Weekly Writing Challenge: I Wish I were drinking wine in Europe

This week the blog challenge of the week (found here) we have been asked to use the subjunctive mood to look back on our lives and say “I wish I were”. For me, keeping in the theme of this blog it would have to be ‘ I wish I were back in Europe, so I could try all the different wines!’

The first time I went to Europe I did so as a naive 18 year old who though spending more than 2 euros on a bottle of wine would break the budget. Having said that, my favourite bottle of wine from that trip is still the one which cost me 60 cents in Madrid, while my favourite drink overall was the homemade Sangria I had at the hostel we stayed at in Rome. The flip side of this regret is that if I had splurged on wines it would likely have been lost on me as I would not have been able to appreciate what I would have likely been drinking.

My second trip to Europe was a few years later and was a much briefer trip, however I went with the aim to try as much as I could in the way of European food and wine as well as attending a wine tasting class in Paris, of which I felt I succeeded at very nicely! This trip reaffirmed my love of European food and wine as well as confirming the fact that I would need to buy new pants every few months if I did live in Europe. This trip was just over a year ago and already I am wishing that I had tried a German or Austrian Riesling while I was there, though the beer in Munich was definitely a pleasant drink!

Since having become interested in wines it can often be quite frustrating to live in a country that is so far from the rest of the world and on top of that in the most isolated capital city of the country. It adds up to some expensive imported wines for sure! And unfortunately I have discovered that I tend to favour the more expensive imported wines (think $200+ French reds…). The positive of this however, is that I have turned those expensive bottles of wine into a good inspiration to save my my next overseas trip and the chance to really delve into the wines that Australia is producing to uncover some amazing boutique wineries!

I would love if you would share with me what is your ‘I wish I were’ and if you have a favourite wine or winery feel free to share it also!

Until next time!

Wino 101: How to taste wine like a pro (part 1)

There are 4 main components that you must consider when tasting a wine:

Part 1. The overall visual appearance of the wine,

Part 2. The wine’s scent,

Part 3. The wine’s taste and,

Part 4. The texture or feel of the wine in your mouth.

I will guide you through these 4 components so that you can hopefully get more out of your next bottle of wine!

For this post we will start off with the overall appearance of the wine. This is done by pouring a small amount of wine into your glass (make sure it is under half a glass, preferably even less than a third so that you’ll be able to tilt the glass for part 1 and be able to swirl it for when you move on to part 2).

The things you should note are:

1. The clarity of the wine – this step is quite simple, is the wine clear or is there something in it causing it to have a murky or sedimentary appearance?

2. The colour of the wine – look at it from different angles, tilt the glass, hold it up to the light, try and hold it against a white background (say a piece of paper) to see the wine’s true colour – go nuts really try and get a good look at the wine. Try to focus on the wine at the edge/rim of the glass and the wine in the centre of the bowl of the glass to see how the wine differs with regards to the depth of the wine in the glass.

Things to consider:

a) For white wines: look at how dark the wine is – ranges from clear with a yellow/green tinge to a deep golden yellow.

b) For red wines: look at how light the wine is – ranges from deep to light shades of purple,black and/or blue.

c) And lastly, look at the colour of the wine itself – what do you see?

Note: The wine shown above is the 2012 Plantagenet Riesling that I tasted and reviewed last night (review here). From the light colouring of the wine it is easy to tell that it is a young wine. The wine shows up much more yellow in the pictures than it does in real life (possibly due to lighting). For me the wine has a slight yellow/green tinge which is common for Rieslings, Sauvignon Blanc’s and Semillon Sauvignon Blanc’s.

Hope This has helped you and look out for part 2 in next Tuesday’s Wino101 post. Feel Free to leave me feedback in the form of a comment at the bottom of this blog post, a tweet on Twitter, or a comment on my Facebook page.

Until next time!

Halliday Day: Week 3 – Plantagenet Wines

Plantagenet Winery is located in Mount Barker region of Western Australia. Plantagenet is part of the Great Southern Wine district known to have a cool climate and rich soil, which produce good quality Riesling and Shiraz. The winery has been in existence since 1968 when it was purchased by Tony Smith who planted Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon at the Bouverie property and soon followed by planting Riesling at their Wyjup farm. 5 different vineyards are owned by Plantagenet around Mount Barker, giving the wine makers a variety of different grapes and climates from which to source from. Since the mid-2012, Plantagent’s wines have been over seen by wine maker Cath Oates. Prior to Oates, John Durham was the chief wine maker at Plantagenet. 4 different wine labels are produced by Plantagenet: Omrah, Plantagenet Wines, Hazzard Hill Wines, and Museum Wines. Plantagenet Winery was rated as a 5 star winery by James Halliday since 2011.

