The Wine and Food in the Park festival in the peanut capital of Kingaroy was a hoot.
The bands were loud: as you do, with mixes of country, blues and rock, not much too modern yet entertaining the crowd.
They kicked back with their portable chairs and other comforts; drinking either South Burnett wine or that black Queensland spirit which does not always make locals proud.
Meanwhile in the PCA tent (Peanut Company of Australia) were lots of discussions about South Burnett wine.
Local chef Sheree Strauss who rattles pans at Kingaroy Caterers, and does a terrific job at scouting up local produce (a locovore with similar to convictions to mine) matched flavours with a series of wine varietals grown in the region.
Arriving by mid-afternoon this writer discovered the Sample South Burnett food and wine pairing sessions sold out. Hooray, lots of yummy bits and crisp cold wine to pour too.
Wines were ordered from light texture to full texture and flavours paired with a little bit of deft foodie thinking.
Bellbird VineyardsVerdelho 2010 (+++1/2) USD 13, 13.8%, has glorious peanut-leaf green colour, pale, then an effusion of verdelho fruitiness, nice lean palate, dry, cleansing acid. Vineyard site is the Coolabunia red soil uplands 14 km from Kingaroy.
The flavour pair was Kingaroy Cheese factory’s cow feta made spreadable with some plain yoghurt and mascarpone; nice dairy flavours which kept a degree of neutrality to stimulate the mouth with this demure white wine.
Tipperary Estate Verdelho Semillon 2010 (+++), USD16, 13.6%, is mint green, attractive mix of verdelho aromatics of tropical fruits plus waxiness of semillon; a good blend, left with about 12 grams of sugar, much bigger wine than the Bellbird; more extract then tight finish. From Moffatdale, 15 km south-east of Murgon.
As a wine with more dimensions the rice paper rolls containing steamed peanuts, marinated chicken dice and aromatic herbs stood up to the wine, cleansing the palate and reflecting on the versatility of peanuts in Asian-influenced flavours.
Captain’s Paddock Unwooded Chardonnay 2009 (++++), USD 20, 12.4%, is intense lemon-skin colour, reeks of white peach (the signature aroma for the variety in this region) and great bottle characters; then moving to medium weight mouth texture, elegant acidity and creamy-soft finish, a real delight. Single vineyard 8km north of Kingaroy.
The matching flavour was quite simple, sliced poached Bendele organic duck breast (farm near Kilkivan); subtle seasoning in the fat layer, then hyped a little when dipped in a drizzle of balsamic which lifted the duck flavour up to reach the chardonnay richness. Acidity enlivens fatty mouthfuls!
Crane WinesViognier 2010 (+++1/2), USD 18, 14%, has the ginger aromas of this grape from warm regions, then a monster palate of grape texture, full body this one though composed. Winery 10 km north –east of Kingaroy, grapes from a Nanango grower.
The match was simple and elegant-Kingaroy Cheese’s Triple Cream Brie; aged not to its fullest; crisp white mould skin which pumped up the viognier’s texture, ample butterfat to be slippery like viognier (around 65% fat).
Clovely Estate Left Field Barbera 2008 (+++), USD 20, 13.5%, is a wonderful rendition of the new crops of Mediterranean varietals with restrained texture weight, savoury fruits and a finish softened to the point of obvious acidity. A bright wine. Vineyard 13 km south-east of Murgon.
Carrying on the food friendliness of this variety (it has very little tannin/dryness), a couple of slices of local chorizo showed slight chilli heat, balancing such a soft wine; giving out all the beef flavours yet holding wine savouriness.
Moffatdale Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (++++), USD 18, 14%, is rich red, already opening up with mint and oak cedar, then has good medium body with the usual level of drying cabernet tannin. Vineyard at Moffatdale, 10km south-east of Murgon.
The match: Kinbombi Beef grass-fed rib fillet, cooked pink, sliced thinly and doused in green peppercorn sauce. Wine without trapped sauce was unctuous, wine with the peppercorn taste influence ruined the match. Hot sauce flavours fight with high tannin wines like cabernet. Be careful.
Kingsley Grove Hilltop Shiraz 2005 (+++), USD 20, 15.5%, now deep garnet, lots of coconut American oak then a full-bodied impression, biggest red of the tasting showing just how massive this variety can be when fully ripened. Vineyard is 13 km south-west of Kingaroy.
The score for this match was shiraz 2; Barkers Creek Pork 0; as delicately-roasted white pork, layered with fat flavours is overloaded by this shiraz. That flavour inundation is reversed very well by a second mouthful with Kingaroy Kitchen pawpaw chutney; a high spice attack of cinnamon and clove tones down the wine and the additional acidity from vinegar softens up the big oak dry finish.
Even more enlightening was my retiring stay at Taabinga Homestead afterwards, 18 km from Kingaroy; built in 1846 and still beautifully preserved. My digs were a cottage in the complex, oh so comfortable and equally enjoyable was Colin Marshall’s country-style breakfast in the original kitchen building.
You really need the whole day to absorb Taabinga: the clipped gardens, ancient trees and shrubs (growing well from soaking rains), history all around, outhouses, music, fine accommodation and leisurely entertainment.
Next year if you live on the Darling Downs or the South Burnett: try the wines at Wine & Food in the Park. I can recommend some new drinks.
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