Vineyards visited over the holidays

We visited three significant wine regions during our Xmas holiday road trip. Many people have shown interest, and so I thought I’d list which vineyards we visited, and what wines we liked.

We visited both large and small wineries. Some are international names; some don’t even distribute to Sydney. If non-Australians find some of these near you I’d be interested to know.

We stopped buying much wine after the Yarra because we were running out of room in which we could keep it at the right temperature for so long on the road.

Yarra Valley (Victoria, just northeast of Melbourne). Two days here. Gorgeous country, and very food-oriented as well.

  • DeBortoli – A big-name place, but still family run. Some bus tours but not overwhelmed. A great cheese shop. Bought 2 bottles of their 2010 Riesling Kabinett. I also thought their 2008 Gulf Station Cabernet Sauvignon – with some great tobacco flavours – was a real value for money at $19.
  • Graeme Miller Wines – Small but friendly. Didn’t care much for their wines, but bought a bottle of their 2006 Keith Charles Vintage Fortified.
  • Yileena Park – Top-notch small vineyard, with very knowledgable people. Bought a 2006 Merlot (which, unfortunately, wasn’t great on drinking – they stil use cork, and this one was a casualty), and a 2003 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot.
  • Sticks – Another big international brand. Their cellar door is gorgeous. Bought 2 bottles of their 2008 Strathbogie Ranges No. 29 Shiraz, and a 2008 Riesling. Also had a bottle of their 2009 Pinot Noir for dinner on two different nights.
  • Seville Estate – The friendliest place we visited, wines were okay.
  • Killara Estate – Bought their 2008 Cabernet Merlot to have with lunch one day. Am seriously thinking about ordering more.
  • Yarra Yering – An elegant cellar door, and probably the best overall tasting we’ve done, but the wines were too pricey to buy (they charge ten bucks for tasting).
  • Innocent Bystander – Had a glass of their 2008 Shiraz at lunch, and an awesome lunch. They also have a brewery, White Rabbit, which was very good. And they roast their own coffee. And bake their own bread. Tops all around.
  • Warramate – Small, family-run place. Prices are good. Bought a bottle of 2005 Black Label Shiraz, but it felt like a pity buy.
  • Seville Hill – Cellar door a little too small/agricultural/industrial. Wines okay.
  • Elmswood Estate – Again, just okay wines.

McLaren Vale (South Australia, just south of Adelaide). Only one day here. Laid back, and only minutes from the sea.

  • Red Heads Studio – Possibly the single best wine place we stopped. There’s no website because the studio is actually a cellar door that offers wines from five small, local producers. They take turns showing off all their bottles. They were great fun, and offered us locally made sausage and Spanish cheeses.
    • Phil Christiansen’s Longwood label only produces one wine at the moment: a 2009 Pinot Noir that was fab.
    • Andrew Pieri’s Pieri Wines makes Amarones that I just loved: a 2008 Occasione, 2009 Azzardo and a 2009 Mano Nero.
    • Adam Hooper’s La Curio made an excellent 2009 Nubile Grenache Shiraz, and a 2008 Shiraz Reserve.
    • Nat McMurtrie’s Pikkara makes a tasty 2009 McMurtrie Cabernet Sauvignon.
    • Steve Grimley’s Stamford and Clark label makes several, but the one that blew my socks off was a soon-to-be-released 2007 Shiraz. I’m going to order some.
  • Samuel’s Gorge – Rustic, scenic cellar door, really lovely. Their 2008 Grenache and 2008 Shiraz were both good.
  • Lloyd Brothers – They only make a couple of wines, but also grow the most amazing olives. Their shop actually has far more olives, pickles, preserves, chutneys, jams, pestos, mustards, dukkahs and other savoury treats than wine. Even so, their 2010 Hand Picked Rosé and Fortified Shiraz were both very nice.
  • Pennys Hill – Large place with a well-known restaurant. We had a very good lunch. They have three other wine labels (Mr. Riggs, The Black Chook, and Woop Woop). On the Pennys Hill label I liked the 2009 The Specialized Shiraz Cabernet Merlot, and 2009 Cracking Black Shiraz. From Mr. Riggs their 2010 Watervale Riesling was just sweet enough (which is to say, not very).
  • d’Arenberg – Popular, big name, but not overly touristic. I enjoyed tasting both their 2009 then 2003 Money Spider Roussanne, which seemed good value. The 2009 Feral Fox Pinot Noir was tops, as were all three of their high-end reds: 2007 The Ironstone Pressings Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre, 2007 The Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2007 The Dead Arm Shiraz.

