(LET ME TAKE YOU DOWN, ‘CAUSE I’M GOING TO) LOBETHAL ROAD where the Chardy’s unreal.
So what do you do after you’ve tried some great Chardonnay? Well, at the Hills tasting you eat some delicious cheese and then drink some more great Chardonnay! The cheese in question was from a company that i’ve loved and supported for a very long time. B.d. Farm Paris Creek. I’ll try not to waffle on but these guys have been making a great range of organic and biodynamic milk and yogurt products for almost 20 years. Recently they have also started making a equally good range of hard and soft cheeses. If you want more information on them and their products, check out
So, with a belly full of cheese it was onto the Lobethal Road stand. Call me ignorant but i’d never heard of Lobethal Road wines before attending the tasting. Especially ignorant as one of my favourite Hill wineries, Tilbrook (more on them in another post but just quickly their new Sangiovese Cabernet blend is brilliant), is also from Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills. But I digress… Great Chardonnay is what we are looking for so we ask for a taste of their top of the line model, the Bacchant.
2008 Lobethal Road Wines Bacchant Chardonnay
Price :: $40 – 45
Cellar Potential :: Up to 6+ years
Score :: 96 Points
Music Match :: Sublime, uplifting wine deserves sublime and uplifting music.. Drink this wine while listening to Camille by Georges Delerue… If you don’t know Georges, he was a brilliant French Film composer that wrote over 350 scores for film and television. Make sure your seated when drinking the wine and listening to Camille, it is a heady and truly intoxicating experience.
The Summary :: Sometimes a wine you expect to be great turns out to be great. Sometimes a wine you expect to be great turns out to be disappointing. And sometimes along comes a wine of which you expect very little but delivers in spades. This is one of those wines. Uplifting aromas of honey, white peach, mandarins and a hint of oak. Near perfect balance and integrity on the palate with white peaches, citrus, oak and honey softly dancing on the palate. But that’s not the best bit. The texture. Oh, a joy to behold. Soft and silky it caresses the mouth in all the right places, making it almost a shame to swallow this wine. Is it a little pricey at $42? Not at all, at that price it’s damn good value. Do I still hate Chardonnay like I did six months ago? Not a chance. If we all tried Chardonnay this good the Anything But Chardonnay Club would be a lonely place.
YOU MUST BE OFF YOUR TROLLI!
…And now for something completely different. After more food treats (possibly the best smoked salmon, kingfish and prawns i’ve ever tasted from Harris Smokehouse in Hahndorf) it was off to sample the wines from Hahndorf Hill Winery. Tasted the whites, and sure they were agreeable and nice but the wine that really took me by surprise was their Rose. Deliciously fresh, dry as a dead dingo’s donger (like all good Rose) and totally unique. Unique because it is the only Rose in Australia made from the obscure grape varieties of Trollinger and Lemburger. Apparently these grapes are a little bit like David Hasselhoff’s singing… Big in Germany and Austria but pretty unpopular everywhere else! Anyways, the Rose is delicious and great value too. So put away your Rockford’s Alicante Bouchet and grab a bottle of this when it gets warm.
Price :: Around $19
Cellar Potential :: Don’t even think about it, drink it young and fresh!
Score :: 91 Points
Music Match :: This Rose is a deliciously dry delight, so it needs some deliciously dry music to match. With the wines German heritage you need some German music to really match this well. Dry German music doesn’t sound very appealing but one brilliant pop song fits the bill. It’s got to be the most popular Cold War-era protest song ever, 99 Luftballons by Nena.
The Summary :: Australia has been plagued for years by overly sweet Rose wines. But the tide is finally turning with drops like Hahndorf Hill Trollinger/Lemburger Rose. On the nose I got a blast of raspberries, strawberries, apples and marmalade. Many of these notes continued onto the palate with the berries dominating. Texturally this wine is silky smooth with great mouthfeel. It finishes bone dry, inviting another sip… Then another.. Then another… Dangerous but delicious summer barbie wine, ditch the Banrock Station White Shiraz or Rockford’s Alicante Bouchet and grab a bottle of this.
