An Extensive Guide to Clare Valley

I have to say Clare really grew on me. Hands down the smallest town I’ve ever lived in it definitely took some getting used to but now even thinking about leaving breaks my heart.

I’m going to miss running and biking on the Riesling Trail, spending every day off in the Health Shop with the best wifi in town, and hitting up Wooly’s whenever we needed more bread. I’ll miss the little bottle shops and all three bars in town we definitely didn’t spend enough time at. The four restaurants (Asian, Indian, Seed and Ponchas*) we had to choose from because honestly do you need anything more?

Anyway, it’s been real Clare and this is my ode to you. To those of you just going for Gourmet Weekend, I know this list is aggressive but I’ve lived here for four months. Do you expect anything less?

Must-Sees:

Jim Barry – I’d be a fool if I didn’t at least include JB. As biased as I may be, they have some killer wines and you’d be crazy not to go try them. The 2013 McRae Wood Shiraz is my personal favorite, but I also love the 2013* PB, the 2016 Florita and aged 2009 Florita Riesling. Assyrtiko is their darling child, a very refreshing summer white varietal they helped bring over from Greece, but honestly toss a bottle of their Watervale Riesling in the fridge and you’re ready for any occasion.

Kilikanoon – Bae for red wines in the valley. Loved their whole Asset Collection but especially their Reserve Riesling, Reserve Grenache, GSM blend, Mataro, Shiraz, and Reserve Cab. Okay so everything. I loved everything. This was one of our first tastings in the valley and definitely sparked my interest in Grenache which we don’t see much back home.

Mount Horrocks – Everything was perfect, but I went home with a bottle of their 2014 Nero D’Avola. Their Watervale Riesling was brilliantly sharp, Semillon just oaked enough, Shiraz soft and Cab wonderfully complex. Plus their sweet Riesling. But I guess that’s to be expected when they’re being produced by the partner of the man who runs Grosset.

Mitchell – Excellent Rieslings. A small, family-owned and run winery, they take a more natural winemaking approach that leads to some pretty beautiful results. We biked here on the Riesling trail and although we were covered in sweat by the time we arrived, had one of the best tastings and little tours in all of South Australia. Also loved their sweet Semillon.

Highly Worthwhile:

Paulett – Both the view and the wines are amazing. If you can snag a reservation there for lunch, definitely do! My favorite whites were their Antonina Riesling, Aged Release Riesling and Semillon. Favorite reds included their 2012 Cab Merlot (the song Intoxicated literally popped into my head), which I’d age for at least two to three more years, the 2012 Andreas Shiraz which I’d also age for a little longer, and a great 2010 Cab Malbec. Not to mention a decent beer!

 Mad Bastard – Run by another Barry brother, while Mark’s reminded me a little of the wines we make I found his to be a bit edgier. I loved the 2016 Classic Riesling and 2014 “Fat Boy” Shiraz, but the Shiraz / Mataro, Cab, and fortified were also solid. Plus he gets bonus points for having two cute dogs.

Pikes – A great stop for wine and beer lovers alike. For beer, the tasting room is also their fermentation room which is pretty cool, and I really enjoyed all five beers they had on tap. For wine, they had nice Rieslings, an interesting varietal called Savignan, solid Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon blends, a really light Sangiovese, good reserve Cab and an exceptional reserve Shiraz.

Shut the Gate – A great spot to both go tasting and picnic, it’s a nice up-and-coming winery. My favorite white was the 2016 Rosie’s Patch Riesling, and of the reds while I liked the 2015 Ripple Iron Sangiovese Clare Valley I was really impressed by the 2015 Single Site Barbera Wrattonbully and 2013 Single Site Grenache Clare Valley.

Knappstein – Again a little biased here because our best friends in the valley are the other interns from Knappstein. They have some nice Rieslings but I love their Sparkling Shiraz, probably because it was the first one I ever had. Also really enjoyed their fortified Shiraz and beer!

Skillogalee – Go for lunch, get a table on the patio, order a bottle of their sparkling Riesling, and you’re done. Great food, great views, and while I wasn’t crazy about all of their wines it’s definitely worth the stop.

Claymore – Really good wines for reasonable prices. Gerrit thought their sparkling was the best in the valley, and I fell hard for the ____ (reserve cab? Nice red past dark side of the moon).

If You Have the Time:

Crabtree – A cozy tasting room with a cat, we thought they had some nice Rieslings, a lovely Grenache Rose, Shiraz, Cab, and Grand Liquer Muscat.

Tim Adams – Riesling city! I personally enjoyed their ones that were a bit more different though like the aged and dessert Rieslings.

 

Sevenhill – Go for the history, not so much the wine. The only thing that really stood out to me was their fortifieds. Still, it being the oldest winery in the valley definitely makes it worth checking out.

Honorable Mentions:

Taylors – A big producer in the valley, Riesling, of course, Taylor Made Rose, Merlot

Kirrihill – Another big producer in the valley, Rieslings, need to go back

Reg & Co. – The other Barry brother (John?), no cellar door but at Visitor’s Center, 2016 Riesling very nice. Sampling reds I think when the 2017s come out they’ll be worth hunting down.

Mr. Hyde – Kilakanoon’s line for the young’uns actually has some great easy drinkers if you know where to find it!

Wilson – A suggestion to us from another cellar door, I thought they had a nice 2012 Old Vine Zinfandel which you don’t see much here and good 2016 DJW Riesling.

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