Wine Tasting – St Hallett Wines

St Hallett – Rowland Flat

It is hard to pass up St Hallett when setting out to enjoy some wine tasting. Established in 1944, St Hallett is a long time member of the Barossa’s “family” of vineyards.  St Hallett Winery has become well known for its Old Block Shiraz. St Hallett is another of those great iconic wineries to visit wine tasting while on a Shiraz & Co Tours day trip to the Barossa Valley.

 

Wine Tasting Barossa Valley Shiraz

Barossa Valley Shiraz

 

The winery provides tastings of some of the region’s typically bold and flavourful Shiraz. St Hallett is nestled at the foot of the Barossa Valley Ranges in the Rowland Flat sub-region. The winery sits at an elevation of approximately 290m, between Lyndoch and Tanunda.

Winemakers Stuart Blackwell and Toby Barlow have built the brands reputation around integrity by staying true to the Barossa’s heritage. The winemaking focus is on individual treatment to maintain the rich, intense yet diverse character of the fruit. St Hallet wines were showcased to an audience of wine enthusiasts at a recent wine tasting event at the Henley Wine Club.

Henley Wine Club

This week I attended the November 2016 meeting of the Henley Wine Club.  As a matter of course, the Henley Wine Club is a good show. This month’s meeting was special with a relaxed, informative and rewarding wine tasting of St Hallett wines.

The Henley Wine Club is hosted by Cliff and Linda Rothenburg (rothy@picknowl.com.au). Club meetings are held on a monthly basis in the clubrooms of the Henley Beach Bowling Club.  The format is a tasting of wines from a different winery or wineries each month, a chat with the hosts and winery representatives and some gourmet nibbles.

All Hail St Hallett Wines

St Hallett was represented by Stuart Blackwell, the personable and prestigious St Hallett senior winemaker of long-standing.  Stuart presented a great range of wines with an interesting and diverse array of varieties, from easy-to-drink whites to the inkiest of reds.

Stuart presented the wines from the valuable perspective of the winemaker. We heard not just about their technical development but also the history of the company, the St Hallett’s ‘story’.  St Hallett scrubs up well as a wine company with great history, company philosophy, innovative wine-making and probably related to these characteristics, great wines.  Every one of the presented wines were winners.

History of Endurance

Two years ago St Hallett turned 70 years old. Read more about St Hallett’s history here.  there are many wineries and growers struggling from the effects When the Australian wine industry is in an extended downturn . St Hallett winery also has had its own struggles; described as at times ‘being on its knees’.  But the company is doing well at this time.  I suspect the latter has something to do with finding, attracting and retaining significant talent in its workforce.

Varietal Diversity

Reflecting on the wine selection at the wine tasting, it is amazing what St Hallett have done with varieties outside the classics.  Together with the Barossa/Eden Valleys’ standard bearers of Shiraz and Riesling, Touriga Nacionale, Mataro and Grenache (in Pinot-style) was on offer.

 

 

Wine Tasting Barossa Valley Wine Region

Barossa Valley Wine Region

 

At the easy-to-drink end of the spectrum was Poacher’s Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc (with a touch of Riesling). This was humorously described as 60% Semillon, 40% Sauvignon Blanc and 12-14% Riesling.  I don’t know about your maths, but that’s definitely over-delivering!  At the inky end of the spectrum was Stuart’s signature creation Blackwell Shiraz, perhaps better called “Black-ink-well”.

Building Relationships

St Hallett procure fruit from interesting and/or talented providers.  John Dawkins, reformed federal politician of the 70’s to 90’s supplies fruit for the Dawkins Single Block Shiraz. Anthony Scholz, a grower from the famous Ebenezer district supplies the Sholz Single Block Shiraz.  Anthony is to be admired for his dedication to growing good fruit and for his outstanding approach to the way he sells his product.  His marketing focus is on forging strong relationships with winemakers.  He is ahead of his time in the way he markets his fruit and accolades should go to St Hallet for being among the first to respond positively by respecting the provider and his approach.

