|Briar Grillade at Briar Ridge Vineyard, Mount View Road, Mount View|
|Outdoor seating at Briar Grillade|
|Cappuccino at Briar Grillade|
|Bacon and eggs at Briar Grillade|
|Grilled tomato, mushrooms and hash browns at Briar Grillade|
Breakfast, wine label advertisements and the first Amazing Race style clue then lead us to a mostly leisurely bicycle ride/race from the Brokenwood cellar door to Tulloch's vineyard.
The ride was fine when we weren't on the open roads where cars were also hurtling through as we wrestled cameras and other social media necessities.
|Tulloch's vineyard, Corner McDonalds & DeBeyers Road, Pokolbin|
|Food and wine flight at Tulloch Wines|
|Food for the wine flight at Tulloch Wines|
The fruity viognier seemed to go especially well with the spice-heavy terrine (although the correct match was supposedly the brie - all subjective, I say). I thought the lightly oaked chardonnay matched well with everything but it was meant to go with the terrine, while the full bodied shiraz was simply superb with the flavoursome cheddar.
My team didn't score too well on the matching front, but we certainly enjoyed the food and wine flight, which is available daily at the Tulloch cellar door (with matches normally revealed).
|Inside Hunter Valley Gardens, Pokolbin|
|Lunch in the Oriental Garden, Hunter Valley Gardens|
|The long lunch table in the Oriental Garden, Hunter Valley Gardens|
|Smoked and cured goods from Lovedale Smokehouse|
|Marinated ricotta from The Smelly Cheese Shop|
|Quail Scotch eggs|
|Quail Scotch egg cross section|
|Chocolate mousse with cream and strawberry|
|Manicured hedges and trees in Hunter Valley Gardens|
|In the Hunter Valley Gardens|
|The Sunken Garden, Hunter Valley Gardens|
|Pretty flowers in Hunter Valley Gardens|
|Slattery Helicopters - we're going to fly!|
Although it's not necessary, a few of us couldn't help but duck our heads as we approached the chopper and its powerful propellors - just like in the movies!
|Helicopter cockpit - I'm flying shotgun|
|View from the helicopter|
|Coming in to land the helicopter at Bimbadgen Estate, McDonalds Road, Pokolbin|
We'd landed and headed into the on site winery, where the temperatures were cool and what was laid out on tables for us even cooler.
|Wine blending challenge at Bimbadgen Estate|
|Cabernet for blending|
On its own, I found the merlot quite mellow and subdued, and the cabernet somewhat dry (or "doughnut-y" which is the term winos - thanks Lisa - use to describe the sensation when the wine feels like it drys out the palate at the edges but not the centre). The shiraz was my favourite solo taste, with significantly more body and bouquet than the others.
|Tasting before blending|
Crowe deliberated slowly, tasting and spitting very professionally, saying the three team blends were all surprisingly decent. But sadly, our blend - described as being aniseed-y - didn't make the winner's cut. Oh well, back to the day job.
With one last clue and last chance at race points, we headed to end the day with a different sort of beverage for the Hunter Valley.
|Microbrewery at Potters Brewery, Wine Country Drive, Nulkaba|
And with that last flourish of downing a beer, we ended the 'Amazing Hunter Valley Race' only slightly exhausted from all the eating and drinking.
There were certainly surprises throughout the day - who knew that riding a bike or flying in a chopper were transport options from cellar door to cellar door; or that fatty cheeses could accompany "oily" wines. But points were yet to be calculated and winners yet to be awarded at a later dinner - so more surprises to come.
Food, booze and shoes and guest attended the 'Amazing Hunter Valley Race' famil courtesy of Hunter Valley Wine Country Tourism and the fabulous girls at Agent99 PR.