Friday, May 14, 2010
Two magnificent days
I'll bet this title surprises readers. Yes, that's correct I have had two very special days. Both were totally focused on pleasure and beauty.
Yesterday, I had my second hypnotherapy session which always leaves me calm and re-energised. I called in to Uni very briefly as yet again the distance between myself and former colleagues remains palpable (except one wonderful colleague who is down to earth and calls a spade a spade). We had a coffee together then I headed for the hills, literally.
I have organised a social function for PhD students next Thursday. It is a wine and cheese tasting. The Clubs officer suggested this as it required very little organising. Well not when I do it.
I decided that our vignerons and producers had had some rough times economcally since the bushfires and the least we could do is assist some of the smaller producers to promote their exceptional quality produce. The wines are not cheap and cannot compete with the bulk purchased NZ Sauv Blanc (wine glut) imports, but neither should they be compared.
The big chain liquor stores can turn over quantities that our smaller regional producers only dream about producing, and whereas each of our NZ imports does not totally guarantee single vineyard grapes or even total regional blend compatibility, our locals go to great lengths to produce some of the finest wines in the world.
Whilst I would never say no to quaffing a Marlborough Sauv Blanc or a Hawkes Bay Cab Merlot, it must be pointed out that our local boutique wines are made for cellaring. I just shared a bottle of Blanche Barkly (Bendigo) 2002 Johan Cabernet that I have cellared for the last nine years. I opened it and shared it with my son on a quiet evening last week post 21st kerfuffle. It was brilliant, so like a very expensive French Cote du Rhone... and it could have gone another 5 years! You do not get to open a bottle and drink that quality of wine without purchasing through the auction houses.
Thus I felt it might be a good opportunity to demonstrate the range of varieties produced in the Yarra Valley. And for them to be tasted as 'young' wines, I have organised some of the best locally produced smallgoods and cheeses to show each off to their best advantage.
So a social event with minimum organisation, not likely.
Yesterday I travelled the width and breadth of the Yarra Valley visiting members of the Small Vineyards Association to build a relationship with these producers.
I hope that in Spring this year, we can organise a larger full staff-tasting with a few vignerons actually presenting their wines and explaining their subtle differences. I have also tee'd up Richard Thomas, the Affineur (yep my newly acquired word for the day meaning cheese maker and connoisseur)from De Bortolli, to accompany the vintners and present some of his specially cellared and imported European cheeses. Our Head of Hospitality, Gage Rossiter (of the Channel 31 Wine Patrol) will also take us through a red wine vintage tour.
So to begin the collaborations needed for this later evening, I have made an initial contact with everybody and have requested two bottles of wine that the local vintners are proud of that represents the varieties produced across the region.
Needless to say there were a couple of tastings along the way and much temptation to begin rebuilding my home cellar holdings.
It was magnificent just travelling the country roads under towering Eucalypts, across green pastures and alongside entryways bordered by Autumnal colours of the vines themselves. The sky was dark grey and ponderous, the occasional rain shower seemed to arrive when I was safely inside my car, and the sun beamed when I stepped out to entered the various cellar doors, whilst rainbows split the sky. It was like a film where the cinematographer had planned it all. Every winemaker I spoke with was passionate about his/her vintages. We actually spoke longer than I had anticipated at each vineyard!
When I arrived late in the day at the Yarra Valley Dairy, just the smells in the air conjured up childhood memories. My father's best friend, Ken Watkins (Uncle Ken and Aunt Glenys) ran a dairy farm in Wild Dog Creek Road, Apollo Bay, Victoria.
On numerous school holidays and some Christmas breaks our family would stay at the farm. The memories of the milking shed there came flooding back with the very familiar scents and aromas. I even remembered the occasions when as a small child I was too weak to actually keep hold of the bottles and teats being voraciously sucked by the calves. It was wonderful to call forth those simple memories that have been absent for so long.
Then what a way to finish the day; at De Bortolli being spoiled by Richard. I tasted some magnificent Raclette (Australian!), some Spanish Manchego, a wonderful Swiss (will discover the name next week... as that was my treat piece to nibble in the car on the way home to the Mornington Peninsula... thanks Richard!), some very interesting Brie from Normandie (that also accompanied me home in its box), and lastly an intriguing blue from the Strezlecki... wow what a range and sensational experience.
It was all so Australian, yet redolent of my European travels as a young woman when I was beginning to develop my palate. A totally perfect day. So relaxing and so full of passion and beauty. I remain inspired, even today.
So for another fix of Francophilia I book into Ella Bache to use my mother's day voucher. Ah, such pampering (after first getting my head straight with a psychiatrist appointment). I guess both are pampering, each in a different way. One emotional and intellectual and the latter, tactile and sensual.
I feel so feminine now as well as feeling very privileged to have wound up the week with such quality 'me-time', even though the excuse for the Yarra Valley jaunt was our social evening next week.
On Tuesday I am determined to take my digital camera (and my glasses as I can't focus the thing without them), up again and shoot some pics to create a display board to accompany the produce I collect next Thursday. Wow, two trips through beautiful Victorian countryside in one week. I am blessed.
Needless to say I will travel on my own so that nobody can taint this truly magic feeling of freedom.