Australia: Day 2 – Sights and Sounds
I spent much of Saturday taking a drive with the gang out to the Macedon Ranges and the famous Hanging Rock, near which a friend of Stu and Cam has a summer home and a vineyard site. Pulling up to the estate I noticed a huge gum tree with the bush out in the distance and immediately thought of the old Kookaburra song my mom used to sing to me as a kid. Whereas the Yarra Valley feels very much like home, Macedon—located to the north of Melbourne—looks and feels more like I expected Australia to.
The friend I alluded to above was a boutique wine and spirits importer named Robert Walters who has spent twenty-five years supplying Australia with wines from producers like Didier Dagueneau, Francois Chidaine, Robert Weil, and pretty much every other global winemaker you generally find at K&L. He's also the author of a book called "Bursting Bubbles," documenting the rise of grower Champagnes in the industry—another one of our specialties! I had a lot to talk about with Robert and a lot in common with him in terms of taste and experience. We started our visit with a glass of rosé and a walk around a property he's recently planted with high-density chardonnay and pinot noir vines.
Because Robert is a more serious and studied wine professional, Stu spent the first ten minutes of the vineyard tour antagonizing the hell out of him; peppering him with technical questions, overwhelming him with pessimism and sarcasm, and judging every word that came out of his mouth within seconds of him having uttered it. It was absolutely hilarious. It was like a comedy duo feeding off each other's energy. Ultimately Stu respects the hell out of Robert, which is why he loves to tease him. We were all taken aback by his commitment to viticulture and the way he's turned his attention towards winemaking from his importation experience.
One thing I've learned from my colleague Ryan is how serious the food scene is around Melbourne. Actually, I shouldn't say "serious" because it's actually quite laid back, but the quality is tremendous! Robert's wife Kate was amazing, putting together small snacks of anchovies with lemon and chili on perfectly toasted slices of baguette. It was quite a lunch and a further example of how awesome the place is. Everywhere I've gone so far I've met nice people who like to eat and drink nice things. When am I supposed to come back again?