And I Can Cook, Too

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

June 29-July 1, 2007

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad
Part Deaux
(Or, hey sugar, take a drive on the wild side)

Not about to let me live down riding the Riesling Trail sans Riesling, my friend Lucy announced that she and I would hit the Clare Valley for the weekend and taste all the damn Riesling we could get our hands on. As a further measure of knocking all lame follower instincts out of my system she also mandated that I was going to be the driver. My worries that I didn’t know how to drive on the “wrong” side of the road went unpittied. “Fuck it.” Lucy told me, “you’ll be fine.” We picked up the rental car across the street from the Adelaide Central Rail Station (and Casino) and were off. Lucy got us out of the city and onto the wider country roads before pulling over and instructing me to take the wheel. “Now remember,” she said, getting into the passenger seat, “hug the left.” An absolutely uneventful hour later (okok there was one questionable left turn but hey there wasn’t any oncoming traffic…Lucy’s only comment: “Other left darling.”) and we were back in the beautiful Clare. Where it was raining cats and dogs. After checking into Gumnut Cottage (two bedrooms each with queen size beds, wood burning fire place, full kitchen – no hot tub but what can you do for $65 a night?) we were off to inspect the trail. The trail was a mud bath, and after debating just how seriously we wanted exercise and acknowledging that each of us had brought only one pair of pants, we admitted defeat. We would taste by car, and hope the weather cleared by the next day. We consulted the trail map, and were off. Our first stop was Tim Gump, where the Riesling was ok, the Shiraz a bit better, and the kitchen in need of a chef. Second stop: Skillagalee Winery and Café, where a wonderful old woman wearing lots of turquois poured georgous sparkling wine and sang to us about the “looovely fooood on the meeeenuuuuu.” Over seared scallops in a mustard Riesling sauce and penne with grilled chicken and sun-dried tomatoes, Lucy and I plotted a strategic course of action: we would drive along the main road through the Clare stopping at the wineries on our right, then turn around and drive back, stopping at the wineries on our right again. Stops worth mentioning: Annie’s Lane, whose Late Harvest Riesling was served a the Queens 80th birthday party, Neagle’s Rock whose 2005 Merlot Rose was to die for, and Seven Hills whose wine guy was tall, dark, and Scottish. After a lovely day of tasting (and those of you who think driving on the wrong side of the road gets easier the more wine you ‘taste’ give yourself ten bonus points) we made our way back to the cottage. We’d just pulled in to the driveway when we saw it: the sobriety checkpoint. Nervously I got out of the car. The ping-pong table stood in the middle of the game room that had been closed when we arrived, but was now open and waiting for me to prove that my motor skills were not seriously impaired. “Now” said Lucy, “You have to show me that you’re sober by returning the ball ten times, then you can have wine with dinner.” It took the better part of an hour, but that evening I enjoyed a Neagle's 2005 Cabernet Shiraz.

When we woke the next morning to rain pounding on the roof, we didn’t bother inspecting the trail.


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