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Cellar Door Wine Tasting

5 Cellar Door Wine Tasting Tips to get you started

When taking small groups of fun Foodies out on a full day Tour Cellar Door Wine Tasting and exploring our beautiful Adelaide gourmet food and fine wine regions, the question is sometimes asked of me;

“Hey Armin- what’s the proper way to taste wine, I’m new to this sort of thing?”.

Well, my take on that question is this:

A lot’s been written about cellar door wine tasting etiquette in wine mags and on websites, but the fact remains; you are TASTING wine, and hopefully more than 1, which you might not have tried before. Like any other food or drink you would have experienced for the first time as you’ve grown up, it should be an exciting moment of discovery, not self-conscious awkwardness.

I believe there are no hard and fast rules, the do’s and dont’s vary, but here are my:

Shiraz & Co Tour Top 5 Cellar Door Wine Tasting Tips

or

“The Shiraz&Co 5 S’s”

cellar door wine tastingStep 1 – See

Start by holding the glassware by the stem. A good habit to adopt so that you avoid affecting the temperature of the small sample and getting the glass greasy. I’m the No. 1 culprit of the “that must be your glass, look at all the greasy prints”.

Then hold it up and find some back light to illuminate the wine… (won’t see much for the greasy prints??).

Note the colour, intensity and how translucent the wine is. There are lots of factors which affect the visual appearance; variety, filtration, age and many more. But try to focus on just these 3 visual criteria, i.e. bright herbaceous green vs slightly cloudy pale straw etc. to begin with.

Step 2 – Swirl

Hold the glass and gently swirl the wine a little. Keep the glass flat on the bench when you first start to reduce the risk of ‘woops I’m sorry’, if you are like me or especially after the first few cellar doors.

Swirling helps release aromas as it gets the wine moving, passing more air over it. Some of the volatile components are released softening the wine a bit and it allows you to determine the viscosity of the wine more easily.

Viscous wine will cling to the glass. Watch the rate it moves down the inside of the glass as it returns to the bottom. The ‘legs’ or ‘tears’ people mention relate to the drops and streaks or runs that more viscous wines leave. This relates to alcohol and sugar content. It’s a known fact – too much alcohol can lead to streaks and that can end in tears.

Step 3 – Smell

This is where it becomes subjective, as aroma profiles are described in so many different terms. These vary from prominent to subtle, some more easily identifiable than others. The technical talk is primary, secondary and tertiary aromas, but this is more information than you may need to describe a wine you enjoy.

Like with food, we have favourite smells and particular aromas we relate to differently, some with fondness, others not so much. It’s handy to use the tasting lists to note down dominant aromas, as a reminder and guide for later. After tasting several wines, it is sometimes hard to remember and it is a great tool for food matching, where choosing complementary aromas may be important.

There are lots of chemical compounds involved, many with tell-tale aromas, some deemed advantageous and some not. Unless you are a wine maker, judge, collector or such, if you rate the smell as ‘pleasant’ or ‘not’, this will suffice I think.

Step 4 – Sip

Tasting is subjective again, due to individual preferences. Some flavours are more obvious than others, and the likeness references used are extensive, depending on your own repertoire.

Typical comments at this stage are in terms of describing sweetness, acidity and tannin characteristics. These are worthy of noting too, as they align with preferences and the information will often come in useful later. Comparisons can be made, conclusions drawn, and favourites can (and will) be chosen.

There is the issue of ‘slup vs sip’. That’s getting that extra bit of air to help with the taste sensations. This is again personal preference. Often parental advice about good manners when we were children makes this more uncomfortable than it should be. Try it I say, it’s more fun than you think. But avoid simultaneous laughing!!!

Step 5 – Spit

Spit is great when you consider total alcohol consumption, as it’s often underestimated on a full day touring and cellar door wine tasting. Also, the increasing alcohol level slowly deprives us of our finer sensory capacity, as the tastings start to add up.

Swallow is often the obvious and only option however, especially when the wine ticks all the right boxes, or as many of my guests call it “simply delicious” or “I could sit down here with my friends and drink a whole bottle(s) of this over the rest of the afternoon”

I hope the message you took away was this – drinking wine with good friends is fun and wine tasting should be too, and leave the serious side to the serious people…seriously.

PS: A Few Other Tips

Reserve Judgement

There is the belief that it is un-courteous to voice your opinion in an overly exuberant way (try that after stopping at 5 wineries) before everyone in the group has had their fair time to taste, contemplate and form their own opinion.

This has probably got something to do with behavioural psychology; the odd one out, go with the group, follow the leader and all that other complicated stuff. So taste, think and then share your thoughts freely. There are always the tasting notes or a helpful head’s up from the cellar door staff, advice about what you can (or is that should?) expect, which will help.

The Water

Most good cellar doors provide water to allow you to quench your thirst, rinse your mouth between wines or at least when you change from white to red or fortified, and to rinse your glass in some situations. It is also the polite way to stay with the group and sober, before you get drunk, as drunk is typically frowned upon by cellar door staff.

The Crackers

Feeling peckish?? As far as alcohol goes, tasting on an empty stomach is not ideal, but note that the crackers alone will not be enough. Try for a proper meal well before you start cellar door wine tasting. They are sometimes available and meant as a palate cleanser, as bland crackers help to get rid of lingering flavours where water fails.

