IM­BIB­ING THE SOUTH

Per­am­bu­la­tions through South Aus­tralia and its vi­nous re­gions

Wine & Dine - - CONTENTS - WORDS VI­VIAN PEI

Per­am­bu­la­tions through South Aus­tralia and its vi­nous re­gions

The Great Wine Cap­i­tals Global Net­work (GWCGN) con­sists of ma­jor global cities that all share a key as­set: their in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned wine re­gions. It is the only such net­work to en­com­pass the Old and New Worlds of wine, and aims to en­cour­age travel, ed­u­ca­tion and busi­ness ex­changes among the pres­ti­gious wine re­gions, in­clud­ing the likes of Bordeaux, Napa Val­ley, Porto and Men­doza. The 10th and most re­cent city to join this ex­clu­sive mem­ber­ship is Ade­laide, with its renowned wine re­gions in South Aus­tralia.

Five times the size of the United King­dom, this south­ern state con­tains 18 dis­tinct wine re­gions in­clud­ing the Barossa, Coon­awarra and Mc­Claren Vale, span­ning war­mand cool-ripen­ing con­di­tions, and a va­ri­ety of cli­mates that is al­most un­matched ex­cept for a few other re­gions in the world. It is planted with a di­verse col­lec­tion of grapes, from Chardon­nay to some very tasty sur­prises like Ital­ian grapes more com­monly found in the Le Marche re­gion, also grow­ing off some of the old­est vines in the world as they were not sub­jected to phyl­lox­era, the pest that wiped out most of France’s wine pro­duc­tion in the 19th cen­tury. This com­bi­na­tion of ma­ture vines and a large va­ri­ety of grape va­ri­etals give its wines a broad ap­peal… and that is a good thing in­deed.

GOR­GEOUS COON­AWARRA

The Lime­stone Coast of­fers beau­ti­ful land­scapes, his­tor­i­cal tours, aqua sports and even a vol­cano walk. But with six dis­tinct wine­grow­ing re­gions, it would be a shame not to take ad­van­tage of a tip­ple or two.

If you jour­ney to the com­pact Coon­awarra about half­way be­tween Ade­laide and Mel­bourne, it is pos­si­ble to take in six winer­ies by lunchtime. Only 27 kilo­me­ters long north to south and less than two kilo­me­tres wide, this re­gion is home to the fa­mous terra rossa or red soil that you can see, touch and even dig into at Kat­nook, the old­est win­ery in Coon­awarra. Terra rossa is not only ro­bust and able to re­tain its nu­tri­ents for cen­turies, but also in­cred­i­bly fer­tile.

Coon­awarra was founded by Scot­tish im­mi­grant John Rid­doch who recog­nised the po­ten­tial of this unique soil and rightly sur­mised that when com­bined with the cool mar­itime cli­mate, would lead to great things. The first vin­tage of the Coon­awarra re­gion was pro­duced in 1896, and they haven’t stopped since. High­lights at Kat­nook (kat­nookestate. com.au) are their Odyssey Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon and the Prodigy Shi­raz, but as they grow 11 va­ri­etals in­clud­ing Tem­pranillo, Ries­ling and Mal­bec on the prop­erty, you very pos­si­bly may have your own favourite.

From there, head to Wynns Coon­awarra Es­tate (wynns.com.au), whose head wine­mak­ers were re­cently crowned wine­mak­ers of the year by their peers. There, taste some award-win­ning wines or for a more in­ter­ac­tive ex­pe­ri­ence, sign up for their ‘Make Your Own Blend’ pro­gramme. The first of its kind in Coon­awarra, this tour al­lows vis­i­tors to be wine­mak­ers for a day. With their lab­o­ra­tory as your tem­po­rary base, blend your own wine from Caber­net, Shi­raz and Mer­lot, which you will then get to take home.

While you are in the re­gion, visit the Nara­coorte Caves, South Aus­tralia’s only World Her­itage site and where you can see one of the world’s most im­por­tant fos­silised re­mains. This lies in Wrat­ton­bully, a lesser known wine re­gion no more than 30 min­utes’ drive north of Coon­awarra.

While it is not ev­ery day you can put the words ‘whale­bone’ and ‘wine’ in the same sen­tence, here in Wrat­ton­bully you can— be­cause of the 35-mil­lion-year-old whale skele­ton fos­sil dis­cov­ered be­neath Ta­panappa Whale­bone Vine­yard (ta­panappa.com.au). While that may just be an in­ter­est­ing fact, a greater in­cen­tive may be the high qual­ity wine pro­duced here due to Wrat­ton­bully’s tem­per­ate cli­mate. You could try a fine Mer­lot Caber­net Franc at Ta­panappa, a ter­rific Botry­tis Viog­nier at Yalumba (yalumba.com), plus more than a dozen other wine pro­duc­ers to choose from in this area. If you want to con­tinue ex­plor­ing be­yond the wine world, you could head west to Mayura Sta­tion (mayuras­ta­tion.com) about an hour and a half’s drive away to sam­ple the award-win­ning wagyu beef at their restau­rant, The Tast­ing Room. Here, re­ceive the ul­ti­mate pad­dock-to-plate ex­pe­ri­ence in ad­di­tion to other fan­tas­tic pro­duce such as cheese and or­ganic olive oils from lo­cal farm­ers.

