Category Archives: Adelaide Hills

Nov 11 2015

Masterclass: Creating a Sense of Place – The Lane Vineyard, Adelaide Hills

Posted on November 11, 2015 | By merrill@cellarit.com

You know a winery is serious about “terroir” when they print the Google Earth coordinates of the particular block each wine comes from on the front label!

The Lane Vineyard, arguably the Adelaide Hills’ most picturesque vineyard, prides itself on creating wines that display their sense of place.

And it’s a very special place indeed!

Last year John Edwards, who founded the winery with his wife Helen, reminisced about their decision 22 years ago to buy a 70 ha cattle grazing property high in the Adelaide Hills overlooking the Onkaparinga Valley: “We’re so blessed to have bought this block rather than the one across the road. This is the gem, the one with the minerals, the rolling slopes and the beauty. This is the piece of dirt that gives us the edge.” (Keys to the Lane: Meet the New Faces of an Adelaide Icon by Anthony Madigan, Wine Business Monthly, April 2014)

Today, day-to-day management of The Lane Vineyard has passed to John and Helen’s sons, Marty Edwards and Ben Tolstoshev, with Marty in charge of viticulture and Ben in charge of marketing. Recently Ben gave a masterclass on the wines at Different Drop’s new warehouse premises in Ultimo.

I don’t think I was the only one in Ben’s audience who was more familiar with the winery’s stunning restaurant than the wines themselves. (The restaurant is consistently rated one of the best in South Australia). But with Ben and Marty at the helm, both passionate and eloquent advocates for their brand, I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more about these impressive hand-crafted wines.

The Lane Beginning Chardonnay 2005, for example, was a beautiful reminder of how wonderfully Australian chardonnay can age when well-made. The wine had an enticing bouquet of toasty notes with a hint … Read the rest

Sep 09 2011

Tapanappa Dinner with Brian Croser

Posted on September 09, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

On Wednesday night I was fortunate to sample the Tapanappa Wines’ range with winemaker Brian Croser. Organised by Vintage Cellars Double Bay and held at Darlinghurst’s La Brasserie, the dinner offered a chance to drink superb wines with terrific French food under the tutelage of one of the most important contributors to the development of the Australian wine industry.

Croser started Petaluma in 1976 and built a strong portfolio of brands which he also eventually sold to Lion Nathan in 2001. While disheartened to lose his beloved Petaluma to a multi-national, Croser soon saw the sale as an opportunity to launch a new phase in his career. In 2002 he formed Tapanappa Wines as a partnership with Jean-Michel Cazes of Château Lynch-Bages, Bordeaux and Société Jacques Bollinger, the parent company of Champagne Bollinger.

When Croser started Petaluma, he was one of the first to recognise the importance of identifying the best region for the planting of a particular variety. Today he even more passionate about matching varieties to only the best suited terroir, believing Australia’s future success as a premium wine producer depends on its ability to define and promote its “60 fine wine regions…24 of which are as cool or cooler than Bordeaux in France.” (Brian Croser’s answer to Oz wine travails, JancisRobinson.com)

Tapanappa’s chardonnay comes from the Tiers Vineyard in the Adelaide Hills, the pinot noir from the Foggy Hill Vineyard on the Fleurieu Peninsula and the cabernet and merlot from the Whalebone Vineyard in Wrattonbully.

At the dinner the Picadilly Valley Chardonnay 2009 (Museum Release) and the Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay 2008 were paired with a delicious horseradish cured salmon with buckwheat blini, creme fraiche and smoked roe.

Both wines hail from the same vineyard, but the Tiers Vineyard Chardonnay is sourced … Read the rest

Apr 04 2011

Grüner Veltliner: An exciting new trend in Australian whites

Posted on April 04, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In a recent article in the Australian Financial Review, wine writer Tim White talked about alternatives to sauvignon blanc. (When sauvignon blanc just won’t do, The Australian Financial Review, 21-23 January 2011). Not surprisingly, riesling and chardonnay topped the top-five list among sommeliers, winemakers and retailers. And of the alternative varieties, three grape varieties stood out: chenin blanc, viognier and grüner veltliner.

Grüner veltliner appeared on my radar when I was researching the Canberra District and its growing reputation for fine riesling. According to James Halliday, in Austria grüner veltliner is grown in all the same regions as riesling. Now two excellent biodynamic wineries, Lark Hill and Hahndorf Hill Winery, from two of the great riesling regions in Australia – the Canberra District and the Adelaide Hills respectively – are demonstrating grüner veltliner’s potential in Australia.

In 2009 Lark Hill released the first grüner veltliner in Australia. It was made from a tiny amount of fruit from their original plantings in 2005. It was very well reviewed, including a 94/100 from James Hallliday:

At long last, a Grüner Veltliner to write about… It is strongly varietal, with a waft of white pepper on the bouquet adding complexity to the fig and ripe pear fruit; best of all is the texture and mouthfeel. Lark Hill is certified Biodynamic – an holistic farming practice established by Rudolph Steiner in Austria in the late 1920’s – so it brings a lovely synergy to produce this classic Austrian variety from the home of Biodynamics. (James Halliday, 2011 Wine Companion)

Lark Hill just pipped Hahndorf Hill Winery to the post with the first release of grüner veltliner in Australia. Hahndorf Hill’s debut vintage was released in 2010, four years after the winery had imported from Austria three different clones of the … Read the rest

Apr 04 2011

Geoff Weaver: Taking Australian Sauvignon Blanc in a New Direction

Posted on April 04, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

In my post, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Master Class, 2 March 2011, I talked about how New Zealand winemakers had developed new styles of sauvignon blanc that, while retaining the style’s signature vibrant acidity, exhibit more restrained fruit tropical aromatics and a more evolved mid-palate with a longer, creamier finish.

