We were somewhere outside Ararat, and I was sick of the car. I needed a break.
The brown tourist sign had grapes on it and the side road was dusty. It spoke to me.
A hard left, a billowing cloud of dust- I drove down the dirt road; grapes on my right, nothing memorable on my left.
A gate. A fence. A sign… Closed.
Defeated, we headed back to the highway. Silently. Not so enthusiastic anymore. It had been a long day and we still had another hour to go. There was no time for wine tasting. It had been foolish of me.
We were having either steak or bolognese with dinner and I wanted a wine that was local and would make the dinner memorable. It shouldn’t be hard, but defeat is a terrible thing. My wife and I were despondent. I was inconsolable.
A little further and we saw a sign. Olives. Not wine. I didn’t want olives.
My wife did.
So we stopped. Olives everywhere. Olives in brine, olive oil, olive salt… It was the olive salt that won me over. There was some bread, some oil, some salt. Simple and classic. The salt knocked my socks off. Amazing. My wife had found some olives and I handed her a jar of salt with a ‘please buy this for me’ smile.
Things were looking up.
(Oh: Red Rock Olives, in case you are interested. Closed during the week, open Friday to Sunday. Red Rock Olives Website. Very friendly, and great if you like olives.)
We set off again, in a much better mood than before. We saw another sign- another winery.
We pulled off, drove down the alley to the shed that awaited us. It was hot and muggy, probably not the best red wine weather but we were here. We walked inside.
And then we later emerged with a few bottles of wine!
Halls Gap Estate (Their website) only have a few different types of wine (riesling, cabernet, shiraz- the Fallen Giants label) but what they lack in variety they make up for in quality. Supurb wine. I could taste the bolognese right there and then, and it wasn’t even in the pot yet.
So the day was getting better and better. Due to a crap supermarket, we ended up having steak for dinner, not spaghetti. The wine was very sympathetic, and its flavour profile changed to match the steak perfectly. It matched cheese, as well. Slight hints of pepper and a bit of dryness in the cabernet. The shiraz was more full-on, and my wife loves that in a wine.
Between the wine and the olives, we had a perfect evening. I would highly recommend both of them.
But I did miss my bolognese.