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