Friday, November 27, 2009

A Lazy trip to lovely McLaren Vale and beyond.

Life is completely crazy here at the moment - I have a new business about to start (along with still running many aspects of the winery, and indeed, the family, house and garden) and took a few days off for some important business and even more important leisure before I land head first into a whirlwind next six months. I amaze myself at how much I can squeeze into a mere forty-eight hours sometimes!

I left the Barossa at 4pm on Tuesday with a car load of sparkling shiraz to deliver to
Glasscraft Print. The wonderful manager, Bronte, helped me to unload the car and then gave me a very brief look at the terrific facilities at his business at Mount Barker before I headed further south to Kuitpo for a very important meeting with someone I had been wanting to meet for a very long time.

When I arrived at the Lazy Ballerina cellar door in the middle of the magnificent Kuitpo Forest, there was absolutely nothing lazy about the man behind the label, James Hook. Despite having worked a full day at his other job as a viticulturist, there he was, while waiting for me to arrive, busily loading the wheelbarrow with mulch and tending to his family's incredibly beautiful garden.

James graciously took me on a tour of the Lazy Ballerina
cellar door and gardens while I happily clicked away on my over-worked digital camera trying to encapsulate even a little of the beauty around me. I was truly stunned by not only him, but also by all the hard work he and his parents had done to create such an incredible place which after bushfires many years ago, had left little to work with. Totally inspirational! And that was before trying his wines. I had always refused to try the Lazy Ballerina wines until I had met the man himself so needless to say, when we left to continue our journey to a mutual friend's house for a wonderful dinner, I didn't walk out empty handed. I highly recommend James' wines to everyone!

The next morning, after a peaceful and relaxing slumber,
belly still full of fine food and wines from the previous night, I arose, and headed further south to McLaren Vale. My stop here was to another equally incredible place called Fall From Grace which is run by an effervescent lady named Gill Gordon-Smith. She sells the most divine range of international wines and also runs wine education classes - it's a must-do stop on your list if you are visiting McLaren Vale. She also happens to be the Spieglau distributor for trade so I now had the glasses to accompany my Lazy Ballerina wines. Could it get any better? Yes it could.

By early afternoon I had left McLaren Vale, headed further north again, past
Yangarra where I'd previously had a look at the amazing new winery being built with James Hook, tour-guided by Philip White, and headed east toward the historic town of Strathalbyn before taking a sharp south turn to end up at Clayton where I spent the late afternoon and evening with my lovely new friend Annabelle. One of South Australia's most talented artists, Annabelle is as vibrant and gorgeous as the art she produces and I couldn't have thought of a better way to end my very short break than to spend it with her.

In less than forty-eight hours I had met two incredible new people, spent time with two good friends, and throughout, enjoyed the best of what South Australia has to offer - fine food, fine wines and great hospitality. Now, back home and back to the grind, I feel much more refreshed and ready to face the next month which is surely going to be quite mad... but more about that in my coming posts.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another riesling review and a road trip!

I don't think any winery owner ever gets tired of reading great reviews of their wines and each of the writers have their favourites. From my point of view it is really interesting to see what their tastes are, and also, over time, how their reviews stand when the wines age.

The recent spate of riesling reviews we have had from Queensland writers Jeremy Pringle and Julian Coldrey keep me ploughing through the work load even when I am struggling as I have been for the past five weeks with ear/nose and throat afflictions. There truly is nothing like positive words to get one back up on their feet, literally. So I am proud to post yet another glorious review - this one again from Jeremy, but this time for our 2007 Eden Valley Riesling.

2007 Karra Yerta Wines Eden Valley Riesling

Eden Valley 12.0% Screwcap $25

Was on a bit of an Eden Valley Riesling kick last night. Sort of have been for at least a month now actually...

These Karra Yerta's have all been excellent. I've probably enjoyed the 2006 & the 2009 the most, for very different reasons. I think that this one, like the 2009 will become something pretty special in the cellar. Not that it's difficult to drink now.

Surprisingly geared more towards lemons and granny smiths on the nose and palate. There is still some Eden Valley lime, bathsalts and river pebbles but it's all currently very restrained and tightly wound. There is no mistaking the "quiet" intensity there on the palate though, suggesting a bright future.

It's all very linear and narrow for the moment, with some enjoyable spice and a touch of unripe peach and peach stone towards the mid palate. A little bit of toast is starting to appear, but I'd put this one away for now. The length is really good and all the elements are in place. It just needs time. Patience my friends, patience...

Winery Website-
On that note, I am pleased to announce that I am taking a few short days break away on business (and pleasure) to the magnificent McLaren Vale area. I rarely get time for such luxuries but have managed to tie in a few business appointments with a visit to a lovely lady friend where no doubt we will enjoy an evening of beautiful food and wine, from the Barossa and the Vale areas. One of the highlights no doubt will be dinner tomorrow night (after a visit to the cellar door) with James Hook (Lazy Ballerina).

I have been wanting to meet James for some time as he is quite remarkable in what he does, writing wise, and also wine wise. Needless to say, I can't wait! More info about him and his wines, and indeed his lovely area, on my return later on in the week. But for now, I am off to pack one final wine order and then try to get some sleep before an early start to drop off our Sparkling Shiraz for labelling on the way to the Vale and a few other important errands. The beach is calling!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A great media article and another review!

