wines website, or join them on Facebook or Twitter. Or check out more photos in my Facebook album here.

Related posts:

Harris Organic Wines Swan Valley vineyard