Winter has passed for another year! If like us, you've had enough of hearty soups, slow-cooked casseroles, and stodgy puddings, it's time to celebrate Spring which calls for a juicy, tender Spring lamb dish washed down with a smooth and silky Cabernet Sauvignon. A carefully aged Cabernet is a perfect match for lamb.
The Swan Valley produce a terrific fruit driven style of cabernet - it's a softer, less astringent style to its Margaret River counterpart. This makes a Swan Valley Cabernet more accessable as a younger wine with the trademark minty/ eucalypt nose. With age Swan Valley Cabernet Sauvignon shows softer, dusty tanin which is mellow and ready to drink this Spring.
So, what exactly is Spring Lamb and why do we love it so much? Here's what our Aussie butchers have to say about why it's so good.....
"The reason we have come to associate Spring with lamb season is that this is when lambs are most plentiful and consequently cheapest in Australia.
Most of the lamb in Australia is produced in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia where rainfall and grass growth is highest in Spring. Farmers take advantage of this by having more stock on the ground during this time. As such a typical Spring lamb is birthed in Autumn and sold between September and November when it is between 50- 60 kg in weight.
Contrary to popular belief Spring lamb is not exclusively milk fed, milk fed lambs are called sucker lambs. Because lambs are able to graze on lush grasses they take up nutrients from these such as Omega 3 and 6 making Spring lamb a healthy family choice. As the lambs have not reached full maturity the meat is much leaner and tender while also having a deliciously mild flavour".
So it's official! Spring lamb is best and we've put together one of our favourite recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi's book "Ottolenghi" for you to try at home. All you need is a sharp knife, a bottle of the Upper Reach 2010 Cabernet (pour a glass to steady your hand) and a group of friends to share it with.....
Photo courtesy of Yotam Ottolenghi's book "Ottolenghi"
This list was created for those with a day or two to spend in the Swan Valley or those with overseas visitors that want to get the most out of a day. In the Swan Valley you can check off those big ticket items, Koala's and Kangaroo's, as well as a world-class wine region, breweries and fresh local produce.
So here we go, our Top Things to do in the Swan Valley, written by a local who knows!
www.thehouseofhoney.com.au Phone: 08 9296 3635
www.supagolf.com/courses-2/swan-valley Phone 08 9296 5566
www.cuddlyanimalfarm.com 0424 209 730
www.cavershamwildlife.com.au 08 9248 1984
Phone 08 9250 1588
Sample the wines directly from tank or barrels, like the winemaker.
Enjoy a relaxed 2-course lunch with sweeping views of the vineyard; one of chef’s fabulous shared platters (your choice of 3) and a seasonal dessert, tea and coffee.
Finish up with a tasting of Tawny and Muscat dessert wines at Cellar Door and some shopping. The cellar door is full of locally made produce, honey, truffles and preserves which make perfect gifts.
WINERY TOUR AWARDS:
Gourmet Traveller: Wine | Best Additional Experience Swan Valley 2018
Lux Magazine: Food & Wine Awards | Best Wine Tasting Experience 2018 Perth
There is so much to see and do in the Swan Valley- one day is not enough...we recommend at least an overnight stay at Upper Reach Spa Cottage to really make the most of your visit. We look forward to welcoming you to the Swan Valley!
Have you ever been confused about which wine should go with which food? It can be pretty daunting when you don't know the rules. But here's the rub....there are no rules!! The only rules we know of are to have fun with it, don't take it too seriously and enjoy experimenting.
Here are some tips we've come up with to get you started, however, pairing wine with food is a very personal thing and if you have a favourite combination, then stick with it and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!
So, settle in with a glass of wine and let's get the ball rolling with The Upper Reach Beginner's Guide to Food & Wine Pairing :
Rule #1 - As we pointed out in our intro, there are no rules. Be brave, try anything and enjoy the process!
Rule # 2 - When in doubt, Sparkling wine goes with everything. Try it with popcorn, fish & chips at the beach, Thai curries, roast chicken and anything salty. It's traditionally superb with seafood but is also bosom buddies with fruits, nuts and most meats. Pairing your favourite Sparkling (which would have to be a Sparkling Chardonnay) with a freshly-baked loaf of bread will enhance the delicious yeasty, bread-like aroma which comes from the secondary fermentation in the bottle.