I hope this lot helps. I would love to hear your feedback and hope to see you on tour with us one day soon.

To book a tour call me on 0411752062 or email me at armin@shirazandco.com.au.

Regards

Armin

The Shiraz&Co Team

Cellar Door Wine Tasting

5 Cellar Door Wine Tasting Tips to get you started

When taking small groups of fun Foodies out on a full day Tour Cellar Door Wine Tasting and exploring our beautiful Adelaide gourmet food and fine wine regions, the question is sometimes asked of me;

“Hey Armin- what’s the proper way to taste wine, I’m new to this sort of thing?”.

Well, my take on that question is this:

A lot’s been written about cellar door wine tasting etiquette in wine mags and on websites, but the fact remains; you are TASTING wine, and hopefully more than 1, which you might not have tried before. Like any other food or drink you would have experienced for the first time as you’ve grown up, it should be an exciting moment of discovery, not self-conscious awkwardness.

I believe there are no hard and fast rules, the do’s and dont’s vary, but here are my:

Shiraz & Co Tour Top 5 Cellar Door Wine Tasting Tips

or

“The Shiraz&Co 5 S’s”

cellar door wine tastingStep 1 – See

Start by holding the glassware by the stem. A good habit to adopt so that you avoid affecting the temperature of the small sample and getting the glass greasy. I’m the No. 1 culprit of the “that must be your glass, look at all the greasy prints”.

Then hold it up and find some back light to illuminate the wine… (won’t see much for the greasy prints??).

Note the colour, intensity and how translucent the wine is. There are lots of factors which affect the visual appearance; variety, filtration, age and many more. But try to focus on just these 3 visual criteria, i.e. bright herbaceous green vs slightly cloudy pale straw etc. to begin with.

Step 2 – Swirl

Hold the glass and gently swirl the wine a little. Keep the glass flat on the bench when you first start to reduce the risk of ‘woops I’m sorry’, if you are like me or especially after the first few cellar doors.

Swirling helps release aromas as it gets the wine moving, passing more air over it. Some of the volatile components are released softening the wine a bit and it allows you to determine the viscosity of the wine more easily.

Viscous wine will cling to the glass. Watch the rate it moves down the inside of the glass as it returns to the bottom. The ‘legs’ or ‘tears’ people mention relate to the drops and streaks or runs that more viscous wines leave. This relates to alcohol and sugar content. It’s a known fact – too much alcohol can lead to streaks and that can end in tears.

Step 3 – Smell

This is where it becomes subjective, as aroma profiles are described in so many different terms. These vary from prominent to subtle, some more easily identifiable than others. The technical talk is primary, secondary and tertiary aromas, but this is more information than you may need to describe a wine you enjoy.

Like with food, we have favourite smells and particular aromas we relate to differently, some with fondness, others not so much. It’s handy to use the tasting lists to note down dominant aromas, as a reminder and guide for later. After tasting several wines, it is sometimes hard to remember and it is a great tool for food matching, where choosing complementary aromas may be important.

There are lots of chemical compounds involved, many with tell-tale aromas, some deemed advantageous and some not. Unless you are a wine maker, judge, collector or such, if you rate the smell as ‘pleasant’ or ‘not’, this will suffice I think.

Step 4 – Sip

Tasting is subjective again, due to individual preferences. Some flavours are more obvious than others, and the likeness references used are extensive, depending on your own repertoire.

Typical comments at this stage are in terms of describing sweetness, acidity and tannin characteristics. These are worthy of noting too, as they align with preferences and the information will often come in useful later. Comparisons can be made, conclusions drawn, and favourites can (and will) be chosen.

There is the issue of ‘slup vs sip’. That’s getting that extra bit of air to help with the taste sensations. This is again personal preference. Often parental advice about good manners when we were children makes this more uncomfortable than it should be. Try it I say, it’s more fun than you think. But avoid simultaneous laughing!!!

Step 5 – Spit

Spit is great when you consider total alcohol consumption, as it’s often underestimated on a full day touring and cellar door wine tasting. Also, the increasing alcohol level slowly deprives us of our finer sensory capacity, as the tastings start to add up.

Swallow is often the obvious and only option however, especially when the wine ticks all the right boxes, or as many of my guests call it “simply delicious” or “I could sit down here with my friends and drink a whole bottle(s) of this over the rest of the afternoon”

I hope the message you took away was this – drinking wine with good friends is fun and wine tasting should be too, and leave the serious side to the serious people…seriously.

PS: A Few Other Tips

Reserve Judgement

There is the belief that it is un-courteous to voice your opinion in an overly exuberant way (try that after stopping at 5 wineries) before everyone in the group has had their fair time to taste, contemplate and form their own opinion.

This has probably got something to do with behavioural psychology; the odd one out, go with the group, follow the leader and all that other complicated stuff. So taste, think and then share your thoughts freely. There are always the tasting notes or a helpful head’s up from the cellar door staff, advice about what you can (or is that should?) expect, which will help.

The Water

Most good cellar doors provide water to allow you to quench your thirst, rinse your mouth between wines or at least when you change from white to red or fortified, and to rinse your glass in some situations. It is also the polite way to stay with the group and sober, before you get drunk, as drunk is typically frowned upon by cellar door staff.

The Crackers

Feeling peckish?? As far as alcohol goes, tasting on an empty stomach is not ideal, but note that the crackers alone will not be enough. Try for a proper meal well before you start cellar door wine tasting. They are sometimes available and meant as a palate cleanser, as bland crackers help to get rid of lingering flavours where water fails.

