Jono and I are off on our annual drive up the Calder to one of our favourite wine festivals, Heathcote on Show. This wine and food festival is held every Queens birthday weekend, a great time of year to escape the rat race to visit a quaint town north of the city. Granted it is always pretty cold but hey it’s miserable this time of year anywhere in Victoria!
We are rugged up armed with our camera, tablet for notes (of course) and a couple of extra layers ready to re-visit some of our favourite wineries. This year we are only doing a day trip so limiting our stops to some of the best.
- Downing Estate
- Sanguine Estate
- Red Edge Winery
- Whistling Eagle Vineyard
- Heathcote Winery
Here are our reflections…
An ever reliable start the small cellar door in the wine maker’s garage is deceptive as we have found some of the most elegant Shiraz’s in the region here; some of which have become favourites of the parentals. Their Merlot is a “corker” in Jono’s words with one still in the cellar from a previous visit, a taste of the same 2009 vintage showed how well it was developing with a little age. Today it was the Cabernet Sauvignon that caught our attention with the three vintages on vertical tasting demonstrating a breadth of characteristics, ultimately the bold flavours of the 09 won us over. A surprise to finish our visit was the discounted 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon which had aged well and at $15 a bottle a real steal for something ready to drink.
Our next stop was this more commercial set up which is always busy during the festival, as usual due to its popularity we had to wait a few minutes for our tasting. However past experience made sure we hung around as the reliable standard of the Progeny Shiraz was as a delight. This drop can be found readily around Melbourne and is just a hint of what is on offer. The surprise of this visit was the 2012 Cabernet blend which we expected to be a reasonably soft red, instead the deep almost purple hue alluded to a robust flavour and the chalky finish knocked our socks off. An equally powerful wine was the 2013 Inception (formally estate) Shiraz which in James Halliday’s own words is “almost ridiculously good from all angles” and is one of the purest examples of a bold Heathcote Shiraz. After a strong start we needed a break to recharge, so our next stop was an awesome chocolate brownie and a coffee from the ladies at ‘just cookies and tarts’ stall which helped regain our enthusiasm and set us up for the rest of the afternoons touring.
Red Edge Winery
Red Edge is always a welcoming family affair, this low key winery always greets us with a complimentary BBQ displaying local produce. Today we enjoyed Tooborac pork sausages and homemade pumpkin soup whilst keeping warm in front of the fire pit. A local artist in one of the sheds singing and playing keyboard completed the ambiance. We finally got around to trying the wines and as usual I enjoyed the current vintage Tempranillo, Jono also twisted my arm into buying few of the Degree Shiraz. Our bargain buy of the day as this entry level drop was great drinking now and at a heavily discounted rate for members we decided this will save us visiting the local bottle shop over winter this year.
Whistling Eagle Vineyard
After missing out on trying the Eagles Blood Shiraz last time, I declared on the drive up to Heathcote this was the wine that I MUST try this festival! We found their stall set up in front of the Willow Room on the main drag, with many people still out and about it took us a little while before we had our chance at trying this elusive wine! Jono has been raving about it since he tried it last year and once again enjoyed this robust and complex drop. Overall this stop was worthwhile as it displayed just another wonderful example of what this region can produce.
Being the designated driver I decided to sit out of our final tasting at Heathcote Winery, instead I strolled around the old cellar door and grounds. In the meantime Jono enjoyed the extensive range on tasting. The Viognier was the highlight of the white varietals, the dry finish was pleasing as this is the style of Viognier we enjoy the most. The latest vintage of their flagship Mail Coach Shiraz aged in a combination of American and French oak had a strong flavour on the front of the palate whilst had complexity on the finish. In contrast the Slaughter House Paddock Shiraz aged solely in American oak was an explosion in your mouth and lacked the complexity to round it off, it will be interesting if this wine mallows over time. The newly rebranded The Origins Shiraz had a much more subtle and elegant structure thanks to the French oak.
We had hoped our day would be capped off by wins for our beloved Dons and Bulldogs but unfortunately this what not to be. Until next time.