A Gourmet Treat coming up at Novotel Barossa

Novotel Resorts

I was very fortunate to attend a sneak preview of the gourmet dinner that the Novotel Barossa Valley Resort is presenting, with help from the legendary Langmeil Winery, on Saturday the 20th of August at the NAB Barossa Gourmet Weekend.

The preview dinner gave Michael Quist, the new Sous Chef at Harry’s Restaurant in the Novotel, and veteran Executive Chef James Dooley, the opportunity to present an outstanding degustation menu featuring local produce with each course matched to a wine from Langmeil.

Brothers Paul and James Lindner, the head winemaker and the sales and marketing manager at Langmeil, joined in to tell us more about their wines and entertain us with stories about the joys of making and selling wine in Australia and abroad. They’ll both be speaking at the actual dinner too!

We started with some delicious canapes that were a great accompaniment to free-flowing Langmeil 2008 Sparkling Ondenc. For more info on this rare grape variety see its Wikipedia entry here. We’ll leave the details of the canapes out, as it will nice for you to be surprised when you attend the dinner, won’t it!

EntreeThe entree was pan-seared scallops on an exquisite truffled cauliflower cream with a spiced tomato vinaigrette (with salmon roe too, if my memory serves me correctly). This was well matched with the elegant Langmeil 2010 Eden Valley Chardonnay. Paul Lindner explained that most of the cold-fermented fruit was left unoaked, with about 30% finished in French oak with secondary malolactic fermentation to soften acidity.

For main course we were treated to venison cooked two ways, both perfect with the rich and complex Langmeil 2008 Orphan Bank Shiraz. The delicious pithivier (that’s French for pie) of slow roasted venison was the highlight of the whole dinner for me, as was hearing from James about how the 140 year old Orphan Bank Shiraz vines were rescued from destruction by Langmeil and transplanted, preserving part of the Barossa’s heritage.

For dessert a mandarin savarin with caramelised pineapple and pineapple curd was served, accompanied by Langmeil 2008 Late Harvest Riesling and this was followed by French cheesed and a 10-year-old Langmeil Tawny; a great way to finish!

NovotelWe would recommend this event to any food and wine lover! Of course, to make your Gourmet Weekend experience complete, you should book to stay at the Novotel Barossa Valley Resort! Every one of their 140 apartments has a has a kitchenette and private balcony with panoramic views across the Valley and they have 24 two bedroom apartments for families and friends to stay together. Facilities at the Resort include access to the adjacent Tanunda Pines Golf Course, an Endota day spa, and a dedicated wine tasting room showcasing a selection of the Barossa Valley’s finest.

NAB Barossa Gourmet WeekendThe five course degustation dinner with matching wines, priced at only $120 per person, takes place on Saturday the 20th of August from 6.30-11pm. For full details go to the NAB Barossa Gourmet Weekend website at www.barossagourmetweekend.com.au

To book your seat at this special event, and arrange your accommodation, call Jon Cannon at the Novotel Barossa Valley Resort on 8524 0000.

You can also become a fan of the NAB Barossa Gorumet Weekend on Facebook or follow the #BGW2011 hashtag and @BarossaDirt on Twitter for updates.

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Comedy in the Vines at the Barossa Vintage Festival

This year’s Barossa Vintage Festival, 23rd April – 1st May, has a great programme of wine-focused events for wine lovers, and plenty to entertain you too! This year a new event will be held at Linfield Road Wines in Williamstown called Comedy in the Vines, and WineQuota has a double pass (valued at $110) to give to a WineQuota member!

Comedy in the VinesTo win the tickets to a night with hilarious comedians Jason Chong, Ben Darsow, Rich Naberhood on Wednesday 27th April (and enjoy Linfield Road’s superb wines) all you have to do is join WineQuota (if you haven’t already) at WineQuota.com.au and tell us a wine-related joke, or post a link to an amusing wine story, in the comments below. We’ll pick our favourite on Friday the 15th April!

For more details about Comedy in the Vines click here!

There are 120 events during the Festival, starting with free entertainment for the whole family at the opening ‘Carnival
from 10.30am on April 23 at Seppeltsfield Winery.

The 40 special wine-focused events include Legends Behind The Barrel, where you can meet some of the Barossa’s most influential legends to taste and compare barrel and current release wines.
On the Distinguished Vineyards Tour you can explore some of the world’s most precious vineyards and taste the wines that are produced there, ranging from Henschke’s Hill of Grace to Langmeil’s 1843 Freedom vineyard. For collectors, the Rare & Distinguished Barossa Wine Auction showcases highly sought-after back vintages and large formats of the region’s finest wines.

