Tag Archives: winery

The perfect Sunday session – Wine and cheese at Austins & Co. Winery

Sunday Sessions are the perfect way to cap off a weekend, and avoid the dreading weary blues of returning to work on a Monday.

I was one of the 20 lucky people to have attended Austins & Co. Winery’s Sunday Session, hosted by the Austins themselves. The event was an intimate vineyard and winery tour of their property, topped off with wine tasting, cheese and chacturie platters at the end.

Austins & Co. Winery is located near Geelong in the Moorabool wine region, about an hours drive from Melbourne.

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The Tour

To kick start the winery tour, Scott Austin – Managing Director, gave us a run down of the history of the winery.

The property was bought back in 1989, with the purpose of planting Pinot Noir. Fast forward to today, and the winery produces approx 240,000 bottles a year, ranging from Chardonnay, to Pinot Noir, Rose, Shiraz, Prosecco, and even Reisling.

The terrior (procouned ter-wror) of the winery, which is the land, soil and climate where a vineyard is planted, is based on top of a volcanic rock-base, topped with limestone soil, in a cool-climate region. This hardy land-base and cooler climate means that the vines have to work that extra bit harder to produce the fruit for the wine, which ends up producing some cracking vinos.

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Up The Hill

Following the introduction, we then headed up the hill where we took in the great view of the winery, and the dam they occasionally use to water the vineyard, particularly just after harvest time (March), and in early Spring. We also learnt about the pruning and picking of the fruit.

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The pruning machine

Scott explained how to know when a wine is handpicked vs.one that is machine picked:

With handpicking involving many labour intensive hours, anything above a price point of $30-$40 will most likely involve part of that cost going to the handpicking of the fruit – anything below $20 will most likely be machine based picking.

So what are the benefits of a handpicked picked wine?

Handpicked means there is less damage, and more care placed in the handling of the fruit, meaning a better quality wine produced at the end.

While Scott explained all of this to the group, we were happily sipping on a glass of their delicious 6ft6 Prosecco, which came straight from a screw capped bottle! Yep, it’s one of the first wineries to be doing this with a sparkling. One of the key benefits of a screw cap sparkling is that you can screw the top back on, and place it back in the fridge or in the wine bucket, and not lose its sparkly goodness. Genius!

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On top of the hill

After we finished our glasses of Prosecco, we then continued back down the hill to the shed containing the vats.

The Shed

Here in the shed were a variety of different vats and barrels used to house the wine during the wine making process. The types included stainless steel vats, plastic vats, French oak barrels, and even stainless steel barrels.

 

There was one other type of vat that really caught my eye, and that was the concrete vat! or the concrete egg, as Scott had coined it. Such an interesting and cool shape!

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The concrete egg!

I had never seen one of these before. These vats are used in France, particularly for Bio-Dynamic wines. The shape of the vat is in an egg shape, which allows the wine to move around naturally. These vats are used to store the wine for at least 5 to 6 months, and are then transferred to the barrel for ageing and flavour.

Once we had learnt all there was about the vats, it was then off to Scott and Belinda’s home for wine tasting and food.

The wine, cheese and chacturie board

When we arrived to their home, we were warmly greeted by a bubbly Belinda Austin, Scott’s wife, and Marketing Director of the winery. We were handed a glass of Prosecco, and tucked in to some brilliantly prepared cheese and chacturie boards. These boards looked amazing, and were even better than the cheese boards I had ever dreamt about.

 

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What dreams are made of

Following the Prosecco, we then moved throughout the Austins wine range tasting Pinot Noir, Rose, and Shiraz. One of the tastings also included, what they called, their Pinot Project – this involved two separate winemakers, taking the same batch of Pinot Noir grapes back to their work-space, to develop their own signature Pinot Noir’s.

It was amazing to taste the difference between the two wines, which came from exactly the same source:

Wine #1 was somewhat a classic Pinot Noir – light in colour and light bodied, which was a result of the winemaker only using the grapes (excluding the stems) in the wine making process, and storing it in barrels for 16 months.

Wine #2  had a lot more complexity to it – deeper in colour and medium bodied, with medium tannin. Kind of alikened to a Shiraz I felt. This complexity was achieved by the winemaker using the full bunch of grapes complete with stems, and storing it in barrels for 12 months.