I had the chance to sample some of their wines from their core- line titled Omrah, at UnWined WA this past weekend. These Omrah range retails from $15-$20 a bottle in Bottle shops across Perth. This wine label originated upon the unwooded Chardonnay in the range and has presently expanded to include all the major wine varietals. The vines that are used to produce the Omrah wines were planted in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s are reaching maturation and will see the wines being produced in the next few years to be some of the best vintages yet. The wines were pleasant, with the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon Sauvignon Blanc being less acidic and still packing a flavour-filled punch that the Margaret River whites are known. Overall I would say that the Sauvignon Blanc and the Semillon Sauvignon Blanc were my favourite wines from the range. The below image contains the tasting notes from cards that they had at their Unwined WA Stall.

Plantagenet Wineries also scored well at the 2012 Qantas Wine Show winning 1 gold (2012 Riesling), 2 silver (2011 Riesling and 2011 Chardonnay) and 3 bronze medals (2011 Omrah Pinot Noir, 2010 Shiraz and 2009 Cab Sav) along with 3 trophies (Best Wine of Show – 2012 Riesling, Best White Wine of Show – 2012 Riesling, and Best 2012 Riesling – 2012 Riesling).

Their Plantagenet Winery range constitutes their premium line of wines. The Riesling reviewed tonight is from this range. The Riesling had a fresh and crisp bouquet with what seemed like possibly a hint of apple (do let me know what you think it is if you get a chance to try this wine). While from its bouquet you could tell the wine was quite young, it did not show the typical weaknesses of a young wine, instead the wine was smooth and well balanced without overdoing the acidity. This wine is definitely one you could enjoy now with a nice bit of fish as the weather warms up. The Riesling retails for $20-$25 in bottle shops, however the 2012 vintage will likely not be on shelves for a while so if you want to grab a bottle now, best advice would be to deal directly with the winery.

If you’re heading down to Mount Barker over the summer months this is definitely a winery to check out!

Until next time!

Wine(s) of the Week: UnWined WA 2012

Hi everyone,

I’ve just returned home from a day out at the UnWined WA show in Subiaco. Had some amazing wines and spoke to numerous lovers of food and wine as well as some very friendly wine makers and winery staff.

Some Highlights from the show (in no particular order):

1. Fifth Estate Wines (Harvey, Western Australia)

Their Rose was the standout for me out of all the ones I tried at the show! I cannot put my finger on what it was but I was so impressed I ended up with two bottle plus one of their Tempranillo to take home with me, thanks to winning a competition for pre-purchasing my tickets to the show. Jessica who was running the booth was friendly and approachable and a good ambassador of the winery! Keep an eye out for a more in-depth review of these wines in the near future.

2. Silkwood (Pemberton, Western Australia)

I tried their dry Riesling (still quite sweet), Verdelho and Pinot Noir. The Pinot Noir was definitely better than the ones I tried at the Blackwood Valley Wine Show last weekend and renewed my faith in their being potential for a Pinot Noir from Western Australia. The Riesling as well was a pleasant drink and one that I will definitely purchase once I’ve depleted some of the wines I currently have at home!

3. After Hours (Margaret River, Western Australia)

The wines I tasted at the After Hours stall were all solid Margaret River wines. The white wines were fresh, zesty and refreshing and the Cabernet Sauvignon was smooth but had a decent amount of body to please me. You can find these wines in Perth at Glendalough Liquor, Wembley Hotel and Bottel-o in East Vic Park.

4. Chalice Bridge (Margaret River, Western Australia)

The father and son duo running the booth were a pleasure to talk to and kept us entertained while the brief bout of bad weather passed over. The wines all had the expected Margaret River characteristics, and the quality was definitely there! Halliday has rated a number of their premium line at 93 or 94 points (wines RRP is $25). A tricky winery to find in Perth as they export much of their wines to the eastern states of Australia and overseas. However they are stocked at Celebrations in Myaree!

5. Woodland Winery (Margaret River, Western Australia)

This is the winery which produced the $45 wine to rival Penfold’s Grange in Halliday’s eyes (article here) – for a fraction of the cost! Their reds were a standout with their high use of Malbec across their red wines creating some interesting and yummy wines. Will have to check out their full range of wines at their new cellar door, which opens this summer!

