Ah, the wines of North East Victoria. King Valley. Rutherglen. Secret valleys and wine areas that you probably have heard about but don’t quite know where they are, but whose distinctive wine styles have had a profound impact on how we enjoy wines in Australia.
I love King Valley. There is something magical about this place, hidden close to the route to the Victorian ski slopes but not close enough to be a mass route for bus tours and day trippers. I have so fond memories of a romantic trip exploring the Prosecco trail. Sadly not with the right man but still a beautiful trip around a scenic area. How can you not be happy when drinking such light and fruity bubbles? There is more to the region than just bubbles. If you like reds, then there are plenty of Italian style varieties to sample such as Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Barbera – perfect for pizza, pasta or any excuse. And then there are interesting white wine varieties, such as the Sicilian white wine Greciano.
Then there is a Rutherglen, an area where my paternal grandmother grew up (her father was once accosted by Ned Kelly), with majestic rambling estates and Victorian era charm. I stumbled onto the food and wine festival years ago, and I have a yearning to go back. The region is famous for its fortified wines such as Muscat – once a staple served at upper-middle-class aspiration dinner parties and now making a resurgence served as dessert with a cheese board and in cocktails. For good reason – in our fast-food, fast-paced society stopping to appreciate the depth of aged and fortified wines is a thing of contemplative beauty. But Rutherglen is far more than that – it is also unique for its local production of Durif.
We are lucky in Canberra to be only a weekend trip away. No need to go to Italy – or Portugal. Just head off one Friday night and soon you will be enjoying food that tastes like it was made by someone’s Nonna paired with wine that is even better than something especially chosen by a sommelier in Tuscany. Or Venice (given that Prosecco is traditionally from the Venetia region).
However, this coming weekend we are even luckier as winemakers from the two regions are coming to us.
Last year my Dad and I enjoyed partaking in a family winemaking affair at the Yarralumla Woolshed. It really brought home the family-centric nature of the winemakers in the regions – La Familie! My Dad, an amateur winemaker, really got into it and I loved how embracing the event was about family and good times.
This year, that theme is continued with a picnic style expo event planned at Piallago Estate on Sunday 12 August. Bring your family and camp out on the lawns while enjoying free masterclasses and entertainment. Gourmet Piallago hampers are for sale and can be ordered before the event, or else there is access to hot food on the day. The event promises to provide relaxed access to a number of prominent winemakers from the regions.
The second event is a ‘dinner date’ at the Boathouse Restaurant. I was lucky enough to attend a training seminar at the Boathouse last year – it has a truly spectacular vista and amazing and innovative food. The meal consists of a five-course degustation with matching wines – you can be sure that the wines will be good and the food will match it perfectly.
What: Tastes of Two Regions
When: 11 and 12 August
Where: Piallago Estate and Boathouse Restaurant
More information: https://www.tastesoftworegions.com.au/events