The Saturday was our big tasting day and we set off around 10am for a day driving all over the small region, seeking out the wineries we were most keen to visit. First stop was Robert Channon Wines. Mr Channon himself conducted us through his extensive and much-awarded wine selection. Robert Channon is known for his Verdelho, about which James Halliday amongst others rhapsodises, but every one of his wines, barring the new releases, is awarded from a Queensland or Australian wine show. The man himself was charming to talk to, and seemed to radiate the pleasure he felt in producing quality wine.
I walked away with a carton of the 2011 Rose (so dry!) and some Pinot Noir we would drink that night.
A short drive away down a beaten track was Ravenscroft Wines, owned by Mark Ravenscroft whom I met a few years ago at a Swirl Sniff Spit event. We had the door to ourselves for around 20 minutes before a few small groups arrived. We generally managed to avoid or arrive just before big groups, which was excellent for us as we received undivided personal attention, and who doesn’t love that?
I was surprised to find myself walking away from Ravenscroft with a bottle of Chardonnay. I am not a Chard-y drinker, I prefer almost any other white varietal. I do however keep tasting just in case, and I enjoyed a couple in Stanthorpe so perhaps I just needed to try some Qld versions.
We lunched at Granite Belt Brewery, the only brewery in the area it seemed. The food was tasty and hearty, just what we felt like after a morning of wine. The boys were a little disappointed with the quality of the beers in their tasting pallet. My Kolsch, matching to meal, tasted good enough but nothing to write home about.
Hoping to exit before any of the bus groups at the Brewery started out for the afternoon, we raced off to Ridgemill Estate, beating a group of 20 by a good half an hour. Again, Martin the owner and part-time winemaker was behind the bar and he led us through their impressive tasting list that included the most detailed food pairing notes we’d seen; Mediterranean pizza with extra mushrooms, Spanish meatballs with almond sauce, sweet and sour pork. None of usual cheese, seafood, steak simplicity.
The Ridgemill wines were simple and enjoyable, and we were lucky to try one or two that weren’t normally open for tasting. This happened at one or two other cellar doors as well and it always a cheeky pleasure, though it does mean you find yourself buying the more expensive limited release wines. I don’t know what came over me but I have a case of Ridgemill being delivered this week. Can’t wait to discover what I ordered.
Despite our late lunch we absolutely had to stop at The Bramble Patch, the best place in Stanthorpe to enjoy berries.
Our final cellar for the day was at Tobin Estate. The cellar door is intentionally hidden away and not much publicised to discourage tour groups and people who won’t appreciate the craftsmanship of the estate. With Adrian Tobin himself behind the bar, it was the most interesting and educational of our visits and a real delight to listen to him explain his processes and methods. A perfectionist, he strives for the perfect fruit picked at the perfect time so that nothing needs to be done once they are picked, pressed and stored. His wines are single-vineyard, unblended, limited edition, premium quality. The loving care and attention truly comes across in the aroma and palate of the wines and we were enchanted and educated as we sat listening to Mr Tobin talk about the wines and how he became involved in the industry for an hour after the door closed.
Our big treat for the weekend was a bottle of Tobin Estate Cabernet ($50) which we plan to cellar and open on our 10 year wedding anniversary.