Friday, November 17, 2017

Yarra Valley Wine Tasting

Trip date: February 2017

After our night on the town, Claudette and I both spent the morning working. As I wrapped for the day I got a text from her in the other room asking if I was up for going wine tasting. Do people actually say no that question?

We drove just 40-minutes from their home, through beautiful countryside and vineyards, to the famous Yarra Valley. I've been to many many wine regions, but I can honestly say I've never seen a vineyard with a mob of kangaroos hopping through it until then!

Our first stop was Mandala Wines. We had some excellent Pinot Noir here and also some great sparkling blanc de blanc. I'd absolutely recommend this stop!

From here we made our way to Chandon, not for a tasting but to have a lovely lunch in their restaurant which looks out onto the vineyards. The food here was excellent; we had a great charcuterie board and a goat cheese, asparagus, quinoa salad. They were promoting a new product called Chandon S, which is sparkling blended with orange bitters; very nice and refreshing with our meal. 

At Coldstream Hills we tasted some really refined single vineyard Pinot Noirs. Another big thumbs up.  

Our last taste of the day was at Punt Road. I can't say exactly why but I just loved this place! Absolutely delicious Pinot Noir (we tasted through various varietals also) at a great price! I even bought a bottle to bring home which I had said I wasn't going to do. And I just opened that bottle last week for some friends and we all loved it!

So there are just four lovely stops for the next time you are in the Yarra Valley. I've got a map now with about 20 more for my next visit!

Big thanks to my driver and wine guide Claudette!


Melbourne photos here

Other posts from this trip: 
The Longest Way to Oz
An American Down Under
Meet Up in Melbourne
48-Hours Gold Coast
Welcome to Fantasy Island
Woolloomooloo

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Meet Up in Melbourne

Trip date: February 2017


My lovely Sydney hosts Rachel and Olivia took me to the airport for my flight to Melbourne on Sunday morning. I was so shocked when I went through security; no boarding pass needed! Liquids were allowed (any size!)! No lines! It was just like the states in the 90’s!

When I landed in Melbourne my friend Claudette was there waiting at my gate! Because boarding passes are only needed to board a plane! Brilliant!

We drove to her, David, and Scarlett’s house in MacLeod, which is a really nice suburb of Melbourne. They were hosting me for the next three days and I was looking forward to catching up as I hadn’t seen them much since they moved from Seattle years ago.

David made us gin and tonics and Claudette showed me around their gorgeous home. The backyard butts up to a wildlife preserve so I was on the lookout for kangaroos!

We had a lovely lunch which included champagne before I took a quick nap and got ready for the evening. Claudette and I took the train into the city and she played tour-guide walking me around and showing me some of the really beautiful buildings. Melbourne is gorgeous!

We then grabbed an Uber and headed to the Fitzroy area to have cocktails at Black Pearl. This bar and their bartenders were absolutely great! And it wasn’t open but there is an attic bar upstairs that they showed me which is super pretty. Highly recommend cocktails here if you are in Melbourne, and since they are #22 on the 50 Best Bar list it’s safe to say that others agree.

We took an Uber back to the Riverwalk area where we met Claudette’s sister Roberta and brother-in-law Oscar, as well as David for dinner at Rosetta.

Rosetta is one of Chef Neil Perry’s restaurants and it is beautiful with very high-end service. We had a hell of a good time and the food was delicious.

There is a big casino right on the river here and after dinner we walked through it to find a bar for nightcaps. A few rounds of cognac and then we grabbed an Uber ride home, which included a bit of drama as we were involved in a fender bender. Luckily no one was hurt!

Claudette’s parents were Scarlett-sitting and when we got home her mom decided she wanted a nightcap too so David broke out the cognac. It was so nice to get a chance to meet them. The entire family evening had been incredibly fun!

We stayed home the next night (after we spent the day tasting wine in the Yarra Valley!) with Claudette making a delicious dinner and David opening some lovely champagne and wine from his cellar, including one from Oscar's winery. During dinner we saw a group of kangaroos in the reserve! They see them quite often but this time two of them were boxing which they said was pretty rare!

After dinner we watched Game of Thrones in their theater room and then Claudette and I made cookies for Scarlett to take to school for Valentine's day. I'd say that was a pretty nice day!

The next morning I spent some time working and then Claudette and I went on a walk through the reserve. We came right up on the mob of kangaroos hanging out in the grass! So very cool and a great last memory of the area.

At the airport I had a sausage roll and an Australian Sauvignon Blanc, as you do, before boarding my flight to the Gold Coast.

My time in Melbourne was over way too quick; I can’t wait to go back and see more and do some road trips!

Melbourne photos here

Other posts from this trip: 
The Longest Way to Oz
An American Down Under
Yarra Valley Wine Tasting
48-Hours Gold Coast
Welcome to Fantasy Island
Woolloomooloo

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