Visitors can celebrate the end of the week and kick up their heels at Under a Hot Tin Roof, an upbeat band night at the iconic Tanunda Town Hall on Friday the 29th of April or get glamorous at the Grand Vintage Festival Ball on April 30 in the Great Vintage Hall at the iconic Seppeltsfield Winery and indulge in a sumptuous three-course dinner and canapés accompanied by award winning, prestigious Barossa wines.

LogoThe Barossa Vintage Festival website at barossavintagefestival.com.au has details about all the events, and you can book tickets through Venuetix.
Don’t forget to use the #BVF2011 hashtag to spread the word about the Festival on Twitter, and “like” the Festival on Facebook here.

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Rick Bakas Wine Events in Australia

Rick Bakas

Rick Bakas is one of the world’s foremost social media strategists and is passionate about wine. His agency, Bakas Media, specialises in branding, communications, strategy and positioning for today’s digital world. He helps businesses understand, and enhance, how customers connect with their brand.

Rick is a certified sommelier and a self-confessed obsessive when it comes to food and wine matching. He has over 50,000 Twitter followers, and last year he released a book “Quick Bites: 75 Savory Tips for Social Media Success“.

You’ll be pleased to hear Wine Communicators Australia (WCA) are bringing Rick Bakas to Australia later this month for a series of lectures and social media events where you’ll get the chance to meet him and hear him lecture on wine-related trends and social media case studies with the topic: “Not in new media in 2011? Then not in business by 2016”. Each lecture will be followed by canapés and a themed interactive WCA Taste and Tweet (#WCATT) session:

SYDNEY: Tue 29 March 5:30-7pm, Mechanics Institute
#WCATT Topic: Wines that Define Australia

MELBOURNE: Thur 31 March 5:30-7pm, Angliss Conference Centre
#WCATT Topic: Alternative Australian Varietals

ADELAIDE: Tue 5 April 5-6.30pm, National Wine Centre
#WCATT Topic: Australian Wine Gems: Old, Rare and Single Vineyard

PERTH: Thur 8 April 4-5:30pm, Sandalford Winery
#WCATT Topic: Next Frontier of Australian Wine

Rick will also host three regional tastings which wine lovers all over the world can participate in, via Twitter or Facebook. These virtual tastings in Australian wine regions have been timed so that wine lovers in the US can get involved at a convenient time (6-8pm PST). Rick will be visiting each region to share videos, tasting notes, interviews and other content along with Australian wine tweeters. These events are on March 27th (#HunterWine), March 30th (#YarraWine) and April 3rd (#BarossaWine). Aussies can attend these events in person, but if you’re outside Australia you should check out
Rick’s Website to register.

WCA LogoTo book your place at any of the Rick Bakas
lectures or regional events, go to the via Wine Communicators Australia website www.winecommunicators.com.au.

You can also follow Rick Bakas on tour at blog.winecommunicators.com.au. If you come along to Rick’s Adelaide lecture and #WCATT session, WineQuota will see you there!

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Revealing the Family Tree of Grapes

Genomics researcher Sean Myles developed a technique for testing the genetic variation commonly found in grapes, then scanned the US Department of Agriculture grape germplasm collection to reveal how modern grape varieties are like a closely related family. His findings have been recently published in “Genetic structure and domestication history of the grape” and they include a fascinating diagram, a version of which you can see below, that is like a “family tree” for grapes:

Grape Family Tree You can see that Cabernet Sauvigon‘s parents are Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, and that there’s a close relationship between Pinot Noir and siblings Gamay and Chardonnay. But this “family tree” also shows that there is a disturbing lack of diversity between grape varieties after thousands of years of widespread vegetative propagation, the production of new plants from portions of others. According to the paper,

“Vegetitive propagation discouraged the generation of unique cultivars through crosses. The grape currently faces severe pathogen pressures, and the long-term sustainability of the grape and wine industries will rely on the exploitation of the grape’s tremendous natural genetic diversity.”

Our favourite grapes have been propagated for thousands of years, ignoring the diversity and benefits that cross-breeding could have offered. Although they’ve created clones of varieties that have unique traits, grapegrowers haven’t been motivated to breed new cultivars. The result of this lack of cross breeding is that we now have grape varieties that are more susceptible to diseases and pests.

It’s time we invested more in breeding programmes that create sturdier vines and new grapes with characteristics that produce new and exciting wines we can all enjoy.

For the abstract of the paper and a link to a full PDF of the paper go to:

For articles discussing the paper’s findings in more detail see The New York TimesLack of sex among grapes tangles a family vine” and BBC NewsNew grapes needed to keep wine flowing.”

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8 Great Reasons to Join WineQuota

WineQuota will offer Australian wine lovers an exciting new way to buy quality wine online, at great prices, and we’re launching soon! To be one of the first to hear about our launch date and more about exactly how WineQuota will work, join up at WineQuota.com.au

It’s easy! Just enter your name and email to subscribe and you’ll be entered into this and
future member promotions.

