Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Allandale Winery - Lovedale Long Lunch - part 2

Sunday 15th May was our first attendance at the Lovedale Long Lunch.

Allandale Winery was the first winery we visited for no other reason than it’s the first winery you come across when you pull off Wine Country Drive into Lovedale.
Allandale Winery was established in 1978, covering 17 acres, they grow Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Semillon on site, and source their other varietals from other Hunter Valley growers.
View from Allandale Winery
Set high up on the side of the hill looking out over the grapevines the view from Allandale’s back towards Pokolbin goes on for miles.
Looking out over Lovedale from Allandale
We arrived around 10:30 in the morning and after purchasing our tasting glass and meal tickets we headed for the tasting rooms. First cab off the rank was the Verdelho as it’s our favorite style of white wine. It’s a great wine on its own but it also matches perfect with seafood, Indian and Thai food and who doesn’t love at least one of these. Allandale have been awarded several Gold medals and trophies for the Verdelho over the years.

Over the years we’ve found 3 favorite Verdelho’s in the Hunter but now may have to add another to the list, it was very nice.
Allandale staff handing over some knowledge
We also tried the Epitome which is a blend of Chardonnay, Semillon, Verdelho and Sauvignon Blanc. All of which are grown in the Hunter. Having never tried this we were impressed with how well they do blend together, quite light and fruity.
Lovely country vibe at Allandale
Mel quickly moved onto trying the Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc desert wine. Being a bit of an expert on Hunter desert wines she gave it the thumbs up and I’m sure we will be visiting Allandale in the near future top up the desert wine collection. Perfect with cheese, which we'll surely try soon.

I went onto try several of the reds they had on offer but I’ll confess now I’m not the greatest judge of red wines after just one or two small sips. I prefer to buy a bottle and at least try a glass before I pass any sort of judgment on any red wines. This will be happening when we do venture back out to Allandale.

Being there at 10:30 it was too early to eat but gee it was tempting. The food was supplied by the Olive Tree Restaurant which is based at Wyndham Estate winery. The mains were a choice of Garlic Prawns and Calamari with Crispy Risotto Balls, Roast Tomato Sauce on a Rocket, Olives and Parmesan Salad or Duck Confit with a Cassoulet of Toulouse Sausage, White Beans and Pistou. Both matched with the perfect Allandale wine.
The food sounded and looked delicious, but a bit early at 10.30am for a Duck Cassoulet
The desserts were Chocolate Caramello Cheesecake with Vanilla Bean Crème’ Anglaise or a Binnorie Brie with Crusty Bread and a Fig and Apple Relish.

Now you know why it was tempting to eat despite it being so early.

Our group purchased several different bottles of wine, grabbed a table and settled down to take in the atmosphere on what was a spectacular winters day in the Hunter.

If you are in the Hunter and decide to give Lovedale a try instead of Pokolbin for a change, get to Allandale and give their wines a try. We’ll be heading back there for more Epitome.
Cam and Mel of Hunter Valley Grapevine were paying attendees at the 2011 Lovedale Long Lunch

Lovedale Road, Lovedale NSW
Tel: (02) 4990 4526

Friday, May 27, 2011

Lovedale Long Lunch review - part 1

We joined a group of Hunter locals on Sunday the 15th May for our first taste of the Lovedale Long Lunch.
Mel's pristine LLL wine glass, at 10.30am
We were picked up nice and early by minibus and were into our first glass of wine just after 10:30 in the morning. As you can imagine some details later in the day are a bit harder to recollect.

Not really knowing what to expect when the bus pulled up at Allandale Winery, we were quickly introduced to how big a day this has become. It was only 10:30 in the morning and there must have been well over 500 people there, most of whom were partaking in the various wines and food on offer. We were later told that the crowds on the Saturday were at least double the size.

The best way to enjoy the day is to the purchase the “LLL” meal and glass package which consists of a meal ticket and dessert or cheese platter ticket which can be used at any of the 7 wineries taking part. You also get a “LLL” commemorative tasting glass which allows you to try as many different wines at each venue as you wish.

We had an initial plan of getting to all 7 wineries but it became pretty clear it was going to be too rushed to get in and out of each winery to make all 7 so between everyone on the bus we decided on 4 to visit throughout the day. Between tasting the various wines and buying a different bottle at each venue it seemed the best way to go.

We thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and over the next week or so we’ll give a short review of the 4 wineries we were able to get to on the day.
Cam & Mel of Hunter Valley Grapevine were paying visitors to the Lovedale Long Lunch, no freebies involved

Lovedale Long Lunch
Lovedale NSW

Friday, May 13, 2011

Lovedale Long Lunch - this weekend - 14-15 May

Back on 4 March we blogged about the Lovedale Long Lunch. Time has flown, and the LLL is on this weekend, 14-15 May!

