Mike Harms from Petaluma giving us a geographic lesson on the Adelaide Hills with a bottle of Croser in his hand.
The towns are starting to pile up, so this will be a breezy from the Adelaide airport.
For being just a little further north from McLaren Vale, the terrain, temperature and the wine all change in the Adelaide Hills. This region fills the space inland from Adelaide and stretches from Barossa in the north to McLaren Vale in the south. Altitudes here get up to 700 meters and, along with breezes from the coast, make it quite a bit cooler. The vineyards are on slopes, the aspects vary and this is also mixed agricultural land – you see farms and grazing livestock interspersed with vineyard land. This really is Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc country. These wines are distinctly cool climate and it makes the best expression of either that we’ve seen so far. The sparkling wines are also quite good and it gives the producers flexibility when comes to unfavourable cool and wet vintages (Grapes don’t quite ripen? Make bubble). All the reds we tried fit more into the medium bodied range and tend to be savoury.
It was also my first time drinking Nebbiolo that made me stop and reconsider my stubborn bias that the grape really isn’t worth a shit outside of Piedmont. Leave it to a couple boys with an Italian background to successfully pull it off (Longveiw ’07 Nebbiolo). Not surprisingly, they were also great hosts, fed us very well and kept us caffeinated. Check out their new winery accommodations if you’re in the Hills.
Vineyard shots from Nepenthe
There’s now a fair amount of the Austrian variety Gruner Veltliner in the ground, it’s apparently doing quite well, and over the next three to four years we’ll likely see a release from around ten different producers (including Nepenthe and Longview). If how the top producers treat Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay is any clue, it’ll be exciting to taste these wines.
It was a treat visiting the winery of Shaw + Smith, which may have the most Masters of Wine working under its roof than anywhere else around (Michael Hill Smith was the first MW in Australia). David LeMire MW took us through a lineup of their very clean, elegant and impressive wines.
I learned that Koalas are much more boring than their image overseas. They allegedly spend 23 hours of every day sleeping: their main food source, eucalyptus leaves, take a lot of energy to digest. We drove down an old highway called Koala Alley, scanning the nooks of every tree until someone spotted a lone guy perched high above us staring down. There are only somewhere around 100,000 of them left.
The view off the deck of the Lane’s fantastic restaurant (considered to be one of the top in the region).
Our motley crew with Julia from Nepenthe