Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Good Food Good Guide

Where should we eat? It's a question we ask ourselves constantly when venturing to a new region.

The Brisbane Times Queensland Good Food Guide 2012 may be able to help you with your dilemma. Download the latest edition on-line and start your food discover journey.

In the Granite Belt, the guide recommends:

Vineyard Cafe - There is a good case for this being the best food in the Granite Belt...the welcome at the Vineyard Cafe is warm and the service attentive with a relaxed geniality of rural hospitality.

Shiraz - Nestled comfortably within the sprawling rooms of an old Queenslander, Shiraz juggles contemporary culture within the patina of the old building. It's something of a shrine to local wines and produce with a menu that changes constantly to meet the vagaries of the market's bounty.

The Barrel Room - Taking its name from the massive oak barrels that line the wall, scenting the room with glorious aromas of old fortified wines. Think Merlo coffee...homemade pasta, local fruits and vegetables and cured meats through to char-grilled sirloin, confit duck and saltimbocca.

The Singing Lake Cafe - It's wine fare through and through, inviting a lazy couple of hours on the spacious deck sipping Channon wines and gazing across the lake that gave rise to the moniker and the vineyards beyond.

Cellar Door Cafe - Have a tasting or settle in for a light or long lunch...with seasonally changing mains made with local produce.

And their favourite cellar doors include:

Summit Estate - A glass of one of Summit's winemaker Paola Cabezas Rhymer's award winning reds won't go astray.

Golden Grove Estate - The Costanzo family have been here since the 70s producing not just the usual sav blanc and chardonnays, Italian and Spanish varietals as well.

Hidden Creek - Beside a small man-made lake, this pretty little winery with attached cafe serves up a menu from a cheese-platter to a leisurely lunch.

Granite Belt Days Enjoyed by Qwine

Steve from QWine ventured to the Granite Belt on the June long weekend.

His latest blog notes: The recent long weekend was spent on the Granite Belt, two and a half to three hours south west of Brisbane. A magical weekend spent in the company of great friends, spectacular food and some outstanding wines.

Most would enjoy a quiet time relaxing with family; not Qwine. He was on a mission to visit as many Granite Belt wineries as possible.

The result is an impressive review list of more than 40 wines. So if you need some advice for your next wine purchase, check out his blog for some great advice.

To wet your taste buds here are a few......

Ridgemill Chardonnay 2011: This is some funky business. Winemaker Peter McGlashan excelling here. Wild ferment (my attention gained immediately!) with six months in oak. The wine was taken off lees to remove any buttery characteristics which may be imparted. Clever move as this is not your regular Chardonnay - the one some people steer clear of. This is funky and classy (12.8% abv). An intriguing nose of mustard seeds, oyster shell and toasted almonds. A delicious palate well weighted and the fruit leaping to the fore. Bottle age will help these flavours and characters develop further more. Lovely development in the ten minutes it sat in the glass. Fill your boots! $25 

Boireann Shiraz Viognier 2011: Shiraz and 5% Viognier co-fermented. A dirty yet attractive bouquet I thought with distinct minerality and pepper. These two characters flowed onto the palate coupled with juicy dark fruit flavours. A savoury element kicks in to add more interest with a long finish leaving a grip which will settle in the bottle in years to come. I'm a big fan! $35  

Summit Estate Queensland Cabernet 2009: A terrific blend made very well. Thrown in the mix with Cabernet is Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Once again, a very good colour with fragrant violets prominent. Intense concentration of blackberry fruit on the palate. A big wine yet classy with a long, lingering finish. Delish! $40  

Pyramids Road Bernies Blend 2009: An ever changing blend using the best barrels of that vintage. A barrel each of Mourvedre and Cabernet, and one being a Shiraz/Cabernet/Merlot/Mourvedre blend. Big dark fruit flavours. This blend works and then some! Not only does the fruit tie in nicely, but the mix of oak from the various barrels all play their part. Fleshy and gutsy with great length. Get some. $35 

