Cause

Hangovers aren’t just caused by beer, they are caused by everything that surrounds drinking. Food, wine, partying and having a good time are all causes and here at My Aching Head we are slowly documenting having a good time.


Suffield Wines – Eden Valley

On our recent trip to McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, Eden Valley, Barossa Valley and Clare Valley we had the pleasure of stumbling across the cellar door of Suffield Wines. Getting there wasn’t by design, it was a matter of taking a wrong turn down a road and pulling into the first winery we saw.

The story of Suffield Wines is much the same story as how we stumbled upon it. With no experience of winemaking or vineyards, Nick and Lyne bought the vineyard in 1998. At the time they were living in the US managing their businesses and bought the cute little farmhouse and vineyard with the goal of taking things easy. That never happened, but spending a short amount of time with Nick, that’s no surprise – he has an insatiable passion for everything and anything he mentions.

The house was run down, with dirt floors, no bathroom and in desparate need of attention. The vines too were in a similar state, left to their own devices for god knows how long. The house was run-down and the state of the vineyards were no better. The exact years of planting aren’t really available, but they estimate that the Shiraz and Riesling are around 80 years old. Neither of these have ever seen much irrigation, so they have deep root structures and a consistent harvest. Turns out the age and establishment of the vines were their saving grace, and with a bit of well placed pruning, some active maintenance and a lot of hard work they are seeing better days.

At the time the Suffield’s bought the vineyard, most of the fruit was sold by contract to Henschke. Since then, the have continued the contract selling but have started making an increasing amount of their own wines. Using a combination of minimal intervention in the wine making, the help of a contract wine maker, and great fruit the wines Suffield is producing are not only sensational but also great value.

The earlier vintages of Shiraz were heavy-handed and off balance, but age has treated them well and they are well priced. The newer vintages have been made with a far subtler hand and will mature into some crackers. The older Rieslings have the roundness which I love in older Riesling and the later vintages have fantastic acidity, almost to a fault. The 2010 vintage was bone dry, all citrus and acid and lacking in complexity – this Jim told us is the style that all Eden Valley Riesling are moving towards. Personally, I like a touch of residual sugar, it plays well with the acidity and lifts it.

The Death of a Local Hero – Randall’s Albert Park

It’s a sad day when a local small retailer closes and even sadder when it’s rolled by one of the big guys – that’s the story of Randall’s wine store in Albert Park. I’ve known for a month or so that the shop had been done, but it was only the other day when the realisation actually happened. It now doesn’t exist, it’s just another Vintage Cellars. A quick peek in looks like they’ve held much of the same stock (which is a relief cause the selection rocks) but it’s got some new shelving and a new sign and lot less clutter.

I’ve heard rumours that they soldout because it wasn’t making enough money but who knows. One thing is for certain, Coles offered enough money that they sold and now the shop is a Vintage Cellars.

Adam FosterI suppose what makes me the saddest is how great a member of the wine loving community of Albert Park Randall’s was. The master classes they hosted were not only awesome but affordable. I’ve learnt a lot and experienced some awesome wines that I probably would never have even considered through them. All Saints, By Farr, Teusner and Adam Foster to name the more memorable. They were hosted in the little Japanese restaurant next door by the friendly and knowledgeable staff and always had ample cheese and generous pours.

To make matters worse another locally owned wine shop has recently closed down, though I don’t believe it was sold – just the lease was not continued. That was the Prince Wine Store in the Clarendon Centre and it was replaced by the soulless institution that is Liquorland, complete with it’s shitty selection of wine and cheap beer. Thankfully, there still remains a Prince Wine Store around the corner in Bank St, but it closes far too early for my liking and isn’t open on Sundays.

To get my local wine retail fix, I’m going to have to start shopping at the Richardson St Cellars again. I feel bad, since moving closer to Randalls I haven’t been to Richardsons and I’m going to feel like a traitor. Better to support them with than the behemoth that is Coles I suppose.

mEatDrinkBlog Melbourne #2

4 months is like 2 months right? So we probably missed an edition of mEatDrinkBlog, but in the spirit of better late than never, the next one is on the northside on July 14. Things will get started at 7:15 so get there a bit early and enjoy a beer or 2.

