The most wonderful thing about the shop is the sheer variety of different characters that have been, and continue to be a part of the place. Shovelton & Spring – a crossroad of stories & little things we’ve come across on our travels that we find interesting, inspiring or delicious and a chance to tap into some insider recommendations from friends that have spread their wings beyond Spring Street
GUTEN TAG FROM THE ROTER HANG VINTAGE 2016
One of our alumni staff members, Jared Hill is currently working vintage with Gunderloch in Germany’s Rheinhessen. Very sad news has recently hit the Hasselbach family who run this beautiful historical estate, with the passing of their charismatic patriach Fritz. Unfortunately as in all farming, the grapes wait for no-one, and in the midst of their grief winemaker Johannes Hasselbach (Fritz’s son) and the family persevere, perhaps reassuringly knowing their dad is not too far away.
Writing from the middle of a harvest is tricky. The worry that sounding too optimistic might jinx the weather and quality of the grapes can be dismissed as superstition, still, I’m weary! For today, we are waiting. Two weeks into picking and what is left are mostly premium sites thinned of anything unhealthy, and carrying a modest amount of fruit. While what is out there looks promising, cool days can slow the vine dow; it’s cat and mouse with the weather, take some fruit now, leave the rest to see what happens, this flexibility only comes from picking with our hands.
The crew are mostly Polish, some Portuguese and sometimes me. Thankfully we aren’t scaling the dizzying steepness of the vineyards like those in the Mosel but there are some grandmas in the crew that are putting me to shame. Some are here for a little extra cash, some because they jump in every time they are asked. The importance of the crew has been explained a couple of times to me, as without it, many amazing wines from this country wouldn’t exist. Being able to pick the same vineyard 5-6-7 times and selecting the fruits gives confidence to counteract the weather, and allows producers to make many different styles from the same grape variety in the same vineyard.
Where we are is called the ‘red slope’ or, Roter Hang. A narrow, 10km stretch of east facing river bank along the left side of the Rhein River. The gentle hill allows for some extra sun hours, and the proximity of the river keeps night time temperatures warmer than the plain. The variety, on this relatively small spot is overwhelmingly riesling. While sylvaner, and even some red grapes are planted sporadically, riesling takes centre stage for the complex dry wines, and later harvest sweet wines, including the extremely rare Trockenbeerenauslese, or ‘TBA’.
It’s fascinating focusing on just one variety, and allowing the specific characteristics of each vineyard, influenced by aspect, soil and tiny adjustments in climate to show. To keep the differences, we are constantly processing small amounts of grapes, and allowing them to ferment in small vessels. Some rigorous organisation is needed to keep on top of what is fermenting in which tank, so a good chunk of the day is taken up by checking/tasting each wine and keeping a log of how they are progressing.
It’s surreal working in a language i’m very basic in, Achtung! means you better be ready, either to duck, grab, pump or shut! Still the team is very accommodating, we get by with plenty of hand language. Unlike in Australia, where wineries can range from an insulated garage, up to a factory like set-up, many German wineries are built under the house or estate. Working in decades, and even century old cellars brings another element to the process. Thinking about how many hundreds, even thousands of wines have started their journey in that space is humbling. To consider how many different yeasts could still be alive from years gone by, and how they might influence the wines fermenting right now is a hot topic of discussion, one I’m just getting my head around.
BYO MELBOURNE ~ THE PLACES WE LOVE
As wine lovers when we gather in our nerdy circles, we tend to go to restaurants that don’t mind us bringing along a bottle of wine. This fits in perfectly if there is a theme to the dinner be it region, vintage or style. Here are our favourites in Melbourne, feel free to tell us about yours.
191 Nicholson St, Carlton VIC 3053 (03) 9347 8252
Our go to place to take along a special bottle of wine, Allie and Anthony are fun yet professional, and their food always sings, without overcomplicating matters for your wine. Some of the best Italian food you’ll find – kingfish carpaccio and capretto rustico – and their pasta is exquisite too. There’s also a private dining room upstairs for a group of 14. Don’t be surprised if you run in to off duty, familiar faces from the wine trade!