Symphony Hill Viognier 2009: Wild ferment with two months in older oak. A bouquet of butterscotch, fleshy fruit on entry with some buttery characteristics lingering well. Not the soupy apricot nectar type of Viognier commonly found on the shelf. Very good. $30  

Hidden Creek Verdelho 2010: Stand up and take note! Fresh. Clean. Good acid. Refreshing tropical fruit with good length. Yum. A no nonsense type at a top price too. $18  

Golden Grove Barbera 2011: Very easy drinking style. Light to medium body. Some sour cherry kicking in on a soft palate with a little mouth warmth. Load this up with a pasta dish or pizza. Happy days. $20 

Ravens Croft Pinotage 2011: This is Mark's second vintage with only 600 bottles produced. Very little Pinotage is grown in Australian, whereas Pinotage is king in Mark's native South Africa, so you can see where his passion stems from. The bouquet awakens the senses. Stewed berry pudding, toffee, butterscotch and raspberry jam. Wow! A lighter palate than expected (14% abv) with soft fruit including strawberry. Grippy tannins which will soften in time but still complement the wine nicely. Well made and definitely one to keep an eye on as vintages progress. $35

Monday, June 18, 2012

Regional Romance in the Granite Belt

The latest edition of Australia's most romantic magazine, Holidays for Couples, ventures to the Granite Belt for Regional Romance.

Journalist Tiana Templeman urges us to experience the perfect mini getaway in Stanthorpe.

Queensland’s wine capital provides a welcome escape from the big smoke with plenty of cellar doors and stellar dining at country prices. Food and wine is the main attraction here so bring your appetite! 

Wine tasting is a delight at Stanthorpe as the winemakers themselves hold court at most cellar doors. Amateur aficionados can take their passion one step further at the hands-on Winemaker for a Weekend course at the Queensland College of Wine Tourism, a training college which also has an excellent restaurant specialising in local produce. 

Read more at www.holidaysforcouples.com.au

ED note: the accommodation image is 31 the Rocks

A Second Delicious Awards Finalist Nomination Gains Attention for Mallow

For the second year running, Granite Belt's Mallow Organic Lamb has gained the attention of leading chefs and foodies, scoring a highly acclaimed Delicious Magazine Produce Awards finalist nomination.

On learning of this outstanding achievement food journalist, Fiona Donnelly, went in search of the fourth-generation wool producers, Andrew and Helen Ferrier, who are taking the organic lamb market by storm.

Quality matters at Mallow. Unlike some farms, the Ferriers don't buy in lambs so they are in complete control of the chain from conception, which assures them of quality.
Helen says even she has been surprised by the taste and tenderness of the lamb meat raised on nutrient-dense pastures.

Their distribution network is also growing. Initially it was just private orders through word of mouth and a stall at the local markets. Now their lamb is being stocked at organic butchers on the Gold and Sunshine coasts. Several Granite Belt restaurants feature the meat on their menus. The farm will also make drops to Brisbane on request.

This year's Delicious Magazine Produce Awards dinner will be held at Aria Brisbane on July 16. So keep your fingers crossed they take out the top gong!

In the meantime, Andrew tells us what to look for in organic lamb.
  • Organic pasture-fed lamb fat should have a yellow tinge and not be too white. White fat can mean the lamb has been grain-fed.
  • Lamb flesh shouldn't be too pale. If it's pale it may be "watery". If the meat is very dark it could mean you're buying hogget rather than lamb, which should be cheaper and has a stronger flavour.
  • Fat is necessary for flavour and keeping meat moist and tender while cooking. On loin chops it should be 6-8mm thick. If it's 10-12mm it's a sign the lamb is over-fat. Lamb legs need to have a decent fat cover for best roasting results.
  • You may not be able to poke at plastic-covered lamb cuts at the supermarket, so Andrew suggests buying meat from a specialist butcher where you can build the trust. Texture-wise there should be some resistance to your finger but not too much.
  • Look at the rib bones on a rack or cutlets. They should not be too thick on premium cuts - no more than 8mm in width. If they are 10mm it's a sign you could be buying hogget rather than lamb.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Wendy Hall of the Courier Mail Visits Us Again

One of our favourite journos, Wendy Hall, recently visited us again. In last weekend's edition of the Courier Mail, Wendy told readers about her trip.