It’s at the Provincial and we are being hosted by a fellow who goes by the name of Paul Cooper. As far as food goes, we can order off the dining or bar menu or if there is enough interest Paul can create a special set menu for us. Let me know with your RSVP if you are interested in it.

As with the last meetup, RSVP in the comments and I’ll add you to the mailing list for future events.

Speakers

As I didn’t quite make it to the last event (apologies everyone) I don’t really know how it went down. I’d love to hear feedback on how the format of that evening went and if you’d like me to do a crash course on Google Analytics, and if anyone else would like to present something or talk about something. It’s definitely something that is up for suggestion, change and input. If you’d like to speak next time, let me know in an email.

Who’s invited?

If you are a interested in food, wine, coffee or anything mildly related and you either have a blog, or tweet about it a lot. You are! Really, we aren’t fussy and if you are interested in coming along then you are more than welcome. There will be plenty of people to bounce ideas off, encourage you to start a blog or otherwise help out with any of the hairy technical or other problems. Come along! The more the merrier.

Count me in!

If you are going to attend, leave a comment in the comments here with your name and correct email address and we will keep you updated on any changes. Just be sure to let us know if you can’t make it so that we can get the numbers right for the venue.

Many thanks go to Tammi for picking up the reigns last time and Eatnik who helped pull this together.

Andrew McConnell’s Golden Fields opens on Fitzroy St, St Kilda

It’s been open a couple of weeks now, and I managed to drop in before a gig at the Palais. Golden Fields is McConnell’s latest outpost – it’s pretty much a reinterpretation of Cumulus, with a Chinese twist. In fact, it’s so close to Cumulus I feel a little deflated.

The food is great and the service sparkling, but it is a little too similar to what has come before it.

The menu borrows some of the very best from Cumulus and Cutler & Co. The lamb shoulder appears similar though it is spiced with cumin seeds (though I didn’t actually try it). The pork buns are straight off the Cutler bar menu, they are as amazing as ever and the fried prawns and pork tail are very similar to a blend of 2 Cumulus dishes that have since been retired. The similarities don’t end there, the interior design is straight from the same playbook: white tiles, big bars, open kitchens and coat hooks. It’s good but not ground breaking.

The menu works well, as you’d expect. The feature of McConnell’s cooking and menu construction is that each dish is simple yet effective. The way you order a variety of dishes builds all the complexity you want. The beef belly and rump was brilliant, subtle flavours and awesome textures. The shredded cabbage and Moreton Bay bug salad is so simple it’s brilliant.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, the food rocks and I’ll be back. I’d suggest that the menu will evolve and grow into its own skin. I hope next time, I won’t just be thinking how much like Cumulus it is.

Introducing mEatDrinkBlog Melbourne

For the Melbourne food blogging community, it has been a long time between drinks. The last time the community (aside from the odd tweetup here and there) was together was probably EatDrinkBlog, the first food bloggers conference around this time last year. That’s too long ago. Today, I’m announcing the next part in that series.

It is a regular meetup – every month or 2. A time for a group of food bloggers to have a sit down, catch up, learn a little, eat a lot and drink. Here’s the deal. On the 31st of March, at the Rising Sun Hotel in South Melbourne we will have room for 30 keen bloggers to listen to 2×10 minute talks, each with a few minutes for questions and then enjoy a pub meal and a few beverages. It starts at 7, with the talks to start at 7:30 and dinner at 8.

The pub is just a short walk form the 112 tram in South Melbourne and chef’d by the venerable Mr Ron O’Bryan.

There is no cost for the event itself, but the food and drink isn’t included, so you’ll have to sort yourself out. The meals are no more than $30 unless you want a big slab of steak.

Well, you’ll mostly have to sort yourself out. Terroir.me will be putting enough money on the bar so that everyone can grab a tasty glass of Pinot or beer and get that conversation flowing.

