Drove into Canberra yesterday morning after stopping by Clonakilla (which was a hoot - got to hang with Tim-the-winemaker for a bit again! yay!). The first stop on the list was the Belconnen mall (er Westfield Shopping Town) - had to find the food court and the Dan Murphy store Julian recommended. Had bad pho, burned my tongue. But at Dan Murphy, I was able to replace the most important bottles that were stolen (Petaluma viognier, 99 Leconfield cab sauv, The Menzies, Karl Seppelt sparkling shiraz), which was very lucky indeed. But Dan decided that this strange looking 1997 Argentinian malbec simply had to go in the shopping cart as well.
Back at our hotel, we opened it. It sucked. Nay, it fucking sucked. It sucked so hard that we agreed we had to go replace it with something else immediately. Now, there's a lot of wine in the truck, but any good red that I didn't want to take home, share with Russel or Julian, or give as a gift was hidden so far down in the back I couldn't possibly get to it. So we had to go to Vintage Cellars in Manuka.
Once there, I picked up a bottle of Torbreck Woodcutters Red (a shiraz, A$21). Then, we decided to go find a BYO restaurant. The first one we saw was a trendy bistro place that was Closed For A Private Function. That intrigued me, of course. Dan then pointed out that it was closed for a Vintage Cellars wine tasting dinner. Hm. He'd seen a brochure in the shop I hadn't. So... I went back to the shop and asked if we could get a seat. And... we did. Rushed back to the hotel to change our shirts, came back, had dinner - from 6.30 to past midnight.
Henschke sponsored the wine dinner, so that's what we had. About ten different wines, ranging from the 1990 and 2001 rieslings (older really is better), through an unreleased sauvignon blanc (excellent, so good you'd think it was from NZ), a pinot gris (lovely), a merlot cabernet (hm, I thought that was bad), a 1994 cabernet that was absolutely wonderful, and then the much hyped Hill of Grace. Which, frankly, would take me a while to describe (in my slightly inebriated state I think I railed on about how it displayed no balls whatsoever, was a Stepford wife kind of wine, and started muttering on about terroir again as well). I didn't like it. In fact, it made me angry. But at least I got to try it.
Even better, we sat next to a wonderful couple of retired maths teachers from Canberra (but originally from LA and New York state) who are going bushwalking with us this morning, followed by more plonk 'n food. So, we might not make it to Sydney tonight. Must call Russel and explain...