Ah weel it’s been a wee while since we hud our last wee blether. We’d just finished vintage and everyone was knackered. Anywise all the wines are safely in their tanks or barrels and me an’ Bella have had time tae relax and enjoy the rewards o’ a joab well done. Noo, we’re well into prunin’ wi’ frostie starts and lang days. An’ the bottlin’ o’ some o’ the new wines is underway
Talkin’ of well done (though we shouldnae) Bella’s been joined (for a wee while, shoosh) by two wee porkers by the names o’ ‘Sausage’ an’’Sizzle’. Nice names right enough but Ah don’t know why the oulds aye snigger when they tell folks. Anywise ah get along wi’ them fine an’ Bella pits up wi’ them as long as they stay away frae her food. Ye can come an’ visit them if ye like.
We had a great wee weekend around Bastille Day (quatorze juillet). Of course, ye know we (wee) Scots are great mates o’ the French. Those of you who have drunk our ‘Auld Alliance’ (our Bordeaux blend) will know the first auld alliance dates back to the thirteenth century. While it was a military alliance, the great thing then was that the best French wines came to Leith (Embra) before they went onto Tilbury (Lundin). This is why the first ever breath test was to be able to say “The Leith Police dismisseth us” without slurring yer wurds. Ah slur ma wurds anyway, so ye can never tell wi’ me.
The Scots luv fur Claret came frae thae days. Tha’s whit Rabbie Burns drank – explains a lot. In those days they drank it by the pint. At that time claret hud about 9% alcohol no like today’s 12 or 13 – but a pint?! Nae wonder Tam o’ Shanter could see witches and ghoulies as he rode o’er the Brig o’ Doon. Anyhow we had a wee decorous glass of our Auld Alliance as part of our special Bastille Day lunches. No me mind. I wus oan duty.
Apparently, les escargots were tres magnifique – they musta been because there were none left over efter ‘cos ah hud a good look. ‘Paris breasts’ were the most popular desert. Ah don’t know what James our chef was thinkin’. Ah’ll no’ try to describe the dish but it was two mounds of brulee with strategically placed cherries on top. Tres jolie, righ’ enough We had French music too and the tricolour was well in evidence. An’ ah had a great audience for ma rock retrieval exhibition.
During the school hoalidays we had a’ the weans here fur whit seemed like weeks but was only a few days. Actchully, it was rerr. They played on their bikes an’ ah tried tae keep up – see ma wee legs gaun like the clappers. An’ they threw stones for me which was great. An’ they let me play in the dress ups wi’ them ho’ nane o’ the cloathes quite fitted.
An’ now we’ve got Spring (printemps) tae look forward to. Soon enough it’ll be Daffodil Day an’ ah’ll have tae update ma stone pushin’ routine. They say ye’ve got tae have a good nose to work at a winery – well ah’ve certainly got that.
Au revoir pour maintenant
Saturday, 18 May 2013
Ah weel! Ah havae tae say ah’m knackered. See, this vintage, talk aboot hard work. Well first there’s the pickin’. Ah don’t dae much o’ that. That’s fur Kyle and his team. My they work hard – credit where credit’s due. A course, before the pickin’ there’s a’ the decisions that go intae deciding what’s the right time tae bring them in, and what tae bring in an a’ that. Ah don’t get involved in that much – it’s down tae Christine, Kyle and Alexis - tho’ ah dae check the odd grape tae see it’s ripe enough. An’, of course if a throw in a wee bit o’ advice, they always listen – yeah right!
