Monday, 4 June 2007

Melbourne Food and Wine Fair

Good Food and Wine Show
Exhibition Centre, Melbourne, 3rd July

Sometimes bad timing can be good timing. I was in Australia for one weekend and it just happened to be the weekend of the Good Food and Wine Show. I squeezed a couple of hours out of the schedule Sunday afternoon to catch the tail end of the event. The food stalls were disappointing, despite pushing through the thick crowds I could find nothing of particular interest; apart from a friendly bloke who gave me a much needed "real Dutch pastry" as he packed up his stall. Focusing my attention on wine I had a very pleasant couple of hours sipping, spitting and chatting. Looking below it seems I concentrated on South Australian wines, but this was purely chance, simply a matter of where I started wandering.

Majella, Coonawarra (website): I'm a fan of Majella and was impressed with all the wines I tried. The new Musician Cabernet Shiraz 2006 was as delightfully drinkable as ever, but it was their Riesling 2006 that I found especially intriguing. This wine hit a note for me and though it possessed the crisp, dry, acidic notes you expect from this variety, the palate was packed with fruit and a surprising creamy richness. I bought a couple of bottles and blew my no buying rule on the second stand I visited!

Taylors, Clare Valley (website): Taylors wines are fantastic and I have drunk, purchased and cellared a lot of their estate range over the years - these wines are outstanding value and can often be purchased in Australia for as little as $13. I really enjoyed the opportunity to revisit these wines and try the premium Jaraman and St Andrews range, all of which were good. The Taylors Estate Gewurztraminer 2006 was new to me and very tasty; bursting with a huge, fragrant explosion of lychees. The St Andrews Chardonnay 2001 was refined and elegant wine, while the Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 and the St Andrews Shiraz 2001 were also both standouts. I was impressed to see them releasing their top St Andrews wines with around five years of bottle age.

Elderton, Barossa (website): Elderton has been a favourite of mine since a drunken cellar-door visit years ago. It was a pleasure to chat with Cameron Ashmead who was manning the stall; he was super friendly and informative. Highlights included the refined estate Shiraz 2004, the elegant Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 and the outstanding, rich and noble (and I think very good value) Ode to Lorraine 2002.

Peter Lehmann, Barossa (website): Another classic Australian producer and personal favourite, their Semillon is one of our regular Hong Kong quaffing whites. It was good to try a couple of different Peter Lehmann wines; The Futures Shiraz 2004 and Peppers Marananga Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, both of which looked like they had the potential to age very well. The Peppers Marananga Cabernet was so good - elegant, yet full of powerful brooding fruit - that I again broke my no buying rule.

Voyager Estate, Margaret River (website): I haven't drunk much Voyager Estate, and was keen to see what this Western Australian producer had to offer. The whites were excellent with elegant and distinct flavours. The VOC Collection Semillon 2006 was superb and interestingly aged in Russian Oak which contributed to a noticeable spicy finish. The reds were all good, with the Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2003 being an absolutely outstanding wine; elegant, refined and a true gentleman. An top quality line-up and perhaps the most impressive wines of the day.

Rolf Binder, Barossa (website): Rolf Binder is a small Barossa producer and visiting his stall highlighted the great thing about days like this; an opportunity to chat to the wine maker. It was interesting gaining his impressions of the Hong Kong and the difficulties of importing wine here. His wines were big, fruit filled Barossa Valley offerings and, as expected, his Shiraz was a highlight.

Other stalls I enjoyed visiting included: Zema Estate, Seppelt, Burge Family Winemakers, Hollicks, Devil's Lair, Bethany, De Bortoli, St Hallet, Balnaves, Shelmerdine, Baroasa Valley Brewery and believe it or not the Mateus Rose stall! What an unexpected, but thoroughly interesting afternoon.

Visit event website

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