Friday, 29 January 2016

A Wedding and a Winery

Tucked away in the Gold Coast Hinterland, a picturesque 1 hour drive from Brisbane, is Mount Tamborine. My husband and I were visiting this rainforest destination for a friend's wedding, which we had been looking forward to for many months. 

Whilst living remotely, I have found that looking forward to a holiday takes on a whole new level of excitement. To the point where I research every minute detail of the trip. I anticipate what we can see and do each day and, of course, where we can eat good food and drink great wine.

This was how I stumbled upon the unlikely fact that there are a number of wineries at Mt Tamborine. This surprised me, as I was quite sure the rainforest climate there would not be entirely conducive to grape growing. For this reason, I discounted even bothering to take a look at any of the wineries whilst we were there. Luckily, however, a friend highly recommended one winery: Witches Falls. So I thought we had better take a look.

At the entrance to the cellar door, I was even more surprised to see a proudly-displayed sign announcing the winery's five star James Halliday rating. Now I was very intrigued.

I was further impressed by the affable cellar door attendant who guided us through a well-paced and informative tasting. My favourite wines were:

2014 Co-inoculated Verdelho 
Fermented with two yeasts from South Africa and France, this wine had a herbaceous nose, with crisp acidity and lime flavours. Different to my usual tropical fruit expectations of Verdelho, but enjoyable nonetheless.

2013 Syrah
Not your average Syrah, the fruit was 'redder' than usual, I was reminded of a strawberry muffin. I agree with the wine being labelled a Syrah rather than Shiraz due to its light and savoury nature. I would recommend enjoying this wine with a spring or autumn lunch.

2014 Wild ferment chardonnay
After spending 8 months old oak then 8 months in new, the wine displayed a well balanced acidity and butteriness. 

2013 Wild Ferment Cabernet Franc
All raspberry on the nose, with astringent peppers adding some liveliness. Very fun.

2012 Prophecy Syrah
Much more extraction and intensity than the Granite Belt Range sample with a good pepper finish - more what I expect from Australian produced Shiraz (but not quite worth the $51 price tag).

Quality wine was evident at Witches Falls. The secret? 
Most of the grapes are sourced from the cooler Granite Belt wine growing region around Stanthorpe (see map below). 

This underrated wine growing region has recently been winning awards throughout Australia, proving that those pioneers who saw its potential and took the risk were onto something. The establishment of Witches Falls at an intermediary point to source grapes from this region, whilst showcasing them at a busy tourist location is really helping promote the fact that Queensland can produce good wine.

Granite Belt Wine Region
You can read more about owner and winemaker Jon Heslop and his wines at the Witches Falls website.

So if you live in Brisbane or on the Gold Coast, or you are in Southeast Queensland for a holiday, Mount Tamborine is a great place for a day trip. Start out early and take one of the well-marked walks through the rainforest to crystal clear waterfalls or spectacular views to the Pacific Ocean. Then recuperate with a coffee or lunch along the Gallery Walk before spending the afternoon sampling locally crafted wine, beer and spirits. And make sure Witches Falls is marked on your route.