Ah dae most of ma work at the receival stage. The grapes come in in big bins and Kevin (he’s Canadian but he’s OK) drives the forklift. He tips the grapes intae the press under Alexis’s supervision. She’s Canadian too (but OK). She’s the boss so she tells Kevin whit tae do. There married an’ a’ so Kevin has quite a life o’ it. Anyhoo there are endless press loads and pressings and the juice is piped intae big tanks fur fermenting. It’s non-stoap. Occassionally, there’s a wee bit of spillage and that’s where ah step up and dae ma tasting. It’s like a final check and if ah gie the nod then it’s all go
Sometimes the grapes go through the de-stemmer crusher tae get rid o’ the stems, before they go in the press. Bhreagh works this or at least deals with the stems. She’s a dab hand aroon’ the winery. She’s Canadian too (Ah know!) and she husnae learned tae spell here name (what’s wi’ all the ‘h’s?) Ye’d think at her age she’d be able tae spell proper (p-r-o-p-e-r). Ah know ah’m too funny fur ma ain guid.
Ah don’t know what it is with a’ they Canadians but at least they all come frae
. Ah come frae Antiquus Scotia, get it – “Old Scotia”. So maybe they’re ma rellies frae way back. Mind, they don’t look like me. Nova Scotia
Now, the big joab wi’ the reds is the plunging. The reds stay on their skins fur three weeks afore they go in the press. This gies time for the skins tae gie the wine colour but, ye huvtae stir the mix. They ca’ it plunging because, tae begin, the grape skins form a cap at the top of the vat and ye huvtae plunge through that tae get the skins tae mix wi’ the juice. It takes about three weeks for the skins tae become suspended in the juice an’ then ye can press it and pit that intae vats or barrels tae let the fermentin’ begin.
The plungin’s hard work so the young folks, Alexis, Bhreagh and Kevin dae maist o’ it. Ah entertain them by chasin’ stones fur them – just tae take their minds aff the hard work. The old lady does a bit tae help but the big yin is useless - and notable by his absence.
Alexis and Christine had a wee pow wow, not to be confused wi’ a wee bow wow (me!). They declared the vintage a success with really good flavours comin’ through. So that’s good
Roll oan the prunin’ – but furst maybe a wee break. Aye, gies a break!!
Friday, 22 March 2013
Ah like the title. Ah saw a poster fur ‘Comedy on the Vines’ (5.30, Easter Saturday 30th March Gladstone Vineyard) an’ ah thoct “Aw no, no me an’ Bella oan the stage”. Ah mean ah could dae a wee juggtlin’ act wi’ ma petanque balls an’ tell a few Scotty jokes but what’s she gonnie do? Naebuddy would unnerstaun’ her. Ah mean a few grunts can be a’ right at the right time but frankly her timin’s all aff. Anywise ah read on. Who’s comin’? Jeremey Elwood, he’s great, Michelle A’Court she’s rerr and, if course, Steve Wrigley chews gum. Gettit? Aye, ah’m a right wee comedian when ye set me aff.
Talkin’ of comedy turns you should ha’ went an’ seen meat the beach at Taupo. Now this is a bit of a long story but like Billy Connolly ah’ll get back tae the point eventually. Ye see, we’ve had this great summer and we’ve had the weans Finn and Meg stayin’ wi us for quite some time furst at Taupo and then at
. Ah get on great wi’ them. Well they’ve got me in the watter, speshully doon the river at Gladstone . Gladstone
Ah’d never known ah can swim. Anywise, ah can – sortie. Ma plan is tae watch the weans get in sae far (up tae their oxters) and then follow them in. What seems tae be the problem is ma steerage. Ah keep forgettin’ tae turn aroon’ an’ heid back fur the shore (apparently). Well by the time ah get tae mid-stream my wee legs are goin’ like the clappers but, being of robust build, it’s quite an effort to keep ma bum up while ah’m tryin’ tae breath at the other end. So, gravity bein’ what it is, the bum goes down, the wee legs paddle faster, the nose goes up, an’ ah dae a very good imitation o’ a submarine with its periscope up. Thankfully, the old folks are usually about tae gie me a wee lift an’ point me in the right direction.