224A Gertrude St., Fitzroy VIC 3065 (03) 9415 7575
BYO on Monday nights only where they donate the $5 corkage fee to charity, this beautifully styled pizzeria also offers delicious starters and secondi such as bistecca. It’s hard to resist their airy yet chewy pizza’s such as Badabing (tomato, provolone, pork sausage, oregano, chilli & basil) and J Lo (tomato, bufala, speck, chilli & basil). Coming into their tenth year, this is classic food in a simple, stylish room.
1-7 Ferguson St, Abbotsford (03) 9419 5899
At the Punt Road end of Victoria St, no bookings taken here so try to avoid peak times. Word has spread quickly about the heady and spicy curries, soups and salads that pair wonderfully with aromatics such as riesling, pinot gris & gewürztraminer.
11 Toorak Rd, South Yarra VIC 3141 (03) 9866 8569
Late suppers are a favourite at this quintessential Parisian bistro. The waiters play their part perfectly, confident and deft in their service with a touch of French attitude thrown in. Oysters, steak tartare, fried flounder & steak frites are on the hit list.
Hu Tong Dumpling Bar
14-16 Market Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000 (03) 9650 8128
Juicy and salty shao-long bao and wantons in chilli sauce can be eaten in abundance here. Refreshing whites and medium bodied reds work best, and an icy cold tsingtao is a perfect dessert. There is a long list of mains, too including Szechuan bean curd with minced pork.
95 Toorak Rd, South Yarra VIC 3141 (03) 9866 5975
This cosy and intimate restaurant, meaning ‘our place’ is exactly that. No menus are presented, making it even more like sitting at a (refined Italian) friend’s table for a beautiful outpouring of intensely flavoured Sardinian cuisine. Reds with tannins fit in nicely.
533 Brunswick St, Fitzroy North VIC 3068 (03) 9481 1177
This twenty year old ‘Two Hatted’ restaurant is admired by many for its curative mix of French and Japanese foods. A special occasion place that exudes confidence and vigour, and the knowledge and respect for one of your kids from the cellar.
8/240 Victoria St, Richmond VIC 3121 (03) 9427 8225
Speedy and efficient service are on time here so long as you’re forthright in your ordering. Order a dish or two at a time, that way you won’t go from zero to hero with a table overflowing with tasty foods. Fried quail and whole roast duck are sublime. Towards the end of the night if you are loitering, you may find a vacuum cleaner purring away in your ear.
Kay’s Top 5 things to do in the South Island, New Zealand
One of our key retail members, Kayleen Reynolds recently worked a vintage at Framingham in Marlborough, the north of the south island. She loved it, and here are her top five tips for travelling in the South Island.
1.Eat fresh salmon by Pukaki Lake
Best food experience of my life! Fresh local salmon can be bought right next to the lake at a local shop, then sit on the lake’s edge and enjoy this fresh, sweet salmon with stunning views. Don’t forget to pack a bottle of riesling to make it a perfect lunch.
2.Visit Wharariki Beach
The ever-changing landscape of the south is breathtakingly beautiful and dramatic, and the area surrounding Wharariki Beach is a highlight. On show are very different landscapes, all within a few kilometers of each other. The rugged beauty of the beaches and the national park can’t be passed up.
Baby seals play for hours during the day, while sand dunes sweep you across the plane. The sunsets are also amazing.
3. Pack a picnic lunch
There are so many beautiful picnic areas just off main roads with tables that allow you to pull up the car, make some lunch and enjoy the view. BYO rosé.
4. Explore the wine regions of Marlborough & Central Otago
Here are some of my favourite wineries from both regions:
Marlborough: Framingham, Dog Point, Seresin, Forest
Central Otago: Mt Edward, Peregrine, Carrick, Quartz Reef, Felton Rd
5. Stay a night on the Marlbourough Sounds
bookabach.com offers a great selection of holiday homes right on the coast. There’s nothing quite like it. There are plenty of options for outdoor types, or alternatively it’s the perfect place to relax by the fire with a bottle of wine and stunning views. Be sure to check the weather forecast as bad weather can dampen plans. BYO travel sickness tablets.