Wednesday, November 17, 2004

A Trip North

Last week we headed for Sydney to catch up with family to celebrate my birthday.
My daughter had organised a few games of ten-pin bowling at a retro alley where you stepped back in time at least 30 years. Lots of memorabilia and great music.
We had a fun time. It was a laugh a minute. It had been at least 20 years since I had bowled and I managed to score over 100 both games. The others? Well………
We then drove to Norton St. Leichhardt, which is the Italian part of Sydney for a cheap and cheerful meal which turned out to be excellent.
Next morning we headed into the Sydney CBD and did a few bookshops as well as the Dupane photographic exhibition at the Museum of Sydney.
We also caught a movie, “The Anchorman”. Don’t bother, it’s really awful.
After dinner at Wagamammas, a Japanese noodle bar, the ladies headed off for a Dido concert while I settled for another movie. It was an Australian production “A Man’s Got to Know” which turned out to be very funny in a quirky sort of way.
Next morning we set off for the Hunter Valley, about 160km (100mi) north of Sydney to visit some wineries, to do some tasting and to buy some wine to replenish the stock that had greatly diminished over the last few months. The region grows most grape varieties but because of its maritime climate, the most successful are Semillon and Shiraz. It also appears that Verdelho will be a variety that will perform well in this difficult climate.
It was a warm sunny day and surprisingly there were very few people in the area. This allowed the winery staff more time to talk about their wines as well as offer a few specials not normally available.
At Margan Family Wines we bought some of their ’04 Semillon and Verdelho as well as their Saignee Shiraz Rose’. This winery continually produces high quality wines at reasonable prices and the 2004 vintage is no exception.
At Oakvale Wines we bought some older Semillon which had developed nicely in the bottle as well as their most recent Verdelho which in fact may be better than the Margan.
Then it was time for lunch at the Enzo Café at the Pepper Tree Winery complex where I had a great smoked salmon salad and shared a couple of nice glasses of wine. The chicken Caesar salad across the table looked good too. It was a very pleasant hour sitting outside in the sun listening to a “best of” Dixie Chicks album and relaxing before the wine buying frenzy continued.
At Tullochs we bought 3 bottles of their top of the range Hector 1999 Shiraz for special occasions.
Then finally, we ended up at a new winery, Iron Gate Wines. There we bought some of their Semillon as well as a range of their Shiraz. The Reserve Shiraz comes in at a whopping 15.6% alcohol. That will definitely be a non-driving dinner when we open that one.
So all in all it was a successful day. It’s always nice to visit a few new places as well as the tested and true in the Hunter Valley. The fact that I got a call on my mobile phone from the security department of my credit card company while on the way home asking whether I still had possession of my card because the abnormal number of purchases in a day is neither here nor there.
We stayed overnight with a friend in the Gosford area just north of Sydney and tried some of our purchases with a great meal of bar b q’d whole fillet steak, baked potato and salad.
But now it is back to the grind!

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