I hope this lot helps. I would love to hear your feedback and hope to see you on tour with us one day soon.

To book a tour call me on 0411752062 or email me at armin@shirazandco.com.au.

Regards

Armin

The Shiraz&Co Team

Full Day Wine Tours

3 Hot Experiences on a Private Wine Tour in Adelaide

Private Wine Tours

One of the most practical ways to experience all our great and creative gourmet food and fine wine talent is to go on private wine tours. Whether it is an intimate day trip for two or in a small group, private wine tours are a personal engagement with the region where you can indulge yourself and your party.

Amazing Places = Amazing Experiences

Having participated in many Tourism Industry events, I can confirm that South Australia has become deservedly recognised as one of Australia’s leading Food & Wine destinations.

The state offers visitors a huge variety of class-leading and award winning:

  • restaurants,
  • wineries,
  • food and wine events and
  • artisan producers.

When it comes to freshness and diversity, our clean green environment and multicultural society has spoilt us for quality and choice.

The famous food and wine regions around Adelaide offer great year-round climate, fertile soils and a stunning outdoor lifestyle. It is here that our gifted chefs and wine makers are being joined by emerging artisans, crafting amazing experiences.

Their focus has solidly been on creating class leading new world ciders, beers and spirits, cheeses, chocolates and offering immersive and educational experiences targeting the food and wine tourism market.

Pairing these together on a private wine tour makes for some unequalled and unforgettable food and drink experiences to be shared around a table, many in some of the most breathtaking surroundings in the country.

Three Private Wine Tour Picks!

There are many venues and producers offering a unique and private wine and food experience in South Australia. This summary covers just three to highlight diversity and provide you with a taste of what is on offer on one of our Shiraz & Co private wine tours.

These tour destinations showcase an exceptional focus on embracing the wave of food and wine tourism that encourage visitors to get involved. These fine wine and food destinations champion the way, by offering meetings with the maker, promoting touching, tasting, testing of produce and fostering broadening of knowledge in an authentic and personal environment.

1. Mayura Station Tasting Room – Millicent

Mayura Station Tasting Room

Mayura Station Tasting Room in a Private Wine Tours

When it comes to unique and luxury beef, Wagyu is number one.

When it comes to unique ways to experience Wagyu, Mayura Station’s Tasting Room is at the top of our list. Here you get to enjoy the best of this $1000 per kilo beef cooked with love and perfection. It is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and indulgence.

Mayura have been raising the world famous Wagyu Cattle since 1998 on this iconic station established in 1845.  It is situated on the Terra Rossa soil that lends such depth of flavour to the Wagyu and the region’s award-winning red wines.

The dinner is an amazing event.  Ring side seating at the grill, a personal tutorial from the chef as he prepares and cooks about the station and history, a look into the exclusive world of Wagyu Beef followed by sharing in some of the most delicious and well-cooked beef (and local premium matched Coonawarra wines) on the planet.

We combine this indulgent wine & dine evening with a chauffeured Private Wine Tour weekend of Coonawarra Cellar Door and winery visits, with private boutique accommodation in the South East Region.

To find out more about Mayura Station Tasting Room visit their website here.

2. Casa Carbone Cooking School – Angaston

Private Wine Tours to Casa Carbone Taste of Italy

Pasta Making Class

When it comes to authentic Italian style cooking, Matteo and Fiona and their cooking school Casa Carbone is also at the top of the list of great private wine tour experiences in the Barossa Valley.

The “A Taste of Italy” cooking classes are small and very hands on, the ambience of the Enoteca just like Nonna’s kitchen. After an Espresso, it’s aprons on and into the kitchen classroom, with Matteo guiding you through ingredients and methods,  showcasing his favourite recipes passed down by family.

Learning to make pasta, Italian style, in the heart of the Barossa Valley with it’s backdrop of vineyards and quaint hamlets, inspires a sense of charm and tranquillity.  Matteo shares not only his skill as an accomplished chef but also his Italian heritage by telling stories about the food, culture and the ingredients, delivered with typical Italian passion.

The experience culminates in one of those perfect long table Italian-style lunches that we so often dream about. The delicious food crafted with love in the morning is matched with a hand picked range of wines, shared with the group of hungry foodies.

This private wine tour has you parting with a revitalised passion for authentic Italian cuisine, the skill and confidence to make pasta from scratch like a professional (you will never look at a packet of pasta the same way again) and maybe even the contact details of like-minded new friends whom you met on the day.

We compliment the Casa Carbone Cooking School morning with the leisurely drive through the region, stopping off at a few winery cellar doors on the way back to Adelaide, before dropping you off at the door of your Hotel.

For more information on what’s in store for you at Casa Carbone visit their website here.

3. Hutton Vale Farm – Eden Valley

Private Wine Tours to Hutton Vale Dining

Hutton Vale Farm Dining Room

The Eden Valley is the source of some of the best wines in the Barossa Valley region. John and Jan Angas have been nurturing their little piece of paradise, Hutton Vale Farm, and are now sharing this with small groups of lucky food and wine lovers.

This is another of those exclusive food and wine enterprises best experienced on a private wine tour. Hosts John and Jan believe in sharing their own brand of local farm style friendship, treating visitors like family. The old farm is as authentic and rustic as you can get. The focus is on providing guests with traditional style home cooked meals and estate grown wines,  the atmosphere warming and welcoming.

