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Barratt Vineyards, The Adelaide Hills

The Adelaide Hills

I drove from Barossa and cut south and across country on Valentines day 2006 and then up into the stunning Adelaide Hills at over 400 metres. This was my second visit, having already delved into the hills for a few days in April 2000 on my mammoth 5 month tour. I was slightly more concerned about time on this Valentines day, being that I was on flight 357 at 19.45 on the 16th February and I needed still to find a great Shiraz ( please see Brick Kiln page)  and Sauvignon Blanc. Sometimes your life is blessed and in these next two days I did indeed manage this feat, indeed completely triumphed and added a wonderful Hermitage blend to make up a trio! This region reminds me a little of California and the drive into the hills overlooking Santa Barbara to the wonderful artistic and wine lovers hamlet called Los Olivos where the restaurant scene from “ Sideways” was filmed. It’s a bit greener up here though, a little windier and the roads are a little more European and small and cute, to clone a California saying. There is also a difference in temperature with the hills of the central coast of California. This is cool climate hill country. Nestled high above Adelaide in their wonderfully cool hills there wines show themselves off impressively against rivals from around the world: I would say that the Sauvignon Blanc bucks the trend of some thoughts that this grape cannot be grown very well on the Australian mainland and its best to venture down south to Tasmania or even New Zealand. I would put this up with a top Chavignol Sancerre  (head past Sancerre on your left down a very narrow road and up a windy valley. There’s a wonderful little Auberge on your left that serve goats cheese omelette and large plates of Charcuterie!) and Hubert Brochard, who has a little tasting room in town. The Rose, now sold out, is made purposely from Pinot noir, and is also of supreme quality.

“ Although the Adelaide Hills is viewed by many as a relatively recent grape growing area, it was, in fact, the first region in South Australia that planted wine vines. However with falling consumer interest in dry table wines and great difficulties in controlling fungal disease, grape growing was abandoned in the early 20th century but it revived again in the 1970’s.”

Lindsay Barratt, Owner of Barratt wines

Lindsay Barratt owns two vineyards in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, the Uley and Bonython, and after my visit here in February 2006 I have to say this homestead and vineyard is probably the most beautiful and picturesque that I have visited throughout Australia and that’s some compliment. Cool climate wines of epic proportions.

Please click on the links below to see the vineyard website as well as individual tasting notes and bottle shots for each wine:

*TBC*

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South Australia

I have a strong affiliation with this state since it is where I spent a great deal of time during the vintage of 2000, picking, pressing, pumping over and even blending Shiraz and Grenache grapes as well as many other Barossa varietals, at Craneford vineyard in Truro. To me its not the most picturesque of states but it is very important in terms of wine for Australia. It contains 42% of the nations  vineyards, is responsible for 46 per cent of the annual crush and makes more than 50% of the annual wine output. I love the varied regions, Barossa valley the home of great Shiraz, Clare valley, great Rieslings and then the Adelaide hills further south, great cool climate Pinot and Sauvignon country, McLaren Vale, hot Shiraz country and then the up and coming southerly region of Langhorne Creek.

I work with three vineyards presently. Please click on the links below.

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Lillypilly Shiraz 2007

Mr Whirly says:

“Like the tactful 2003 Shiraz this wine does not suggest it’s in any way Aussie Shiraz at almost 10 pounds a bottle. Not as much toffee as the very popular 2003 vintage yet a wonderful example of a lighter, fresh Shiraz from Australia which is a welcome relief from the majority of bigger styles of this grape that we are normally use to. This is quite a feminine Shiraz from Australia, not at all “ big and brash and manly.”  Still holds some lovely sticky toffee pudding and caramel essences and more proof of how clever the winemaker is here at Lillypilly.”

Alcohol: 14.5 %

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Lillypilly 1998 VP

Mr Whirly says:

“ The 1995 vintage of this wine created quite a storm in the UK and this 1998 vintage, made from Chambourcin and Cabernet ( not Shiraz as in the 1995) is a little softer and rounder than the previous vintage, still with a rich caramel intensity but also with some Mocha coffee and dark Chocolate. Match this with Chocolate puddings, Plum pudding at Christmas and Rich Blue Cheese. I tasted this wine again a few days ago with Jason Atherton’s sommelier at his new restaurant that opens in April 2011 and its really come on well. Incredibly complex and layered now.”

