Food & Drink

Wining and Dining in South Australia

Barossa Valley from Pindarie Winery

Don’t read this on an empty stomach, as you’ll be regaled with the wonders of travelling through South Australia’s pleasant countryside, enjoying the best of the vine and all the delectable foods associated with the pleasures of wine tastings. Pack your bags and prepare your palate for a culinary travel experience to remember.

A recent visit to the South Australian capital of Adelaide to attend ‘Tasting Australia’ confirmed that drinking wine with innovative food is a vital component of contemporary Australian living. Many expats also appreciate wines and the associated wine culture, with Australian wines being the most widely consumed of all those available in Malaysia.

For those who want to take wine appreciation to a higher plane, wine touring plus dining, wine talks, and visits to wineries provide an inviting way in which to explore South Australia’s natural beauty. The state’s 18 wine regions showcase quality wines as well as offering delightful accommodation, creative cuisines, quaint shops, produce stalls, and a range of recreational activities as big as the Australian landscape.

Touring the vineyards has become increasingly popular with Malaysians due to their growing interest in wines and the associated lifestyle, as well as the proximity of vineyards to vibrant cities like Adelaide. Some grapevines in South Australia date back 175 years, and most vineyards offer complimentary sampling of their precious liquid assets.

It’s hard not to be impressed by the passion for produce that’s also so evident throughout the state. Chefs aren’t content to simply present a dish. The pedigree of the produce is as important as the finished product and diners are offered with a multitude of options from organically grown produce, biodynamic agricultural practices, fair trade, free-range, glutenfree, pesticide-free, sustainably harvested, line-caught seafood, and a range of other politically correct methods of production.

Food and wine connoisseurs will be impressed by ash-rolled Adelaide Hills cheese, grass-fed Coorong Angus beef, crisp Clare Valley Rieslings, fruit-driven Barossa Valley Shiraz wines, Coffin Bay oysters, Savannah lamb, and rock lobsters from the Southern Ocean. Essential foodie venues are Adelaide Central Market, Barossa Farmers’ Market (every Saturday morning), Campbelltown Food Trail, and Wayville Farmers Market (every Sunday in suburban Adelaide) as mere starters to many other food-driven activities.

Discover the joy of Australian wines and life in the vineyards by taking a holiday amongst the vines in some of the state’s famous wine regions including the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Kangaroo Island and the Riverland. With 200 cellar doors within one hour from Adelaide, the opportunities are many and varied.

One of the state’s first vineyards was established at Magill Estate in what is now suburban Adelaide. It is home to Penfolds one of the world’s most respected wine labels and the home of ‘Grange’, described by respected international wine expert Robert Parker as arguably the world’s finest dry red-styled wine.

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Barossa Valley

Bethany Estate Barossa Valley

Barossa Valley is the best-known wine region with a list of producers which reads like a who’s who of Australian winemaking. Visit wineries such as Grant Burge, Dutschke, Elderton, First Drop, Glaetzer, Hentley Farm, Kalleske, Penfolds, Schild Estate, Wolf Blass, Saltram, Seppeltsfield, Tait, Torbrek, Peter Lehmann, and Henschke.

Dedicated observers will notice the profusion of Germanic names that dominate the list due to the district being first settlers by mostly Lutheran migrants from Prussia who fled to South Australia to escape religious persecution. Lutheran churches are located in the four main townships of Angaston, Nuriootpa, Tanunda, and Lyndoch. Gnadenberg Church, overlooking the famous Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Vineyard is one of the region’s most photographed buildings.

The Barossa’s rolling hills and adjoining wine districts such as Eden Valley present a very picturesque landscape and stone buildings in the towns provide a unique architecture. Many of these are home to providores such as cheesemakers, butchers and German sausage makers plus restaurants and cafés.

Drop by Casa Carboni in Angaston and learn to cook Italian with Chef Matteo Carboni. Visit Seppeltsfield to inspect the grand expanse of heritage buildings and join in their canapés and fortified wine pairing. There are many lifestyle options from cycling through the vineyards, taking a hot air balloon flight, enjoying freshly brewed ales at Barossa Valley Brewing in Tanunda, visiting the famous Jacob’s Creek Winery, meeting producers at the Saturday Farmer’s Market in Angaston, pairing wines with chocolate at Schild Estate or buying produce from Maggie Beer’s Farm House. Staying in the Barossa and enjoying the fabulous facilities of the Novotel Barossa Valley Resort is highly recommended. Guests can also enjoy a round of golf on the adjoining course.

Clare Valley

Purple cover vines Clare Valley

Clare Valley is a cooler climate wine region less than two hours’ drive north of Adelaide and best known for its Riesling and Shiraz varietals. Being further away from Adelaide, it’s more rural and less commercial than the Barossa. There are several well-known wineries here such as Sevenhill, which was established by Jesuit Brothers in 1851 to produce sacramental fortified wines.

