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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Outside Sydney: Hunter Valley Wine Tour

 Hunter Valley Wine Tour
 It wasn’t exactly the young-and-boozy crowd we had hoped for but we got a bunch of women from Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland. Some of them were on holiday, and some were celebrating a 50th birthday. Oh, plus an awkward, snobby, self-proclaimed wine connoisseur couple from Atlanta. For $150 each, we got to venture outside Sydney and explore the wine country! When our ride pulled up to our hotel around 8AM, we quickly realized it was a full house. I sat shotgun with our friendly driver Marc discussing everything from our travels, whether or not Aussies eat kangaroo, and if Outback Steakhouse really is Australian. It was a 3 hour drive, and topics ran dry. I did, however, discover that kangaroo meat is gamey yet delicious and Outback Steakhouse surely doesn’t exist in Australia. 
Iron Gate Estate
Our first stop is the Iron Gate Estate winery. We had the owner come out at speak to our group as we sampled a variety of 8 or 9 wines made on premise. Interestingly enough, they do not sell their wine anywhere but at that very location. Being that I’m poor, I bought one bottle of the 2004 Semillon that I loved. I would’ve loved a case but with the cost of shipping it back to New York, $500 just wasn’t going to happen for me. I never heard of the Semillon grape before, and usually I go for red wine, so this was a special purchase that I already drank at home within my first few days returning home. 
A heavy pour awaits us

Our second stop was the Capercaillie Estate. The woman in charge of our tasting announced she normally doesn’t work the tastings, so she had a heavy pour and not a lot to talk about. Samples were pouring faster than I could drink them, and I definitely worked up a heavy buzz by the time we were back on the bus.

Lunch approaches and since we selected the “gourmet lunch” option for the tour, we were dropped off at “The Cellar” restaurant. It was empty inside, but we were greeted with wine and ready for a hot meal. We welcomed the red snapper and cheese plate with open arms into our bellies, and we ate it fast. We had plenty of time for some tipsy shopping at the gift shops near the restaurant but it was mostly crap. Back to the bus!
The last stop before heading back to Sydney was Ernest Hill. Now, I never use the spit bucket/decanter/vase/garbage while tasting. It’s wasteful! However, on this particular day I had more than my fair share of samples, so I had to pass on a few of the dessert wines to avoid heaving. I wound up leaving with a bottle of Merlot from Ernest Hill that I look forward to opening soon. We got back on the bus and let our buzz fade into the sunset.  

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