The Hutton Vale experience revolves squarely around what is produced on the farm; lamb, poultry, fruit, vegetables and wine of course. Much of their produce ends up in restaurants, loved by chefs.

A cellar door tasting and lunch or dinner in one of their rustic farm out-buildings is truly unique. Some of their guests fly in, using the air-strip, however if you don’t have access to your own private plane, the next best way to experience this food and wine oasis is on one of our Private Wine Tours.

The Hutton Vale Farm experience is best shared with a small group on a private wine tour to the region for the day. There will be time for visit a few winery cellar doors on the way, as we travel through the Valley on our way from Adelaide.

For more information on Hutton Vale Farm and what’s in store on this amazing private tour visit their website.

Tour Information

If you are interested in Private Wine Tours to the amazing Food and Wine Regions around Adelaide and would like to discuss a custom itinerary, including some of these unique experiences, please call Armin on 0411752062.

We offer transport options including:

  • limousines for 2,
  • luxury small groups of up to 6
  • midi buses for 20 persons

We can tailor the day to match your needs perfectly.

 

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

Mc Laren Vale Wineries

Mc Laren Vale Wineries

Mc Laren Vale Wineries – 5 Top Winery Tour Options

When planning an Adelaide winery tour to one of our well renowned regions, it can be overwhelming with so many wineries to choose from. To level the field we have reviewed some of our top tour options for Mc Laren Vale Wineries.

Some winery tour operators opt for set itineraries, stopping at their favourite spots, convenient for some but not so for others.  At Shiraz & Co Tours we prefer to offer guests the freedom to have their food and wine passions and preferences considered, discussing options and negotiating the pace and type of venues visited.

Points of Interest

A diversity and uniqueness of venues which provides such a smorgasbord, each and every one focusing on individual strengths. These are influenced by factors such as size, heritage, quality, location, character, range, environment, diversity and others.

Visitors could take the easy option– short listing Halliday rated 5* facilities. Doing so may risk excluding some other gems with intimate and unique producers easily overlooked. Our recommendation would be to prepare an itinerary which has a balance of venues, so that all items on the wish list are covered.

Here is just a small sample of winery destinations in the Mc Laren Vale Wine Region that highlight the diversity on offer for a winery tour. But just enough to tempt you to come and explore them all.

1. Mc Laren Vale Wineries – Samuel’s Gorge Wines

Mc Laren Vale Wineries - Samuel's Gorge Wines

Samuel’s Gorge Cellar Door

Great Location

Mc Laren Vale is a stunning region, geographically and climatically blessed. Wedged between hills and sea on a diversity of soils, it has something to offer every palate and passion.
A unique venue with breath-taking location overlooking the picturesque Onkaparinga River National Park in the Vale’s “Sea-view” sub-region is Samuel’s Gorge Winery.

The Samuel’s Gorge cellar door is housed in a rustic farm shed built in 1853 and the facility is as authentic and hands-on as you would expect. It perfectly complements the dramatic landscape surrounding the winery.
The wines are hand crafted focusing on the old world, just like the surroundings they have a traditional, rustic and earthy quality.

Hands on Philosophy

The winery is in the courtyard, using open slate fermenters, oak barrels and basket press. You could easily mistake it for an official heritage museum of wine-making, a clear focus on traditional methods is evident.

The wine brand’s image, a mosaic reflecting its unique Gorge location, perfectly sums up the philosophy of the team behind the business and highlights its unique sense of place.

For more information on this great destination click here.

2. Mc Laren Vale Wineries – Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards

Great Service

Quality of service is one of those intangibles that contributes greatly towards the overall rating of the cellar door customer experience. Although there seems to be a generic model that serves most venues well, there are some which make a more enduring impression.

Cellar doors range from mass tourism affairs with almost supermarket like efficiency and processes to small, personal encounters where the focus is more on sharing a passion of a craft.

At Oliver’s Taranga the long family heritage shines through at the cellar door. The nature of the cellar door leaves you feeling like you have been invited to share in a glass of wine with friends and family. The small tasting rooms and nooks, the bar where you can sit and sip to you hearts content, all make for a very personal and intimate experience.

 Regional Knowledge

No excessive sales pitch given here, the wines are left to sell themselves, and this they do. Instead the banter typically revolves around flavour, aroma, personalities, preferences, perceptions and maybe the weather. Those that are interested to broaden their wine or regional knowledge are catered for, the staff are rich in local knowledge and love their wine too.

It is rewarding to hear tour guests recount their day exploring the region, reflecting on the personal encounters as much as on the special bottle or 2 of wine that they have collected during the day.
No wonder that Oliver’s Taranga was awarded 2012 Cellar Door of the Year by McLaren Vale Grape, Wine, & Tourism.

Follow this link to learn about the winery and their wines.

3. Mc Laren Vale Wineries – Bekkers Wines

Precision Approach

Wineries range from small rustic affairs in sheds and back yards to mass production facilities of concrete and stainless steel spread over acres. The experiences are as varied as the labels and brands they produce.
Cellar doors are likewise varied, yet some strive to offer an experience which is more individual and exclusive than others.

Bekkers Wine’s Tasting Room offers a such a unique and personal experience. The private cellar door sits in a dominant location overlooking the Vale, an architectural statement of modern design, small, intimate and maybe even with a sense of indulgence.

