Of Mudgee and men

Max Crus
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Enjoy the award winning wines at Huntington Estate, Mudgee, NSW

Enjoy the award winning wines at Huntington Estate, Mudgee, NSW

Serendipitously, Ricardo and I had arrived at Mudgee’s Whipping Post Motor Inn simultaneously, dressed in leather as motorcycling requires, and approached the check-in duties in boisterous boyish fashion, arms around shoulders and, having just ridden over 1,000kms, comparing sore bums.

The foyer was filled with a score of dear old things about to embark on a winery tour.

‘Ah, yes, here it is’, said the receptionist, just as the chattering momentarily paused, ‘the two queens room’.

First things first: lower voice, scratch crotch, spit, sing Moon River and make lurid pass at old biddies.

Mudgee is small town but can feel much smaller, however once over the initial hurdle, it is also a very welcoming place, and not the least because it has 40,000 wineries all willing to let you drink as much as you like for free.

And there are three things that will happen to you when you visit Mudgee, apart from dryness of mouth, blurred vision and a headache.

Firstly, you will meet Huntington Estate vineyard manager, Colin.

We made Huntington our first stop and after making a ’Wally’ of myself by suggesting their top shiraz was off - an embarrassed Ricardo tried to make amends by sweet talking the girls at the cellar door - Colin rode by on his vineyard bike with his vineyard dog, Oscar, and graciously obliged my request to try some ripe shiraz grapes.

That evening at restaurant, Elton’s - luckily the old biddies weren’t around - we were welcomed by another, mysterious, diner. After a brief pause for think time, we realise it is Colin, and family. Scrubs up well I must say.

Next day: visit childhood home of Henry Lawson, Gulgong. Leave museum when we get to the part about alcoholism.

‘G’day fellas’. Colin again.

Gulgong really is a small place.

For the other two things that will happen to you in Mudgee, stay tuned. Meanwhile what sort of wines would you expect to be reviewed in a column about Mudgee?

Of course, anything but Mudgee wine.

Coldstream Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, $25. Colin reports...’Yarra Valley brick-red, crimson hues, dusty cherries, sweet fruit, chalky, soapy, sweet fruit, long finish, firm tannins. Wine seems a little disjointed but hell, will be great with food.’ We couldn’t tell if he was having a lend of us, but we scored it 8.6/10 anyway.

Heggies Eden Valley Merlot 2001, $25. ‘Hey, I know the winemaker’, Ricardo boasted, ‘and that bloke on the label looks like you, Max, in your old hat’, unaware that the last time I got on a horse, I got off even more quickly, in a most unceremonious fashion. I didn’t bring it up either. 8.3/10.

Arakoon Lighthouse Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, $20. You need a big wine to go with Indian food, 15 percent ought to do it and it did. 8.8/10.

Well, maybe one Mudgee effort.

Huntington Estate Shiraz Bin FB19 Special Reserve 2001, $29.50 (cellar door, Ph. 02 6373 3825). I still maintain the first was off, but the ever-obliging cellar door staff probably would have kept opening new ones all day had I persisted. Well worth the complaint. 8.5/10.

© Max Crus


  • Central Ranges (NSW)
  • Explorer Country (NSW)
  • Mudgee (NSW)

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