Winery finery – Marvis and Songkat run for the hills

Happy toes!

Last weekend I had the unexpected luxury of being handed a leave-pass, and with my partner in wine and crime Marvis, we grabbed it and ran.

Marvis, my gorgeous friend, lover of books, whisky connoisseur and serious smart-arse, had suggested we stay at the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, because she is a genius and that place does a SERIOUS breakfast buffet. OH yes. Eggs benedict WITH smoked salmon please. I became Songkat because we played a round of Songpop and I kept getting the name confused with an app called ‘Songcat‘ invented by a clever IT friend of mine. I may not be a genius.

We ran away from our daughters (numbering 3) on Friday, ready to soak in the warmth of the Hunter Valley sun, and soak in the juice of the Hunter Valley grape. We could have been ‘Kimla and Jacquise’ for this adventure, but it seemed a bit derivative, and I didn’t fancy driving off a cliff at the end with a bootful of wine to consider.

 So: A rundown and roundup of Marvis and Songkat’s winery runaround:

1. Briar Ridge. It was a good warm-up for the palate. A fair drive out of ‘town’, it had a very pretty outlook.  And that’s about all I have to say about that. I do have a really lovely Chardonnay from Briar Ridge in my stack at home from 2011, but nothing this day blew me away.

2. Brokenwood Wines. Always awesome. Always very high quality wines, and consistent quality. They could see us baby – shaking that ass. Somehow it’s always more tempting to buy wine with a little  encouragement from Groove Armada. My favourites: 2010 Pinot Gris – really rich and honey-fruity, but crisp and dry. And the Forest Edge Chardonnay – YUM. That is all. Yep – I can SO talk wine.

Marvis managed to trade in her $12 chain-store ring for a $50 bottle of wine that caught the eye of the wine-taster person.* “It’s made of glass”. Unfazed. “Maybe plastic”. Unfazed. “It only cost me $12″. Unfazed. “It’s tarnished”. Unfazed. So – with full disclosure the deal went ahead.  BARTERING IS ALIVE AND WELL!!!

I don’t really remember what happened next. OH yeah – we ate some lunch.

No planking on the pig. Please.

3. Pig’s Peake. Funneeeee guys here. Awesome wines. Puns like these: Boartrytis, Sowvignon Blanc, Rind Riesling and so on. But they have really unusual stuff, which I like, like Zinfandel, Chambourcin (Pig’s blood – yes, really, and the colour is amazing). My pigs (sorry!) picks were the Pig’s Blood and the Pork Barrel Viognier 2011.

4. Scarborough. Scarborough, Scarborough. I love Chardonnay – big fat old-fashioned oaky chardonnay, and I LOVE that you do EIGHT glasses in a tasting at Scarborough – the place to go for Chardonnay-lovers. I also was surprised to find I liked their 2012 semillon very very much indeed. I was liking most things very very much indeed by then.

I get to taste HOW many?

5. Ballabourneen. This is my favourite winery ever. They make great wine. And that’s not just me saying so (cos I know exactly almost precisely nothing), but James Halliday reckons so too, giving them five stars, calling them one of ten dark horses to watch in 2012. I will continue buying up as much of their Viognier as I can afford until it runs out. I also really enjoyed their 2012 Bucket of Hunter Semillon this visit. It helps that their cellar-door peeps are a hoot.

Buckets of YUM

We did some other stuff too, like watch the rugby, sleep, swim, eat cheese, but that was all the boring stuff. We drank ALL OF THE WINE and IT WAS GOOD.

*(What are they called? Taster-person? Vineyardier? Winererier? I am always half-tanked by the second winery and such details escape me. Are they still sommeliers outside a restaurant?)