Refined Wines

The philosophy which underpins the wine-making is reflected in the cellar door; cohesiveness, finesse, texture and precision are clear. These values are echoed in the ambience, service and wines of course.

The fact that their small volume production fine textured and refined wines are only available at select restaurants, merchants or by allocation reflects the exclusive nature of this cellar door and the product.

The knowledge that viticulturist and winemaker couple Toby and Emanuelle Bekker regard both their talents and the McLaren Vale region equally capable of producing world class wines, equal to those held so much in high regard from the old world, is reassuring.

Read about the Bekkers’ story and their philosophy by visiting their website.

4. Mc Laren Vale Wineries– D’Arenberg Wines

Great Range

There are several larger producers in the region, but for sheer numbers and prominence, DÁrenberg’s range and portfolio has arguably got all the bases covered.

If you are into quantity, then their cellar door provides some of the most comprehensive selection around. 60 wines made from 25 varieties over 11 different ranges; best to book an extended stay if you plan to taste your way through these.

The stable includes Icons, Artisans, High Altitude Hillbillies from the Adelaide, the Originals from the good old days (well known staples), The Outsiders, The Socialites, Nobles, Ancients, Supers, Stump Jumps and Limited Releases.
Although most are available at local liquor stores, restaurants and wine merchants, seeing them in their natural habitat is a unique experience. The cellar door is being upgraded so the experience will soon be taken to a whole new level. Like the philosophy applied to their wines, the project reflects the same level of enthusiasm, a challenge and ode to the complexity of the wine making process.

Awards and Accolades

Over 70 awards and accolades since 1990 have recognised what was already a long traditional family history and fine track record in wine making. Since 1912 the winery has been a pioneer, and the development of the innovative and stunning $13m 5 storey “Cube” cellar door, bar, restaurant etc. will continue this tradition.

For more on this great destination follow this link. 

5. Mc Laren Vale Wineries – Kay Brothers Wines

Mc Laren Wineries - Kay Brothers Wines

Kays Brothers Winery

Great Tradition

With a humble beginning in 1890, the Amery vineyard and undertaking that became the Kay Brothers brand has stuck to its knitting. Committed to Tradition, they have passed on deeply held beliefs from one generation to the next. This is epitomised by the history recorded by the owners of Kay Brothers Wines.

Kay Brothers have resisted the impulse to cater to the whims of changing fashion and focused on producing exquisite dry red and fortified wines. They have maintained a vision to defend the values of their founders to produce wines of classic quality in a sustainable way for 3 generations.

Focus on Sustainability

The winery has also had an enduring focus on sustainability throughout its long history. Not only by way of water and energy efficiency, but also lending continued support to the local community and the wine and grape industry.

Recent support for the arts by hosting chamber music events is continuing to foster this connection.

Kay Brothers Wines present amazing value and provide extended cellar potential, as they have always done. The wines are characterful and uncomplicated, a pleasure to drink now or put aside for a decade or more. It is reassuring to see such a continued dedication to tradition in such a competitive industry.

Read more about Kay Brothers Wines here.

Maybe these great venues appeal and you wish to build them into a full day food and wine experience. Please contact Armin on 0411752062 or complete the Booking Form.

We can’t wait to share them with you on your own personalised day in “the Vales”.

St Hugo Cellar Door Wine Tasting

Top Food & Wine Tour Destinations – Part 2

Top Food & Wine Tour Destinations

Hand Crafting Cheese and the Barossa’s latest bespoke Wine Tasting Experience

This is Part 2 of our summary of  Top Food and Wine Tour Destinations  near-to-Adelaide and a few more of our recommended places to visit while on a full day tour with Shiraz and Co Tours. Read Top Food & Wine Tour Destinations part 1 here.

We have a list of suggested themed tour itineraries showcased here, or if you have a particular interest we are happy to coordinate a custom collection of attractions and activities for you. Simply give us a call and let us know what is on your wish list.

Tours can be food or wine focused, or a combination of both, and with a great number of new providers now available we can incorporate ciders, beers, gin, honey, cheese, chocolate and more, all with great sightseeing along the way.

4. Culturing an appreciation for Cheese – Culinary Art Productions

Top Food and Wine Tour Destinations – The Art of Cheese Making

Pairing Wine with Cheese is a very traditional combination, one product enhancing the taste and enjoyment of the other. Wine and cheese matching has become an art also and we have a top food and wine tour destinations which focus on what goes with what, but here its all about making cheese.

Although there are several Cheese Wrights in Adelaide’s surrounding wine regions, the experience that gets some serious praise is the artisan cheese making class run by Culinary Art Productions at their farm and vineyard in the McLaren Vale wine region.

Milk straight from the Farm

Cheese making class tour

Milking Hettie the Goat

Here Lulu and Grace, cheese maker and affineur, direct small half day master classes in the art of cheese making. This is a true hands-on experience. It starts with the introduction to Hettie and her friends, goats to be exact, and ends with a long table lunch enjoying the estate grown wines and fresh hand-made cheeses.

After meeting and feeding the goats it’s time for milking. Everyone gets a turn and there is a real sense of achievement once you start to get the milk into the pail. Then it’s into the kitchen to make some fresh cheese with the still warm milk.

Quality control and hygiene are priorities so there are aprons and lots of washing and sterilising. Then the fun begins.