BAROSSA’S BOUNTY

For a very dif­fer­ent in­ter­ac­tive ex­pe­ri­ence, head to Sep­pelts­field Win­ery (sep­pelts­field. com.au), about an hour’s drive north­east of Ade­laide. Sign up for their Cooper for a Day work­shop with res­i­dent mas­ter cooper An­drew Young, where guests get to make and en­grave their own bar­rels. It is quite an ex­pe­ri­ence— hands-on, pri­mal, dra­matic with a tinge of

fiery dan­ger and ul­ti­mately so sat­is­fy­ing when the bar­rel is fin­ished and filled with some of the vine­yard’s bounty. Or you can take it empty and fill it with beer, bal­samic vine­gar—as your heart so de­sires. One of the most unique ex­pe­ri­ences any­where is Sep­pelts­field’s Birth Year Tawny Tast­ing. The Cen­ten­nial Cel­lar houses the only con­tin­u­ous col­lec­tion of sin­gle vin­tage Tawny since 1878. Have a tast­ing of port there from the year you were born, try the Mo­ments in His­tory tast­ing tour, sam­ple some­thing from the year man landed on the moon, or when the Ti­tanic sank.

Af­ter all that, you need to be for­ti­fied on more than just wine, so head to the highly pop­u­lar Fino restau­rant (fino.net.au), con­ve­niently si­t­u­ated on site at Sep­pelts­field Win­ery, where you would have wisely booked ahead. Let Sharon Romeo, restau­rant man­ager or ‘pocket rocket’ as she’s fondly known, guide you in both your food and drink se­lec­tions and demon­strate true hos­pi­tal­ity. She is help­ful, friendly yet pro­fes­sional and gen­uinely wants you to en­joy your ex­pe­ri­ence. Chef David Swain’s sea­son­ally driven menu is not nec­es­sar­ily ground­break­ing, but dishes such as quail, chicken hearts and vegetable es­cabeche, or pipis, leek and sherry, are well thought out, us­ing fan­tas­tic re­gional pro­duce—which ul­ti­mately makes pretty much ev­ery­thing en­joy­able.

Then head over to the JamFac­tory (jamfac­tory.com.au) next door, a unique not­for-profit cul­tural or­gan­i­sa­tion where lo­cal ar­ti­sans can prac­tice and show off their trade, from ceram­ics and leather to knife-mak­ing and more. Lo­cated within the Sep­pelts­field es­tate in a ren­o­vated sta­bles build­ing from the 1850s, the JamFac­tory serves as a craft and de­sign hub for the Barossa and com­prises stu­dios, a gallery and a shop so you can sat­isfy your artis­tic and cul­tural needs.

For a place to stay, you could not do much bet­ter than The Louise (th­elouise.com.au), a beau­ti­ful prop­erty over­look­ing the val­ley with pic­turesque views. You’d be for­given for not want­ing to leave your suite. It takes a while to go through the siz­able room, but all the lux­u­ries you would ex­pect (and more) are there. Ev­ery­thing from a king bed with fine linens, a spa tub for two, a fire­place, Bose iPhone dock­ing sta­tion, orig­i­nal art­work to a pri­vate sun­set ter­race are yours to en­joy. But when you even­tu­ally do step out, brave-hearted souls will do good to book ahead for a ses­sion with the kan­ga­roos. Whilst many know that the Barossa is wine coun­try, few are aware that it is also home to a large con­ser­va­tion park for lo­cal flora and fauna. Sim­ply ask the staff at The Louise to ar­range a morn­ing stroll and break­fast to ob­serve the kan­ga­roos in their nat­u­ral habi­tat in the park, just a quick 20-minute drive away from the ho­tel.

Ev­ery­one knows you shouldn’t drink and drive, so fit­tingly, there are travel op­tions aplenty for when you want to go wine tast­ing at dif­fer­ent vine­yards. For starters, you could pre­tend you are roy­alty and travel around in a beau­ti­ful 1962 Daim­ler (barossadaim­ler­tours.com.au) with a very knowl­edge­able guide. If you al­ways fan­cied your­self more of a free spirit, hop on a trike but not as you know it. Th­ese mod­i­fied mo­tor­cy­cles can carry up to four peo­ple in­clud­ing the driver. For a bit of nos­tal­gia, choose a 1966 Ford Mustang con­vert­ible to trans­port you around the Barossa Val­ley with an un­de­ni­able amount of retro charm.

One last rec­om­men­da­tion: when you head back to Ade­laide be­fore your flight home, re­serve a ta­ble at Restau­rant Orana (restau­ran­torana.com), which means ‘wel­come’ in abo­rig­i­nal lan­guage. Here you will have an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence where in­dige­nous in­gre­di­ents are el­e­vated to fine din­ing in the best sense of the word. The wine pair­ing is also stel­lar with pri­mar­ily small pro­ducer bot­tles. With the skill­ful use of pro­duce pro­cured di­rectly and fairly from the abo­rig­i­nal tribes and other lo­cal pro­duc­ers, you’ll be treated to the likes of goolwa pipis, suc­cu­lents, dor­rigo pep­per, quan­dong, moun­tain pep­per and war­ri­gal greens. But if fine din­ing is not your thing, Orana’s sis­ter restau­rant down­stairs, Black­wood (restau­rant­black­wood.com), of­fers the na­tive in­gre­di­ent con­cept in a bistro for­mat.

So there you go, a few sug­ges­tions to tempt you, what­ever kind of trav­eller you may be. One thing is for sure, this is but the teeny tiny tip of the ice­berg when it comes to things to do in South Aus­tralia. The com­bi­na­tion of fine food and wine, in­door and out­door ex­pe­ri­ences is one you won’t find any­where else, so no mat­ter what op­tions you de­cide, you are go­ing to go away want­ing more. Guar­an­teed.

Vine­yard in Coon­awarra, Lime­stone Coast

Be­low Terra rossa—the fa­mous red­hued soil found in Coon­awarra

Op­po­site

page Sam­ple the great di­ver­sity of South Aus­tralia, start­ing with some re­fresh­ing rosé

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