Vino Grande BordeauxJoin before 5th February 2011
and you could win 1 of 5 sets of
8 Spiegelau Vino Grande Bordeaux glasses. Each set of eight glasses normally retails for over $140!

Designed for full-bodied red wines like Cabernet and Shiraz, Spiegelau Bordeaux wine glasses from the Vino Grande collection exude style and elegance. Spiegelau glasses are crafted to deliver wine at its best for the greatest possible enjoyment. Each glass’ shape and size has been designed to enhance the character and bouquet of the wine.

Spiegelau is one of the proud sponsors of Crush 2011, the Adelaide Hills Food and Wine Festival, on this Sunday 30th January. We’ll be getting out and about at Crush, distributing flyers about this promotion, and enjoying the great food, wine and hospitality for which the region is renowned. Maybe we’ll see you at one of the venues! For more information check out crushfestival.com.au

If you’re already a member, don’t worry! You’re still in the running for these prizes and we’ll be offering more giveaways in the coming weeks.

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Vermentino & Sardines

Vermentino & SardinesOn Friday evening Adelaide Central Market was the scene for the first of three “Vermentino & Sardines – The Musical”  events, organised by wine writer Max Allen in association with some of Australia’s Vermentino producers.

The event was a great success with many eager wine drinkers turning up to sample the wines and “Roasted Sardines with Parley and Lemon Dressing” by Sparrow Kitchen & Bar Executive Shef Mathew Goodlet.

There were many cool, crisp, citrussy, minerally, dry vermentinos to try… from Yalumba, Running with Bulls, Mitolo, 919 Wines, Trentham Estate, Chalmers & Ducks In A Row. Each had something different to offer, and all were refereshing examples of the variety. If I had to pick a favourite it would be the Chalmers 2009 Vermentino, and that’s not suprising, given they’ve probably been growing Vermentino longer than anyone in Australia.

Vermentino grapes are traditionally grown in Sardinia, on Italy’s Ligurean coast, on Corsica and in parts of Provence. So it’s no coincidence that many of Australia’s wine regions are also suited to producing wines from Vermentino, given their Mediterranean climates.

If you’re in Mebourne today (Monday 24th January) you can check out Vermentino & Sardines from 12-2pm in the Rialto Forecourt, Collins Street or at Cellar Bar, 80 Bourke Street. Tomorrow night in Sydney (Tuesday 25th January) head to Fix St James, Elizabeth Street between 4 and 6pm, then stay for dinner.

For more info on these and other events see Max’s blog here.

To see pics from the Adelaide event, see our Facebook Page!

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Our “wine pack” promotion’s closed, but you can still join!

We drew the three winners of our competition (see previous post). Isabella & Meg in Adelaide & Justin in Sydney have their prizes and are, no doubt, enjoying them!

Thanks again to teh fabulous wineries who supported us: Vinteloper, Golding, Langmeil, Teusner, Yalumba and Madeleines Wine!

If you haven’t joined yet, do it now, and we’ll let know when our new promotion for existing members is up and running. We’ll be offering a chance to win a fantastic prize, and all you’ll have to do is tell five friends about WineQuota!

Just go to WineQuota.com.au and fill in your name and email!

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Join WineQuota to win 6 great wines!

Win this 6-pack of great winesWe’re launching a new way to buy wine online very soon! Aussie wine lovers can join NOW, to be the first to hear how WineQuota works.

Join up and you’ll have three chances to win this pack of six great wines, valued at $120, from our friends on Twitter and Facebook. Just go to WineQuota.com.au and join before 20th December!

To whet your appetite for these wines, we’ve put together these brief tasting notes from the wineries’ own websites:

Vinteloper 2010 Watervale Riesling
Picked by hand & processed using the absolute minimum amount of inputs, the resultant wine is textural yet feminine. The lifted floral bouquet so renowned in Watervale riesling has been retained & the textural palate combines citrus blossom & grapefruit in harmony to present an instant classic. More info here.

Golding 2010 The Local Sauvignon Blanc
This wine has a delicate apple blossom perfume, the palate is generous in fresh fruit character with zesty fresh lime and hints of passion fruit while having a clean dry chalky finish. More info here.

Langmeil 2010 Bella Rouge Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé
This special wine is made from premium Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from the Barossa Valley. Brilliant red with pink, purple hues. On the nose, fresh raspberries and strawberries jump deliciously from the glass with hints of toffee apple. Juicy summer berries flow into the palate with good acidity to balance the sweetness. A lovely long, fruitful finish mingles with a hint of briary spice… More info here.