6. Plantagenet Winery (Mount Barker, Western Australia)

This is the winery who’s Riesling took out three trophies at the 2012 Qantas Wine Show of WA, and will be featured in my Halliday Day Winery blog post tomorrow. While they only had their Omrah basic line available for sampling there was still very nice wines to sample! Their Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon Sauvignon Blanc being the best that we felt we had tasted across the day! The staff on at the booth were also a pleasure to talk to!

7. Woodgate Winery (Manjimup, Western Australia)

The best Bubbly that I tried at the show! The Wine Maker (Mark Aitken) followed the traditional methods from Champagne to make a wine that I would personally pay far more for than its $30 price tag and would say it is superior to many of the true French Champagne’s that I have tried in the past. One to keep an eye out for in independent bottle shops around Perth!

Overall it was a pleasant way to end the weekend and I am already looking forward to the 2013 show! For those of you who wish you had gone to the show this weekend fear not! There is also a show being run by this same company this coming weekend in Bunbury, details can be found here.

I did also get the chance to sample some dukkah, mustards and vinegars. This resulted in the only purchases I made at the event as the Guava Vinegar was so different a taste that I had to buy some so I could give it a try over a salad! I will let you know how the vinegars turn out!

Hope you all had a good weekend! Please feel free to add me on Twitter, Like me on Facebook and continue to follow this blog!

Until next time!

Giveaway Winners and a Blog Chat

Hi everyone!

Just a quick little post here to let you know who the winners of last weeks giveaway are as well as a little blog chat. I will be having another giveaway before christmas so do not fret and please continue to share this blog around!

The winners of the giveaway are:

happygrape2 (blog comment)

Anna (Facebook comment)

Could you both please get in contact me with your preference of red or white (who ever gets in contact with me first will get to choose if you both want the same thing – sorry!). Also happygrape2 could you please supply me with an address that I can send the wine to you (flick me an email at gourmet.vicariously@gmail.com).

I do have a mini-blog series in the works with the Wine Education Centre in Perth, you will see this from around mid-November. And thanks to Anna’s suggestion there will be a mini-series in Wino101 starting this week on how to taste wines so you can know what people mean when they use certain terms. If anyone has any requests for things they want to see then please send me an email me, Facebook message me or even comment on this blog as I want to post things that people want to read!

 And lastly, once exams are over in just under a months time I do plan to venture out to more wineries along with bringing out some cooking books and hopefully attempting a few more recipes so feel free to send any my way if you think they would interest me!

Until next time!

Qantas Wine Show of Western Australia 2012

The Qantas Wine Show of Western Australia has been occurring in Mt Barker since 1978 and judges Western Australian wines exclusively. The 2012 medals have been released already on the wine show’s website, and the trophies and other awards will be presented on tonight at the Hyatt Hotel, while last night the Top 50 wine from the Qantas Wine Show of Western Australia were up for tasting at the Hyatt Regency. Unfortunately I was unable to attend either of the events due to other commitments, however I will be keeping an eye out on next years date so I can hopefully attend the show and/or tasting event.

The awards for the wine show are divided into the trophies for certain specific categories while the medals are divided into gold, silver and bronze categories and are awarded based upon the tasting scores of the individual wines. The 2012 wine show saw the judges award 52 gold medals, 123 silver medals and 326 bronze medals from over 1000 different wines entered into the show. The tally of the wines have already been published on their website linked at the start of the blog.

Below I will list some of the wines which I know you can find at Liquorland (I cannot however guarantee the vintages available in stores however) along with normal shelf pricing for them at Liquorland. Listed below is only a small selection of what is on the list and there are many other wines that I wish I knew where you could find them in Perth.

Gold

West Cape Howe Cabernet Merlot 2011 ($19)

Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($45)

Silver

Churchview Silverleaf Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2012 ($18)

Howling Wolves Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (16.50)

Evans and Tate Metricup Road Chardonnay 2011 ($24)

Rosabrook Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2012 ($17)

Voyager Estate Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2012 ($27)

Cape Mentelle Chardonnay 2011 ($24)

Stella Bella Chardonnay 2010 ($40)

Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (45)

Devil’s Lair Margaret River Hidden Cave Cabernet Sauvignon/ Shiraz 2010 ($24)

Houghton Red Classic Cabernet Sauvignon/ Shiraz/ Merlot 2010 ($13)

Bronze

Goundrey Homestead Sauvignon Blanc  2012 ($15)

Devil’s Lair Margaret River Hidden Cave Chardonnay 2011, 2012 ($24)

Moondah Brook Verdelho 2012 ($15)

Devil’s Lair Fifth Leg Semillon Sauv Blanc 2012 ($17)

Brookland Valley Verse 1 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2012 ($18)

