Thursday, February 28, 2008

Visiting in the Wineries of Rutherglen Australia

Emily provided excellent driving directions from Jasper Hill to Rutherglen, and I therefore took the backroads of Victoria and rarely passed another car. However, I did pass two dead kangaroos – one in the very center of the road – that had been hit my cars. Ugh. I guess they are like deer here – very plentiful. There were many signs saying to watch out for both kangaroos and koala bears, though I did not see any of the latter.

Regardless, it was still a long drive and I arrived in Rutherglen around 3:30 and stopped at the Visitor’s Center. They provided a winery map and some hotel recommendations. My first stop was the Rutherglen Winery, right in town, which was very friendly and helpful. They only had one of the famous Muscat stickies, but many table wines, including a zinfandel which amazed me. The Duriff (Petit Syrah) for which Rutherglen is also famous, was excellent, as well as some of the dry whites. As usual, I did not drink the wine – just spit.

Next stop was Campbell’s Winery which was just down the road and had been recommended to me by the lady at Rutherglen Winery when I asked where I could find the full selection of Rutherglen, Classic, Grand, and Rare Muscats and Tokays (Muscadelles). Campbell’s had been operating for more than 150 years and was very impressive. The very kind hospitality manager, Scott, allowed me to taste the 4 levels of Muscat against the 4 levels of Muscadelle and it was amazing. He explained how they were made and how to differentiate. I found that I enjoyed the younger Muscats (Rutherglen and Classic) –because they were so aromatic and the older Muscadelles (Grand and Rare) – because as they age they gain more honey and toffee flavors. I ended up buying the Grand Tokay (Muscadelle) for $65 in 375ml. Apparently Australia is allowed to use the term “Tokay” for the next 5 years, and then must drop the term in respect for Hungary’s real Tokaj region.

I found a delightful inn (The Poacher’s Hotel) and after a refreshing
shower, a beer at the pub and a walk around the delightful mainstreet of Rutherglen, headed to a wonderful dinner at the Tuileries Restaurant. The evening was balmy, so I walked – Rutherglen was much warmer than Melbourne. Around 80 F during the day.

The next morning I had an incredible visit to Chambers & Rosewood Winery (also over 150 years old) where Bill Chambers took me on a tour of the vineyard and winery. They were actually harvesting the muscat that morning and I was fortunate that he was willing to take a break and show me around. He had just recently received a perfect score of 100 from Robert Parker on both his Rare Muscat and Rare Tokay, which he let me taste. It was like tasting a bit of heaven – rich, luscious, honey, toffee and dried apricots. Amazing, life changing wine. Roberta, the Marketing Director, was also there and very helpful. She introduced me to their rare Gouais grape wine – originally from Croatia via France - a dry white mineral-lemon wine which was quite refreshing. The tasting bar was a bit unusual – 20+ complete help yourself bottles of wine protected by nitrogen gas. Of course, the Grand and Rare Muscats/Tokays were not help yourself. This winery visit was fantastic! I will never forget it.

Last winery stop before heading out of town was the All Saints Winery which is located in a magnificant castle building with white roses. Very lovely place-- see video. Also stopped at Tabilk Winery on the drive back to Melbourne. Very amazing old and grand winery with a huge wildlife wetlands.


Janeenolsen said...

Sounds like you are having a great time and I like seeing the videos. How is the camera working out? Maybe next time you should take a camera man (woman) along with to record while you do the interviews. Hint hint....

Vjadek said...

Sounds and looks like you are having a great trip!! Hope to see lots of pictures.

Professor Liz said...

Janeen and Valerie, Great to hear from you. The new Flip corder is a lot of fun -- but I could use a camera woman.

Picked grapes in McLaren Vale today with Marilyn and Gary.

Janeen - They both said to tell you hi. Marilyn said she really wished you had come and how much she enjoyed meeting you.

Also -- saw a Border Collie today picking grapes. He was the winery dog!

JMT said...

Many thanks for sharing your thrilling experiences with spectacular sceneries and, in particular, the different quality wines with us. It’s good that you’re especially focused on driving as local people do.

Joanna and I are wishing you a continuing safe and enjoyable visit

Unknown said...

Hi wonderful to read your travel journal...Boy, roadkill takes on a completely diffident meaning down under!! :-)

It sounds like you are having a wonderful time. I am happy to know your travel there was event-less and that you are safe and enjoying your tour. I too will trow my hat in to be your camera person on your next trip...I promise I will not take too much room in your suit case...

Cheers to you! You are an inspiration...I cannot wait to hear all about it from you in person...wishing you continued life-altering wine tastings and conversations in the land down-under.