The language of Cheese making

Lulu and Grace get you familiar with terms such as lactic curd, fromage blanc, mould, bacteria, rennet, brine, lipase and culture. Then after a morning coffee break it’s on-wards with Haloumi, Fetta, Ricotta and White Mould.
Fermenting and curdling milk has never been so rewarding. The objective is to turn a fresh perishable product into cheeses which have a shelf life. No wonder wine and cheese have so much affinity for each other, they share a focus on process to build complex yet balanced flavour and aroma.

Hands on Cheese Making Class

Cheese Making Class

Grace also explains the art of ageing cheese, like cellaring wine, the art of the Affineur. The class is then treated to an international smorgasbord of soft and hard imported cheeses to put perspective on the difference age, storage, treatment and terroir have. Notable cheeses from the UK, France and Italy are discussed and their unique characteristics explored and contrast against what cheese makers are producing locally. Grace and Lulu highlight a list of go-to local artisan producers for those that want to get the scoop on exciting new cheeses on offer.

Long Table Lunch

Boutique Cheese Making Class

Long Table Cheese Lunch

The food is local produce based and made with love, mostly fresh from the garden. The class then get to share the cheeses made in the morning, some cooked some served fresh, all in a way to highlight their versatility. These are served with Estate grown wines chosen to complement the cheeses perfectly.

Simply delicious and even better as you get to take all the cheese you made home, including a recipe sheet and instructions so that you can continue your journey at home.

These classes have very limited numbers and are very exclusive, so bookings are again essential. This is a great way to see the Vales, learn a new cooking skill and taste some brilliant estate grown wines.

5. Bespoke Wine Tasting Experience – St Hugo Cellar Door

Top Food and Wine Tour Destinations – Premium Cellar Door Experiences

St Hugo Cellar Door Wine Tasting

St Hugo Cellar Door

The Barossa Valley has undoubtedly built a loyal following and serious brand credibility amongst the wine loving community. Serious integrity and history underpins the region, especially when it comes to premium red wines. It is a great destination with its large number of long established wine labels and cellar doors.

The Barossa Valley  has a number of notable premium cellar doors offering luxury tasting experiences. There are several on our itinerary list offering private hosted tastings.  Some offer tastings in exclusive tasting rooms away from the weekend crowds where you can connect with the premium, museum and reserve products in an intimate atmosphere.

State of the Art Cellar Door and Restaurant

Luxury Wine Tour Cellar Door

St Hugo Cellar Door, Rowland Flat

It is always exciting when someone adds another notable venue to the mix.

A recently re-opened historic cellar door, St Hugo at Rowland Flat has transformed an iconic local landmark site into a state of the art wine appreciation facility complete with tasting room and fine dining degustation restaurant.

This amazing venue offers a personalised approach to experiencing the premium St Hugo range of wines. The location speaks for itself. The creek, buildings and the view have heritage significance in the Valley, with the vine covered walled courtyard an amazing feature.

Exclusive tasting and dining experiences

Here you will be able to indulge in a menu of bespoke wine flights, private tastings in the Hugo Grant Bottle Room, Chef’s table lunches including a tour through the vineyard, inspecting the cork trees and kitchen garden, participate in a private tutored tasting in the cellar and chatting with the chef’s as they prepare your gourmet meal.

The renovation of the cellar door is in itself a work of art, the interior design focus being on finishes synonymous with the character of the region, highlighting the natural beauty of local stone and timber. Large picture glass windows bring the vineyard into the tasting room and add to the exclusivity of the tasting experience.

These exclusive tastings are by appointment and spaces are naturally limited. We recommend allowing a good half day to make the most of this location and to fully appreciate what this iconic brand is all about.

We look forward to sharing some of these top food and wine tour destinations and to spoiling you on your next visit or upcoming special occasion. We offer Gift Vouchers valid for any of our tours.

To make a booking simply:

  • Call Armin on 0411752062
  • Email tours@shirazandco.com.au
  • or use the website Booking Form
Luxury Gourmet Food & Fine Wine Tour - Maggie Beer

Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop – Great Barossa Tour Destination

Maggie Beer’s Pheasant Farm Shop

The Pheasant Farm and its Attractions

Growing up in a restaurateur family in the 1970’s, the story of the Maggie Beer family and their pheasants in the Barossa Valley still resonates personally with me.

Maggie Beer Farm Shop History, Food & Wine Tour Destination

Maggie Beer Family

It was an era when consumers began to expand their culinary repertoire and embrace foods previously only associated with fine dining.

What made Maggie Beer such a pioneer?

Maggie appreciated the power of simple food with flavour and embraced the opportunity provided her by her farm in the Barossa Valley.

Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop today is truly an amazing pantry and a testament to what can be achieved with vision and determination.

The size and popularity of the business lays testament to this success.

A humble kitchen now a luxury food destination

What a dynamic and bustling place this once humble restaurant has become, truly a must-see on a food and wine day tour adventure to the Barossa Valley.

Attraction on Gourmet Food and Fine Wine Tour to Barossa Valley

One of the many Pheasants in the Maggie Beer Farm Aviaries

It is like visiting your favourite Auntie or Grandmother when you were young. Invited by these great family cooks to help in the kitchen and let loose in the pantry.

The main attraction deservedly is all of the great produce that brand Maggie Beer has become known for.

