Saturday, 16 June 2012

An Adelaide Hills day out for two visiting lady-poms:

I recently had the pleasure of playing co-host for friends of a friend, who were out on holiday from the UK. It was a fleeting visit and given the girl's intent to try and make the most of their time on the eastern seaboard we were left with one precious Sunday to showcase the Adelaide Hills.

As it turned out we ended up with two castaways from the most appalling wet weather to hit the QLD coast for some time. Standing water-logged in the still and brilliant sunshine of a quintessential Adelaide Hills Autumn day, our guests were clearly thankful to finally be seeing blue sky in Australia. What followed was a salutary lesson to their hosts, who had undersold the Adelaide experience in typically self-conscious South Australian style.  

We started the day with a 'sure thing' between Hanhdorf and Balhannah, choosing Nepenthe as the introductory offering. The vines were still lush and beaming from a stellar 2012 harvest which was mostly bumbling away in ferment but for the odd block of late ripening red. Having tried to talk the girls round to the highly acclaimed Ithaca Chardonnay, I sensed it could take best part of the day to shake the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) bias and so we opted for the more than pleasant and very reasonably priced 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. We sat on the expansive lawn and soaked up the sunshine, sharing recent travel stories of Everest trekking and Thailand shenanigans.

'Oh what a feeling' - Nepenthe

We could have easily settled in for a few more bottles but I was keen to showcase another fantastic winery setting and so we travelled a stone’s throw to the verdant lawns of Shaw + Smith. Here we shared three wine flights between the five of us, enjoying the tasty morsels of impeccably matched cheese. Again consensus opinion was for the super refreshing 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, but there was high praise for the balance and quality of the M3 Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and more than a little respect shown for the spicy Shiraz offering.

'Wine Flights' at Shaw + Smith

It was early afternoon by the time we could pull ourselves away but we ventured on in pursuit of some funky cool climate varietals at Hahndorf Hill. There was a great vibe at the cellar door and despite the bustling crowd, Larry the co-owner made sure there was room for everyone at the tasting bench. Having established the presence of foreign critics, Larry went out of his way to describe the cool climate influence that delivers the balance of structure, refreshing acid and minerality. With the sun streaming in, the Blaufrankish/Trollinger Rosé , Pinot Grigio and crisp Chardonnay all made perfect sense. I was a little sad there wasn't any of the famous GRU (Gruner Veltliner) to show off; having talked it up in the car but unsurprisingly it was sold out. We withdrew to an outside table for a glass of our favourites and one of the ladies insisted on a chardonnay dominant blend - so progress was being made.

Could it be possibly be Chardonnay? - Hahndorf Hill

We were pushing our luck to get to the Lane Vineyard for our final tasting - but true to my word we headed up the brief dirt driveway to a cellar door perched at around 420m. As if it was meant to be, Christian the cellar door manager had an extensive range already opened so we were blessed with a 'top to tail' tasting accompanied by a few macaroons and a cheese board. We made some great Chardonnay progress here with special approval for the elegant Chablis style approach of 'Block 3'. Other special mentions must go to the 'Gathering' (Sauv/Sem blend), Grigio and Viognier which cried out for the restaurant food on offer. In the end we settled on a bottle of Block 14 'Basket Press' Shiraz and some Sauvignon - retiring to the afternoon sun on the viewing deck.

Macaroon tasting plate at The Lane Vineyard

Looking at the panoramic vista along the flowing ribbons of the Mt Lofty Ranges, even as a local I was still mesmerised by the Autumn landscape. There's something about being able to see a distant horizon that resonates with all of us.

Happy days at The Lane Vineyard

With the sun low in the sky we  headed back to Carey Gully knowing we had aged Cabernet and traditional barbecue rites to perform for our expectant guests. As the girls booked their hire car to tackle the Great Ocean road the following day, we knew we'd struck a chord that might reverberate into the future. Nothing beats good wine, in good company, on a crystal clear sunny day in the Adelaide Hills.

'Contented with Cabernet'

Given it was only a snippet; I'm looking forward to doing a sequel in the near future. Until then.

Much Love,

The Terroir-ist.

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