Thursday, January 26, 2012

G'Day to Ya!

I suppose I really should keep in mind the fact that I'm somewhat behind in my posts. I can't really afford the luxury of waxing away endlessly on an entry that isn't going to result in my being able to add another wine to The List. Tonight's annual Australia Wine Appreciation Society Gala Dinner begs a bit of a mention though.

It can be a bit of a blogging disappointment when I recount a wine dinner like tonight's. Opportunities to try some of the wines that make their way out of the AWAS Cellar can be rare, but the couple of ounces we get to savour don't seem to justify adding a full bottle to The List - as much as I'd love to. Tonight's celebration - which actually coincides with Australia Day - is no exception. The special occasion saw the association pull out an assortment of wines from "a variety of regions to demonstrate the quality of the 2002 vintage across Australia."

The evening revolved around five courses and nine wines - with the wines representing seven different wine districts. Australia may not have a specific appellation system in place but almost all the big production areas were covered - Hunter Valley, Margaret River, Yarra Valley, Clare Valley, Barossa, Coonawarra and the Limestone Coast. Some might quibble that we were missing Tasmania and McLaren Vale, but I think it might have been difficult to bring any more wines to the table - even though we'd arranged to SkyTrain home from the RiverRock Casino where it was being held.

The nine wines we enjoyed hailed from nine different wineries as well - from AWAS favourites like Wolf Blass and Peter Lehmann to some that I'd never heard of before. Prior to tonight, I can't say that I've ever tasted a wine from - or even heard of - Margan (Hunter Valley), Lengs & Cooter (Clare Valley) or Rockford (Barossa Valley). Interestingly, Boo's and my favourite wines of the night were from two of those previously unknown wineries. Boo loved the Rockford Rifle Range Cab Sauv so much that he said he'd let me off to leash to buy some - if I could find it. My favourite of the evening was the Lengs & Cooter "The Victor" Shiraz Grenache.

We might well have uncovered a couple of wineries that we somehow have to fit into our tasting regime when we head Down Under in April. As if we didn't have enough wineries already to fill three vacations.

The restaurant, Tramonto's, chefs served up some incredible courses as well - almost to the point of there being too much food. And, if big boys like Boo and I are saying that, you know no one went home hungry. Last year's Gala Dinner was held here as well, but I think they raised the bar appreciably this year. The rabbit terrine and the roasted leg of lamb were easily dishes that I'd return to order again.

In addition to the wines and meal, I loved the moment where we were introduced to Robert McKay, one of Tramonto's sous chefs. The RiverRock is justifiably proud of Robert as he was one of the few, during last year's Vancouver Hockey Riot, that tried to stop the mob from smashing the windows of and looting the Bay's downtown store. Screaming, "Not in my city" as he valiantly stood his ground, he was severely beaten for standing up for Vancouver. I recall seeing the internet clip of him standing his ground and the ugliness of the rioters beating on him. His bravery that night still brings tears to my eyes.

The evening's wine and dinner were enough to make it memorable - whether or not I get to add a wine to The List - but being reminded of Robert's bravery was the icing on the cake. He, alone, makes the "extra effort" of this post worth it. Good on ya mate!

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