However it is great to take the time to stop to enjoy the beautiful pheasants at the farm. The colours and beauty of these birds never ceases to amaze.

Another great attraction is the dam and the turtles that call it home. It is great to sit on the deck with a produce basket and glass of local Barossa Shiraz and watch these amphibians having fun.

Food and Wine Tastings

Gourmet Food & Fine Wine Tour Destination, Maggie Beer

Maggie Beer Farm Store

The Maggie Beer products have made their way into many a foodie’s fridge and pantry. They are great ingredients to add a little “gourmet” and a lot of “flavour” to a favourite recipe.

Maggie Beer’s Farm would have to be one of the more diverse and engaging open pantry tasting experiences on offer on the food and wine tour trail.

The focus is all on the experience. The range of condiments, dips, is seemingly endless. Once you get started it is hard to stop as you work your way around the many tasting stations; dipping, dunking, drizzling and trying all those amazing flavours.

The range from cellar and pantry, all using fresh seasonal fruit is diverse. Verjuice, Vino Cotto, Olive Oils, Chutneys, Stocks, Sugo’s & Sauces, Pastes, Jams, Biscuits, Relishes and Tea’s. The list continues, but that is why you should visit and try them all.

Indulging in a World of Flavour

The essence of the range of products is FRESH and FLAVOUR. Each taste of one of the many samples is all about authenticity and the individuality of the raw product.

The great thing about the Maggie Beer Farm experience is that you literally get to lick the spoon, lots and lots of them. But double dipping is not allowed.

The idea of offering hampers is perfect for visitors, especially to those from abroad or interstate. There are a multitude of combinations and there is the option to have them packed and sent home.

The Maggie Beer Foundation

The well-known Maggie Beer passion for fresh food with flavour deserves to be shared around, and be an inspiration to others. That is where the Maggie Beer Foundation has set its sights since 2014. The foundation is firmly focusing its efforts on the Aged care sector having identified that the industry could benefit from some inspiration and education.

The focus is about encouraging the industry to provide the elderly with access to full flavour food packed with nutrients rather than the bland fare that has become the norm. Maggie believes that no one group of people deserve it more and that meals should provide comfort and be looked forward to.

For more information, visit the Maggie Beer Foundation website and make a donation.  It is great to support an organisation which strives to embrace the principal that food has the power to bring joy and change lives.

Join us on a visit to Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop

Wine and Food Tour Destination

Deck overlooking Farm Dam

We schedule weekly small group gourmet food and wine tours to the Barossa Valley in our luxury chauffeured mini-bus and would recommend including a visit to Maggie Beer’s.

It perfectly complements the artisan food producers and great boutique wineries we visit.

 

 

To find out more simply either:

  • complete the Booking Form or
  • email us at tours@shirazandco.com.au or
  • Call Armin on 0411 752 062.

We hope to have you join us soon.

5 Reasons we LOVE Wineries in Winter

5 Reasons we love Wineries in Winter

Winter Cellar Door - Warm & Welcoming

Winter Cellar Door – Warm & Welcoming

Winter is a time for winemakers and cellar hands when attention to detail is paramount.

It is when the frantic scenes of vintage have been left behind, replaced with contemplation and measured steps. It is when the young wines start to open up and share their true characters.

Here are 5 reasons we love wineries in winter:

1. Try new Wine releases

Ageing and settling wines are scrutinised and analysed and the complex chemical changes are monitored. This is to ensure that a premium product is produced. It is a great time for pre-release barrel tasting and a chance to explore the developing vintage.  You may get the inside gossip on which wines could well be a sellout before they are all sold out.

2. Warm by the Cellar Door Fireplace

Many Cellar Doors provide a warm and welcoming ambience . This makes for cosy spot to shelter from the fog and mist. You can sit by the old pot belly stove and enjoy hearty and rustic home style cooked meals. It is a great environment to taste rustic winter red wines and admire the landscape.

It is also a great time to sample fortified wines which is always a great way to finish the cellar door experience and great way to put some colour into your cheeks.

3. Marvel at the behind the scenes Winery Activity

In winter, barrels are topped up to ensure the wine retains its integrity and excess oxygen is excluded after the “Angels take their share”. Angels are said to be the ones that take a small amount from each wooden barrel, when in fact this is what evaporates from the slightly porous barrels.

Adjustments are also made. Tasting is done by the winemakers to identify potential partners for blends. Wines which are stored are racked, wine is drawn off and moved between vessels where unwanted sediments are left behind.

4. Explore the vineyard

During winter months when vines go dormant much still goes on in the vineyard worth discovering and exploring.

Winter is a crucial time when man and earth combine to determine the future of the season and vintage to follow and when pruning begins. This is when younger canes harden and mature and in many boutique winery vineyards hard men and women brave the elements to hand craft the adolescent wood, training it to become worthy.

Excess canes are cut away, remaining canes are trimmed and some trained onto their trellis. This pruning ensures the vine retains its ideal shape and that good fruiting wood is preserved to ensure the following years’ crop is a quality one.

5. Marvel at the Vineyard’s ‘cycle of life’

Winter is also a time when vineyard staff replace soil nutrients and soil is conditioned after the preceding vigorous growing season with minerals and trace elements being applied. This is done when vines are dormant in preparation for the following spring when they once again blossom into life.