Anyway, back tae ma story. Here ah am on the bonny banks o’ Lake (
Loch?) Taupo when out comes this jaicket thing which they pit oan me. It’s quite comfortable an’ smart. Anywise, ah boldly go into the watter in my usual enthusiastic manner (oh! aye am keen) and low an’ behold not only am ah swimmin’ but my bums being haud up in the water. The jaicket’s some sortie flotation device so am able tae Keep paddlin’ in a horizoantal manner wi’oot my bum draggin’ me doon. So that’s ma story but the comedy turn was when him with the grey hair and beard found a hannle oan the back o’ the jaicket, lifted me up wi’ it an’ started walking along the beach tellin’ folk’ ah was his new fashion accessory. Ah black-affronted tho’ nabudy could tell ‘cos ah’m black oanywise. Mind you, ah’ll know tell ye what ah cried him when he wis carryin’ me – but Billy Connolly wid ha’ been proud! wis
Friday, 18 January 2013
Well, ah’m jist back frae ma hoalidays refreshed and rarin’ tae go. Ah’ve hud a rerr wee brek. First, we went aff tae see ma mate
in Waikanae. They’ve moved, and noo they’ve no jist got the four weans, the dug, three cats and the four guinea pigs. Now, they’ve got twa goats, goodness knows how many sheep (ah fell asleep counting) and six big coos or heifers or whatever. They’re muckle big for a wee fella like me tae run aroun’ wi’. Stanley
Ah hud been a wee bit run doon but
’s da’ is a vet an he sorted me oot quick as you please. Naebuddy unnerstauns tha’ ah’m a sensitive soul and need proper care an’ attenshun. Thank goodness Stanley Stanley able tae set the vet right and get me back tae peak condition. wis
Then, we went tae Taupo. Ah hud a wee dabble in the water there. It’s fresh and guid tae drink tho’ there’s o’er much fur me tae think aboot drinkin’ the lot. Talkin’ o’ drinkin’, which we weren’t, we saw in Hogmanay and hud oor ne’erday in bed. Nae up partying for me and mine. We were awake and had a wee snifter tae mark the occashun but we didnae go aff galavantin’ or first footin’ (first pawin’??) or naethin’. Of course, the aulds are getting a bit long in the tooth an’ ah think a full day hoalidaying knackers them.
Must be hard getting’ up efter a wee lie in, breakfast, then a wee lie doon readin’ the papers, then doon tae the beach for a wee seat readin’ a book; lunch and a wee nap in the shade; the beach again for a wee snooze an’ then maybe a swim; back for a sangria or gandt; dinner, read some moar and it’s time for bed. Oh aye, it’s exhaustin’. Anywise while they were bein’ idle ah
keepin’ in trim for the petanque. You’ll be pleased tae know that pumice stones make a great substitute for petanque balls. So ah kept ma skill levels up tae scratch for my role at wis (between eatin’ and sleepin’). Gladstone
Now, ah’m back at
, ah kin get oan wi’ the real thing – entertainin’ the punters. It’s no’ bad bein’ back. Ye see we’ve bin rearin’ some wee ducks an’ chooks. We hud a nice lady frien’ lookin’ efter the hoose and the animals while we were awa’. She done a great joab. The ducks and chooks huv growin’ heaps an’ are a’ healthy. Gladstone
The ducks have been kept in ma run (ah know, a dug run) while ah’ve been away, jus’ tae keep them safe from the hawks above and the eels below. Hope they don’t think they’re dugs. They’re a’ guid. Sadly one of them hud a sair leg afore we got them safe. When ah sae a sair leg, ah mean nae leg at a’ (frae the eels). Ah don’t know if it’s sair or no’ really. Ma guess is it’s sair but ye canny really ca’ it a sair leg if it’s no’ there, or can ye?.
Saturday, 17 November 2012
It’s been a while but ah’ve been supervisin’ frost patrol and frankly ah’m knackered. It’s no sae much the work (which Kyle does the maist o’) it’s more the management role – studyin’ the weather forecast, watchin’ the stars come out, waitin’ for the full moon (it’s ae at the full moon that ye get the clearst nights) and then makin’ sure the windmills are oan and the water’s flowin’ - it’s the lack o’ sleep. Now ah’m a young dug, fit as a fiddle but it wears ye doon. Ah’ve seen mornin’s where the sight o’ a petanque ball has gie’n me a real scunner. No like me to not have a wee dribble wi’ the petanque ba’.
