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Published: March 10th 2009
Our case of wine arrived!
I know, I know - I'm such a nerd. But I couldn't resist taking some shots of all our wonderful wine! Strange how we came home with more whites than reds?
The grand finale to the 30th birthday celebration took place in the glorious wine regions of McLaren Vale, Clare Valley and Barossa Valley. Although neither Sidd nor I consider ourselves to be serious wine connoisseurs, we love sampling new wines and learning as much as we can about the different grapes and the wine-making process. Visiting wine regions is an annual adventure for us - our honeymoon was spent in Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley and our first year anniversary was a trip to Kelowna for a wine festival. Although some of the locals said that the state of South Australia gets overlooked by tourists, for us it only made sense that our first big trip would be to the wine regions of Australia.
McLaren Vale is south of Adelaide and we spent a day there before boarding the ferry to Kangaroo Island. It is not as widely known as the other two regions but is home to some fairly big wineries that are recognizable in Canada - Shingleback and Rosemount Estate. Under the mistaken assumption that we had Shingleback at our wedding, Sidd and I trekked out to this cellar door, only to find out that not only did
Our first winery!
Oxenberry in McLaren Vale. The guy here was very nice and gave us a list of cellar doors to try out in Clare.
we not particularly like any of the wines, but that we had some other Aussie wine with a similar label at our wedding.
After a day in McLaren Vale, which is the only one located near the coast, we moved on to Clare Valley and Barossa Valley. Both of these wine regions are located north of Adelaide, with Clare being approximately 45 minutes from Barossa. While Barossa Valley is the most famous of the regions, and is home to many big Aussie wineries (Penfolds, Yalumba, Jacob’s Creek, and Wolf Blass to name a few), Clare Valley truly is an undiscovered gem. The best comparison between Barossa and Clare would be to liken them to Napa and Sonoma respectively. As Clare is slightly higher in elevation than Barossa and has quite cool nights, it produces beautiful white wines, and is especially well known for its Rieslings (a dryer version than a German Riesling). And, better yet, as it’s further from Adelaide, fewer tourists visit the region and therefore there is less time waiting for tastings!
The beauty of a wine tour in Australia is that tastings are free, with a few minor exceptions. This can prove dangerous
Cycling along the trails
Where there are no vineyards, the land is very dry - quite similar to the prairies. They have lots of hay here.
as the Aussie concept of a “tasting” is to pour you somewhere between 1/2 to 2/3 of a normal-sized glass. Given that the average cellar door will have at least 5-10 wines for tasting (at Yalumba, there seemed to be an unlimited range of wines to sample), one can be well on the road to hideousness very quickly. Accordingly, this rules out driving and leaves one to either hire a limousine, join a tour or cycle the tens of kilometres between cellar doors. Take a guess which one Sidd and I chose? Ah...you must have rightly guessed cycling? Yes, yet again Sidd and I hired bikes to languorously and laboriously transport our loopy selves from winery to winery. At least this time, although we arrived very sweaty, unlike in California we were not suffering from extreme allergies and thus were not sneezing and snotting our way through wine tastings. Although somewhat tiring, I would highly recommend cycling through Clare Valley as it is home to the Riesling Trail, a network of over 50kms of bike paths built on old railway lines. Also, the physical exertion does wonders for preventing undue inebriation as you sweat out the alcohol while biking uphill...
As the area hasn't received much rain this season and it was unusually hot (days of +45C), the grapes were withering. They tried to harvest as early as possible.
in both directions (this will be a tale for our children)!
At any rate, we had a great time visiting some of our favourite wineries (Peter Lehmann!) and discovered wonderful new wines, including some fortified ones, which cannot be labelled as Port, as that new guidelines state that only Portugal can use this name. We also came to the realization that there is a reason why some wines are priced over $200+ per bottle. Indeed, the $6.50 bottle of sparkling rosé is priced this low for a reason - it tastes like crap. And yes, the $185 bottle of Platinum Label Wolf Blass Shiraz attracts that sticker because it is damn good! By way of recommendation, if you can find anything made by Elderton, buy it. This winery has been named one of the top 100 wineries in the world and has consistently made some of the best wines, as rated by Wine Spectator Magazine.
After 4 days, over 25 wineries and countless tastings, we had perfected our swishing, swooshing and swirling technique (no spitting - why waste good wine?) and had thoroughly enjoyed the experience of rapidly progressing through the stages of too much lovely wine (i.e.
One of the more fancy cellar doors where you could have a bite to eat while tasting. They have this amazing sparkling shiraz here called "Magic". Yum
suffering hangovers before lunchtime!). Leaving the beautiful wine regions of South Australia, we headed back to Brisbane to await the arrival of our case of wine. Although I must confess that I was “wined-out” for a few days, I’m already looking for other wine regions to visit here in Australia (and maybe New Zealand). After all, one must continue to refine one’s taste buds, right?
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