Great Wine Stories

There’s some interesting stories behind some of the wines also.  The ‘poacher’ behind Poacher’s Sem/Sauv Blanc is in fact Stuart Blackwell, who out of retribution, poached some fruit one season (way back in the wilder, old days) from a non-paying client for contract-crushing.  I hasten to add that Stuart came clean with the victim and then developed a great long-standing relationship with the offending, and then offended vineyard.  The story behind the Gamekeepers labels (tasted were Shiraz/Grenache/Touriga and Cabernet Sauvignon) was also related on the night. Unfortunately I missed this because I was expecting to hear that the Gamekeeper was named after the guy who dealt with the Poacher.

There are a thousand more stories at St Hallet to be heard over a great glass of their wine at a wine tasting.  A visit to the winery at St Hallett Road, Tanunda in the Barossa Valley is well recommended, especially on one of Sharon and Armin’s great Shiraz & Co gourmet food and fine wine tours. 

To learn more from St Hallet wines visit their website here.

For more information or to experience St Hallett Wines on a fun day tour itinerary call Armin on 0411752062 or email him at armin@shirazandco.com.au.

By Lawrie Stanford,

25 November 2016

Lost in a Forest Wine Bar – Hidden Secret Destination

Everyone loves a Hidden Secret!  Lost in a Forest Wine Bar

Why are people getting so excited about Lost in a Forest Wine Bar, a boutique Adelaide Hills food and wine destination newcomer?

We’d like to think it’s probably due to the holistic approach being taken to the food and wine. The venue is serving up minimal intervention Hills premium wines matched with minimal intervention premium rustic food.

Dining Room-Anglican Church

Dining Room-Lost in a Forest

Former musician turned wine maker Taras Ochota from Ochota Barrels and partners have remodelled the old stone Anglican Church in Uraidla. It has been turned it into a cosy wine bar and lounge with wood fired oven.  Consequently Lost in a Forest has become a great go-to gourmet food and wine tour lunch destination on a weekend.

Named, like Ochota’s wines after song lyrics, Lost in a Forest Wine Bar echoes a line of The Cures’ song “A Forest”. It has a trending ambience which tempts people to respond to its call to come and explore “into the forests trees and dark”.

Uraidla securely on the Food Trail

Lost in a Forest Wine Bar is helping to bring Uraidla, a smaller Hills settlement out from under the shadow of Hahndorf, the region’s main tourist draw card.  The ”off the beaten track location” helps to reinforce “Lost in a Forest” nature of the venue, but since Uraidla is very small it’s not that easy to miss in the main street.

Luxury in its simplicity

Gourmet Pizzas hot from the Wood Oven

Gourmet Pizzas hot from the Wood Oven

A huge wood fired oven has replaced the altar with chefs turning out organic pizzas with locavore ingredients on wooden boards.  Thai inspired toppings complement traditional Italian with interesting combinations like Sprouts and Speck to tempt the adventurous. These are all prepared under the filtered light of the old church’s lead light windows.

Facebook marketing depicts slow cooked pork and even wallaby in preparation for what feels like almost ritualistic weekend feasts. A unique mezzanine where the choir once sang has been turned into a group dining area overlooking the main dining room where previously the church congregation sat.

A holistic philosophy based on spontaneity

The small bar serves Ochota Barrels wines as well as showcasing other small production Basket Range talents and selected old world wines. Taras’s wine making philosophy, influenced by his international and local experience aims for minimal intervention in farming and wine making. Represented winemakers help to underpin this ethos, small batches of love and passion.

His personal wine-making ambition to “produce something delicious and gorgeous for all to enjoy with none of the nasties” is clearly evident and a common thread that weaves its way through this whole new attraction.

And who doesn’t love a bit of mystery and exclusivity.

Why come on a Shiraz & Co Adventure?