Ceremonial events such as ‘burning of the canes’ which traditionally helped to keep pruners warm, ensure destruction of diseased wood and an efficient way to clear cut canes is celebrated. This is now done as a gesture to mark the season.

A great time to tour SA’s Wine Regions

Our tailored bespoke small group tours take in all of the diverse winter scenery of the wine regions surrounding Adelaide. Each tour focuses on exposing all that is unique and beautiful at this more tranquil time of year, from the warm comfort of our luxury tour vehicles.

For enquiries and bookings contact us at email tours@shirazandco.com.au; fill in our booking form or simply call me 0411 752 062.

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.

Ngeringa Wines

Ngeringa Wines: Boutique & Biodynamic

Ngeringa Wines – Bio-dynamic Wine Destination

Owners Erinn and Janet Klein of Ngeringa Wines have developed a bio-dynamic oasis that resonates with nature. You sense harmony as soon as you enter the property, past picturesque paddocks and farm land at the base of the Mount Barker Summit.

Ngeringa Wines. A unique food & wine destination

Ngeringa Wines. A unique food & wine destination

The property was established in 2001 as part of the family’s Jurlique herb farm. The 20+ year old biodynamically certified soil guarantees a healthy environment with no residual artificial sprays, chemicals or toxins. By protecting this natural ecosystem and biodiversity the Klein’s have created a holistic and calming cellar door experience showcasing their stunning bio-dynamically grown and produced wine.

Their efforts in sustainable agriculture were acknowledged with the 2013 PIRSA Premium Food and Wine from our Clean Environment Wine Award.

What makes the Bio-dynamic difference?

Ngeringa Wines’ point of difference is its NASAA Certified Biodynamic nature. Biodynamics works within the cycles of nature, respects the natural health of the soil and interconnection of plants, animals and phases of the moon. As Erinn says “Traditional bio-dynamic practices allow the soil, site, season and variety to express themselves in the wines”.  Biodynamics requires hands-on care in contrast to the mechanised approach more typical of vineyard operations. Biodynamics also has a minimal intervention approach in the winery.

Erinn strives for wines which are “of a traditional style with elegance and structure favouring hand harvest and small batch winemaking, only wild fermentation and the use of minimal new (French) oak”. His objective is to produce wine with vitality and integrity which authentically reflects the region.

What makes this Winery Experience so Unique?

We love taking people on tours to Ngeringa Wines – but not only because of the great food and wine; but the feeling of being in a Tuscan vineyard with family and friends. You just want to linger for ever. Here is an operation which honestly respects maintaining the balance of nature.  A small herd of Scottish Highland cattle complement the Vines. Sheep and fowl roam the vineyard and an orchard, veggie and herb garden provide clean produce for the hearty wood oven pizzas and gourmet fare.

This is as close as to “paddock to plate” as you can get.

Read more in their website.

Ngeringa Arts Cultural Centre

We can arrange to take you to the new Ngeringa Arts Cultural Centre in the tour we create for you. The arts centre perched on top of Mount Barker summit is on the way to Ngeringa Estate Winery. Erinn’s philanthropist mother Ulrike championed the stunning 200 seat venue to support chamber music in South Australia. As Ulrike Klein describes: nature teaches us what life actually is and music is very similar. It possesses a similar life-force and is never static.

Paracombe Premium Perry

Secret Wine & Food Destinations near Adelaide : Paracombe Premium Perry

Paracombe Premium Perry

Damian McArdle and family at Paracombe, Adelaide Hills were originally primary producers and now have diversified into micro-brewers specialising in handmade pear and apple ciders as Paracombe Premium Perry.

This small family business have also expanded into tourism, offering visitors a personalised insight into their cider making operation. Paracombe Premium Perry is also a wedding venue, where people can relax and enjoy the beautiful orchard atmosphere during the wedding ceremony.

Paracombe Premium Perry

Damian McArdle amongst the Lemon Bergamot Pears

What is ‘Perry’ ?

Perry is an alcoholic drink made from fermented pears in much the same way that cider is made from apples. Perry is occasionally but somewhat contentiously referred to as ‘pear cider’.

This pleasant drink originated in England centuries ago, and is now available in the Adelaide Hills.

How the McArdle family became Perry Producers

Damian sought opportunities to showcase the Lemon Bergamot pears, originally planted by his grandfather, and also motivated by a desire to show people that fresh is best. His passion and entrepreneurial spirit lead to the creation of Paracombe Premium Perry.

This is a uplifting story of success of a small producer and determination to remain viable in our current competitive environment, often dominated by large organisations focussed only on making profit rather than quality and unique products.

Why we visit Paracombe Premium Perry

Shiraz and Co include Paracombe Premium Perry in our tours when  clients indicate they are looking for unique tastes, and something a little outside the mainstream winery tour.  This fits well with the Paracombe Premium Perry experience with a unique product produced by a committed family in their Adelaide Hills property.

Hosting small group farm tours, we take visitors through the Perry production process; from tree to bottle. This involves an orchard walk, an explanation of the market situation, the Perry brewing process, bottling and labelling which is all done in-house and very hands on.

The aroma of fresh pears is amazing as you enter the production facility, aromatherapy at its best, the smell of pears turns the cider tasting experience into a whole new sensual experience. Of course sampling the Perry and ciders is an important part of the tour!

Contact us to reserve a tour through the delightful Paracombe Premium Perry and taste their beautiful range of Perry and ciders or visit their website for more information