It’s getting hot in here. And by hot, I mean 46° Celsius (114° Fahrenheit) plus humidity. So hot in fact, we only worked half days all last week and had one day cancelled entirely. By the time the weekend rolled around, Gerrit and I couldn’t take it any more so we decided to head to McLaren Vale.
And it was probably one of the best decisions we’ve made yet. Both the beaches and wines were some of my favorites in all of South Australia. Good food, good sand, good drinks and a cottage two minutes from the ocean? I’d go back in a heartbeat.
We drove down from Barossa Saturday morning after hitting up the farmer’s market, and got straight to tasting the second we arrived. Luckily we had some suggestions from locals, although it seemed like the type of place it would be hard to go wrong. In case you want some ideas though here’s what we checked out!
Definitely Worth Visiting:
Yangarra – Loved this place. Being the first one we stopped at it definitely set the bar high. Everything their Grenache touched was magic, especially their Old Vine Grenache (2014) and GSM blend (2015). Also had a really beautiful red called the Iron Heart Shiraz (2013). Absolutely worth the $10 tasting fee.
Samuel’s Gorge – While they were completely sold out of many of their wines, the three we did try were all wonderful. Their Grenache and Shiraz were all really well crafted, and the sparkling red I swear I could have sat there and drank an entire bottle.
Fox Creek – Another favorite of the weekend. The show-stopper was definitely their Reserve Shiraz (2013), but every wine we tried was lovely.
Wirra Wirra – Surprisingly good for being one of the more touristy producers of the region. Personal favorites included the Church Block red blend (2014), Amator Cab (2015), Woodhenge Shiraz (2015), RSW Shiraz (2014) and the Angelus Cab (2014). But the best surprised of the weekend was their Moscato. Unfortunately only exported to Asia and Sweden, Mrs. Wigley (2016) was probably the most elegant Moscato I’ve ever had.
Graham Stevens Wines – An accidental stop but a great one. Poured by the winemaker himself, the donkeys in the front yard were just the icing on the cake. With every wine his intention was for the fruit to be the feature, so none of them were over oaked or too heavy with tannins. Really nicely balanced all around.
Mollydooker – A quirky stop but a good one, I really enjoyed their Maitre D’ Cab (2015), Enchanted Path Shiraz / Cab (2014) and Carnival of Love Shiraz (2014).
If You Have Time:
Primo Estate – Great Shiraz Sangiovese blend (2015) that’s actually produced in Tuscany. I also really enjoyed their Australian version of the same thing, although I’d want to lay it down for a little. Plus the nice Cab / Merlot blend called Joseph Moda (2014).
Kangarilla Road – A sharp tasting room with sweeping vineyard views, my personal favorite was the Silent Noise Shiraz (2014). Honorable mention though goes to the Terzetta blend of Sangiovese, Primitivo and Nebbiolo (2013).
Kay Brothers – While particularly known for their Hillside Shiraz, Amery Vineyard (2014), my biggest regret of the weekend was not getting a bottle of their Grand Liqueur Muscat. Not because it was sensational on its own, but because our host suggested it drizzled over pancakes and if that doesn’t make you want breakfast I don’t know what will.
D’Arenberg – Thank god for working in the industry. Because we more or less name-dropped Jim Barry, at this more touristy stop we were able to try their more premier wines. Standouts included the Ironstone Pressings GSM (2013), Coppermine Road Cab (2013), Dead Arm Shiraz (2013), the Sardanapalian Shiraz (2012) and the Athazagoraphobic Cat (2011). Also peep the Cube.
Beach Road – Mixed feelings but it definitely has potential. The best parts to us were the pizzas and the view.
Food: Besides the pizzas at Beach Road, the Tin Shed Cafe was a good stop considering it was pretty much one of two things open in town on a Sunday afternoon.
Accommodation: We spent Saturday night at the BIG4 Port Willunga Tourist Park in one of their cabins and it was perfect! Having been told the Port Willunga beach was one of the nicest near the Vale, crashing near there seemed like the best thing to do and it definitely did it dissapoint.
Anyway happy trails! And if you have any recommendations of your own please leave them in the comments!