Alcohol: 18.0%

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Lillypilly Tramillon 2008

Mr Whirly says

”  This exciting blend that has now been in the UK top end “ on-trade” and private client market for six years. Lychee, floral and spicy with a stronger hint of elderflower this year.”

75% Gewurtztraminer and 25% Semillon. Floral, limes and elderflower on the nose, with extra depth given by the Semillon. This wine looks after the “ off Dry” crowd that are sometimes so hard to look after ( that means there is very little of quality to look after you!). Great pouring wine for all year round, especially the summer and a wonderful alternative to Champagne.

Press article:

” The 2005 Tramillon is a great partner on the table with Indian food, its perfumed bouquet, fruitiness, slight sweetness and crisp finish making it an ideal match for this and other Asian dishes”

David Ellis, Melbourne Observer, March 29th 2006

Alcohol: 10.5%

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Lillypilly Noble Harvest 2006

2006 Noble Harvest

Please see the 2002 notes on the website for this wine. However,this year, the 2006 is made from a slightly different makeup of grapes, with Chardonnay replacing the Muscat and there’s a little more Semillon and Riesling in this wine and a little less Sauvignon blanc:

35% Semillon

25% Sauvignon Blanc

30% Riesling

10% Chardonnay

Robert Fiumara, winemaker:

“Even at 10% the Chardonnay definitely builds complexity in the wine, adding stone fruits to the bouquet and an extra dimension to palate texture, The aromatic varieties give real lift to the bouquet and there is plenty of zestiness and freshness on the palate.”

Mr Whirly says

“Its very similar to the 2002, a little fresher and not quite so rich but still the tropical fruits shine through like Mango, Kumquat and passion fruit. The alcohol is low at 12.5% and the wine is still a great match with more acidic puddings like Tarte Tatin and Lemon tart.”

Alcohol: 12.5%

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Lillypilly Noble Blend 2002

2002 Noble Blend:

See www.Lillypilly.com to see awards. 80% Sauvignon, 10% Semillon, 5% Muscat of Alexandria, 5% Riesling. Beautifully structured, more Coteaux de Layon than Sauterne, rich honey middle with passion fruit finish that goes on and on. Classic Tarte Tatin wine, multi faceted and talented and would match also summer fruit puddings, lemon tarts, mango sorbet and most tropical fruits.

Mr whirly says:

“This wine has received many accolades over the last 3 years and this has meant that the wine has sold very easily. The stock of this wine has now been reserved as a Museum wine here in the UK since there  is only a very small amount still available.”

Alcohol: 12.5 %

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New South Wales: Lillypilly!

The roads to The Riverina and LILLYPILLY the home of some of the best stickies in Australia!

I discovered Lillypilly in May 2000 after a thrilling drive through the most amazing lightening storm, which given there was only one road north, I had no choice but to head straight into the middle of this wonderful freak of nature. It was a scary moment since I shall always remember seeing a lightening bolt take off just to my right as I closed my eyes and went through! I had spent the last week traveling slowly east from The Macedon ranges, just north of Melbourne discovering wine regions as I went along: Chateau Tahbilk’s wonderful old cellar contrasted so dramatically with Mitchelton’s modern structure. I cut across country via Langwood, where there were lambs everywhere and discovered a lovely little pub called The White Hart. Then up to Euroa and then Mansfield and Delatite vineyards high up on the plateau below the great divide; the next day across country to King valley via the Tower lookout and Tolmie a little commune in the middle of nowhere, Scottish this time. There are no red gums up here just windy hilly little roads. I wondered as I sat in the lookout, looking down the valley what it must have been like holding out up here with Ned Kelly the famous robber. I remember the place had such a great view down the valley. From here I headed north to Milawa which is Brown Brothers wine country in a wide green valley. Close by is the King valley (where they are pioneering Italian varietals which is exciting but the wines are still a little young so now in 2013, ten years later, this would be an interesting place to re-visit). From here I headed north to Beechworth, contrasting so markedly with the green of The King valley. Beechworth is brown and arid. I had heard about the wonderful wines being made at Giaconda (these wines were on the list at Bibendum Restaurant) and I relished sitting down in Rick Kinzbrunner’s little tasting room and tasting some amazing Chardonnay out of the barrel.  This is great wine country. The wonderfully named Pennyweight has history and beauty behind it and it was here I tasted my first Gamay ( in OZ) and very good it was too. Oak tree’s dominate the landscape here, full and bright, reminding me a little of my teenage years in the delightful countryside around Cowfold in West Sussex. Triple J radio springs to life again here, being so close to the NSW border, and the music is so good it makes one want to traverse the NSW border forever.