Others include Leasingham, an established vineyard with wines such as their Bin 41 Shiraz comprising grapes from 100-yearold vines. Knappstein Enterprise Winery produces hand-crafted Rieslings (and micro-brewed ales) that have become a regional benchmark. Sample other crisp Rieslings at Reillys, Jim Barry, Mount Horrocks, Pikes, Grosset, Paulett (including its recently awarded ‘Best Riesling in the World’), and Skillogalee. (Visitors can dine on the verandah here and stay in luxury self-contained accommodation.)

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Adventurous visitors can hire a bike to cycle the ‘Riesling Trail’ covering 27 km along the old Clare-to-Auburn train line.

The Clare is known for its home-style traditional cooking plus the creative flair of contemporary Australian cuisine. Valley of Armagh olive oil and olive products fresh from their farm are worth seeking out as is the sustainably produced Savannah lamb. While dining options in rural South Australia aren’t the same as in Adelaide, excellence produce and creative meals are served in The Rising Sun Hotel, Wild Saffron, and Artisan’s Table. Some wineries offer more simple meals and platters of regional produce for those who enjoying picnicking.

Visit Martindale Hall in Mintaro and admire the stately Georgian mansion and to appreciate its fine dining plus accommodation.

Adelaide Hills

Penfold Magill Estate Adelaide

Learn more about South Australia’s wines at the National Wine Centre adjoining Adelaide’s wonderful and centrally located Botanic Gardens before heading to the surrounding hills of the Mount Lofty Range.

There are wineries located within 20 minutes of downtown Adelaide. While most tourists head to the German heritage town of Hahndorf, there are other villages to explore such as Stirling and Bridgewater. The cooler hills provide excellent conditions for growing Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and peppery Shiraz. Acclaimed wineries include Alta, Ashton Hills, Bird in Hand, Hahndorf Hill, Nepenthe, Petaluma, and Shaw + Smith.

Wineries such as Somerled serve wines with Spanish cheeses and Hahndorf Hills provide a ChocoVino experience with wine and chocolate pairings. In Hahndorf, visit Udder Delights for artisanal cheeses, Harris Smokehouse for smoked salmon and locally-sourced honeys, and the famous Beerenberg farm home to jams and condiments. Indulge in German delicacies like sausages and meats in several places here with the Hahndorf Inn serving upmarket pub fare.

Foodies head to Loca-Vore in neighbouring Stirling, where the culinary mantra is based upon sourcing local produce (loca-vore meaning local eater). The chefs here support local, family-operated, organic farmers and other producers. This means dining on delicious Coorong Angus beef, Stirling potatoes, Barossa bacon, Berkshire ham, Mount Jagged cheeses, Paris Creek biodynamic yoghurt and Tweedvale cream. Nothing disappoints in its tranquil village setting. Red Cacao Chocolatier adjoins Loca-Vore and offers an indulgent chocolate experience from hot chocolate and chilli to chocolates made from delicious taste sensations such as olive oil, red velvet deer antler, and salted caramel.

McLaren Vale

Darenberg wines in rack McLaren Vale

Leading vineyards in the region include: Chapel Hill, d’Arenberg, Fox Creek, Hardys Tintara, Maxwell, Pertaringa, Rosemount Estate, Coriole, Wirra Wirra and Yangarra. Small producers such as Brash Higgins are pushing the flavour envelop with some exciting wines including varieties such as Nero d’Avola, Mataro and Zibibbo. Gather a group of friends and dine in The Lime Cave at Maxwell Wines or more conventionally over a glass of their gold medal-awarded (at Grenaches du Monde) Grenache in their Ellen Street Restaurant overlooking the vineyards. Other creditable restaurants include d’Arry’s Verandah, Salopian Inn and the Star of Greece with stunning views westward over Maslin Beach.

Cooking enthusiasts can attend classes at the Retreat Cooking School in Chapel Hill Winery where local olive oil, almonds, verjuice, cider turkey, and cheeses could be on the menu. For those who don’t want to drive, Wine Diva Tours know the best places to explore and McLaren Vale’s finest winemakers.

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TRAVEL FILE

GETTING THERE:
Both AirAsia X and Malaysia Airlines fly from Kuala Lumpur to Adelaide.

WHERE TO STAY:
Adelaide: Mercure Grosvenor (www.mercuregrosvenor.com.au), Adelaide Hills: MGallery Mount Lofty House (www.mgallery.com), Barossa Valley: Novotel Barossa Valley Resort (www.novotelbarossa.com), Clare Valley:Brice Hill Country Lodge (www.bricehill.com.au) and McLaren Vale: McLaren Vale Motel and Apartments (www.mclarenvalemotel.com.au).

TRAVEL TIPS:
Mind your intake, or better, make sure there is a designated driver as laws on driving whilst under the influence are strictly enforced.

USEFUL SITES:
South Australian Tourism (www.southaustralia.com), Eat Local (www.eatlocalsa.com.au), Tasting Australia (www.tastingaustralia.com.au), Campbelltown Food Trail (www. foodtrail.net), and Tasting Australia (www.tastingaustralia.com.au).

 

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