STAY TUNED FOR PART FOUR or GUMERACHA (IT’S GOT MORE THAN A BIG WOODEN HORSE)
For Part One of Highlights of the Adelaide Hills Region Tasting click here ::
A RANT ABOUT CAT’S WEE AND SOME SHUCKING GOOD OYSTERS
So, one interesting varietal down, several more to come. I’ve talked about Pinot Gris but I’m yet to mention tasting any straight Sauvignon Blanc. Why not, some of the passionfruit, capsicum and cat’s wee lovers out there might ask? Well, firstly I am not a huge Sauvignon Blanc fan and secondly I didn’t taste any samples that were worthy of writing up. Sure, there were many examples that tasted ‘nice’ and ‘acceptable’. Full credit to the Adelaide Hills winemakers for making a style that appeals in a similar, crowd-pleasing fashion to Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. But if it smells like passionfruit and cat’s wee, then it just ain’t for me.
Personally, I prefer my Sauvignon Blanc blended with a little bit of Semillon. The complexity gained by adding the Semillon seems to smooth the Sauvignon Blanc’s intensity. It prevents the wine from becoming a caricature when done well. And the guys at The Lane Vineyard near Hahndorf have really nailed this style of wine with their 2008 Gathering Sauvignon Blanc Semillon.
2008 The Lane Gathering Sauvignon Blanc Semillon
Price :: $30
Cellar Potential :: Great Drinking Now but will develop over the next 2-3 years
Score :: 92
Music Match :: Smooth, complex and vastly interesting. Drink this while listening to Gather To The Chapel from Liam Finn’s great album, I’ll Be Lighting.
Summary :: This wine stands out from the pack with the kind of complexity and interest missing from the vast majority of Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blends. Enticing aromas of limes, almonds and honey. Great integrity on the palate with a touch of minerality, limes, lemons, white peach and honey. The honey aspect of this tasty wine extends to the smooth, mouth-filling texture which takes it to another level. If you love Sauvignon Blanc then give this wine a try, you won’t be disappointed. Plus the complexity and class may just inspire you to seek out something a little more interesting than Giesen Sauvignon Blanc, not that there’s anything wrong with that!
So, just when I thought this wine couldn’t get better, the guys at The Lane stand informed me of something a little special. They had organised for freshly shucked Coffin Bay oysters to be eaten with the wine to show what a great match the Gathering was for seafood. Excuse me? Freshly shucked Coffin Bay oysters? For free? Harvested the previous day? Shucked for me by the producer? Um, let me think about that… Yes, please! What a fantastic idea. The oysters were some of the best I have tasted and matched the Gathering perfectly. I’m certain that plenty of the punters at the tasting left with The Lane and the Gathering fresh in their minds.
And i’m even beginning to forget about the decor, things are looking up!
CHARDONNAY :: I HAVE TO ADMIT IT’S GETTING BETTER (IT CAN’T GET ANY WORSE)
With a belly full of fresh oysters and an increasingly rosy view of the Tasting it was on to the next challenge. The challenge? To find some bloody good Chardonnay and convince my mate that it’s something worth having a fresh look at. After a few failures (i.e overblown fruit, excessive oak… oh dear, someone missed the memo) we struck gold with a couple of smaller producers that are doing some great things with Chardonnay.
The first producer was Michael Hall, an English ex-pat and former jewelery valuer who moved to Australia to pursue a lifelong dream of making great wine. Michael studied wine science, then worked at some of Australia’s finest producers (Cullen, Shaw + Smith, Henschke etc) before settling at Rocland in Nurioopta. Michael Hall only produces very, very small amounts of wine under his own label but they can be very special. The first wine sampled was the 2007 Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay. A well made wine but a little heavy handed on the oak for my liking (91 points). Then we tried the 2008 vintage of the same wine, and Michael has absolutely nailed this wine, it’s an absolute belter.
2008 Michael Hall Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay
Price :: $39-45
Cellar Potential :: Great Drinking Now but will develop over 5 years
Score :: 94
Music Match :: Michael Hall is a great winemaker, Hall and Oates were a great band. And this Chardonnay is classy, stylish and pricey (but still great value). Rich Girl by Hall and Oates matches this wine perfectly. Like Chardonnay they sure aren’t as popular as they once were but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be great!
