Saturday, April 26, 2008

A day in Orange

While I was hard at work two Saturdays ago, Richard went with Casey and Clare (from Eatstuff) to the Orange Farmers Markets. These are on once a month but this time it was in conjunction with Orange Food Week hence they made an effort to check it out. Orange is a country town about the same size as Bathurst and is 60 kms away. While I was beavering away at drilling and filling, Richard used the camera to capture sights I missed.

Lady with assorted produce

A local belly dancing club for entertainment

Even a pet treat stall!

I joined them after work and they had already covered some ground having visited two wineries before that. We had a bit of a quick lunch and headed to Indigo Ridge Winery. This had a few sculptures in the vineyard to contemplate while tasting their wine. None of the wines there grabbed us but C & C bought a bottle of their unique Sparkling Sav Blanc.

This is a photo taken from Phillip Shaw Winery which I missed out on but Richard bought a bottle of his No. 8 Pinot Noir. At $40 a pop, I hope its something special!

As the sun set (yes daylight savings has come to an end) we hurried to our booked event, the walk, talk and taste tour at Cargo Road Wines.

This was a fantastic tour of the vineyard done personally by one of the owners, James Sweetapple (ironic last name for a vigneron?). We started out with him showing us a map of the property and explaining the different grape varieties grown on it.

He went through measuring the sugar content of the grapes with a cool device that looks a bit like a thermometer and bobs up and down in the liquid. It is roughly equal density of sugar to final alcohol percentage of the wine at the end.

Next, testing the pH to see it is right.

He poured from the beacon of crushed grape juice for us to taste. Anyone who has told you that wine making grapes don't taste nice is leading you up the garden path! The juice (this particular variety was Zinfandel) was full bodied, extremely sweet and had a lot more dimension and depth than regular dark grape juice. It made you want to zip around the place in a sugar high.

Next we walked around the winery inspecting the different grapes. He showed us how different varieties had different shaped leaves and the vines grew slightly differently. Some were more bushel-ly than others tending to willow over and grow too long to cover up their own stalks and these had to have regular haircuts to ensure adequate ventilation for the main trunks. We got to taste the different grapes as well as James went through the science of how different mulches could be used to give the plans various nutrients. I never knew wine making was such a science! And that so much happened in the grape end as much as the pressing and fermentation.

Back at the winery, we got to taste the end result. We started out with the Riesling, went on to the Savignon Blanc, Gurwurztraminer, two years of the zinfandel, two vintages of Cab Sav, their rose called the primitivo love and finally the dessert Zinfandel. All of them were exceptionally good quality and we were blown away by the taste of the rose which was very fruity. James's passion certainly carries through into the wine and you can tell they were made with a lot of care and quality control.

More about the pressing and fermentation of the different wines red and white was explained here. We were invited to sniff the difference between the French and American Oak barrels. Yes that is a coffee cup squashed into Richard's back pocket.

We really enjoyed the tour and tasting. At $12 per head, we highly recommend it to anyone. It was an eye opening experience to know more about the process. I don't think I will look at a glass of wine the same again!

We had dinner at a pub in town. It had great steaks that you could choose to cook yourself over an open grill or for them to cook it for you. I didn't get a photo of the others' meals but this was mine, a New York cut that I grilled myself to about medium-rare with a large helping of salad from the salad bar. There were about 8 different types of salad. I picked a nice rocket, red onion one, a bean one and some coleslaw. It also came with a par-baked potato I tossed on the grill and some mustard butter on the side. ($19) it was nice aged steak and very tender. Cooking it myself meant I got my meal sooner than the rest :P lol Faststone chucked a spaz so the watermark is saying this is a sample steak.

Our combined haul for the day ...

Lots of fresh fruit, bags of hazelnuts, prunes, wines , wines and more wines!


Saturday, April 19, 2008

I'm Back?

Wow its been so long since I last posted. About 13 months ago! So much has happened since then including having our rented home sold and only given a short period of time to find a new place, deciding to buy a place, buying a old place that needed renovations and knowing nothing about them, doing some renovations, still having ongoing renovations until today when lots of people from work came over for a working bee in the front garden! I was really touched that they did that. Gardening is scary for me who lived in Singapore with only a few potted plants on the balcony.

Also since the last post, I completed my Graduate Diploma in Conscious Sedation in December, went back to Singapore in January with a mini break to Hong Kong. Work has also been pretty busy since then with the weeks flying by.

Anyway, hope to get posting more including food places around Bathurst and my pilgrimage to Tetsuya's some months ago but still fresh in the memory! Bought Hubby an espresso machine (Breville 800ES)which we will be playing with, especially since he went on a home barista course. We also went on an eye opening vineyard tour last week as part of Orange food week. Where we were educated on how wine is made, from grape to wine and tasting several different varieties.