"It's a picture-perfect time to turn the phone off, rug up, sip some local wine by a roaring fire and fill the car boot with an assorted dozen or two. For wine lovers, this glorious little ritual is becoming as Queensland as hitting the beach in summer."

During her stay Wendy discovered Tobin Wines, who is knocking back Sydney and Melbourne restaurants because he can't keep pace with the demand for his limited edition wines...Tobin's Isabella semillon has won approval far and wide and been rated above some of the iconic Hunter labels.

With the oldest shiraz and semillon vines in Queensland, planted in the 1960s, and an immaculately managed vineyard, we understand why!

Wendy also suggested you should also add Pyramid Roads, Symphony Hill, Boireann and Summit Estate to your list when you visit. Or enjoy great Granite Belt wine at a wine event including a Symphony Hill wine dinner at Sofitel Brisbane Central on June 14 ($149, phone 3835 3535); a food and wine matching masterclass at the Barrel Room Cafe at Ballandean Estate on June 23 ($70, ph 4684 1326); and on June 26, the last chance to taste Robert Channon's early vintages of verdelho, as well as the first public tasting of the 2012, in a dinner at Brent's the Dining Experience, Toowong ($100, ph 3371 4558).

After a 'hard day' wine tasting Wendy retreated to the Vineyard Cottages and Cafe.

At the Vineyard Cottages and Cafe , you'll be sipping wine by the fire in the lounge bar before sitting down to hearty homestyle fare - think salmon and dill chowder and an earthy mushroom risotto - in the cafe housed in an old church.

The cottages, set in beautiful gardens, are just a short drive from Girraween National Park for those who want to walk up an appetite before hitting the nearby wineries for the afternoon.

Thanks Wendy...join us again soon.

For more information on the Granite Belt visit www.granitebeltwinecountry.com.au

Friday, June 8, 2012

Granite Belt Selected As A Top 20 Australian Short Break

Time poor? A short-break is the perfect way to escape the everyday.

Australian Traveller Magazine has identified the Granite Belt as one of their top 20 short breaks in the June/July edition!

Ideal for a Food and Wine short-break, journalist Alissa Jenkins says you should definitely visit the 'Gourmet Granite Belt' soon.

Why? Australia's newest food trail produces all kinds of gourmet delights: cheese, chutney, chocolate...and wine. Stop for fresh jams at The Bramble Patch in Glen Alpin, Sutton's Juice Factory and Cidery in Thulimbah and Heavenly Chocolate in Wyberba. There's the Granite Belt Dairy for cheese straight from the pasture to the plate. 

Stay in Stanthorpe's (Ed note: Ballandean) Azjure Studio Retreat's luxe studios, each with a log fire, king-size bed and reclining spa bath for two. The region's two leading restaurants, Shiraz and Vineyard Cafe, are within a two-minute drive.

Book your short break to relax, rejuvenate, reconnect...and of course indulge in food and wine now!  www.granitebeltwinecountry.com.au

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Prof. Tim Coelli (left) and Prof. Boris Bravo-Ureta from Chile inspect the wine cellar at Casa de Santar in Dao, Portugal.
We get so excited when our operators achieve outstanding results. Today was no exception, after the receiving the news that Tim Coelli, from Twisted Gum Wines (who is still in a mild state of shock) scooped the award for the best research paper at the 2012 Annual Conference of the European Association of Wine Economists (EuAWE).

The 29th annual conference was held in the city of Viseu, in the beautiful wine region of Dao in Portugal last week (May 30 to June2).  (Ed note - sounds wonderful!)

