Winding our way into the Valley of Clare

13 Feb
2010
Saturday and possibly our last Saturday totally free for awhile since we will begin fermenting juice as of next week. Hence I took the opportunity to not waste an opportunity to head up to the Clare Valley wine region. I initially was going to go up on my own which would have been fine, but well, a boring drive for one, and a little less exciting tasting stuff on your lonesome. Fortunately I got a text from Stuart again who wanted to go up and see the area again. Happy days.
I made pancakes for breakfast in the morning for my housemate Monica and myself then Stuart and I headed off just after 9:30am and were at our first stop by 10:30am: Taylors. Taylors is a huge winery and they have heaps of different labels and styles available but the only one that impressed was an 04 St Andrews label Cabernet Sauvignon. Moving right along. We were going to stop at O’Leary Walkers but it was closed. The Clare Valley region is made up of a number of small towns that lead up to one another along the main road. There are lots of wineries alongside the main road and it is all really well sign-posted so I think it’s great to get to and see in this one day we had. You do take turns off the main road and head up into really gum-tree/eucalyptus country, which was a real surprise for me because I had assumed the valley would be more open, rolling plains instead of this stereotypical Australian bush-scape.

We made it up to Watervale township and stopped at Crabtree Watervale Wines and got stuck talking there with the owner for an hour and a half about growing their Tempranillo vines, their crew, the size of the winery etc. They make some great wines actually but I didn’t end up buying any at this point. I was waiting for something to really appeal. Olssens was closed because the winemaker’s wife had unexpectedly passed away a month ago. I had been told to check them out by the winemakers at Henschke so it’s a shame about the circumstances. Instead we went to Kilikanoon Wines where I bought their Block Road Cabernet Sauvignon, then up to Jeanneret Wines where there was a hilarious possibly-alco character behind the cellardoor looking after twelve cats and a fat labrador. Stuart bought some ripper reds for a hefty price. Thanks goodness we can claim some of this stuff through tax.

The Wilson Vineyard
We decided to fill a hole that was emerging in our stomachs and shared a little greek-style pizza and salad before driving up through the slightly boring township of Clare and heading to Knappstein Wines where I bought their excellent single vineyard Riesling and finished off with their palate-cleansing lager that was on tasting! Our last stops were in the Polish Hill region of the Clare Valley and here we stopped at The Wilson Vineyard and I bought their 09 Riesling, then down to Pikes were I was going to work the vintage (but turned it down for Henschke) and bought their Reserve Riesling which I’ll put down, and their yummy Luccio Sangiovese wine which will be great with Italian food…mmm mmm I can imagine the pizza I’d make with that!

Pikes vineyards

The road to Pikes Wines
What a day though, the area is lovely, though a little too secluded from the sea or the city in my opinion. Anyway we got some great wines which will be enjoyed one day in the future.

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