On Sunday I took a trip south of Adelaide to the acclaimed Mclaren Vale.
My body clock is still adjusting so after the 40 minute drive, I was in situ – albeit at 7.30am!
Having found a coffee, admired the sea and the beach and driven around the whole area at least twice I managed to find a winery that was open.
And what a winery! D’Arenberg is a legend in world wine circles and has a reputation for the quirky, bizarre and innovative. Quality is exceptional, they have some the oldest vines in the world (150 years +) and are planting unusual grapes such as Sagrantino amongst others. Chester Osborn is renowned for being a maverick…..and that is putting it diplomatically.
The region is divided about the extraordinary d’Arenberg cube. Set on four levels, there is an amazing sensory experience on the ground floor with some amazing visual displays and exhibits, private tasting rooms on level 2, the degustation restaurant on level and fabulous panoramic tasting stations on level 4 giving unparalleled views of the surrounding vineyards. Challenging, unexpected, different and quite unique.
After the cube, I was expecting something a bit more conventional – only to be proved very wrong. Alpha Box and Dice was the next winery I visited and this is a relatively new outfit with a highly unconventional approach to marketing, producing an eclectic range of wines and well on their way to creating 26 different labels. Their tasting room was a shed jammed with old sofas, memorabilia of many different eras and the wines were delicious.
It was becoming very clear that Mclaren Vale has a more bohemian style that Barossa and Clare and this was backed up by my next stop at The Confessional. Adam and Andrew are two very laid back guys who make their own wines but lease out winery space to another 14 winemakers. Cue great exchange of ideas and some fascinating wines.
I rounded off my trip with a light lunch at Mitolo. Famous for their Jester wines, this was the closest I got to conventional, albeit very stylish.
In contrast to Barossa and Clare, a landscape of gentle rolling hills, the sea influence and with the bohemian mood, all in all it makes the Mclaren Vale a very attractive place to be.
Tomorrow I venture into the Adelaide Hills before flying to Melbourne.