Devil’s Lair Marg River Hidden Cave Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2012 ($24)

Vasse Felix Classic Dry White Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2012 ($20)

Houghton White Classic (Chenin Blanc/ Chardonnay/ Verdelho) 2012 ($13)

Evans and Tate Metricup Road Sauvignon Blanc 2011 ($24)

Evans and Tate Metricup Road Semillon/ Sauvignon Blanc 2011 ($24)

Watershed Shades Sauvignon Blanc/ Semillon 2011 ($18)

Brookland Valley Verse 1 Shiraz 2011 ($18)

Cape Mentelle Marmaduke Shiraz 2011 ($19.99)

West Cape Howe Shiraz 2011 ($19)

Evans and Tate Marg River Classic Dry Red Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot 2011 ($19)

Devil’s Lair Fifth Leg Red Blend Cabernet Sauvignon/ Shiraz/ Merlot 2011 ($17)

Evans and Tate Metricup Road Chardonnay 2010 ($24)

Vasse Felix Shiraz 2010 ($42)

Watershed Senses Shiraz 2010 ($24)

Vasse Felix Classic Dry Red Shiraz 2010 ($20)

Rosabrook Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($22)

Watershed Senses Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot 2010 ($24)

Have you tried one of these wines already? If so let me know what you thought of it! Also if you are in want to find some new wineries to visit over the coming summer months then I recommend you check out their published results by region, which gives you a good idea of where the main contenders for different grape varietals are located.

Until next time!

A Day of Feasting at the University of Western Australia

I haven’t really eaten out this past week and had anything positive to report back to you guys, so I was wondering what I would do with this week’s Thursday post. I did however find myself taking photos of what I ended up eating at Uni one day this week and figured I would share my food adventure with you all.

For those of you not aware of the food situation at the University of Western Australia (UWA) it was up until the start of this year monopolised by the student guild into overpriced greasy and often tasteless meals that had a fattiness about them that made you a few hours later often regret having succumbed to starvation and eaten on campus. A good starting point for student’s dissatisfaction with guild catering at UWA, if you’re interested, is a blog by Paul Abbott which can be found here on Facebook or here on Blogspot.

Breakfast was had at 8am and this is possibly the main reason as to why I’ve managed to get up at 6am and come into uni at 8am 3 days a week (when I live an hours drive from Uni). I have ordered this meal of a toasted ham and cheese croissant and a large tea on such a regular basis that the people who work the cafe in the morning know me and make it the moment they see me! This is one of the most appetising meals on the menu at UWA – the coffee at UWA is definitely sub-par and is one of the reasons why I do not miss having cut coffee almost completely out of my diet.

Being the second last week of semester, many of my classes are not running any more (joys of being an arts student!) so I used the time to catch up with some friends who I had not seen all semester. On the way to the tavern (our usual haunt due to the best quality of chips and wedges) I came accross a sign for a new food establishment that has recently started at UWA since food was deregulated at the start of the year. We ended up pairing our pizza with a middy 5 Seeds ‘Crisp’ Cider and it was nice. The pizza base was definitely in need of an upgrade from supermarket quality but the toppings on ‘the works’ which we tried was flavoursome and generous!

Following the pizza catch-up I then caught up with another friend over our traditional wedges at the tav (the only place where sweet chilli sauce and sour cream is included). The wedges were their usual quality and it was a nice farewell to the UWA Tavern, before I knuckle down for my last exam period.

Lastly as the weather was so nice on the day we gave up attempting to study at the tavern – surprisingly we had actually done pretty well at this – and ended up on one of the grassy spaces at uni and had an ice-cream. I ended up having the chocolate and nougat flavours and they were pretty good, but not the best ice-cream I’ve had, the chocolate flavour definitely needed more fudge for my liking!

It was quite a pleasant way to spend the day and welcome in summer but it will be back to the books for the next few weeks!

Until next time!

Weekly Writing Challenge: Children in Restaurants

This week as part of Daily Post’s ‘Weekly Writing Challenge’ there is a poll going around asking people to think about their view on whether children should be allowed in adult-orientated spaces or not and then to explain their position in a post. I hate to say it but at first I was decidedly on-the-fence in regards to this topic and I think this is in due to being caught in a sense between child and parent phases of life.

The two options given in the poll are (results for poll are here):

a) Part of why I go to a nice restaurant is for the ambiance and to spend time with other adults. Get a baby-sitter.

b) Kids are people too. They should be welcome where an adult is welcome.