The title of the award winning paper was “The Technical Efficiency of Wine Grape Growers in the Murray-Darling Basin in Australia”, which was joint work with Orion Sanders from the Australian Bureau and Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARES).  The study was motivated by a desire to look at the capacity for these irrigated wine grape producers to improve their performance in the face of the growing pressures from reduced grape prices and increased water prices.

The study uses ABARES survey data to estimate statistical production frontiers so that they can measure the technical inefficiency of wine grape growers (performance gaps between average and best producers), scale economies (to determine the best farm size) and the degree to which water is being used in an economically optimal way. 

Tim, an Adjunct Professor of Economics at the University of Queensland, takes a very 'hands-on' approach to research. With wife Michelle (an agricultural scientist), he owns and operates Twisted Gum Wines, a boutique Granite Belt wine producer that specializes in the production of single vineyard, dry grown (unirrigated) wines.

Their vineyard management features the extensive use of mulching and careful canopy management, which has begun to reap dividends with their wines receiving a number of awards in recent years, from Winestate Magazine and the Royal Queensland Wine Show, among others.

Passionate about continually improving viticulture methods, Tim spoke highly of the EuAWE conference.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to hear up to date and informed insights from speakers from many of the top wine producing countries, including France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Chile and the USA.  Plus the study tour to Dao vineyards and wineries was of particular interest to me, since the Dao region is very similar to the Granite Belt region in Australia, with high altitude and granite soils producing stylish food friendly wines in both regions,” he said.

For further information, see www.twistedgum.com.au.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Warm Up With Stunning New Red Wine Releases

Wow, it's cold.

To keep you warm today, we bring you a range of stunning new red wine releases. They'll warm the cockles of your heart!

2010 Boireann Le Cima Granite Belt Barbera: Boireann has certainly lifted its skirts with this very different, a la mode label design; the grapes come from the Golden Grove Vineyard; the wine matches the label, bright, lively and juicy, with pure red cherry fruit, intriguing acidity, and the finest possible tannins. Absolutely ready to go. The points are given within the context of the style. 94 points - James Halliday Wine Companion Magazine June/July 2012.

2009 Sirromet Wild Granite Belt Nebbiolo: Has the usual light colour; can only be appreciated in the context of Nebbiolo, tasted blind most likely to be castigated for premature development and lack of fruit, in fact it has rose petal and spices and a silky smooth and long palate, tannis barely perceptible. 90 points - James Halliday Wine Companion Magazine June/July 2012.

2010 Boireann Granite Belt Shiraz Mourvedre: Good colour, although not as intense as that of the Shiraz; the typically fragrant bouquet leads into a medium-bodied palate, Shiraz and Mourvedre taking turns to express their respective personalities. Gives every indication it will flourish in the years ahead. 94 points- James Halliday Wine Companion Magazine June/July 2012.

2009 Ridgemill Estate Pedigree Granite Belt Cabernet Malbec Merlot: A huge, inky style with masses of oak, powerful ripe fruit and high level of acid. Cellar for 5 years. Three stars - Winestate Magazine May/June 2012.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Your Winter Escape - Be Cool and Join us for Brass Monkey Season

It's here! Winter is colloquially our Brass Monkey Season; frosty mornings, beautiful crisp clear days, the bare trace of winter trees trimmed with frost, and cosy evenings with a glass of red in front of an open fire.

Stanthorpe is the coolest (make that coldest) place in Queensland, and it’s the winter chill in the Granite Belt that has earned the season its nickname.

June, July and August is the busy season in the Granite Belt and Stanthorpe, as visitors come to enjoy a crackling log fire, slow cooked food, and sensational winter reds. Plus, there is always the prospect - or hope - of snow and the first reports bring media and visitors flocking to the region.

Our new Winter Guide provides a plethora of Brass Monkey activities for you to experience. It's about relaxing, reconnecting, and rejuvenating. So be cool, and join us in the Granite Belt this Brass Monkey Season.