A farewell treat before leaving Adelaide was to take the ChocoVino experience at Hahndorf Hill Winery in the Adelaide Hills with my good friend Anne. We all love chocolate and we all love wine – but why pair them? And does it work? This experience opened my eyes to new enjoyment of both.
Hahndorf Hill Winery is in a beautiful setting in the Adelaide Hills, with the tasting room overlooking vines and rolling fields. Blaufränkisch vines are planted right up to the cellar door. This winery is known for the Austrian varieties of grüner veltliner, blaufränkisch and zweigelt, and I have also been very impressed by their pinot grigio. They are one of those wineries who say those magic words that are music to my ears – there is a hands-off winemaking approach to let the grapes speak.
The cool climate is ideal for elegant, flavourful wines perfect for the Austrian grape varieties and the more typical shiraz, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. Both the wines and chocolates are selected according to terroir, regionality and vintage! ChocoVino co-ordinator Christine Worsfield says “the chocolate is made from beans grown in one particular area, which then reflect the flavours of that area… so when you match a single-origin chocolate to a regional wine, you get to explore the concept of terroir in a unique way while taking your tastebuds on a whole new adventure.”
Chocolates include Amedei Chuao from Venezuela – one of the best in the world we are told, and from Madagascar, Italy and more.
I tried the Madagascan trio which included a generous taste of the grüner veltliner, chardonnay and shiraz, each matched with a Madagascan chocolate. The tasting sheet is shown in the slideshow below.
Our enthusiastic and informative host Dee told us how to get the ultimate experience:
Look at the chocolate – it should have a rich and even sheen.
Touch it – the chocolate should feel silky, cool and dry.
Listen as you break it. Good chocolate has a distinctive snap as it breaks.
Smell it – the freshly broken edges deliver a promise of the pleasures to come.
Taste the chocolate. Let a piece melt on your tongue to release its first impressions and then savour it slowly to reveal the layers of natural flavours within.
With your palate primed with the sensual flavours of the chocolate, sip the wine and explore the synergy between the complex aromas and flavours of the wine and the chocolate.
Cleanse your palate with the purest bottled water in the world – Cape Grim from Tasmania – and start all over again.
And most importantly – enjoy!
The true wine fanatic will also be delighted by this winery as they try the best grüner veltliner that Australia has to offer. They make it in the more steely, crisp style and also in a late harvest luscious style. I had a glass of the latter in my tasting selection – citrus and white blossom on the nose, and on the palate a full fruit burst of sweet luscious mango, light citrus and gentle spice. It was long and delicious and rounded off eventually with a pleasingly dry finish. It was matched with a milk chocolate with 44% cacao. After a taste of this, and another sip, I got more mango and less of the sweetness.
The shiraz (2009 vintage) was also incredible. A spicy savoury nose, it gave a pleasantly surprising mouthful of blackberry with that spice and savoury all following through, very long and harmonious. After a taste of 77% cacao chocolate I then got definite licorice flavours in the wine.
Unfortunately there was no blaufränkisch to try as it sold out in three days! I did however track down a bottle at Goodwood Cellars in Adelaide and shall be trying it soon. I have high hopes!
This was a unique and beautiful experience in a stunning setting. No wonder this winery has been listed as one of the ‘Top 10’ cellar doors in Australia by Wine Business Magazine.
Check out the lovely photos of the winery and the tasting.