Sunday, May 09, 2010

South Australia - Clara Valley

This weekend, Tess and I went on a weekend trip down to South Australia to tour the wine valley in Clara. There are several wine valleys in South Australia near Adelaide. Clara was about 1.5 hr drive north and a good distance away from the city.

Before leaving for the wine valley, we stopped off at a food market in the middle of the city. This was a must do in Adelaide. The market was wonderfully full of fresh food and meats. There were freshly baked pastries and every type of cheese imaginable. There were sausages as different as the number of stalls there. Sadly, we couldn't take too much, but we did manage to grab some great olives, a few slices of very delicious Italian cured meats, a few pastries, and some hot roasted peanuts (beer nuts) that was incredibly delicious. Never had fresh hot roasted peanuts like this before and y'all know I like the peanut.

It was a gorgeous drive once we left the city. It's amazing how quickly things change from city to rural in Australia, and it's especially evident here.

We had a booking for lunch at a winery, but we were in the area early so we decided to stop by a winery first. We first went to Taylor Wines. Taylor is a large producer of wine here in Southern Australia. We got to try a few different types of wines that we didn't typically see in the bottle shops, but for the most part, not that exciting as it's a lot of wines we typically drink anyway.

It was time for lunch and we went to Skillogalee Wines and Restaurant. We decided to do a little bit of wine tasting before lunch. The wines here were not too bad. A Riesling that was great. After tasting all they had to offer, it was time for lunch. We had a wonderful table outside looking at the vineyards. It was a perfect afternoon with the sun and plenty of cloud cover. We shared a bottle of the Riesling and had a great lunch. The service was pretty inattentive though. After lunch, we took a short stroll around the vineyards.

Now it was time to get serious on the wineries. I'll just list them.

Kilikanoon Wines - Wonderful wines here. Bought quite a few bottles. They had vines all over the valleys as well as getting some from France.

Sevenhill Cellars - This was a pretty interesting place. It was traditionally run by Jesuits. They started by producing the wines for the churches around the area. Now they have a cellar door for people to come in and taste. The wines were not too bad and very reasonably priced. Nice underground cellar that you can walk around.

During our visit, there was a senior/year 12 formal taking pictures there. Nothing of interest here really, just that they look so incredibly young and I was that creepy old dude watching them holding a box of wine.

It was getting late and the other wineries have all closed by now. We decided to go to the hotel and prepare for tomorrow.

The next day, we got up relatively early and was on our way. There are the other wineries we went to.

Annie's Lane - Like Taylor's this was also another massive winery. One thing about these massive wineries is that there are so many wines to try. This was all good as we were the only people there so it they were very attentive and we had great pours (I know you're suppose to spit it out, but I think that's wasteful so I was good and tipsy after just one winery). Got a couple bottles of Mascote. Great for a warm summer day/night. Very refreshing and a little bit sweet. Can't wait for this summer to drink this one.

Tim Gramp Wines - This was a small boutique winery unlike Annie Lane and Taylors. The wines were pretty good in my option, but they had the worst person selling the wines. Generally, they're nice and knowledgeable. They typically talk a lot to get you interested. Not this one though. It's a one answer per question limit for her. We got a couple bottles here because it was good, but I'm sure I would've picked up more if she was more friendly.

Clos Clare - This was another small boutique winery. This was a bit opposite of the Tim Gramp experience. I thought the wine was ok at best, but the person working there was great. Very friendly, approachable, and knows his stuff. We got a bottle just for that. I think after sitting this one for a while it'll probably be great.

After this we had time for lunch before heading to our last winery. Lunch was quite good at Cygnets at Auburn (name of town). Tess got a chicken pot pie which was especially good.

Eyre Creek wines - This was another small boutique winery. A very nice couple owned the place. They were not winemakers, but they did grow the grapes. I thought that whole dynamic was interesting. There were those that just made the wine, some that only grew the grapes, and some that did the whole operation. Never thought about all that when I'm drinking the wine.

The wine here was a hit a miss. There were some very delicious ones and some that were not really ready. We got 2 bottles at the end.

One great service that all the small boutique wineries did was ship your wines for you. No matter who you bought them from. They all said that the last place you visit would do this for you. This was such a great idea as there wouldn't be any way I would carry so many wines on a plane. Hence the wine shopping spree. The shipping was only about $11 per case which was awesome as well.

This will be a great winter with dinner parties and great wines!

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