Speakers

We are looking for speakers for this night and nights in the future. I’ve asked @tammois to moderate the evening, so if you’d like to speak about anything relevant to food blogging, please contact her at tammois@gmail.com with a brief outline of what you would like to talk about. If you aren’t sure about topics, checkout the program for the conference last year as an example. If you aren’t available on the 31st, but might be for the next event, drop her an email anyway and let her know.

I’ve already put up my hand and I’ll be doing an introduction on Google Analytics. Delving in a little bit deeper than just seeing how many people have visited your site in the last month.

Who’s invited?

If you are a interested in food, wine, coffee or anything mildly related and you either have a blog, or tweet about it a lot. You are! Really, we aren’t fussy and if you are interested in coming along then you are more than welcome. There will be plenty of people to bounce ideas off, encourage you to start a blog or otherwise help out with any of the hairy technical or other problems. Come along! The more the merrier.

Count me in!

If you are going to attend, leave a comment in the comments here with your name and correct email address and we will keep you updated on any changes. Just be sure to let us know if you can’t make it so that we can get the numbers right for the venue.

Many thanks go to Ed and Tammi who’ve helped pull this together.

McLaren Vale

A day in McLaren Vale. For the Shiraz fiend, that may sound like heaven. But quite frankly, I’m just not that in to it. I love a good Rhone style shiraz, but the general style of Australian shiraz just isn’t to my liking. But as I’ve learnt many times, a trip to a wine region is almost never about that region’s flagship wine. It’s about the gems you find on the edges of the wine lists. Things like Sangiovese, GSM and Nebbiolo that perhaps aren’t available widely, but given the chance you will fall in love with.

McLaren Vale was no different. The standout was Grenache followed closely by Sangiovese (which inexplicably isn’t very widely produced in McLaren Vale.) Grenache is one of the most widely grown grapes in McLaren Vale (rivalled only by Shiraz.) It was introduced in the 19th century and was generally used in fortifieds. Today however it is being used to produce still wines, either by itself or blended with Shiraz and the results are terrific. It has an almost delicate spiciness and a refined richness with a fine not overbearing structure. It is interesting in that it is a “big” wine, yet doesn’t tend to overpower your palate.

And the growers of McLaren Vale obviously know they are onto something with their Grenache as they have a scheme wherein producers can showcase their Grenache based wines through a special brand, Cadenzia. I’m not entirely sure of the specifics, but someone mentioned they have to be deemed to be of a certain quality and be majority Grenache based.

Kangarilla Road

If Grenache was the winning wine of the day, Kangarilla Road was the winning winery. It’s a fresh, modern winery with a great lineup of wines. The custom built cellar door itself lacks the heritage of many of the other cellar doors in the region, but what it lacks in character it makes up with it’s spacious interior and tasteful appointments.

The catalogue of wines is slightly off center. While it produces the requisite Grenache and Shiraz it also has plantings of Primitivo and Zinfandel. These wines are really well suited to the region and both wines show a unique rich character.

My favourite Kangarilla Road wine however was the Sangiovese. In comparison to the usual style of Sangio in Australia this is a different take. A darker browner colour in the glass, a stronger structure and a darker flavour profile might take this away from a traditional style, but I believe it plays into the the hand of the region perfectly.

Kay Brothers

If Kangarilla Road is new, fresh and modern then Kay Brothers is slightly dated. With an aging cellar door and retro labels the winery isn’t going to win any design awards. Though that surely is the furthest thing from their minds. The cellar door features an amazing section, “100 years today” featuring the diaries of the owners of the properties 100 years ago. The page I read featured some amazing tidbits, things like: Shot birds (10). Painted door. Looking back 100 years, the mundane seems almost exciting.

Don’t get me wrong though, in this case, it’s far from a bad thing. Kay Brothers is one of the few producers of wine in McLaren Vale who have been making wine since before federation, so I suppose they are allowed a bit of leyway.

Not that they need it, the wines do all the talking. The Shiraz (I tasted 06, 07, 08) is tightly wound and ready to ooze out over a good 10 years in the cellar. The 2008 was the most open of the 3, fruit driven yet not a hint of over-ripeness.

It is also worth mentioning the Moscato. Classic grapiness, clean and refreshing. According to the cellar door staff, it’s best served with gin and lime.

Coriole

Coriole bills itself as an italian varietal specialist, but confusingly only has 3 italian (and about 6 regular) varieties available for tasting at the cellar door. Luckily for us, there was a Barbera and a Nebbiolo open. For mine, the Sangiovese was a little thin, lacking enough structure to make it interesting. The Barbera on the other hand was well balanced, juggling structure and savoury notes beautifully.

Coriole also has a cafe attached to it and although it was closed for the day, the courtyard and decks are amazing, decked in dappled sunlight they invite you to lie down and enjoy the day.

Olivers Taranga

Tucked away in a valley on what seems to be the edge of the Vale, Olivers Taranga is a family owned winery that does so many things right. The cellar door is in a heritage listed cottage with a small, tasteful family history section they serve pizzas on the weekend and the wine tasting experience is perfect. Professional and friendly, with a good range of wines and a very casual, no worries attitude.

While all of the wines were well made and considered, the 2 hightlights were the Tempranillo and “The Banished” Fortified Grenache. The Tempranillo is a beautiful wine, balanced and well structured without taking itself too seriously.

Central Otago Photos

The thing I love about Queenstown is it’s diversity. There is a heap of crazy things to do, like bungy jumping, snowboarding and skydiving but aside from all that there are some of the most amazing eating and drinking experiences. My favourite of these is jumping in the car and driving out along the Gibston Valley, Bannockburn and Cromwell and tasting wine at some amazing producers. I’ve been to many of these cellar doors over the years but have compiled my favourites into this tour. They all have great stories to tell and amazing wine to try and buy. I’ve got a few more in depth blog posts about these on their way, in the meantime, here’s a couple of sets of photos I shot on one trip. As impressive as the scenery looks in the photos, sadly they don’t really do it justice.

Gibston Valley

Looking down on Peregrine View from Olsens Andrea at Olsens IMG_0559.jpg IMG_0561.jpg IMG_0570.jpg IMG_0571.jpg IMG_0577.jpg IMG_0578.jpg IMG_0579.jpg IMG_0581.jpg IMG_0584.jpg IMG_0586.jpg Chard Farm IMG_0589.jpg IMG_0590.jpg IMG_0591.jpg IMG_0595.jpg IMG_0596.jpg IMG_0600.jpg IMG_0601.jpg IMG_0604.jpg IMG_0606.jpg IMG_0607.jpg IMG_0613.jpg IMG_0617.jpg IMG_0618.jpg IMG_0619.jpg IMG_0620.jpg IMG_0622.jpg IMG_0623.jpg IMG_0626.jpg IMG_0628.jpg IMG_0632.jpg IMG_0633.jpg IMG_0637.jpg IMG_0638.jpg IMG_0640.jpg IMG_0642.jpg

Cromwell & Bannockburn

IMG_0768.jpg IMG_0776.jpg IMG_0784.jpg IMG_0786.jpg IMG_0787.jpg IMG_0788.jpg IMG_0789.jpg IMG_0794.jpg IMG_0797.jpg IMG_0799.jpg IMG_0808.jpg IMG_0809.jpg IMG_0810.jpg IMG_0811.jpg IMG_0837.jpg Bannockburn Lake. IMG_0844.jpg IMG_0845.jpg View from Mt Difficulty IMG_0847.jpg IMG_0848.jpg Blue sky and Sluicings Sluicings in Bannockburn IMG_0855.jpg IMG_0864.jpg Northburn Station. Seats at Northburn Station Lake at Northburn Station Lake at Northburn Station Fence - Northburn Station Northburn Station IMG_0889.jpg IMG_0893.jpg IMG_0894.jpg IMG_0898.jpg IMG_0902.jpg