The South Australian state cellar door wine festival is back! Held at the Adelaide Convention Centre in the heart of the city from Friday 24 to Sunday 26 February 2012, it was even bigger and better than the inaugural event in February 2011 – both brought to you by Tigs of course!
This year there were 172 wineries from 12 regions and the addition of the Kangaroo Island wines. Organisers were proud to announce that pre-booked sales were up 100% from the year before, many from interstate – so word is getting out beyond SA too!
I felt honoured to be invited to this event as a VIP this year – maybe they liked my 2011 review! So there I was on Friday at the starting gates as they opened – with a pre-drink or two – starting with a pretty cool climate pinot gris from Paracombe in the Adelaide Hills (wow!) and a splash of Squid Ink reserve shiraz from McLaren Vale (rich and luxurious!) – and then I was off and running!
The atmosphere was wonderful, as last year, as was the huge attendance by wineries and tasters – see the slideshow and the list of participants below.
Tasting the regions – what to pick?!
As always I was spoilt for choice so made the decision, as last year, to head for wineries I was not familiar with – while of course stopping by and checking in with some old favourites – rude not to! How cool to be able to wander from Kangaroo Island to Padthaway, stopping by Barossa, McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek en route, with a nod to Eden Valley and Coonawarra.
First up, I was intrigued by the Kangaroo Island wines so checked out both Dudley Wines and The Islander Estate. Kicking off the palate was a zingy, fresh sparkling made mostly from sauvignon blanc – the Dudley Bubbly NV – crisp, lightly fruity, with a hint of apple cider. So I had to try the straight sauvignon blanc – the Grassy Flat 2011. This grape so precisely reflects its home (terroir) and this one offered an alternative to the Marlborough, Adelaide Hills and French versions we are all familiar with. Again came the green apple, grassiness and crispness evident in the sparkling, with a strong varietal character, tight and crunchy, and very long. Lovely and different!
For a contrast I jumped to the Dudley Hog Bay River cabernet sauvignon 2009 – if this is a typical KI cab I like it! With lovely and intense flavours of berries and chocolate, it had a full and chewy mouthfeel, with a long, dry and savoury finish. Delightful.
Onto The Islander Estate – I had tried these wines before at Fassina’s event in November 2011 but needed (wanted!) a refresher as you would with any wines made by Jacques Lurton who splits his time between KI and Bordeaux… The Islander Malbec 2006 was dense and dry, with aromas of leather, dried herbs and spice, flavours of toasty oak and blackberry, and grippy-ippy tannins. Beautiful. Then the flagship – named after a ship – the 2005 Investigator Cabernet Franc/Sangiovese (6% sangio) – dark berries, intense and complex; savoury, dry and long.
Over to Padthaway – Henry’s Drive showed me a ‘typical Padthaway shiraz’ – minty, hints of eucalypt and earthy. They make their wine fruit forward – the 2008 shiraz bursting with dark blackberry fruit, mocha, spice and black pepper at the end, with lovely length and mouthfeel.
Heading north to Eden Valley I was mightily impressed by all of the wines by Poonawatta (from the Aboriginal for good land/country). This is a cooler climate than the Barossa or Clare, harvesting much later and producing very different wines. Riesling and shiraz were Poonawatta’s show ponies. The 2011 riesling gave zingy fresh lime and citrus flavours, with a touch of sherbet, a subtle floral bouquet and a bath salts minerality – not as big as a typical Clare riesling, a beautiful wine that will age well (they told me up to 30 years!) although I don’t think I would want to wait!
The shiraz was amazing – more red and blue than black fruits, elegant and balanced, giving layers and layers of generous flavours, changing on the tongue, telling a story on and on… This has to reflect the age of the vines – some planted in 1880, and others grown from cuttings from these 1880 vines – plus it also clearly reflects the care and expertise gone into these wines, respecting the amazing quality of the grapes.
Off to a neighbouring region – Barossa Valley – I spotted a winery that was new to me – and what a find! Gumpara Wines – the name coming from large red gum trees and para meaning river in Aborigine. Vermentino, semillon and shiraz were on tasting, and some beautifully presented fortifieds. Most importantly the winemaker Mark greeted me with a smile and enthusiastically shared his passion and his wines!
The wines I tried were all dry grown, with great fruit flavours, elegance and balance. They have jumped into my list of favourite wineries in SA.
The 2010 vermentino was oily, citrus, clean and fresh, with a hint of apple. Lovely and dry and crisp. This wine was so so nice and just massaged the tongue. Mark told me it was perfect with seafood, especially sardines.
The 2010 Old Vine Semillon (from 90-year-old vines) also had that lovely oiliness, with citrus and guava flavours. I had never had a semillon like it – in a good way! At only 11.5% alcohol, it would be easy to enjoy several of these.
The 2008 Victor’s Old Vine Shiraz was lush! I let out an involuntary ‘mmmm’ at the first taste. So soft and luscious, it gave chocolate, dark cherries, a touch of earthiness and spice on the finish. Mark told me he used all seasoned oak for this wine to focus on the fruit – it worked. Four stars from Winestate magazine for this shiraz and the reserve.