Firstly I would like to say that this poll will initially be answered by either your emotional opinion of the majority of children who are respectable and well controlled by their parents when at restaurants or the minority who make us all wish from time to time that children would not be allowed within 100 miles of the premise. Which ever you seem to come in contact with on a more regular basis as well as who has made a more impressionable memory for you upon your dining out experiences. And secondly it will depend upon what you define as your average dining out experience – ie. Fine Dining, a small family-run restaurant, Mc Donalds, etc.

Let me share with you my dining experiences as a child. I was first introduced to five star dining at the age of 12 (thanks to a very nice uncle who treated us while we were travelling – this is not something that my parents could have afforded on a regular basis with 3 kids). I know looking back that I was likely not the best behaved child (think elbows on the table and probably talked too loud – things I’ve realised I still do as an adult) but it was an experience of a lifetime to try such well made and presented food and to be exposed to a different level of dining to what many children of my generation are used to – the good old McDonalds, smaller restaurants and other forms of take-away dining. To have been denied such an opportunity may have denied me the chance to discover my love of good food and wine, as well as some hopefully decent table manners!

While I cannot comment from a parents perspective having never been one I do think that the onus is on them to make sure that their child behaves and does not disrupt the dining experience of other patrons within the restaurant. However in the more informal family-run restaurants, often the atmosphere created by large families and all the children and the ‘toeing-and-froing’ between the generations can really make the dining experience more enjoyable for me when I see others enjoying their food and company around me.

I guess from having spoken to a few university friends over the last day in regards to this topic I would have to lean more towards responding with let the children have a chance to dine out, whether for the food, to learn dining etiquette or even just to have a nice family meal/gathering (restaurant depending of course – I would not say a 5 star dining experience would be the best location for their first meal dining out). In the end I guess I have come to the decisions that children in general should be allowed into restaurants, which is the losing category of the poll (at the time of writing ~60% were in favour of leaving the children at home while the other ~40% said bring them along). Also I would like to note that there are plenty of adults that I have seen while dining out that could probably do with a night in with the baby-sitter from their lack of etiquette in both eating and dealing with the waitstaff. Perhaps that can be a topic for the following poll?

Obviously with such a generic question, as well as a quite biased response for saying no to children being in restaurants the general trend for the results to be leaning towards letting them stay home with the baby-sitter is to be expected. Again I would like to reiterate that many answers for this question will depend also on the ‘dining experience’ people had in mind. Let me know what you’re oppinion is but overall I would say that for a medium-priced restaurant, let the next generation of foodies who dream of more than a big mac be born!

Until next time!

Wino 101: UnWined 2012

Hi everyone!

For those of you who are wondering what to do with your weekend I have a suggestion for you! In Subiaco this weekend is the second ever annual ‘UnWined’ wine show at Market Place (the grass to the west of Subiaco Oval – see the map below).

Tickets are $25 at the gate, or $20 if you pre-purchase them before Wednesday. The event is open 11-6 on Saturday and 11-5 on Sunday. I am planning to go on the Sunday so if you manage to make it out on that day come say hi!

Wine sampling, food and wine sessions as well as wines by the glass and tapas meals for sale. Some of the wineries who will be attending this event were also ones that were involved in the Blackwood Valley Wine Show that I attended on the weekend that has just passed.

If you want more information check out their website linked above or check out their Facebook page! And if you want to see the exhibitors that will be attending the show this weekend then click here.

CMS are also hosting the Geographe Crush Wine Show on Sunday November 4rd of this year at Bicentennial Square in Busselton. This show is looking like it will have even more exhibitors than the UnWined Show in Subiaco. The ticket pricing and show hours are the same as UnWined. I will not be able to make this event due to university exams but if anyone does please have a glass or two for me!

Until next time!

Giveaway Wines

Hi everyone,

Thought I would show you the wines that I will be giving away at the end of the week (pictured below). The white is a Pemberton Sauvinon Blanc from Capel Vale and the red a Margaret River Cabernet Franc from Hay Shed Hill.

While I was at Capel Vale on the way back to Perth I also had the chance to taste their newest wines, spritzy sweet wines – perfect for the upcoming summer months! The wines are called Frizzante (pictured below) and they have a Bianco (sweet as expected) and a Rosa (dryer than expected). I ended up picking one of each up for mum as a gift, so I will let you know what she/I (if she shares) thinks of it!

Capel Vale is a gorgeous winery to have lunch at (did so during the past winter). The restaurant gives you the view of the vineyards from the elevated location of the building. And the menu at this place has a variety of dishes which are all to die for! I recommend this as a stop off on the way south for anyone.

Until next time!