Still it was nice to have a week day off to frolick about like the ladies who lunch ... and they don't do it much better than in those "cotswolds" style country areas like the Yarra Valley.
There are dollar signs in them there hills of undulating green. "Pour it Up" like Riri says. And we certainly did at first stop Yarra Yerring on Briarty Road. I first saw a bottle of Yarra Yerring at Seddon Wine store and was intrigued by the label looking like an old bookstyle plate and sounding like a diarist's byline .... Yarra Yerring or the Story of a Dry Red No. 2 ... something like that.
But with the sort of heartstopping prices (how does $80+ a pop sound?) that only the very select can stomach, the bottles remained securely on the shelf and out of reach. However the young guy with the floppy hair was so enthused about the winery itself that we had to experience it for ourselves.
Thankfully Melbourne threw us a lovely sunny and calm spring day and we toodled off down the Chandler onto Maroondah Hwy into wine country!
I don't really have to wax lyrical about the beauty of Yarra Valley ... its lush greeness and penchant for flooding, oh and not to mention the very real threat of bush fire in those hot dry spells of summer. But there are pay-offs - amazing panoramic views, delish produce and delectable wines.
Yarra Yerring sits on 70 acres with about 26 varieties (I believe) and all that earnest and careful viticulture produces some amazing wines but in limited supply, hence the almost shameful price points. Even the cellar door tastings aren't free, unless you actually seal the deal with a purchase. Its a $10 deposit as it were. But its worth it. They are different. The perfume hits you well before you lift the glass to your lips, and you need to take your time with these as they do change with each successive sip. Of course if you think its all a big wank, and you're happy enough with plonk in cardboard, then avoid like the plague.
I won't list all of the wines we tasted although I should mention that we were lucky enough to partake of their haute couture line - the Carrodus wines - Shiraz and Cab Merlot 2010 - both around the $250 mark. Yes ouch indeed! The Shiraz was heaven, the Cab Merlot ... well the jury's still out on that one.
Of the "standard" (remember that price point I mentioned before) wines we tasted, both me and M liked the Underhill Shiraz, I preferred the Dry Red No. 2 to M's No. 1, and M really loved the Portuguese blend which is Dry Red No. 3. Confusion much? Get into the spririt of things and you'll be fine.
So, we did end up spending a bit too much, but hey ho - dare I say it - yolo!!!
On Janice's recommendation we drove back out to Medhurst Winery for some lunch. They have the cutest little cafe/restaurant, situated just so up on the hill to afford spectacular views to go with your vittles. You can choose to sit inside, or if the weather is nice, there is outdoor seating, and you can even byo rug and set up your own little picnic. Its a wonderful spot and the staff are friendly and welcoming.
We had a chance to sample one of their wines, prices of which are less hazardous to your health. We had the Medhurst 2011 Pinot Noir - a perfectly acceptable quaffing wine - along with the special of the day - the Medhurst Burger.
The burger was thick and juicy and not overly salted which is how I like it. There are some lovely mild pickled red onions and a cornichon or 2 with a bit of plonked green salad (I forgive them this because of the pickles). Mustard out of a squeeze bottled (less said the better) and some homestyle relish were the condiments offered. In combination, it turned out to be a more than satisfactory lunch.
We made room for the recommended coffee - Coffee Supreme beans - lovingly barristed by the winemaker himself, and also for a slice of lemon semolina cake - nicely warmed up and served with cream.
After lunch, we took in a little bit of the grounds including the sharply modern winery itself, and several of the sculptures dotted around the hillside - I guess someone here likes the Heide!
And since we were in the area, we had to visit the gift shop at Yarra Valley Dairy. Sadly the old restaurant is no longer, but it still operates as a cafe and you can have tasting plates and a range of confectionaries with your glass of wine or coffee. We guiltily snuck away 2 salted caramel tarts garnished with black ash salt and inhaled them in the car.
Beautiful day, beautiful food, wonderful company - if I could bottle this I think I would be a very rich man indeed.