Ah’ve no idea why ah chose ‘a dogs a dog for a’ that’ as the title for this wee epistle. But, y’know, some hooligan ripped the locks affa one o’ the toilet doors while ah
oot an’ aboot entertainin’ the punters wi’ ma petanque. So ah got tae thinkin’ what’s tha’ a’ aboot. Ah kin’ unnerstan’ losin’ the place a wee bit if ye get stuck in the lavvy but that doesnae mean ye need tae clock the lock. Ah don’t use the lavvy masel but, though I am quite punctilious about where ah goes. Ah like a wee bit privacy and no’ tae be too disturbed though if there’s another dog aroun’ ah might have a wee sniff. Aye, a dog’s a dog for a’ that. wis
Ma latest trick, which ah’m quite pleased about, is that ah’ve managed tae heave the petanque ball into the tasting area as required. Ma’ nose is getting’ quite used tae the extra strain, and it’s no sae bad wance ye’ve got it o’er the wooden threshold at the door. It’s great the way folks want tae play wi’ me tho’ ah must admit occasionally ah’m a wee bit worried that somewan’s gonnae clock me on the nut wi’ the heavy ba’
An’ huv ye heard that thon Sithifrikan winemaker has gone away back to where he came frae. Aye, he’s up and offed – gotta new joab in some place cried Hermanus. He’s been wi’ us seven years – nice big bloke, used tae throw petanque ba’s fur me an’ always made sure no’ tae clock me wi’ wan. Ah’ll miss his dog Lana. She’s no goin’ wi’ them – gonnygo some where local. She’s a nice big dug, Rhodesian Ridgeback. We used tae get on fine. Ah’d walk unner her legs and nip her ankles – jus’ tae keep her interested. Min’ you she wissnae much cop at petanque – too high aff the groun’.
So, there’s a wee bit o’ change in the air. Summer’s comin’, the days are gettin’ longer, petanque season is here, James, the Chef’s taken aff his winter simmit and rolled up his sleeves. He’s ready for a busy season in the café and ah’m primed tae entertain you during yer meal – wha’s like us?’ gie few, an’ there a’ deid.
Wednesday, 29 August 2012
Aye weel, ah thocht he was talkin’ aboot me, and then he goes “great chieftan o’ the puddin’ race”. Weel, ah am a chieftan (McLeod of Gladstone no less) but “pudding” that’s goan a wee bit far. OK ah’m short an’ stoutly built but a pudding, weel that’s a bit below the belt (no’ that there’s far tae go). Anywise, it turned oot he
talkin’ tae the haggis. Mind you he’ll talk tae anyone and anything, I sometimes worry about him. Just as weel it was the haggis as later oan he stabbed it and gave it a right goin’ over “see its gushing entrails bright”. Oh aye, nae bother, nae mercy eether. Glad it wis no me efter a’. wis
The piping of the haggis and Rabbie Burns’s Address
wis all part of “An Offally Scottish Affair” the café held for ‘ on a Plate’. The place was fu’ of folk who like to eat “the gushing entrails bright”. They had haggis, neeps and tatties, lambs fry, kidneys, beef cheeks – you name it, it was offal. And there was a wee glass o’ wine or three, oh aye an’ a wee snifter wi’ the haggis. Ah’m no a drinkin’ man mysel. Ah mean ma legs are short enough as they are – imagine me legless! Wellington
oan duty right frae the word go with my rendition of how to play petanque wi’yer nose to greet punters as they arrived. I then duly followed the piper around havin’ a wee jig and a birl as the occasion demanded. And, of course, there wis the odd wee scrap to be had if you looked at the punters pitiful like. Ah’m getting’ quite guid at that. Ah tell ye, have ye tried diced paua and black puddin’ mixed thegither. It’s rerr, talk about tasty. wis
Aye, it was a great day. Of course, James our chef is a Scot tae so he’s easy tae unnerstaun. He done a great joab. And Paul Turner has been appointed Gladstone Vineyard Clan Piper. Weel, he deserves it. He’s a dab hand on the pipes and he’s a mean fiddler.
