THERE I was, a “journalist-at-large”, invited to the Canberra Wine Week kick-off dinner. These events are reward for sharing the wine news with you, dear reader.
And Kylie was in my mind:
I should be so lucky
lucky, lucky, lucky…
Keep going, my mind said: too much luck, not enough commitment to other than professed otherworldliness. I just don’t feel the connection to these events that a better person or wine connoisseur might embrace. Yet I felt seraphic even before I tasted the wine, as if The Boat House had transferred me to another place and angels were playing their harps – no not drunk yet, just shaky with anticipation.
Anyway, the milieu of so many people with wine knowledge and sheer ability was quite overwhelming. The Boat House food took the experience to a new level.
Canberra wine week is April 5-14 and I acknowledge that this event was to announce that fact. The dinner foreshadowed the events to a lucky few, but the good thing about wine appreciation is that it depends more on what you like than what is necessarily good or necessarily connected to an event.
At the dinner I sat next to Carla Rodeghiero, a long-time winemaker at Sapling Yard vineyard. This was an extraordinary rosé, this was extraordinary company and, as I looked out at the waves on the lake smashing against the shore outside the venue, I thought about that Kylie song yet again and hummed: lucky, lucky, lucky.
I found it quite strange that Carla apologised for the state of her hands as she held them out in front of me against the stark white tablecloth, blaming vintage when those hands spoke legions of her skill, ringless and character-full. She did admit to a husband though!
I am not sure why the restaurant matched so many tomato-based, acidic flavours with this wine because it was already distinctly acidic.
Carla was effusive about this wine despite the mismatch but acknowledged that somehow matters had gone awry with the food choice.
She was very bold in her public speaking. She stood up to speak about the way she had approached the winemaking. She told us: “I tried this with 50 per cent wild ferment and then aged it in barrels for three months. It’s 85 per cent pinot noir and 15 per cent shiraz. But to give the wine balance we put it on stainless steel ferment. In the end it has produced a savoury rosé with spice and a deep texture, unusual for this kind of wine.”
Texture is indeed a forgotten element of wine; acidity gives wine an outline, ferment a base. These elements frame the scene for our tastebuds. We are always fighting for the balance between alcohol and sugar. Acidity cuts through fats and oils in the mouth so matching this wine with acidic vegetables was wrong. Food-friendliness should have come through the war of fruit and acid and given this excellent wine its due.
I spoke to Carla about her small but potent production. She mentioned that her tiny growing area near Braidwood was heavily populated with eucalypt saplings that inspired the name and gave her poetic inspiration and the fortitude to produce to her own standards and the exuberant and different rosé.
Goodness me, there were other wines that night. But the heady presence of this particular winemaker and a rosé that challenged the pallet was enough to make me… feel lucky.