Sunday, April 3, 2016

Wine tasting in Adelaide

After a great few days exploring Sydney and visiting with friends, we boarded a plane and headed to South Australia and the town of Adelaide.  Adelaide is the 5th most populated city in Australia.  We had originally intended to rent a car, but after our adventures driving in wine country in Yarra Valley, and since we didn't end up going on the hot air balloon ride, we decided to explore the option of hiring a driver for 2 days.  After a little bit of searching, we discovered David of Top Notch Wine Tours, and he was available, so we booked it!  What a great decision.  He was incredibly knowledgeable of the areas and wineries, and as nice as could be.  M was able to send him the list of places he'd researched, and David paired that with some of his favorites to put together a fabulous couple of days exploring the area.  

He picked us up at the airport, and off to McLaren Vale we went!  This area is about 35km south of the town of Adelaide, and as with most of Australia, very well known for it's SHIRAZ!  With a Mediterranean climate, it has marine influences as it sits along the Gulf St. Vincent.

First we stopped by Oliver's Taranga, which we just loved.  The wines were great, and the cellar door manager was very personable.  It's amazing what a positive (or negative!) affect the person pouring the wines can have on your experience.  Since this was our first stop, we didn't want to get too ahead of ourselves...but we did buy a bottle to enjoy while in Adelaide that week.

Next David took us to one of the more well known, popular wineries in the area, Samuel Gorge.  It was incredibly busy that day with lots of visitors as well as bottling, etc.  Back to my earlier comment about how often times the person makes the experience?  The couple of wines we got to taste were fine, but not our favorites.  I'd love to try this place again if we ever get back over there.

Lunch at Salopian Inn was next.  What a beautiful, quaint little spot!  We wanted to try kangaroo, as people kept asking if we'd had it, and it was on the menu, so we went for it!  Apparently you have to cook it just right.  This one was braised, and it was just delicious!  We also ordered steamed pork buns and a salad.  Everything was just wonderful. 

Who knew kangaroo tail had a bone?!

After lunch, we headed over to Goodieson brewery to check them out.  Jeff and Mary Goodieson, the husband-wife team, were both there bottling and brewing at the same time.  The additional guy who was working there stopped what he was doing to come show us their beers.  He was from Chicago, so fun to talk about the US for a few minutes.    

Two more wineries before the day was over.  First, Mollydooker.  We loved both the view and the wines.  They make a ton of different ones, and about 80,000 dozen cases a year.  We've found them several times here in DC in stores and on wine lists - and it's always quite the excitement when that happens!  

Finally we stopped by Kay Brothers.  They've been around since the late 1800s!  This was a bonus having David with us - they were closing up, but stayed open and spent time with us.  

Thanks for the action photo, David!
After a beautiful, warm day in McLaren Vale, David took us back into Adelaide where we checked into our Airbnb.  This was our first experience with Airbnb.  It was fine - nothing fancy, more like a college apartment.... but it was very convenient, and had a washer/dryer.  At the halfway point in the trip, this was crucial.  We did some laundry, checked in with our email and social medias, and relaxed a bit before heading out to dinner.  The town of Adelaide is very quaint and walk-able.  We had dinner at a small tapas restaurant, Udaberri. We ordered a few meats and cheeses to try, and sampled some local beers, too.  We turned in pretty early as David was coming bright and early the next morning!

Day 2 and we were off to 'the Barossa.'  The Barossa Valley is one of Australia's oldest wine regions, about 56km (35 miles) northeast of Adelaide.  According to Wikipedia, "many of Australia's largest and most notable wineries are either headquartered or own extensive holdings in the Barossa Valley, including the well know Penfolds."

Photo source

Our first stop of the day was Two Hands.  These wines, especially Gnarly Dudes and Bella's Garden, can be found around the states relatively easily.  The cellar door manager was fantastic - hilarious, knowledgeable, and great to spend an hour with.  The tasting was beautiful, and included many of their specialty wines.  My favorite was Sophie's Garden, as well as the Ares Shiraz in their Flagship series.  What a great start to the day.

PLUS they had 2 beautiful pups wandering around!

Stop #2 was at Greenoch Creek Winery, per David's suggestion.  A teeny tiny little tasting room in a basement, the ladies who were working there were very nice, and the setting was beautiful.  However, the wines were not our favorites.  

Following Greenoch, we had one more stop before lunch - The Willows Vineyard.  The quaint little house where the cellar door was located was very unassuming and comfortable.  They have a small production, so don't have too many visitors - this was one of David's suggestions.  We loved both of the Shiraz's we had, and REALLY loved their sparkling Shiraz!  We grabbed a bottle of that to take home.  Apparently the Aussies drink a lot of the chilled, sparkling Shiraz at holidays and get togethers.  We totally wished we could have brought home enough to have at Thanksgiving, but our suitcases were already getting a little full. 

Finally - lunch!  And, of course, a tasting too.  We headed to First Drop Wine's Home of the Brave Tapas Room.  The restaurant and tasting room are in a 1930s still house.  They have several different flight options to enjoy during lunch.  We loved everything - great spot.  Especially the sign painted behind the bar!

After lunch, we went to Langmeil Winery. They are the "home of what they believe to be the world's oldest surviving shiraz vineyard: The Freedom 1843."

We tried a little bit of everything there!  The lady in the cellar door was as nice as could be.  They had a ton of different Shiraz to try, and they were all great.  

Finally, David took us to the Artisans of Barossa tasting room.  "Artisans of Barossa is a group of like-minded producers with a common goal to protect and promote small batch, sub-regional wine making. We are six individual wineries, with different wine making styles representing the breadth and diversity" of the Barossa Valley.  It was fantastic.  The guy who helped us was hilarious, and incredibly knowledgeable.  We ended up buying several bottles from them - everything was so good - and different from what we'd tried at the previous places.  Plus the views were beautiful!

It was the perfect end to our South Australia wine tour.  That night we wandered around the town a bit more, and found a little spot around the corner from our apartment for dinner.  We had kangaroo again!  This time in a bolognese sauce that was good, but not quite as good as the day before.  After a stop for ice cream, it was time for bed - off to Perth in the morning!

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