|Me, happy paddlin' at Hatepe|
Afore ah go, ah should just mention that ah
left tae ma own devices, yet again, the week afore last. They wis wis aff galavanting again, this time to . But, full credit, they came back wi’ a wee trophy frae the Australian Boutique Wine Awards fur the Gladstone Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010. So, ye cannae be too huffy – mind you don’t let them hear ah said that. Otherwise they’ll cut ma rations – wouldn’t that be offal?? Sydney
And, they're takin' me tae Hatepe this week for a wee break. It's rerr there an' ah get to walk by the river and have a wee paddle in the Lake.
Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Ah! weel it’s been quite a wee while since ah last wrote and tae be honest ah jist don’t know where the time’s went.
First, the sad news. Ma aul’ freen Baxter passed away. Ah’ve only known him the past nine months or so but he had become a dear, dear frien’ tae me. He
like an uncle, aye keepin’ a wee lookout fir me and showin’ me the ropes. Ah don’t know what ah would hae done wi’oot Baxter when ah first came here. Ah wis lonely and he took me under his wing (his paw actually). Nuff said, but he wis the best freen a wee fella like me, startin’ oot in the world, couldae had. Ah’ll miss him. wis
ma first vintage and as far as ah can gather it went really well. Ah’ve no tasted the wine just yet. Ah leave that tae others as ah gather my palette may be a little immature. Bloody cheek, but there you are. As ah said afore, Baxter and me supervised the pressing. They say grapes arnae good for dogs but Baxter said it was OK so I got right toar in. Ah think I may be a Sauvignon man though I do find the Pinot Noir also tae ma taste (nae palette indeed). wis
Ah had two new friends for the time – Neil frae
and Matt frae Aberfeldy. Ah couldnae unnerstan’ much of what Neil said, especially when he bantered away wi’ Gerard in that Afrikaans of theirs, but ah unnerstood every word o’ Matts – clear as a bell! Funny, cos no-one else could unnerstaun a wird he said. South Africa
Of course, it wouldn’t be the same place if Her and Him didnae go aff somewheres for a few weeks selling the wine. This time apparently it
wis . So, off they went and ah was taken to stay with my auld frien’ China at Waikanae. There awefie nice folks over there and they seem to know a bit about lookin’ after wee animals like masel. There was Stanley Stanley the Labrador, and auld Dudley (aulder than Baxter) and who disnae know what he is (Huntaway, Labrador??). He has a wonky ear and doesnae always make oot whit your sayin’. And then there are three cats and four children. Man, it’s all on.
Anyway, I had been feelin’ a wee bit unner the weather but no sooner arrive than Boabs yer uncle, ontae the antibiotics and a wee special bath and right as rain – nae sooner said than done. Apparently, ah had a yeast infection that’s common tae wee fellas like me. Certainly ma paws had been givin’ me gyp for a good wee while so it
wis guid tae be wi’ folks that cared aboot me (and werenae aff galavantin roun’ or the likes – no names). Lyn and Warren are Vets but ye couldnae tell cos they’re quite nice – and at least they look after me properly. China
So that’s me up todate. Save tae mention the three wee craters that arrived the mornin’. No’ sure just what they are just yet, havnae been introduced, but ah hear their cried Bacon. Pork and Ham – funny lookin’ dogs if that’s whit they are.
p.s. ah’ve noticed Sara aroon the place the last few days but ah’m playin’ it casual, no quite ignoring her but no pushin’ in either. Occassionally ah push a petanque ball in her direction just tae let her know ah’m there – but ah don’t want to raise her hopes (or mine).