Teusner 2009 The Independent Shiraz Mataro
On the nose, rich blackberry, blackcurrant and plum aromas studded with five spice, licorice, earth, ironstone and cola with hints of undergrowth, sage, polished leather and a faint waft of mint and jasmine. The palate is mouthfilling and textured with blackberry and plum fruits, licorice, dark chocolate, clove and earthy tones. Hints of jasmine and violet enveloping the rich, opulent fruit as the wine swells to a silky prolonged finish. More info here.

Yalumba 2008 The Scribbler Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz
Dense crimson purple with a very appealing nose, displaying excellent concentration of dark fruits, spices, liquorice and dark olives. Fresh aromas of violets and lavender are present. The palate is silky and elegant, tasting of sweet blackcurrants and blueberries. The Shiraz is nicely layered within a tightly integrated and beautifully structured Cabernet Sauvignon palate. More info here.

Madeleines 2008 Nangkita Primitivo
The 3rd vintage of Madeleines’ Primitivo (a.k.a. Zinfandel) is an interesting and exotic wine showing rum & raison, fruitcake and syrupy smoothness. Only 90 cases made. It was the only Gold Medal winner in its class at the 2009 Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show. More info here.

Go to WineQuota.com.au now, and join for your chance to win! We’d also love to get your comments about these fantastic wines.

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Oh what a night! Winedown in Adelaide

WineDown wines and wine drinkers

Wines for tasting. Photo by @ashsimmonds

Last night in Adelaide a bunch of Twitter users and their friends gathered for WineDown, a Twitter “meetup”. Adelaide has Twitter gatherings frequently but this was the first dedicated to tasting wine from local winemakers, and sampling boutique beer and fine food.

The function was organised and promoted on Twitter by @RubinaCarlson and @Sprigggy, and was held at the latter’s HomeStyle Solutions premises in Malvern; if you need quality outdoor furniture or Riedel glassware check out HomeStyle Solutions one weekend.

About 40 people attended WineDown and were treated to Vale Ale by McLaren Vale Beer Company, delicious smallgoods (including an amazing bresaola) provided by Feast! Fine Foods, divine cheeses from Bottega Rotolo and The Barossa Valley Cheese Company, and wines by Madeleines, Vinteloper Wines and Zusammen Fine Wines.

My wine highlights were:

  • Vinteloper’s 2009 Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc. A zesty wine, with tropical fruit character and well-balanced acidity.
  • Madeleine’s 2008 Primitivo. From this Zinfandel-like grape Chris Dix has crafted a vivacious medium bodied wine with a jammy palate bursting with cherry fruit.
  • Zusammen 2008 Shiraz. Well integrated French oak and dark berry flavours. A bold but elegant Barossa shiraz.

If you missed WineDown, you can sample “leftovers” at HomeStyle Solutions, 45 Winchester St, Malvern, this Sunday at 2pm. There will be another WineDown in Adelaide this November. You can find out about future events by following @WineDownAdl on Twitter or going to the WineDown Page on Facebook!

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Tasting Teusner Wines

I had the pleasure of attending a Teusner Wines tasting at Adelaide’s East End Cellars a couple of weeks back. Winemaker Kim Teusner brought along four of his latest reds for the eager punters to sample and many of us took the opportunity to chat with him about his wines.

First up was the unoaked ‘Joshua’ Grenache Mataro Shiraz 2009 which was presented alongside its “big brother”, the ‘Avatar’ GSM 2009. The contrast between the two was quite marked. While the ‘Joshua’ leapt out of the glass with a lively blend full of fresh berries, complemented by the dusty earth of Mataro, the ‘Avatar’ had a richer feel, with the oak bringing forth the Mataro and Shiraz. Overall the impression of the ‘Joshua’ was of fruity sweetness (although sugar was, of course, not present) while the ‘Avatar’ was a well-balanced savoury experience.

Next I tried ‘The Dog Strangler’ 2009, a straight Mataro (a.k.a. Mouvedre) named after a French term for the dense vines of this grape variety. As my first experience of an unadulterated Mataro, I was unsure of what to expect. Plums, spice and pepper carried through to an exotic mouth-filling palate with rich tannins. This was a satisfying wine, but the tasting experience proved a little puzzling for me, due to unfamiliarity.

The ‘Albert’ Shiraz 2008 was an intense wine typical of the best the Barossa offers. It had an elegant palate with good oak integration, made with more subtlety than most. Black fruits abounded in this very drinkable (or cellar-able) wine.

A bonus at this Teusner tasting were wines from Astrolabe (an excellent sauvignon blanc and a pinot noir), Stoneleigh Syrah (from the oldest shiraz vines in NZ) and a zesty riesling by Tasmanian winery Frogmore Creek. These are wines that Teusner import and distribute in South Australia, just because they’re wines they love. Fantastic!

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