Wednesday was destined to be our biggest day with the most distance covered. The famous Clare Valley is 90 minutes north of Adelaide and is home to number of iconic wine names such as Jeffrey Grosset, Mount Horrocks and Kilikanoon – all of whom we happened to be visiting!
It turned out to be a truly epic day – one that will linger in the memory for years to come. Even the coffee was good as we made a quick pitstop at the Velvet & Willow pantry in the small town of Auburn. Outstanding service as we surged into this pretty coffee spot.
From coffee to Mount Horrocks and Jeffrey Grosset was a two minute drive and so began our extraordinary day of tasting. Stephanie Toole and Jeffrey Grosset are a legendary wine couple who share a winery but have separate cellar doors. With a nifty bit of logistics, the group was split in half and separated off to each cellar door and then swapped – with Tim racking up the step counter flitting between the two. It was a fabulous honour to be hosted by two of the best known winemakers in Clare Valley. Superb wines as you might expect.
From Auburn it was 10 minutes north to the Watervale hotel where the wonderful Warrick Duthy lay in wait for us. I met Warrick quite by chance last year while doing the recce and it turned out to be a rather fortuitous encounter. Warrick is the MD of Kilikanoon – a stunning award winning winery, owns the Watervale hotel, is president of the Clare Valley tourist association and is an incredibly nice guy. He took us by storm, giving us a potted history of the area and his ambitions before leading us through a fabulous Italian varietal tasting paired with a sensational five course lunch. Lamb cigars, Korean beef rib, kangaroo pie, gorgeous salad from their farm, chicken in a citrus hollandaise…..it was delicious.
Yet the day was barely half way through. From Watervale, Warrick took us to Kilikanoon where he introduced us to Garret who hosted a tasting of their top wines including the Oracle Shiraz, Attunga Shiraz and Divinity – a gorgeous fortified viognier. Kilikanoon has been voted Australian Winery of the Year at least five times and they only set up in 1997 – a truly extraordinary achievement. Garret kept us engaged and endured plenty of torment for being a Kiwi.
And yet there was more. Warrick had arranged a trip to Sevenhill – Clare Valley’s oldest winery set up in 1851 by the Jesuits and the location of an historic church. Despite beginning to flag a little, we engaged with Will, Sevenhill’s winemaker and explored another four wines to complete a truly momentous day in the Clare Valley.