The first full day of my reconnaissance trip to Australia has been action packed as I endeavoured to cover the famous Barossa Valley as well as the slightly less well known Clare Valley.
With my body clock still on UK time I was wide awake a good four hours before conventional breakfast time so set off very early for breakfast in Clare Valley. This cooler climate valley is situated just under two hours north of Adelaide and is where I discovered the very tranquil Skillogalee estate. As I sat with my first of three cappuccinos and a slice or two of smoked salmon, I was happily minding my own business when another breakfaster struck up a conversation. It turned out I was chatting to Warrick Duthy – part owner of the acclaimed Kilikanoon estate (who I was already planning to visit ) a former chairman of the Clare Valley Wine council and evidently just the kind of guy I needed to know.
I learnt more about the Clare Valley in 10 minutes than I had ever known about it and Warrick pointed me in some extremely useful directions. The Kilikanoon estate has won an array of top awards recently – our visit and tasting is a certainty. Other estates on the agenda are the fabulous Jeffrey Grosset and Mount Horrocks, lunch at the amazing Slate restaurant at Pike’s winery and possibly some craft beers at Jeanneret.
From Clare, I headed south to the legendary Barossa Valley and discovered the contrast in topography. Barossa is bigger in scale with more rolling hills, whereas Clare is much smaller with more defined steeper slopes and a much diverse patchwork of soil and microclimate. I popped into the tiny boutique Iznay winery – more a shed really; tasted some great wines at the biodynamic Kalleske winery before finishing up at the wonderfully tranquil Turkey Flat estate. Owner Christie Schulz hosted a tasting at Bacco for us some years ago – we will definitely be here in 2019.
Tomorrow, I head south to McLaren Vale and the Fleurieu peninsula – coastal influence and a different perspective await.