Back in April, M. and I decided to make the most of the Anzac Day long week-end to go to Mudgee and take our car Titine on her first road trip. It was a happy coincidence that at the same time was taking place the Food & Wine event Go Grazing for which I gladly bought us tickets. This festival allows to taste wines from a dozen of local producers with finger food prepared for each stall by a chef also from the area, in view to best complement the wine.
We arrived at the racecourse and were greeted with a glass of bubbly before the evening was due to start. By the time the doors opened, the crowd that had been steadily growing since our arrival (around 200 guests) was getting quite excited, thirsty and hungry.
When we got in, we were given a menu and a rating card to choose our favorite food & wine match, and from then onwards, it was like a race to taste as many wines and dishes as possible, as well as carry menus, glass, dishes, napkins, pens and rating cards and avoid spilling food or wine on other people and ones’ self. Needless to say, it was very hard to eat like a lady and I did not display an ounce of French class that night! I didn’t take any pictures until later in the night when people started to be full and a bit tipsy and therefore there was more room around the stalls… but also less food, so my apologies for the lack of pictures!
There were also stalls from local produce like olives and olive oil and M. had a nice chat with Kate Notley, who was representing Lakeland Olives, a sponsor of the event. We learned that you could use as many terms to describe olive oil as you would for a wine, and were shown a chart to classify olive oil, which can be fruity, nutty, grassy… you name it.
There were two courses and we voted after each one. Frog Rock won 1st place for both entry and main course, with their Pinot Gris / Olive flapjacks with cripsy prosciutto, goats cheese and chili jam, and for the main: Sticky Frog wine / Figs poached in Shiraz verjuice topped with Vanilla almond rice.
The runner-ups included Skimstone, for whom I voted twice in a row, and Vinifera, the only courageous ones who put up a non-meaty dish for main course! M. had to gulp a fair few of their Zucchini round with blue cheese and caramelized onion in order to survive, as did the few other vegetarian in the room!
Moothi Estate also has a most delicious vegetarian entry, which was Roasted carrots with salted high Valley curd and Mudgee Gourmet hazelnut Praline. The carrots were nice and caramelised and the saltiness of the curd gave a lovely balance to the dish. A special mention had to be given to their Mudgee Game Rabbit cacciatore with Oakfield kalamata olives coupled with a big 2004 Shiraz. The meat had been nicely stewed and was very tender, it was a very comforting winter dish… plus, what can I say, I love everything with olives in it!
Skimstone had me with their Citrus cured salmon with fennel and orange, matched with a 2009 Sangiovese Rose (not a fan of Aussie Rose usually, but that was one was nice and dry). Their main course was Tuscan sausage with creamy polenta and roasted tomato jam (delicious!) coupled with a 2009 Barbera wine (an Italian red varietal).
The wine we were most interested in purchasing the day after that was the 2004 Gran Tinto from Vinifera, a blend of Trempranillo and Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The big absent of the festival was Di Lusso, which we decided to visit in order to taste their Sangiovese. This producer seems to organize lots of events all along the year, like for example outdoor cinema showing Italian movies and exploring food from different regions of Italy, and their cellar door has a lovely setting near the vines, with a little café-restaurant, and even a petanque field.
We also paid a visit to Cooyal Grove, where they grow olives, pistachios, and grapes and left again with more goodies!
Our last destination was Logan, which was strongly recommended to us. We were not disappointed by their unbeatable view on the vineyards and the surrounding countryside, as well as their Pinot Noir we ended up purchasing as well. You can find beautiful pictures on their website.
For the Oscillate Wildly fans, a special dinner will hosted at Logan Cellar Door on the 26th June.
For more details see http://www.bestrestaurants.com.au/food-events-australia/logan-wines-oscillate-wildly-dinner-mudgee-newtown.aspx
In the meantime we had lunch at the Mudgee Brewery Company, where you can find a nice selection of beers on tap, including a Porter, a dark beer which M. is very fond of.
In the end, a pretty busy (boozy) day! We were lucky to stay in a B&B whose hosts would drive us into town to restaurants at night and pick us up, so that we didn’t have to worry about drinking too much to drive ourselves: now that is really good service!
Mudgee will hold their annual Wine Festival in September, don’t miss it if you have the opportunity, the region is beautiful and you won’t be disappointed with the wines and other local produce.
You can have more details on http://www.mudgeeevents.com.au/WineGuide2010.pdf