Rule # 3 - Acidic foods are great with light-bodied young whites. Salad dressings, tomatoes, citrusy sauces – these things can overwhelm or dull a lot of wines. Light, tangy whites handle it best. Sauv blanc is a good bet, but the Upper Reach 2018 Verdelho is even better. A dry verdelho is such a terrific food wine, it goes with anything from fresh seafood to a pork belly.
Rule # 4 - Yes, you can pair red wine with white meat and vice versa. Pinot Noir is great with roast turkey, salmon and other fatty fish. White wine with red meat is a bit more of a challenge, but aged white wines (and we have a few in our Museum Cellar) - or Sparkling wines - can hold their own with a steak or a leg of lamb. The rule of thumb here is "red meat, red wine; white meat, white wine" but as we pointed out right at the beginning, this rule can be defied any time you like!
Rule # 5 - With spicy foods, some residual sugar is your friend. The cuisines of Thailand, India, & Mexico, for example, use lots and lots of chilli peppers in their food and breaking open your best Cabernet Sauvignon is NOT going to do your burning taste buds any favours! Aromatic and slightly sweet whites and pinks will balance highly-spiced foods best. We love drinking our Black Bream White and Black Bream Pink with our favourite Thai food. Give it a try - we can certainly vouch for it!
Rule # 6 - Tannins need fat! If you're a steak lover, this is the bit you've been waiting for. But before we start cranking up the barbie, a very valid question is "what IS a tannin"? It’s the astringent component in red wine that gives it structure. This needs fat for balance, fat will soften the tannins and bring a smoother feel. Serve a bold, beautiful red like the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon with a nice fatty piece of Prime Rib. Salivating already? Order the wine and then call your local butcher!
Rule # 7 - Your very own quirky, personal preferences rule the rules. And, as we mentioned in Rule # 2, when in doubt go for bubbles. You don't need a PhD, all you need is a few bottles in your cellar to get you started, somebody to cook for you and a few friends to pat you on the back when you tell them you've completed the Upper Reach Beginner's Guide to Food & Wine Pairing. Enjoy!
Why buy local, really?
I often hear ‘buy local’ or ‘support local business’ as well as support small business.
I was saddened that Dick Smith has had to close his food business. Apparently the beginning of the end for him was Aldi. He said that ‘I believed Australians would pay more for Australian products, but turns out I was wrong.’
Upper Reach produces handmade estate grown wines from fruit grown on our Swan Valley vineyard and made in our on-site winery. We are passionate about linking the local community with its rich Swan Valley heritage.
When you visit Upper Reach enjoy and experience local produce as a part of the history of this area.
By supporting local Swan Valley producers you are helping to keep a part of the Swan Valley as working vineyards and wineries.
Vineyards are vital to the future of the Swan, adding hugely to the ambiance, atmosphere and feel of the area.
Agriculture is becoming increasingly mechanised. Upper Reach is a labour intensive, hand crafted family owned and operated producer who employs, supports and lives locally.
Upper Reach as a family business is in stark contrast to mass-produced, corporatized wine production of the big, often multi-national wine companies.
Their grapes and bottled wines are transported thousands of kilometres first to the winery and then to market (high food miles and high carbon footprint).
Corporations do not routinely source local products, they tend to source the cheapest inputs using national buying power. Their objective is to make the maximum amount of profit to be returned to shareholders.
Whereas small and family businesses pay full Australian an WA taxes on all their profits, as well as spending locally on all of the inputs required which again supports invests in the local community.
Upper Reach sells local produced food products and support local services. A reliable supplier base is imperative, so what we need is available when we need it.
Similarly we nurture local trades and service people, this critical network of suppliers and relationships are imperative to ensure we can rely on them in an emergency.
People directly employed by small business tend to live in the local community, as do the staff employed by other local businesses that supply products and services.
Possibly the largest benefit to the local community Upper Reach offers, is a peri-urban food bowl 30 minutes from the city.
This gives the people of Perth the opportunity to experience where and how their food & wine is grown and produced. These experiences are vital in developing a mutual sense of connection between city and country, as well as producer and consumer.
There are significant cultural benefits of Upper Reach and its agri-tourism setting, for tourists and local people, in promoting local agriculture, WA’s agricultural past, and the Swan settler heritage (Stirling made camp here on his exploration of the Swan).
I’ll be thinking about this next time I’m in the supermarket, I won’t take their $2 milk, but will choose a West Australian brand. Same with supporting all the small fruit and vegetable shops and stalls and our local butcher, rather than the big supermarkets that I know screw down the farmers on price.