In Australia, Geoff Weaver of the eponymous Adelaide Hills winery has taken Australia’s sauvignon blanc in a new direction with his Ferus Sauvignon Blanc. As Weaver explains, the aim was to create a wine reflective of its vineyard origin and with as little intervention as possible.

Like his innovative New Zealand counterparts, Weaver uses indigenous yeast from the vineyard. The wine spends 12 months on lees in second use French oak barriques with some stirring.  The result is a rich yet understated and less fruity aromatic sauvignon blanc with a rich mid-palate exhibiting creamy and lanolin notes, and a lingering mineral finish.

First made in 2004, the wine has been very well received.  James Halliday gave the 2009 vintage 96 points and included it in his Top 100 Wines for 2010:

This is “the other” Weaver sauvignon blanc, wild fermented in French oak barriques and given 12 months lees contact. No acid was added nor was the wine fined. A striking contrast to all other Australian sauvignon blancs that delivers great complexity and equally great intensity. It also has greater longevity than other sauvignon blancs. (James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion)

Geoff Weaver also makes the highly acclaimed Lenswood Sauvignon Blanc and the Lenswood Chardonnay. Other top wines from the range include rieslingpinot noir and  cabernet sauvignon merlot.

Weaver is one of the pioneers of the Adelaide Hills regions. The former chief winemaker for Hardy’s, Weaver, and his wife Judith. planted the vineyard … Read the rest

Apr 04 2011

Shaw + Smith Shiraz: Refined Elegance in A Bottle

Posted on April 04, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

South Austalia, and especially the Barossa Valley, is typically associated with big, ripe, full-bodied shiraz. Many examples of this style have won critical acclaim from esteemed American critics like Robert Parker, partly because they typified a unique Australian take on the Rhône varietal.

But winemakers are by and large a very creative, innovative bunch who don’t like to be boxed in by stereotypes. While many South Australian wineries are still making fine shiraz in a big, bold style, the trend is definitely towards a more elegant and approachable style. In fact, Harvey Steiman of the Wine Spectator notes in his article, Renewed Allure: With ever more distinctive styles arriving on U.S. shores talk of Australia’s flagging appeal doesn’t compute, that “about half the Shirazes in the [Wine Spectator’s] 90-plus range come from somewhere other than Barossa, and even the Barossa wines show more elegance than generally ascribed to that warm area.” (Wine Spectator 31 July 2010).

The Adelaide Hills Shaw + Smith, founded by cousins Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith in 1989, has consistently demonstrated the ability of this cool climate region to create wines of distinction.

Hill Smith credits Brian Croser for discovering the wine-growing potential of Adelaide Hills. “Brian Croser was the person who had the vision for the Adelaide Hills, and a lot us have followed that vision,” he told the Wine Spectator’s Jennie Cho Lee back in 2002, “Now the top Sauvignon Blancs and top Chardonnays come from this region.” (A Turn Toward Refined Elegance: Vitners in South Australia are pioneering a new style of Wine, 15 May 2002).

Since that time the Shaw + Smith winery has also created an award winning elegant, spicy shiraz to share the stage with its top-rated sauvignon blanc and M3 Chardonnay. The 2007 Shaw Read the rest

Apr 04 2011

Adelaide Hills: A Diversity of Wines of Distinction

Posted on April 04, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

I’m spending next Friday in Adelaide Hills, and in preparation for my trip I thought I would research the best wineries in the region, so I know exactly where to go and what to taste. Hard work, I know!

As many of you are aware, Adelaide Hills has developed an outstanding reputation for sauvignon blanc. Three of the top six 2009 sauvignon blancs (96 points) in James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion 2011 edition are from the Adelaide Hills: Dandelion Vineyards Wishing Clock of the Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc, Geoff Weaver Lenswood Sauvignon Blanc and Shaw + Smith Sauvignon Blanc.

The region is also highly respected for its elegant and complex Burgundian-style chardonnay. Fruit for Penfolds multi-region Yattarna – the 2007 vintage was the highest rated chardonnay (97 points) in Halliday’s Wine Companion, is sourced from the Adelaide Hills. Ashton Hills, Grosset, Michael Hall, Shaw + Smith and Ngeringa also make outstanding examples. Tapanappa, a joint venture between Brian Croser, Jean-Michel Cazes of Chateau Lynch-Bages in Pauillac and Societe Jacques Bollinger, makes the very highly regarded Tiers Vineyard Piccadilly Valley Chardonnay.

Petaluma, of course, makes an excellent range of sparking wines from its Piccadilly Valley  vineyard, including the Croser Piccadilly Valley Pinot Noir Chardonnay NV Sparkling and the vintage Croser Late Disgorged Piccadilly Vally Pinot Noir Chardonnay Sparkling. Piccadilly Valley and Lenswood are the two registered sub-regions of the Adelaide Hills.

I was interested to learn that Shaw + Smith had won the Trophy for Best Australian Shiraz over 10 GBP at the 2009 Decanter World Wine Awards for the 2007 vintage of the Shaw + Smith Shiraz. Most people don’t normally associate the Adelaide Hills with shiraz, but a number of wineries in the area, including Bird in Hand and Romney Read the rest