Saturday 17 September 2011

Adelaide Hills Wine Region

#AdelaideHills Shaw + Smith winery By: Greg Vance Photography

Source: Great Wine Adventure

Now it may be construed (quite unfairly I hasten to add) as laziness, starting our great wine adventure through Australia’s 65 magnificent wine regions with a region barely 15 minutes up the road from my house.

Adelaide Hills Wine Regions
Indeed, when a blue and white ’74 kombi is what’s hoping to get you across your 20,000 km odyssey – starting with a nice, achievable distance is not an altogether silly idea.

But it’s not just the fact that the Adelaide Hills are less than 20 mins east up the freeway from the city of Adelaide (if we may call it a city) that has brought us here – “the Hills” is a seriously cool wine region, as vast and varied as they come, and the old kombi has many-a-time trekked its way up and down and across and all around its beautiful winding and undulating roads in recent years.

When I think of Adelaide Hills, I think of some of Australia’s best cool climate Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Shiraz (or Syrah, as many producers are going with – a homage to a more elegant style of Shiraz that the region produces).

I think of superb boutique Sparkling producers hidden in its peaks and valleys, and you’ll find splashes of fine Pinot Gris, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and even the occasional surprize Cab Franc or Gruner Veltliner.

It’s easy to forget, with such iconic producers as Petaluma, Shaw + Smith, and Nepenthe that the Hills really only came to life as a wine region in the seventies, though there were vineyards planted back in the 1800’s.

There are few places in the world as beautiful to have lunch as The Lane or Longview.

Historic, picture-book little towns like Stirling, Bridgewater, Chain of Ponds, Lobethal, Nairne, the “Little Germany” that is Hahndorf, sit perched aloft, some over 600 metres above sea level.

There is gold in the hills near Woodside, there are even rumours of an underwater town up near Birdswood, forever submerged when the gorge was dammed up to create the Millbrook Reservoir.

Apple and cherry orchards line the roads, and in season you could pull over and pick fresh fruit bursting with flavour right off the trees. Of course, I’m not condoning this type of thievery – I’m just saying, you could, if you were that way inclined.

Climb up the trek from Waterfall Gully to the top of Mount Lofty and you’re sitting 710 metres above sea level. And if you’re as fit as me, you’ll bloody feel it!

It’s 70 km from Gumeracha up north to Macclesfield down south, and you’re virtually bordering Eden Valley and McLaren Vale at each point.

But it’s not the geography, the topography, or even the photography of the region that has won a place in my heart for the Hills – it’s the world class Chardonnay and rich, juicy Pinot.

It’s the dream of one day buying 20 acres of rolling green hills, with a tumble-down old stone cottage that I restore and turn into a family home for generations to come. Some fruit trees, a big veggie garden, and just a few rows of Chardonnay and Pinot, to see me through my twilight years in bliss.

Ah, Adelaide Hills – don’t go anywhere, I’ll be up there soon!

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