Christmas Day always starts with Pinot Noir in the home of Dalrymple Vigneron Peter Caldwell.
I struggle out in my PJs and even before we open the presents, I open the Pinot,” Pete says. “I like the wine to breathe for at least four hours before lunch … and yes I do let a little taste go through to the keeper. No spitting on Christmas Day.”
The junior Caldwells – Amayi (12) and Alex (6) – dive for the presents while Pete and wife Mayi ease into the day with a Jansz Tasmania Premium Rosé NV and a bowl of locally grown field blackberries and raspberries plus a handful of strawberries fresh from the garden.
“Jansz is the neighbouring vineyard to Dalrymple and there is a bit of swapping before Christmas. A carton of Pinot for a carton of Jansz is the northern Tasmanian currency exchange rate.
Pete’s parents Richard and Ros arrive mid-morning for a nibble of brunch – some locally cured and smoked ham and poached eggs – and then the serious part of the day begins.
“Launceston is quite often cool at Christmas so we tend to take a fairly traditional approach with hearty foods,” Pete says.
“Mayi is from the French Basque country so we have roast duck as our main course. Plus she is a keen gardener so we’ll be enjoying freshly picked spring onions and snow peas, roasted beetroot and pumpkin from her veggie patch this year.
“My Dad’s a typical Aussie who prefers red meat to duck, so we always roast a fillet of beef and plenty of locally grown new potatoes.” As the roasting dishes start crackling and popping the Caldwells enjoy one of their favourite Christmas treats – goose ciauscolo.
“Once a year I arrange with a professional hunter friend of mine to dispatch a goose from the vineyards at Jansz, with the owner’s permission of course. They are big plump birds that graze on the grasses and insects and there is always a lot of breast meat, which I take to Rob Perry at Casalinga to turn into a dried smoked sausage.
“It has an earthy, slightly sweet flavour and when I bring it out it is the signal to pour the first red of the day – The Dalrymple Cottage Block Pinot Noir.”
The family sit down for lunch at about 2pm and Pete this year will decant the Dalrymple Single Site Coal Valley Pinot Noir to match the duck – “it has those dark, black cherry fruit flavours that marry well with the cranberry sauce and the roasted beetroot.”
For the beef fillet Pete opens the Dalrymple Single Site Bicheno Pinot Noir – “a sturdy wine with plum and glazed cherry flavours.”
Finally, as the sun threatens to set over the Tamar Valley, Pete’s mum Ros reveals the traditional Christmas pudding, complete with sixpences “the kids love to hunt for.”
“That’s the perfect time for a medicinal glass of Yalumba V de Vie, the rare distilled spirit that comes from Eden Valley Viognier.
“Purely for digestive purposes,” Pete laughs.