Thursday, October 09, 2008

WBW #50 - The Great Outdoors

Russ Beebe from Winehiker Witiculture asked:

Imagine you and your significant wineau walking in the cool woods of Autumn. An
amber glow lights your path, golden leaves fall around you, and as you walk,
you’re working up a sizable hunger for that post-hike picnic you’ve got planned.
Not to mention that sizable thirst! Which wine will you pour in the Great

So what are my thoughts on this wine blogging question?

Well, I have lived in Australia for the past three years. Having lived in Ireland and the UK most of my life, the novelty of living slap-bang in the centre of a major wine-growing region has not worn off yet.

To my west I have Shadowfax winery not 30km away, my sister’s local wintery and one of my favourites. Further west into the Grampians we have amazing full-bodied reds. East to the Yarra Valley gives us plenty of pinot noir and excellent sparkling wines – Domaine Chandon has a winery there. Up in the King Valley and Rutherglen the reds are wonderful but the tokays and muscats are breathtaking. North-west of home brings me to Heathcote, one of my favourite areas for picking up reds of great quality.

Closer to home, about an hour’s drive away are the Macedon Ranges. A beautiful ridge of mountain overlooks the city. Walking trails criss-cross the landscape, or you can head a little further over to Daylesford, the heart of spa country, for a more lazy sort of weekend.

Hanging Rock is an extinct volcanic outcrop made famous by the movie “Picnic at Hanging Rock” back in the eighties. It’s a good place for a Sunday afternoon yomp in summer or winter. You’ll see plenty of wallabies hopping around, and the cockatoos are cheeky but entertaining.

Nearby, Hanging Rock winery is small and welcoming. John Ellis and his wife run a tight ship, with their grown-up son and daughter also playing key roles in the business. A good day out would be to park at Hanging Rock, climb to the top and take in the views, then stroll down the Lancefield-Woodend Road to the Hanging Rock winery on Jim Road. It’s only about forty-five minutes at a comfortable pace.

There, the wines to be tasted abound, but reserve a place for their 2005 Heathcote Shiraz. I have a magnum of the stuff which I could use for my wine hike, which I won at Hanging Rock Winery’s 2008 winter luncheon.

It is coming into spring here in Australia, so our picnic would be a more hopeful springtime event. Our wine would be accompanied by plenty of local produce – olives, salamis, fresh local bread, and eaten under a flawless blue sky with plenty of sunscreen to protect against our hole in the ozone layer.

We could use the barbecues at Hanging Rock to cook a few Bullboar sausages, a rare recipe handed down from Swiss-Italian immigrants who live nearby. They don’t make them on the Swiss-Italian border anymore, so Australia is the keeping place for this ancient tradition.

However, they recommend not to open this huge wine for at least five if not more years… what to do?

The Cambrian Rise 2005 Heathcote Shiraz is not a bad second choice. Drinking well now, and about a third of the price of the Heathcote Shiraz, it is worth opening two or more and sharing with friends. And that is what I shall do.