It's terribly hot in the ranges at the moment and it's a good time to catch up on work inside so I have been doing just that; emailing, updating our mailing list and other things, and in between finding yet more wonderful reviews and articles so here they are (many thanks to Julian and Jeremy for being so supportive of our small family business:):

and Jeremy's review of our 2006 Eden Valley Riesling:

2006 Karra Yerta Wines Eden Valley Riesling

Eden Valley 13% Screwcap $25

Some colour development going on here with yellows and a trace of gold. But it still possesses youthful hues. Aromatics are assertive, with lime cordial, florals, toast and some chalk & wet slate. There is a touch of kero, but only a touch.

On the palate the wine is clearly in its groove. It opens up with rich lime cordial, lemon and toast then some attractive spice hits on the mid palate along with a drop of orange oil and smidgen of white and yellow peach. The finish is VERY long with spiced granny smith apple, a teaspoon of honey and that glorious toast continuing to add the charm that I seek in aged Riesling. There are still some chalky, slatey notes and the acid provides more than ample balance to the richer and fuller aspects of the palate.

For me, this is just about bang on where I want my Riesling to be if I'm not drinking it young. Sure it could go some more years, especially if kero/petrol notes are not off-putting to you (and as I said, I don't think they are that prominent), but the current balance between softness, toast, citrus, slate and richness is extremely seductive.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A summer night at the Argentinian Bar and Grill

Last night we attended a wine-tasting dinner with our Collective counterparts at the Argentinian Bar and Grill in Adelaide. What a superb way to end a summers day. Our wine-tasting went for a few hours in the late afternoon/early evening and then we all stayed for dinner accompanied by some other guests. Many people who passed through had not heard of any of our wines before, and thoroughly enjoyed our range of Barossa and Eden Valley Wines. It still is very important for small wineries to hit the road and promote ourselves as our advertising and marketing budgets are miniscule in comparison to most of the other wineries. As a bonus, who doesn't like to get together with friends and enjoy a fine night of wining and dining?

The food and atmosphere of the Argentinian Bar and Grill is divine. Steak sandwiches like nothing you have ever seen before, steaks that hardly fit on a plate and many other delightful dishes. James and I both had a lovely duck pasta dish with beetroot sauce
and sweet potato crisps.

A finer table of
tappas and wines you would not see anywhere and we settled in for quite a long dinner. The service was sensational and the prices more than reasonable.

We all highly recommend it and are considering holding a Collective wine dinner there (for the public) in the future. If you haven't been there yet, it's well worth a visit not only for the sensational food but also for what is surely becoming one of the most spectacular wine lists in Adelaide.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Southerners head north for a day of Barossa hospitality

The beautiful spring weather disappeared last week when a brief burst of summer (and unfortunately the emergence of brown snakes in the area) hit us all unexpectedly. Suddenly, the red wines were discarded, and the rieslings brought out. One of my most pleasurable pastimes is to sit under my pergola, with the scent of petunias, jasmine and carnations delicately wafting toward me as I slowly sip a glass of cool, not cold, Eden Valley Riesling.

So in light of the fact that Saturday was in the mid-thirties, it was rather appropriate to indulge in that lovely drop whilst entertaining a delightful group of guests from the southern vales of our very fine wine producing state. The day started very early for our visitors and I'm almost certain that by the time they reached the high range of Randall Town, where the Karra Yerta vineyard is located, they were more than ready and willing to go for a trek down the hill for a quick tour of the vineyard before heading back down the hill to Argent Town for an informal tasting in our old red gum stable.

The host for the day, Philip White, had gathered together a tribe of his friends and fellow wine lovers to show them some of the secret gems of the area and Karra Yerta was most fortunate to be considered one of them. A more pleasant group of people would be hard to meet and it was really interesting to see their opinions on our regions style of wines, particularly the rieslings. We had a wonderful few hours with them, with our sons and one of their friends providing live music before the bus headed a little further north along the range. James and I were kindly invited to join the group for lunch and so we gathered yet more wine and headed off ourselves. Already a perfect day but it was about to get even better.

By the time we arrived, the rest of the group had already been greeted by the very hospitable Bob and Wilma McLean and were comfortably settling in to yet more tastings in the lovely McLean shed whilst the matter of one of Bob's famous Long Lunches was arranged. A six foot long mettwurst was definitely the highlight of the dinner table but the beautiful array of other local produce and salads did not fade too far away out of the limelight. A delightful lunch, including a birthday cake for Wilma (made by one of the guests and ever so carefully transported from the vales), was had by all and the wines served with it were sensational and made me exceptionally proud of our unique and beautiful area. To top it off, Colin Forbes (pictured at right), all round nice guy and rieslingmeister extraordinaire, hosted a vertical tasting of the McLeans Farm rieslings. Now that was something to behold!

Soon the bus headed off to the next stop, Greenock Creek, and the locals amongst us stayed to help the McLeans tidy up after what was surely one of the most enjoyable grass-roots wine experiences that could be had. Many thanks to Philip and his friends for being such wonderful guests for the day. I'm sure that it will be remembered fondly by all who attended, including us and the McLeans.