We are attending the LLL on Sunday, going by mini-bus with a group of locals, we're very much looking forward to it.

The LLL takes in 7 Lovedale vineyards, and we will be visiting them all, taking notes and photos of what's happening.

Over the coming weeks we will blog about the day in general, and individually on each of the vineyards, so stay tuned!
We are paying to attend the LLL, so there will be no holds barred!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Growers Market at The Vintage

The Hunter Valley like many holiday/tourist areas these days has any number of different markets to attend and there seems to be a market of some sort on just about every weekend. We have been to a fair few of them already and will endeavour to give you a run down on the good and the bad as we get to them. We'll also put together a Markets page, as we think they're a huge attraction in the Valley.
On Easter Sunday we attended ‘The Vintage Growers Market’ at The Vintage Golf Course at Rothbury, about a 5 minute drive from the heart of Pokolbin. This market is a once a year event on Sunday of the long weekend at Easter, and it has certainly grown since the first one we attended last year. It is a perfect venue for a big market as there is plenty of parking and plenty of space for the stall holders to spread out over.

The variety of produce on offer was incredible. Several of the local vineyards had stalls offering tastings of their entire range of quality wines. There was a couple of stall holders selling a wide range of fruit and vegies straight off the local farms. One of the local sourdough bakers had a stall selling their bread which are very tempting (I can’t walk passed without buying one). Not to mention the lovely ladies of the Turkish Gozleme stand, too delicious, we had to walk by quickly, as we always give in to temptation when we see them at the Newcastle Farmers Market!

Two or three of the local olive oil producers had stalls letting you taste the wide range of flavoured olive oils, olives and condiments. The Falky’s honey man was there with some amazing flavoured honeys which we hadn’t tried before. The Irish Cream flavour was great and the Rum and Raison was so good we had to have a jar.
Falky's honey - amazing flavour options, delish
The stalls went on and on with chocolates, cakes, health foods and apart from food there were clothing, pet supplies, soaps, art and many more. Plus an Easter Egg Hunt for the kiddies.
If you are in the Hunter over an Easter long weekend take a look at The Vintage Markets. There is something there for everyone.

Mel had to be dragged away from this gorgeous bowl

Cam & Mel of Hunter Valley Grapevine were paying visitors to the Vintage Growers Market, and paid for all produce we picked up

Vintage Growers Market
Vintage Drive, Rothbury NSW
Tel: +61 (2) 4998 6789

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Blaxlands Inn, Pokolbin

If you are looking for somewhere to have a bit more of a casual lunch or dinner in Pokolbin, Blaxlands Inn is a good place to start. Its one of not many options, outside of Harrigans, in the whole wine district where you can have a drink and a meal with a comfortable country pub style atmosphere.
We have eaten there several times for both lunch and dinner and have tried several different meals on the menu and have always come away thinking how good it was.

We’ve been there in the cold winter months when the open fire is ablaze in the indoor dining area as well as the outdoor bonfire for those wishing to take in a bit of campfire atmosphere. This is a perfect time to sample a local Shiraz with one of the house specialty deep dish pies.
Firepit & seating
We had lunch there over the Easter weekend when we were able to sit outside in the sun, take in a couple of Bulmers ciders with one of the best beef burgers (Certified Angus Beef Burger with 150g Angus sirloin, caramelised onion, lettuce, cheese, tomato, beetroot relish) I’ve had in a long time. Mel said the chicken burger (Flame Grilled Chicken Burger with marinated chicken breast, bacon, lettuce, tomato, aioli, sweet chilli sauce & extras of cheese, caramelised onion) was also a beauty. And the chips that we should have resisted proved irresistible!
Cam's Beef Burger
Mel's Chicken Burger
It’s a bit of a hidden jewel that a lot of people drive straight past (opposite Hope Estate and next to the original Smelly Cheese Shop) but its well worth stopping in for a drink and a meal. You wont be disappointed.

Blaxlands is open Wednesday - Sunday for Lunch & Dinner, and Breakfast on Saturday & Sunday. The also cater for groups, parties, weddings, functions.

Blaxlands Inn is also home to the 'The Boutique Wine Centre' which acts as a cellar door for several of the smaller vineyards, well worth sampling their offerings.

Plus Blaxlands also provide a courtesy 'safari vehicle', which will hold 12 people, for pick up and drop off for locals and visitors, we haven't yet taken up the offer, but will do no doubt, as we'll certainly be returning!

Cam & Mel of Hunter Valley Grapevine were paying diners at Blaxlands Inn

Blaxlands Inn
2198 Broke Road, Pokolbin NSW
Tel: +61 (2) 4998 7550

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