McLaren Vale, just on the outskirts of Adelaide, is just right for a weekend visit…..
(Image: Battle of Bosworth’s cellar door in McLaren Vale)
McLaren Vale has played an integral part in Australia’s wine history since the late 1830s when the first grapes were planted with the first vintage produced in the 1840s. In this region the industry was pioneered by the settler, John Reynell who employed Thomas Hardy for a few years before Hardy went on to found his own wine empire.
This remarkable history aside, the region abounds in not only natural beauty but also a lively artisan food and wine culture. And all in a scenic coastal setting within a stone’s throw from Adelaide and often overlooked by winelovers for the more famous Barossa Valley.
One of the wineries that is close to the border of the cool Adelaide Hills region is Yangarra (picture below), owned by USA winemaker, Jackson Family Wines, and proudly biodynamic. The cellar door here is low key but very welcoming with a crackling fire in cooler weather. Here among the terroir driven wines made by Peter Fraser, Yangarra’s winemaker, recently awarded James Halliday’s Winemaker of 2015, you may be lucky to find their preservative free wine on tasting. This is a great first stop to help ‘locate’ yourself as there is plenty of informative, but still decorative, displays to peruse while tasting.
From here it is a quick drive to Woodstock wines where, after tasting, you can also indulge in other tasty treats at the Coterie Restaurant. Woodstock has a wide range of wines to taste from the stylish Little Miss Collett, a well judged and pretty Moscato enrobed in distinctive stripes, through to a range of juicy, bold reds. Their mid tier red offering, the Companion range, is excellent and has some cellaring potential as does their top end red: The Stocks Shiraz.
If Italian varieties are your thing, Serafino and Coriole both have plenty on offer. Steve Maglieri has made Serafino into a stylish cellar door, dining and accommodation destination beside an ornamental lake surrounded by gum trees (see image below). The Bellissimo range has some of the less common Italian varieties grown in Australia such as Lagrein, Primitivo (Zinfandel), and Nebbiolo in their midst. At the top end, Maglieri’s BDX, Sharktooth Shiraz and Terremoto Syrah are some of the Vale’s finest.
On the other hand, if you prefer more traditional McLaren Vale offerings, Wirra Wirra is just the stop. The Wirra Wirra wines are well crafted and are full to the brim with personality. At this cellar door, you will be sure to find something here that will enchant you whether it be elegant reds, bold reds, crisp whites or another of Australia’s fine moscatos, Mrs Wigley. Also the moniker of their dry rosé.
Heading south, it is an easy drive down to Battle of Bosworth, another of McLaren Vale’s organic wineries with a scenic (see top image and below), sometimes very busy, cellar door. This producer has an extensive range of both white and red wines plus a low preservative Shiraz.
One of McLaren Vale’s hottest new labels, Hither & Yon (see image below) has a funky cellar door in the township of Willunga. While they are relative new comers to the branded winemaking scene the Leask family has been growing high quality wine grapes since the 1970s. Sons, Richard and Malcolm, have now branched out to bottle some of their production for sale under their intriguing labels. Amongst the regional favourites of Shiraz, Cabernet and Grenache, you will also find a dry Muscat Blanc that is a great food wine for summer and a Nero d’Avola which expresses the potential of this variety in Australia. Their award winning labels are some of the most eye-catching I have seen.
If you feel a little nibblish then Dowie Doole has some great cheese to go with their wines. Dowie Doole are renown for their Chenin Blanc and for their elegant and well priced G&T, Garnacha and Tempranillo. It is also a good opportunity to get your Moxie on, particularly if you have not come across this sparkling red sweetie in the Australian market.
If you are going to make your way back to Adelaide via the coastal route, make sure you visit the McLaren Vale icon d’Arenberg, even if just to taste through their wide and eclectic range and have a late lunch in d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant. The Osborn family, one of Australia’s First Families of Wine, is one of the innovators of the region so this is a great opportunity to taste the equivalent of a vinous timeline.
From here you have a choice of vineyards, but to be sure that you visit Oliver’s Taranga, just around the corner from d’Arenberg and Coriole. Their restored worker’s cottage that serves that their cellar door is open from 10am to 4pm so if this is your final visit for the day, make sure that you allow enough time. It is here Corrina Wright continues to blaze trails as one of Australia’s most intelligent winemakers. Here you should make sure that you taste her Vermentino, Tempranillo, Sagrantino and Fiano.
If you are wanting to round off your visit with more Italian varieties give yourself enough time to visit Coriole. With a cellar door housed in a picturesque historic ironstone barn, Coriole is perhaps better known for their bold reds such as their Mary Kathleen Reserve Cabernet Merlot and Lloyd Reserve Shiraz, than their Italian varietals. However, both their crisp Prosecco and their warm sangiovese series continue to attract acclaim and that is just the start, or finish …..
Images (except Little Miss Collett bottle shot) are all copyright owned by Lisa Johnston.