Driving north over the bridge, passing the leafy North Shore suburbs, the short stretch of proper highway and then the country side ... I love the open emptiness of Australia. The peace and carefree feeling that comes with staring at the long open road, the heat and the anticipation of my first ever Wine Country visit. W being the perfect partner in crime ... We both love good food, relaxing and I am now getting the taste for good wine.
We stayed at the Pepper Tree Guest House
, on recommendation from JD, and it was fantastic! They insisted on calling us Mr & Mrs *insert my last name*
but the room was just as requested and they sorted out the dinner reservation confusion which I caused.
The first night we dined at Robert's
. Had heard so much about this place and it lived up to the hype. The food - delectable, devoured too quickly to take photos. Our waiter - very cute, a local poster boy featured on the cover of the visitors guide. The experience - priceless, we returned the following afternoon for coffee.
Day of wine tasting started with some sparkling at Petersons
and continuing to the Hanging Tree
winery. I had not heard of it but the 2004 Cabernet at dinner the previous night had struck a cord. It was down a dirt road and as W would describe it 'in a state of dilapidation', but there was something very authentic and homely about the place. We left charmed and bearing a bottle of their 2005 Cabernet. The latter now proudly residing on my wine rack, to be shared with W in a year or two.
The other memorable vineyards were Brokenwood
and Pepper Tree
. The staff in both were delightful and we spent a while in each sampling a long list of their finest. We left a little merrier and with a small selection for our final dinner
- 2005 Brokenwood Indigo Vineyard Viognier
- 2005 Pepper Tree Limited Release Verdelho
- 2004 Pepper Tree Limited Release Orange Zinfandel
The day was rounded off with a much needed nap and dinner at Casaurina. On the way we passed a field where kangaroos stood and calmly watched on as we gawked.
Dinner was a bit less exciting. Another highly recommended restaurant but after Roberts it didn't impress much. The service was ok but missing that little bit that makes it special. the food left something to be desired. We had selected a Brokenwood Shiraz which we finished off in the hotel bar and then went on to sample the Scraborough Pinot Noir. Thankfully it was my day off driving ...
The drive back to Sydney was rounded off with lunch at Pilu at Freshwater. The view is priceless and peaceful.
Jules had written about this place a few months ago and I was intrigued. I tried the house specialty 'Oven roasted suckling pig with scented apple sauce' and W tucked into the 'Lamb rump with broccolini, fregola and Bosane olives'