Specialising in small group boutique food and wine tours, we offer to take visitors through the picturesque Adelaide Hills and quietly lead them to this hidden secret. A bread crumb trail is purely optional, as once found we suspect you will not want to leave.

“Slurpability” – the ultimate test and measure of a wine’s pleasure factor

Although it all starts with a good ‘swirl’ and then a ‘sniff’, it’s that ‘slurp’ that encourages wine to give up its hidden secrets. We all have parts of our personality which need a bit of coaxing to be revealed, wine is no different.

It’s that rush of air that brings out the best in the fruit and helps the sensory system pick up on the layers in the wine. The extra air helps wine to release some of its more volatile personality and allows you to get better acquainted with its softer side.

Don’t be afraid of a bit of dribble, and the all favorite ‘gulp’ is still allowed, it’s all part of the fun and the more you practice the better it gets. And don’t worry, we always have some handy wipes in our comfort pack ready to help out if things get particularly messy.

“Wine Vocab” – walk the walk and talk the talk

Wine is a seriously subjective thing, as everybody has different likes and dis-likes. There is no right or wrong, just a matter of trying it all to broaden your experience.

The same goes for the language. It takes years to master the semantics of wine, all the peculiar terms, phrases and complex terminology; from Appellation to Zinfandel and all the other letters of the alphabet in between.

Our Wine and Food Tours provide an opportunity to ask questions in an atmosphere which fosters camaraderie and where inhibitions frequently get cast aside. Our tour guides are there to lend support and make sure that you leave our care, if not just merry and bright, but maybe just that little bit more confident in your knowledge of South Australian wine and food.

“Sommelier-ship-ism” – what does this rarefied wine art serve up?

Our tours strive to give you a balanced selection of food and wine options to complement your adventure.

Sommeliers are individuals who are gifted at telling a wine’s story. They share where it comes from, who made it, how it was made, what makes it unique and most importantly of all why it is the best pairing for the situation. Although their craft is sometimes tied up in the rarified air end of the wine and food spectrum, the fundamental idea applies to all food and wine matching.

Our tours focus on the unique local food & wine talent and their interaction. We hope you will find it a perfect place to begin or continue your own journey, be it from more home-grown beginnings.

All that glitters with gold may not necessarily be treasure

The 5 star winery and 100 point wines they strive to make, often adorned with gold and silver clearly attract attention and we recommend you try them.

However, although lots of stars, high scores on your report card and glitter help to differentiate some high achievers from others, this is not always a guarantee that you will be impressed. Tasting is much like judging, a very subjective exercise. Rating results can be influenced by many factors with mixed emotion and agenda brought to bear.

Our advice is to embrace the natural and dynamic nature of wine on your adventure. You be the judge. Let your own preferences guide you. Reflect on both the words of wisdom offered by modern world wine gods and the poetic words of the mystic Bacchus, the ancient Roman God of Wine and Revelry. He is said to have been the discoverer, cultivator, proliferator and protector of the ancient vine and his apt motto being “In vino veritas – in wine is truth”.

In Tannins Grip

Although the tannic nature of some wines aid in maturation, there are some trains of thought that these tannins do not always lead to longevity in a wine. It’s a matter of balance.

Sometimes this tannic sense, or drying harshness is reflective of under-ripeness of fruit at harvest revealing the undeveloped nature of the fruit. The level of alcohol in a wine can also affect the perception of tannins, making the whole equation even more confusing.

The astringent taste represents the vines natural defence when grape and seed are ripening. Green as camouflage and bitter to the taste to ward off predators before seeds are ready to germinate. When ripe, the tannin in the skin colours the grape so as to attract the natural propagators. Clever really, essential to survival of the species.

Tannins are also introduced by the use of oak from barrels used to store and mature wine.

On our tours we suggest you take the opportunity to identify tannins and ask what value they add to the product, be it now or in the future. It will help towards the decision; do I drink this soon or put it away to enjoy another day.