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Published: January 9th 2016
God Made the Wine to Gladden the Heart of Man” – psalm 104:15. I don’t know which psalmist penned that one but it gets my vote for psalm of the double millennium. Actually it doesn’t have much competition – I can’t rattle off another single psalm from The Good Book. I just zeroed in on a particular one that reflected my alcohol consuming tendencies.
Regardless who was responsible, he would surely enjoy a reincarnation down Adelaide way circa 2016. His heart would be overflowing with warmth given the barrels of wine flowing out from the surrounds.
Follow the Yellow Brick Road in any direction from the South Oz capital and you will stumble onto some of our most celebrated grapes being plucked from the rolling vines of Barossa, McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills and Clare Valley. What was once raw countryside is now clustered with revered vineyards.
It all began with a mini German invasion of the Barossa Valley back in the late 1830s (let’s not touch on the thorny issue of another German onslaught a century or so later). On this occasion the Germans didn’t bring arms but vines and the rest,
It's dry in them thar hills at the moment.
as they say in the classics, is history. German fingerprints dot the area. Names such as Seppeltsfield and Wolf Blass are synonymous with South Australian wines then and now.
The Barossa and McLaren Vale are so close to Adelaide’s CBD that either are simple wine-indulging day trips. The only issue with that for our 2 brief sorties were who was going to drive:
“OK Penny, scissors-papers-rocks”.
I knew exactly what she was thinking: “Poor simple Gary. Can’t resist reliable rocks”.
Problem for her was that I was up for a hit of reverse psychology and pulled scissors out of nowhere. Unfortunately she was onto me. Don’t you just hate double reverse psychology. I was a tad shy on a Plan B and had to plump for:
“Ok, so let’s go 2 out of 3”.
By the time the process had degenerated to 4 out of 9 Penny threw her hands in the air:
“Alright, I’ll drive already”.
She’s married to a 60 year old 5 year old. Pester your parents (wife) long enough, throw in a
hangdog expression and they always wilt. Plus I proffered a “charitable” peacemaker:
“Tell you what. I’ll drive TO the wineries, do ALL the tasting and then all you have to do is drive home”. Just call me Fair Deal Gaz.
And so it was. A half dozen vineyards and a subsequent 31 bottles of grape juice locked and loaded for our cellar back home. T’was a sloshy 2 days.
Dispel notions of cellar door knock down bargains. There are plenty of reasonably priced midweek quaffers but it’s also possible to fork out an arm, a leg and a few vital body organs for some of the more celebrated vintages. The seductive trade-off is you can sample wines tough to come by in retail outlets and with the knowledge that the grapes were spawned, harvested, pressed and barrelled but a few metres away before being bottled for your supping pleasure. Ooh la la.
Back in Adelaide and its streets reflect the gift of vines on the city’s doorsteps. Wine bar hopping seems to be a favourite way to while away the hours. A ploughman’s lunch washed down with a
Shiraz/Grenache here, a cheese platter with a Clare Valley Riesling there. It’s like resigning from reality.
Adelaide is a city that occasionally bears the brunt of cynical wisecracks: “A half hour and 25 years behind the East Coast”, or “Make sure Adelaide is open before you go”, are just a couple of examples. Sure it doesn’t have the buzz of Sydney or Melbourne but on the other hand there are still enough distractions to keep you interested and traffic jam is an alien concept. That comes in awful handy for driving to the above mentioned wine regions. An hour from the centre of the largest village in the country and you will be servicing a few Utopian demands in the Barossa, even less to McLaren Vale. Good old 104:15 cuts plenty of mustard here. No wonder there are so many warm hearts pulsing the Adelaide environs.
More images at: www.colvinyeates.zenfolio.com
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