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Sunday, 14 July 2013

(Out of) Hobart: Historic Richmond

On Day 2 in Tassie, we had booked in for a wine tour with Boutique Wine Tours to "Historic Richmond", half an hour's drive out of Hobart. Unfortunately, we did not get off to a good start, awaking late and disgruntled to a rainy day, and then NOT BEING ALLOWED TO TAKE MY COFFEE ON THE TOUR BUS. (Sort of understandable-ish, and yet, I am an adult... and the cup had a lid.) Anyone who knows me knows what a tragedy this would have been for me - not to mention the other people on the tour. The tour guide began his rather interesting spiel about the region and our stops for the day, but I was so tired and grumpy and uncaffeinated, I was (very maturely) loathe to listening. But, luckily, a wine tour involves wine, so the effects of my lack of caffeination were soon lessened by the effects of alcohol.

Our first stop was Puddleduck, a charming boutique winery with a cute duck-in-water logo and a shopful of merchandise, run by winemaker Darren Brown (ex-Moorilla, of MONA) and his wife, Jackie. There we had our first tastes of the crisp Rieslings that the cool-climate Tasmanian wine regions are highly regarded for, a yummy sparkling (cutely) called Bubbleduck, plus a delicious tasting plate of local Wicked Cheeses (read: our breakfast).

Next up was Pooley Wines, a more traditional winery with some of the most amazing Pinot Noir I've ever tasted. We were lucky enough to be served by John Pooley himself, who was a bit under the pump, but did a stellar job running the Cellar Door almost on his own on a busy Saturday. (Completely irrelevant: he also has an extremely cute, cherubic-looking granddaughter. Nope, not clucky at all. I was there for the wine.)

Next, we pulled into the township of Richmond, with the promise of coffee (yay). After a large mug of something caffeinated (by that point, I didn't care what) and a tasty pie at the local bakery, I went for a walk to check out Australia's oldest bridge still in use, and what is considered Australia's oldest Roman Catholic church. (I didn't make it to the Richmond Gaol... Meh, we'd already been to Port Arthur.)

Richmond Bridge

View from the eastern river bank

St John's Catholic Church, built 1836

Rear of church

They say a disgruntled ghost haunts the Bridge's arches

View looking north from Richmond Bridge

Another pretty view from Richmond Bridge (hey, there were lots)

On the Bridge - cool sandstone, muddy clay

Walking back into rainy Richmond township

After sightseeing, sustenance and a suitable amount of gift-shop-dwelling time-killing, we hopped back on the tour bus, and it was at this point that I realised our host had awesome taste in music and he rose about a gazillion notches in my book. I was much happier as we weaved our way past vineyards, accompanied by the dulcet tunes of Arcade Fire and Elbow.

Next stop was the Richmond outlet for Wicked Cheese, the very same suppliers of our tasting plate at our first stop, Puddleduck. Here, we partook of a cheese-tasting (I didn't know such a thing existed), and were led through the flavour profiles by the most monotone girl I have ever met, who nonetheless did a professional (if somewhat mechanical) job. The cheeses were pretty good; my favourites were a yoghurt-ball style cheese marinated in herby oil, and a creamy triple brie with chilli bits (true!). They also had an awesome stand of about a gazillion different chocolate flavours, which was much more appealing to my wallet and suitable for taking on a plane.

Our final stop for the day was Frogmore Creek, a schmick operation with a huge Cellar Door and shop. I was initially dubious about the wines, as I generally prefer the personality and more unique flavours of smaller vineyards. However, we were proffered so many wines during the tasting, it was inevitable that I found at least a few I liked ;-) (Or maybe by that point, I was just more susceptible to liking things in general.) The 2012 Frogmore Creek Sauvignon Blanc was unlike any sav I've tasted, and the Iced Riesling was superb.

We pulled back into Hobart just after dark, inevitably much jollier than when we'd left (in my case, by light years). It had morphed into a pleasant afternoon and (despite the coffee incident, but we all know I'm being unreasonable about that), our tour guide had shown us a great time. Definitely worth a burl if you are in Hobart.