From here I drove further north to Rutherglen, where wineries like Chamber’s and Campbell’s have made their names famous throughout the world for producing bench mark Muscat and Tokay fortified wines.

This country is River Murray dominated and this river divides Victoria and NSW. It’s flat yet fascinating. The power of the Murray! Such an influential force it is creating these wonderful communities along the way, like Albury, Carowa and Yarrawonga. It was here that I encountered the most amazing lightening storms along the flat long roads heading north from the aforementioned Carowa, through the sweetly named towns of Sangar, Urana and Narrandera; it felt as though the lightening and thunder were following me along the road into the Domesday world ( of course it wasn’t but this is what I wrote in my journal at the time) with dark field mushroom shaped clouds penetrating the skyline and the rain spraying onto the windscreen in a ferocious circular motion as my face touched the windscreen in an anxious lookout for the bolt of lightening that was about to strike a few seconds later a few yards from my faithful falcon. This was the night I entered Leeton and Lillypilly vineyard. It was a turbulent and exciting night and I arrived late and crashed out on the bench seat of my Ford Falcon, which had become my second home by now, given that I had been traversing with her across South Australia, Victoria and NSW since Christmas.

Leeton and the Riverina wine region

I awoke the next morning to a hot sticky day and spent the next two days here tasting mainly sticky wines. This wine region, although part of the Riverina, should not be confused in anyway with it, since it is in no way like it in terms of the type of wines it produces. “Riverina” or “Sunraysia”, as some like to call it, is further west along the Sturt highway towards Adelaide (a road I travelled in February 2006 from Sydney to Adelaide and it took me 26 hours to cross) and it plays a vital part in the economic’s of the Australian wine production: they crush 100 tons of grapes an hour during their busiest times of vintage and this wine region produces three quarters of Australia’s annual crush. Leeton is located 300 miles to the east of Banrock station, for example, so its not close by really, but in Australia that’s pretty close. And the wines here cannot be compared with the area to the east where they make wines for the box rather than the bottle. Yes there is a large amount of farmland taken over by grapes here in Leeton and Griffith but this in no way compares to the lines and lines of vines that go on for miles and miles and miles that produce the wine box wines to the east. In fact this day at the end of April 2000 showed how the botrytised wines that this region is famous for, wines that are so full of finesse and class, are indeed produced: hot, humid and misty mornings that create the potential environment for this most special of diseases to start its life. I visited 4-5 wineries on this first day. I only tasted stickies for these first few days but at West End winery I tasted Cabernet sauvignon and Shiraz too and although a little mirky and brown in colour there were immense coffee flavours pouring out from the wine. How narrow minded of me to think that this region could only produce stickies, these wines have a characteristic all of their own, a good lesson for life ahead.

Lillypilly Estate, Leeton, NSW

Lillypilly  Estate wine, Leeton– “ The home of quality noble (botrytis) wines in Australia as well as some exciting table wines. Lillypilly, which is an indigenous tree in this part of Australia as well as an endearing name, produce hand crafted wines, famous especially for their sticky wines, pudding wines to us Pom’s. Leeton just south of Griffith is the centre of the sticky wine revolution, irrigated for the first time from the waters of the Murrumbidgee river in 1912.”

Robert Fiumara produces top quality wines at a sensible price level and specialise’s in Noble wines of benchmark quality.

Please click on the wines below to see notes on each wine from Lillypilly.

Lillypilly Noble Blend 2002

Lillypilly Noble Harvest 2006

Lillypilly Tramillon 2008

Lillypilly VP 1995

Lillypilly VP 1998

Lillypilly Shiraz 2007

Lillypilly Sauvignon Blanc 2007