Summary :: This wine is all class. All of the elements that make up this wine; the fruit, the oak and the malolactic fermentation (for those of you confused by this one, I’ll explain all in an upcoming video post) are managed perfectly in this wine. Complex aromas of peaches, figs, nectarines and a hint of smoked macadamias integrate beautifully with the rich, smooth and damned sexy palate. This wine seduces your mouth like an expert lover, teasing and delicately touching in all the right places… A hint of oak here, persistent stone fruit and pear flavours supported by flurries of exquisite nuttiness, and an oh-so-slow and smooth finish… A completely and utterly satisfying wine.
Well, on that note, I need a bit of a lie down… Stay tuned for:
Highlights of the Adelaide Hills Wine Region Tasting :: Part Three or Lobethal Road (is where I want to be), Gumercha is more than a big wooden horse and the most unique Australian Rose you’ll ever drink…
On a cold and wintery night in Adelaide in late August, I braved the weather to head to the Hyatt Regency Ballroom for the Adelaide Hills Regional Tasting. After dodging a couple of light showers and parking my car for the night, I met friend and fellow wine lover Richie in the Hyatt foyer.
A NERVOUS START, A RANT AND SOME HIDEOUS DECOR
As always with these kind of events I was a bit nervous. Nervous you may ask? Well, these events can be a bit hit and miss. Sometimes life-affirming and joyful occasions with great wines, food and personalities to discover and engage with… Sometimes boring (wines available everywhere), repetitive (sales reps not winemakers/viticulturists/owners extolling the virtues of whatever will help them reach the month’s sales target), soulless (poor venue/no food/excess numbers of depressed looking wine wankers) and depressing (oh, you’ve run out of your only decent wine 10 minutes into the event? Didn’t expect that to happen did you?)…
Upon arriving at the sales desk the signs weren’t good. $20 entry fee, no problem at all… Ah, they have Riedel tasting glasses, very nice… But no, the Riedel glasses were only for members of the trade and established wine industry folk. Oh well, at least it reminded me of my place within the wine industry (ie. no place just yet, but you wait, just you wait!)
I found that the smaller XL5 glasses were better suited to the white wines (at least 60% of the total) on tasting… They are also better suited to anyone getting slightly intoxicated as it’s much harder to spill wine out of an XL5!
But I digress. Upon entry to the Ballroom the first thing you notice is the decor. Luckily for the Hyatt accountants the 80s are back in fashion. It’s bought them at least two more years before they have to renovate this room. But the venue was laid out well, with plenty of room to move and a good mix of food and wine stands. I really loved the way they had a food stand after every four or five wine stands. This allowed for a well needed respite from the frantic tasting pace and a great chance to grab a bite while discussing the highlights and lowlights of the previous producers. So kudos to the organisers of this events and a heads up to those who organise similar ones.
ABOUT BLOODY TIME YOU GOT TO THE WINE TASTING PART
Now onto the tasting, with 30 or so stands to visit, time is of the essence. Whites were first and the quality was a mixed bag. While the Adelaide Hills have built their reputation on whites like Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, there were some disappointments. There were many Pinot Gris/Grigio on offer but only one really shone.
2008 Henschke Littlehampton Innes Vineyard Pinot Gris
Price :: $25-30
Cellar Potential :: Great Drinking Now but will develop over 5 years
Score :: 92
Music Match :: Best thing to come out of Littlehampton since the bricks and pavers, put on Lionel Ritchie’s funkiest moment with the Commodores, “Brick House” to make this wine come alive.
Summary :: One of the few good examples of this wine and style in this country. Extended time and stirring on lees has given this wine a whole lot of character and a whole lot of class. Tropical fruits and honey on the nose, luscious white peach and honeydew melon on the palate with great mouthfeel and lingering finish.
Moving right along now to the variety everyone loves to hate, Chardonnay. Up until about six months ago I despised Chardonnay more than the English Cricket Team, Manchester United and Collingwood. Now after a solid effort to seek out some quality examples, i’m falling in love. And as the Adelaide Hills have some of the countries finest examples, I found some crackingly good wines.
TO BE CONTINUED IN PART TWO (tentatively titled SOME CHARDY, A TROLLI and SOME SHUCKING GOOD SEAFOOD)