Barossa Valley (South Australia, just northeast of Adelaide). Two days. Hotter, and the capital of Shiraz.

  • Thorn Clarke – A bit commercial, but the lady behind the counter was nice enough. The 2006 William Randell Shiraz was good, but pricey. The 2009 Sandpiper Shiraz was good and very affordable ($15).
  • Barossa Valley Estate – A big place, obviously made for coach tours. Lunch was pleasant. Their 2004 E&E Black Pepper Sparkling Shiraz was yum, and we had it with lunch. Also liked their 2009 Entourage Grenache.
  • Whistler Wines – Wonderful cellar door, lots of outdoor shaded space to sit. Good place for kids, as they have orphaned kangaroos which are very tame. We liked their 2008 Sparkling Merlot, their 2010 Grenache, and their 2008 Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre.
  • Rolf Binder – Large warehouse-y cellar door, and chatty people running it. Our picks were the 2009 Veritas Tramino Frizzante and the 2006 Binder’s Bull’s Blood “Pressings”. Their Old Shed Tawny fortified was delicious, with maple flavours at the end.
  • The Willows – Great small producer, down-to-earth and informative. Their 2010 Semillon, 2008 G7 Grenache Shiraz, and 2006 Bonesetter Shiraz were all delicious.
  • Turkey Flat Vineyards – Great cellar door in a small, rustic shed. Young, friendly staff. There were a lot of winners here that got big ticks: their 2005 and 2008 Grenaches, 2008 Mourvèdre (I love it when they don’t blend it), 2008 Shiraz, and – a little sherry treat – their nonvintage Pedro Ximénez. Wow.
  • Kaesler – Very busy, very big. Lots of wines, most pretty ordinary, but their 2007 The Bogan Shiraz and 2008 Old Vine Shiraz were impressive (and not cheap).
  • Murray Street Vineyards – Damn, this was good. Easily the nicest cellar door we visited: new, shiny, luxurious, great scenery. You sit on lounges and they bring the wines to you, no counter here. And their tasting plate for two – made from local produce – was one of the tastiest selection of morsels I’ve ever had. What we drank: 2008 Barossa Shiraz Grenache Mataro Cinsaut, and 2007 Sophia Shiraz.
  • Heritage Wines – Another small vineyard, very laid-back owners, with a nice dog. Their 2006 Rossco’s Shiraz was a winner, and I liked their Tawny fortified enough to buy a bottle.
  • Charles Melton – Another great cellar door, with long shared tables for tasting, and very friendly folks. They only make reds (which, as you can tell from the lis of our favourite wines above, was fine by us). The 2008 Father in Law Reserve Shiraz was yum. So was the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2008 Voices of Angels Shiraz.

We also visited Harefield Ridge in Wagga Wagga, but that was only to have dinner (which was excellent) at their restaurant, Cottontails on the Ridge. It’s a gorgeous spot.

Wow. Reviewing that list it’s no wonder that I had wine fatigue by the end.

2 Responses to “Vineyards visited over the holidays”

  1. January 17, 2011 at 2:15 am

    A few of those are available here in Ontario’s LCBO stores, mostly Barossa wineries…not surprising, I guess.

    -You can get a half dozen from De Bortoli, including the Gulf Station. We picked up the Noble One Botrytis Semillon…very tasty.
    -Sticks has four in the LCBO; we tried the 08 Chardonnay which was okay.

    -20+ d’Arenberg, including the Feral Fox, Dead Arm, Coppermine Road and Money Spider. No Ironstone though, which is okay with me…not the biggest fan of GSMs.

    -Nine different Thorn Clarke bottles, including the William Randell.
    -Five from Barossa Valley Estate, but not the two you mention.
    -Five different bottles of Rolf Binder Shiraz, but none of the ones that you bought/tried.
    -Two from Kaesler, including the Bogan…and yeah, it’s $69 here.
    -Just one from Murray Street: the 05 Greenrock Shiraz.

  2. 2 Peter Brown
    January 17, 2011 at 6:59 am

    Thanks for this Tim. Some of these I know but always great to discover new ones. Don’t Drink them all too quickly. P

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: