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Talking Pictures

You know the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? Well for this blog I thought we would let the pictures do the talking. We have been in Australia since the 1st of January. During that time we spent a week in Sydney, three days in Adelaide for an orientation with our visa sponsor Bibber, and we are now in the Barossa Valley where we have been working/playing for the past 2 weeks.

There is a strong sense of community in the Barossa and the wine and food culture here is fantastic. Other than a few bouts of intense heat and adjusting to driving on the left (left, LEFT, LEFT!!!), we really have no complaints. We are living in the heart of the Barossa, surrounded by wineries and cellar doors, a.k.a. tasting rooms.  It has provided us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in winemaking styles and tastes that are much different than what we previously experienced in Europe and South America.

That’s enough from me, time for some pictures. I hope you enjoy them. Cheers!

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Here are the places and spaces we enjoyed:

The Barossa Cheese Co. – Stop by for a cheese tasting. You won’t be disappointed. We are told the owner of this cute cheese shop used to be a winemaker. Sounds pretty genius to me.

The Lyndoch Lavender Farm and Cafe – Try the lavender ice cream and learn about the distillation process to extract lavender oil. Pretty interesting.

Artisan’s of Barossa – tasting room, they have a different small production winemaker pouring every weekend. We enjoyed Schwarz wines and the winemaker is a great dude too!

Taste Eden Valley – Stop here to try some of the wines from the Barossa’s higher elevation/cooler climate valley

Bethany Wines – So we might be a little biased, but the winery is located in an old quarry and the Schrapel family has been growing grapes here for over 150 years!

Casacarboni Italian cooking school & enoteca in Angaston – stop here for a glass of organic Italian or French wine, a small plate and a cooking class. The owners Fiona (Australian) and Matteo (Italian) are so friendly and amazing cooks! Everything is made from scratch!

Rockford Wines – Great little place to taste! Try the Rosè that’s not really a Rosè, Alicante Bouchet

Barossa Farmer’s Market – experience the best of the fresh, local bounty!

Cleland Wildlife Park – Can’t get much closer to the locals than this! Pet and feed animals unique to Australia. Awesome!

Sydney Opera House – Even the bad seats aren’t that bad. This is a bucket list addition for sure.

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And We’re Back!

Well, we certainly have a lot of catching up to do! Internet at our winery in France was a bit “complicated” to say the least, so our blog was, for all intensive purposes, non-existent at the end of 2012.  Bordeaux was a great experience and it was really interesting to be able to contrast the masculinity of the Italian wines we had just helped to make, to the elegance of the French wines.  The highlight of our time in Bordeaux was most likely sitting in on a tasting with Michel Rolland and his winemakers while he sampled this year’s Le Bon Pasteur and Chateau Fontenil. What an impressive palate and talented spitter!

While in Bordeaux, we went with our friend and co-worker Dean, to a few bottle shops in St. Emillion where he taught us about Second Labels, a more economical way to taste wine produced by some of the better known Chateaux in France. The great thing about these Second Labels is that French Chateaux grow all of their fruit with the intention that it will be turned into wine for their First Label. They don’t have specific vineyards designated as inferior and therefore dedicated to a less expensive wine. So in some vintages you can purchase some pretty outstanding Second Labels if you know what you are looking for. In New World winemaking there are some wineries that also operate under this principle but for hundreds of years, Second Labels did not exist in France. Particular vintages and labels that are worth searching for include 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2010 and Croix de Beaucaillou, Carruades de Lafite, Lynch Bages Echo, Comtesse de Lalande, Les Forts de Latour, Pavillon Rouge de Château Margaux, Le Petit Mouton de Mouton Rothschild, or Le Clarence de Haut-Brion to name a few.

The wine shops in St. Emillion are like wine nerd heaven. They stock labels as far back as the 1800’s in layers of caverns under their store. These caverns, some of which date back to the 800’s, were old quarries whose white limestone was used to build the picturesque town. Now these quarries have been repurposed to serve as naturally climate controlled cellars. The owner of the bottle shop we visited was extremely knowledgeable about all of his wines and excited to give us a tour of his cellar. It takes a wine nerd to know one.

After Bordeaux we traveled through Paris, back to Italy to see two of our favorites, Summer and Fabrizio at Cascina Iuli, then to Switzerland, Slovenia and finally Greece. One thing all these places had in common was, not surprisingly, wine. Each of these countries had something to offer. A good Swiss wine with fondue is heavenly.  The Swiss have great wine, cheese and chocolate, what’s not to like? Slovenian wines are becoming more common in European and US wine shops and for good reason. The price/quality ratio of these unique wines is tough to beat. Check out some of the labels that Summer carries if you are curious, for the price you really can’t go wrong: www.indiewineries.com.

In Greece you have to search a little harder for a nice local bottle, but they do exist. While the “mom and pop” restaurants are out of this world when it comes to cuisine, in our experience, the wine list consists largely of boxed wines that are past their prime, if you can really even classify a boxed wine as having a prime. At the more mainstream restaurants you’ll find wait staff that can point you in the direction of a great local producer. We had a nice bottle for about 12 Euro with dinner. If you like wine, my best advice to you while traveling would be to try a local wine with local cuisine. It always pairs well.

Two weeks at home for the holidays and then we were back on the road. We were so eager to get started in Australia that we shaved a day off of 2012, literally, crossed the international dateline, and landed “Down Unda” on January 1. We have our Visa’s in hand and will be starting at family-owned, Bethany Wines next week. We’re excited to see what Australia has in store for us!

Cheers!

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