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The Pinot Project

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Good wine 🙂

 

Fair to say, we polished off the cheese and chacturie board good-andproper, and were well satisfied with the variety of wines tasted.

With this session being the first one held, I cannot recommend this highly enough to go and jump onto their next session, if they hold another one. Be sure to sign up to their e-news to keep up to date on their events and happenings.

Thanks Scott and Belinda for a great Sunday. Now…back to work I go.

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Bye!

Until next time winos,

 

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

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Shiraz, Shiraz, Shiraz – it’s the Heathcote Wine & Food Festival

So it’s been a few weeks since my last post. I guess you could say I was busily researching wine…

Now that we are in full spring mode, wine tasting events are popping up everywhere. One festival that I went to heathcote wine festival - wine barrellrecently was the Heathcote Wine & Food Festival, or as I call it ‘The Heathcote WINE Festival’.

Heathcote is a small rural town, nestled in central Victoria (90 minutes North of Melbourne). The wineries based in and around Heathcote proud themselves on magnificent reds. With hot-dry summers, cool-wet winters, and sitting on rich Cambrian soil, this wine region is a Shiraz’s paradise. If you’re ever hard pressed when it comes to choosing a red, one from the Heathcote region will certainly satisfy.

The festival is plonked on the grounds of the Heathcote Showground’s, with over 40 wineries on site. While no Bertie Beatle showbags were anywhere to be seen, there was certainly the opportunity to create my own little showbag of goodies to take home with me; which is exactly what I did.

heathcote wine festival sunny day

Not a cloud in the sky

Upon entry, I was handed a glass with the festival name etched on it for keeps. Woo-hoo! Gotta love a free wine glass.

Going against the words of advice from Beyonce ‘to the left-to the left’, I took a right and started off with tasting at Tellurian Wines – which had a mixture of reds, whites and a rose on offer. One particular variety up for tasting, that I had never tasted before, was called ‘Fiano’ – A light, slightly sweet Italian variety with lemon and pineapple notes. Perfect chilled on a warm summer’s day.

With the overwhelming amount of wineries, and only one day to taste (the festival goes over two days!), I had to be choosy where to tip my glass.

Glass tipping time!

Glass tipping time!

Tips on choosing where to tip your glass:

Fewer people at the tent, the better.

    • As deceiving as it looks, a tent with fewer people can look like the wine is no good. Don’t be taken by this, in fact this is where I found some of the best wine was located. Not only does it give you more time to taste and discover, but it also gives you a chance to have a proper chat to the wine sellers/owners. Here is where you can find out some little gems of information, such as the best year for wine in the Heathcote region – just between you and I it was 2010. You’re welcome.

While they say don’t judge a wine by its label, do it.

    • I chose places that had either interesting names, or labels attached to them – makes for an interesting wine tasting experience.

Tar and RosesTry something different

    • Try wines not stocked in mainstream stores like Dan Murphys. This is a chance to spread your taste buds. Enjoy it.
    • Taste different varieties. You never know what you might come across – just like my new found love of Fiano.
Something was really really funny

Something was obviously really really funny

Throughout the day I was making like Santa, and making a list and checking it twice. At the end of the day, I went back to the wineries I ranked ‘top tasting’, to make my purchases, and created my very own Bertie Beatle showbag.

My purchases for the day:

Downing Estate

2011 Shiraz

This winery was crowned ‘Best Red Wine of Show’!

Downing Estate

Tellurian

2014 Fiano

tellurian wines

Tar and Roses

2010 Nebbiolo

Tar and Roses Nebbiolo

Trust Wines

2011 Trust Shiraz

Trust Shiraz

Peregrine Ridge

2005 Winemakers Reserve Sparkling Shiraz

Peregrine Shiraz

While the next Heathcote Wine Festival may be another 12 months away, do yourself a favour and go treat yourself to a drop of that Heathcote goodness. Better still, go pour yourself a glass of Fiano. You wont regret it.

Leaving the grounds with my showbags

Leaving the grounds with my showbags

Until next time winos,

Cheers

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