Grape Expectations - Roadside Motel Rage

Max Crus
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Ferngrove Vineyards Estate, Frankland River, Western Australia

Ferngrove Vineyards Estate, Frankland River, Western Australia [©Max Crus]

Oxenberry wines, McLaren Vale, South Australia
Train Trak wines, Yarra Valley, Victoria
Bidgeebong Gundagai Shiraz
Cuttaway Hill Merlot, Southern Highlands, New South Wales


It’s all very well for self- controlled people to turn the other cheek, but whoever penned that little ditty back in AD 23 clearly never stayed at Max's hotel from hell in Mildura.

No-one objects to someone having a spa at 10.30 pm and turning the jets on full-bore to tickle those places that need attention after a hard day on the Hay plains. But why did they build it against the wall that the beds of the adjoining room are on?

In hindsight perhaps our room should have been named the Japanese Water Torture given that the walls were made of paper rather than the usual brick of highway hovels.

Given penalty rates these days who would have thought you could afford to pay cleaners at 5.30am on a long weekend Sunday? At least their rattly, squeaky industrial driers made a better alarm clock than the fellow’s next door who had clearly let his eight year old kid choose the chimes. And stopped his snoring.

Actually the alarm was quite pleasant compared to the knock in the pipes that began with the neighbours morning ablutions. A plumber could make a fortune in Mildura. Or perhaps that’s the problem, they haven‘t worked for years?

How come the people next door in such dingy digs always drive thumping great V-8s with holes in the manifold and starting problems? And why must they warm their vehicles for 15 minutes before departure?

Okay 7am is nearly time to get up anyway. Coffee and a highway bikkie for brekkie? Hmm, International Roast, haven’t seen that for about 15 years…correct, according to the use by date.

Oh well, best put the kettle and begin one‘s own ablutions.

The extent of such folly is quickly apparent as you realise the kettle does not switch off automatically and worse, has a whistle.

“Sorry neighbours, I’ll be there in a sec, er, hang on, make that a few minutes, what are you supposed to do with these stupid little squares of baking paper?”

Turn the other cheek?

Cuttaway Hill Merlot 2006, $20ish.
Fine stuff with which to sit under the veranda of a roadside motel at 3am on a freezing night. 8.5/10.

Oxenberry Star of Greece McLaren Vale Shiraz 2007, $35.
This could be Little Ms L’s favourite wine - she has a Greek heritage - but she is not old enough. However Ms L and I were happy to take her place. 8.6/10.

Geoff Merrill McLaren Vale Sauvignon Blanc 2008, $17.
Just as New Zealanders are backing off, these McLaren Vale blokes ramp it up. Balance across the Tasman then. 8.3/10.

Train Trak Yarra Valley Shiraz 2005, $25.
Hot and steamy which is not what you’d expect from the Yarra except on a naughty weekend with a lover. Bask in it.8.7/10.

Ferngrove Vineyards Estate, 2008 Cossack Riesling, $21.
The fridge was on the blink and things weren’t as cold as they could be. For once however I didn’t mind, this was just the right temperature. 8.8/10.

Bidgeebong Gundagai Shiraz, 2007, $22.
You’d want a chunk of red meat in your tuckerbox to get the most out of this,  jumbuck perhaps? Serious gear at a roadhouse price. 8.6/10.



  • McLaren Vale (SA)
  • Yarra Valley (Wine) (VIC)

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June 30th, 2009
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