Finally, the 2008 Reserve Shiraz – made with all new French oak and partial barrel fermentation, giving a touch of vanilla on the nose and some gentle spice. Fantastic in different ways to the Victor’s. That great fruit flavour, depth and lusciousness… complex, long, that ‘mmmm’ again!
I couldn’t help trying the fortifieds and was in heaven! Nectar, all three – the tawny grenache, liqueur semillon and liqueur frontignac. All were bursting with intense and delicious fruit flavours, with full and rich mouthfeel, great length, and a pleasingly dry finish – so that you are ready to go back for another sip! I unreservedly recommend all of these wines by Gumpara.
Trying all of these new wines from all over SA is what the SA Cellar Door Wine Festival is all about – as well as revisiting some old faithfuls that you wish to check again of course! I did that too.
I had to visit the lovely Anne and Mac from Cleggett Winery in Langhorne Creek (pictured), of white cabernet sauvignon fame. Such wonderful people and impressive at having this unique wine. I retried the Amadio Sagrantino (Barossa) – a standout for me in 2011 and it was just as impressive again, giving that familiar tomato leaf and cherry flavour, just delicious. I couldn’t miss out Pertaringa of McLaren Vale, where Bec (pictured) was showing their earthy, flavourful grenache and intense brooding tannat.
Right nextdoor was Rosemount and I spotted a rosé moscato (made with 5% shiraz) – something I would not normally try – but oh wow was it delicious and a good end to my evening.
My only regret is that I couldn’t taste more than I did – roll on 2013 for the third round!
Enjoy the slideshow!
See below for a full list of the participating wineries – 172 of them if you care to count!
Amadio Wines; Barratt Wines; By Jingo Wines; Casa Freschi; Deviation Road Wines; Golding Wines; Hesketh Wines; Howard Vineyard; Johnston Oakbank Wines; K1 by Geoff Hardy; Kersbrook Hill Wines; Paracombe Wines; Parish Hill Wines; Petaluma Wines; Pike & Joyce; RockBare; Shaw & Smith; Sidewood Estate; The Lane Vineyard; The Pawn Wine Co.; Wicks Estate.
Balthazar Barossa; Barossa Valley Estate; Cirillo Wines; Craneford Wines; Domain Day; Elderton Wines; God’s Hill Wines; Greenock Creek Wines; Gumpara Wines; Hart of the Barossa; Hentley Farm; Jacobs Creek; Jamabro Wines; jb Wines; Kellermeister Wines; Liebichwein; Milhinch Wines; Murray Street Vineyard; Penfolds; Richmond Grove Winery; Saltram Wine Estate; Schild Estate Wines; Seppeltsfield Wines; Simpatico Wines; St Hallett Wines; St John’s Road; Thorn-Clarke Wines; Tomfoolery Wines; Turkey Flat Vineyards; Whistler Wines; Wild Fox Wines; Winter Creek Wine; Wolf Blass; Z Wines.
Annie’s Lane; ArtWine; Byrne Vineyards; Claymore Wines; Good Catholic Girl Wines; Jeanneret Wines; Kilikanoon Wines; Kirrihill Wines; Knappstein Wines; Mr Mick Wines; Paulett Wines; Reillys Wines; Sevenhill Cellars; Stephen John Wines; Taylors Wines; Tim Adams Wines; Tim Gramp Wines; Tim McNeil Wines.
Blok Estate; Brand’s Laira Coonawarra; DiGiorgio Family Wines; Flints of Coonawarra; Hollick Wines; Koonara Wines; Leconfield; Patrick of Coonawarra; Penley Estate; Raidis Estate; Reschke Wines; Rymill; Zema Estate.
Gatt Wines; Heathvale Wines; Poonawatta Estate; Rileys of Eden Valley; Springton Hills Wines.
Bay of Shoals Wines; Dudley Wines; Kangaroo Island Estate Wines; Sunset Winery Kangaroo Island; The Islander Estate.
Bleasdale Vineyards; Bremerton; Brothers In Arms; Cleggett Wines; Lake Breeze Wines; Rusticana Wines; Step Rd; The Winehouse.
Cape Jaffa Wines; Redden Bridge Wines; St Mary’s Wines.
Aramis Vineyards; Battle of Bosworth Wines/ Spring Seed Wines; Cape Barren Wines; Chapel Hill; DogRidge Wine; Hardys Tintara; Hugh Hamilton Wines; J & J Wines; Kays Amery Vineyards; Leconfield (Home of Richard Hamilton Wines); Maxwell Wines; Mitolo Wines; Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards; Oxenberry Wines/ Scarpantoni Wines; Parri Estate; Paxton Wines; Penny’s Hill & Mr Riggs Cellars; Pertaringa Wines; Rosemount Estate; Serafino Wines; Shingleback Wine; Shottesbrooke Vineyard; Ulithorne Wines; Vinteloper Wines; Wirra Wirra Vineyards; Woodstock Wine Estate; Yangarra Winery; Zimmermann Wine.
Farmer’s Leap; Henry’s Drive Vignerons; Morambro Creek.
919 Wines; Banrock Station; Illalangi; Mirabella Vineyards; Salena Estate; Spook Hill Wines; Tyrone Estate; Whistling Kite Vineyards.
Mosquito Hill Wines; ShowBlock Estate Wines.
You had me at “pinot gris from Paracombe”.
Ha ha – they had me at that too! It was delicious.