Spoilt for choice, so it’s best to clear di­ary

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TASTE - Graeme Phillips

WHICH was it to be? Mor­ris dancers or Mar­ion’s Mavro­daphne? With so many food and wine fes­ti­vals and events this year, it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore they ran into one another.

And so, a few week­ends ago, it was a toss- up be­tween the in­au­gu­ral Huon Mid­Win­ter Fest at Grove or the fourth Taste of the Ta­mar at the IXL Henry Jones. Or a mat­ter of writ­ing the whole week­end off and do­ing both.

Any­one who didn’t get to the Taste of the Ta­mar missed the op­por­tu­nity to sam­ple what I reckon was the best line- up of Tas­ma­nian sparkling wines that I’ve seen for a long time.

Equally im­pres­sive was the fact that those on show were from dif­fer­ent vin­tages and made in dif­fer­ent styles. The pick of them for me was Dr An­drew Pirie’s Apogee 2011 Rose, a lux­u­ri­ously rich and el­e­gant of­fer­ing of red fruits and marzi­pan flavours with the finest of fine bub­bles and a beau­ti­ful long, crisply clean and re­fresh­ing af­ter­taste, very much in the style of a top pinot- fruited rose from Cham­pagne.

Other stand­outs were Natalie Fr­yar’s su­perbly el­e­gant and com­plex Jansz 2005 Late Dis­gorged Cu­vee along with her 2007 Vin­tage Cu­vee and ’ 08 Vin­tage Rose.

Lit­tle won­der the Pipers Brook re­gion has been ac­claimed by in­ter­na­tional fizz ex­perts like Tom Steven­son as ‘ Aus­tralia’s Cham­pagne’.

But even the warmer lower Ta­mar Val­ley showed its sparkling class with Iron Pot Bay’s beer- top- sealed 2012 Hobo Sparkling of­fer­ing a lovely creamy mouth­ful of re­fresh­ing caramelised ap­ple flavours.

And from sparklers, it was down to Two Bud Spur’s and Home Hill’s warm­ing mulled wines, the colour­ful rags and tin­kling foot bells of the Mor­ris Dancers and the thou­sands who had come out for more food, wine and entertainment at the quite won­der­ful Wil­lie Smith Cider Ap­ple Shed Mu­seum and Cider House in Grove.

As coals from the pre­vi­ous night’s big bon­fire smoul­dered away, Zac Shearer and Sian King from Crumb Street Kitchen were sweat­ing away over the smoke and heat from their own fires bar­be­cu­ing pigs and lambs spread- ea­gled Ar­gen­tine style on a Rube Gold­berg- like con­struc­tion of iron pick­ets.

Thanks largely to Dark MOFO and the Ho­bart City Coun­cil, it’s great that the au­thor­i­ties are at last suf­fi­ciently re­laxed to al­low this sort of open- air cook­ing, food prepa­ra­tion and ser­vice with min­i­mum re­stric­tions.

It adds so much more mouth- wa­ter­ing aro­mas, colour and in­ter­est for the pub­lic at events like these.

In­side the dining mar­quee, Carolyn and Marc Watson- Paul from Pen­guin were dis­pens­ing their fab­u­lous Henry’s ginger beer, named af­ter their son but made to Marc’s grand­mother’s recipe. An­drew Smith was adding a shot of Villino cof­fee to his ap­ple cider; the Taco Taco team was there do­ing their thing; Lady Hes­tia was serv­ing de­li­cious sour­dough doughnuts with choco­late and salted pis­ta­chio fill­ings; and there were queues for the wood- fi red piz­zas and Huon Aqua­cul­ture’s sal­mon dishes.

And, of course, a coun­try fest wouldn’t be com­plete with­out its pies, this time ex­cel­lent lit­tle ones from Ni­cholls Rivulet Or­ganic Farm made from their own beef and avail­able daily, along with cuts of beef and their home- made pasties and tartes, at their farm gate at 1557 Ni­cholls Rivulet Rd or on 6295 1423. Apart from the large and very happy crowds, the real star of the show was the Ap­ple Shed, telling the story of the Huon ap­ple in­dus­try through the Wil­lie Smith fam­ily’s eyes and its de­cline from the days when 300 grow­ers would turn up for in­dus­try meet­ings to to­day when they are lucky to get 20.

And, for truf­fle man Dun­can Garvey, who lives just a few pad­docks away, the star of the Shed is the cof­fee, so good, he says, that he of­ten uses the Shed as his offi ce.

Great cof­fee in it­self is rea­son enough when down that way to stop and visit.

For the rest of it, you’ll be de­lighted by what An­drew Smith and Sam Reid have done in turn­ing a derelict old pack­ing shed into a firstrate tourist at­trac­tion.

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