M rating, 91 min, Drama, Thriller, Action, 8 Oct 2013 (AUS)
Undercover agent Thanh Do is a bright and capable agent and has been sent to infiltrate a group of food lover on a trip to the King Valley. There has been a tip off that a mafia run counterfeit ring has been set up in the King Valley to sell cheaper Prosecco in place of the quality product made in the area. The whistleblower has indicated that an upcoming trip with an group of food lovers touring the area is actually a scouting mission to find new locations to sell the fake goods. Agent Do has been tasked with flushing out the criminals and breaking up this crime syndicate. Agent Do must realistically embed himself into the world of food and wine in order to not be found out. As Agent Do gets closer to others in the group, the developing relationships start to impede his judgement, which may ultimately result in his demise.
Read part 1 of the King Valley Love saga about Brown Brothers Winery and Jessie's Creek B&B here.
Read part 2 of the King Valley Love saga about Pizzini Wines, King Valley Premium Beef and Mountain View Hotel here.
I had reached my room when I heard an animal run across the open grassland surround the Mountain View Hotel room. I entered my room and went to sleep, thinking of all the wonderful food and wine I had consumed today.
Day 3 started with a rude shock. I heard something beeping and looked around everywhere for my alarm clock. I was completely disoriented and stumbled out of bed. Once my senses started to return to me, I realised that the beeping was actually the calling of birds outside. It's so nice and quiet in the King Valley that you actually hear birds and they wake you up, just like a Disney fairytale. I took a nice long shower under the wonderful high pressure water at the Mountain View Hotel and walked the 100 metres across the road to meet the others at Jessie's Creed B&B.
First stop for the day was at Politini Wines, another family run winery business. Salvatore (Sam) and Giuseppina (Josie) had prepared a wonderful assortment of goodies for us to try with the wines. Josie had made cannoli and cherry biscuits, while Sam had made salami. While I was initially super excited about the cannoli, which were wonderful, it was the amazing salami that caught my attention. I asked Sam if I could buy some but unfortunately due to health and safety reasons, he couldn't sell me any. However, you can attend the salami making classes he runs as it was seriously good stuff.
While son-in-law Luis explained the varied wines, we were serenaded by Sam on the piano accordion. He skillfully played 3-4 songs while we learnt about the terroir in the winery and how it affects the wine. The Rose Sangiovese was really a highlight, light, bright and refreshing.
We also wandered next door to the winery to look at the guest house. It was beautifully decorated and really cosy. The view out the deck and French doors was so calming, of the flowers and flaming red trees. It would be a nice place to stay for a short vacation. You can then roll next door to drink wines as well. Perfect.
From Politini Wines, next stop was Gracebrook Winery for more wine and lunch. Gracebrook Winery is probably the most beautiful winery visited on this trip. The expansive vineyard is anchored by the historic cellar door, which is constructed from a 150 year old barn. Inside, aged timber beautifully surrounds you as a wood fire warms you up. Outside, there is a beautiful deck to sit on and eat and a managerie of animals to look at in the farm area around the back where strays are saved and then kept as pets. The deer is definitely not a sight you see often.
We went and sampled wines, with Rob, Ashley and Jo being the constants while the rest of us drifted in and out of the tasting. Jo's dedication to trying out all the wines on this trip showed to me that she took her writing and wines seriously, so in my mind ruled her out as a criminal who wouldn't be interested in other wines beside Prosecco.
After the wine tasting, it was onto lunch. We sampled an assortment of foods, ranging from grilled quail to an antipasto platter, salads and breads. I love the way the antipasto was presented, on a huge plate that gave a generosity of spirit. The items were all good with the pumpkin salad a real highlight. The Milawa Cheese platter was again extremely popular among everyone.
For dessert, we samples donuts, tiramisu and pannacotta. I loved all the desserts, especially the tiramisu, which was a really classic, perfectly executed tiramisu.
After lunch, there was a mad dash to get into the party car with Ewen as the girls had heard of the legendary sunroof, or more accurately glassroof and the pumping music. Ashley and Veda managed to make it into the car first followed by myself and Rob. David got relegated to the other car. We went back to the accommodations to learn some more about photography. It was here that I noticed Sarah get onto her writing work, and I knew right then that someone who would bother to work on their other work during a trip like this wasn't the criminal Prosecco counterfeiter as they would been looking for more information about how to further grow their crime ring, not writing a piece about food.
After freshening up, some chose to walk to Dal Zotto Wines while other fatties such as myself chose to take the car. Upon arrival at Dal Zotto Wines, we were met by the wonderfully named Otto Dal Zotto and his wife Elena. We finally got to sample the original Prosecco. I have to say, while all the other Proseccos we had tried were really good, this one was clearly the best, for me. It distracted me from my main job of trying to work out who would go about counterfeiting this wonderful wine for profit. I pushed that thought aside as we walked through the vegetable garden that Elena had planted. I love the way all the wineries here are still family owned and that the owners still take such an active involvement in them.
We learned about the wines from chief winemaker Michael while everyone happily snapped photos. Below is not the new cyclops, but is instead Rob looking at the Dal Zotto slide show of the history of their winery. Master photographer Ewen was snapping the very camera friendly Ashley. While I was on the job, I still wanted a good photo of myself from this trip so convinced Ewen to capture one good photo of me.
While everyone was mingling, a series of antipasto and entrees circulated the room. The salami and prosciutto with cheese was already excellent. But when I got round to tasting the entrees, my mind was blown. The cheese ravioli were stunning. It was utter perfection. The sage leaf with anchovy and fried was also so good. The sausage was nice, but for me the piece de resistance was the meatballs. Oh wowee, those deserve to be on every Italian restaurant menu. So delicious.
Everyone had so much fun just mingling and eating and the party got larger and larger as more families from around the area all came along for the party. Emma, our bus driver/farmer/tourism board representative also turned up to be party goer #27. She turned up in bright pink high heels this time and sat down next to me at dinner. She told me all about her shoe fetish as well as her penchant for spreadsheets. I confessed to my own love of....spreadsheets. We bonded over how organised we like to keep everything, including our lives, with a good spreadsheet. We all enjoyed a great dinner of polenta mash with bolognaise, excuted perfectly unlike many restaurants in Melbourne where the polenta mash is all gluggy. The dessert was beautiful. A simple chocolate tart done so well, with great pastry and a very smooth, rich, but not sickening chocolate filling cut through with a raspberry coulis.
I let my guard down for the night as I felt I was starting to know the people and thoroughly enjoyed the night. I drank lots of wine and ate lots of food and just had a good time talking to everyone. Elena told me some great stories about meeting Otto and also starting the business and about her philosophy on food, wine and life. Jo and Sarah were having a great time talking to everyone in the room and Ashley was being her beautiful self and being snapped by Ewen. The one person left on my list as a suspect of counterfeiting Prosecco was Melissa. I had watched her all night but she seemed to be thoroughly enjoying herself and talking to all the winery families and drinking all the Prosecco. However, I still felt that she was hiding something. I would need to watch her especially closely tomorrow.
As the party wound into the night, the love in the air was getting stronger, with everyone saying what a pleasure it was to meet each other. Otto was truly into the spirit of the party and acknowledged every guest. When it was finally time to leave, he bid us all farewell. Some had decided to walk back to the accommodation, in the dark of the night. This didn't seem like a good idea as it was especially dark that night and it was raining a little. We started to drive home when..........
TO BE CONTINUED
Read part 4 of the King Valley Love saga about Lindenwarrah and Milawa Chese Company here.
I attended this wonderful trip courtesy of Squawk Media and the hospitality of the numerous companies of the King Valley