Touring the Clare Valley
15th July 2007
Thankfully breakfast options in Clare are slightly better than what's available of an evening. We started the day with a good selection of fried treats and decent coffee at the Epic Cafe and after a quick browse of the local Op Shop it was again time for a little sip and sample.
Sevenhill Cellars (website)
First stop was Sevenhill Cellars. Founded by Jesuit monks in 1851 Sevenhill Cellars is the one of Australia's iconic wineries and the Clare's oldest. The beautiful grounds come complete with chapel, crypt, cellar and an interesting museum of early wine making in the Clare. They grow a lot of Pedro Ximenez for making alter wine of which they are Australia's main supplier. Of their more secular offerings I enjoyed the floral nose of the Inigo Riesling 2007, but thought their reserve St Aloysius Riesling 2007 didn't live up to expectations. Both the Gewurztraminer 2006 and Inigo Semillon 2007 were OK wines, but nothing particularly special. The Grenache 2006 was soft and fruity with plenty of pepper, while the Indigo Shiraz 2005 had a smoky gaminess about it. I enjoyed the Indigo Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 which had more complex aromas, rich plum flavours and excellent texture. Sevenhill is worth a visit for its historic grounds and beautiful setting, but to be honest the wines didn't particularly offer inspiration.
Tim Adams (website)
When I met Tim recently at a tasting in Hong Kong he encouraged me to drop in and visit his cellar door. We stuck our heads in and he proved just as friendly and informative as he was in Hong Kong; stopping work for a chat and a bit of banter. He's a genuine guy and I can say I really like Tim Adams and his wines. My notes for many of the wines are similar to the last tasting, though I was impressed by the reserve range that I hadn't had before. The Reserve Riesling 2007 was a lovely drop with balanced acidity, minerality and citrus flavours. I liked the elegantly structured Reserve Merlot 2004 and loved the excellent Reserve Tempranillo 2006. The back vintage Aberfeldy Shiraz 2001 was an awesome wine; still fresh and youthful it had a good dash of intriguing pepper while the excellent Botrytis Riesling 2006 was a deliciously sweet finish.
Paulett Wines (website)
Named after settlers from Poland who arrived in the 1850s, the Polish Hill River sub-region has some of the most renowned terroir in The Clare and the balcony at Paulett's cellar door offers a great perspective of the valley. They're a small family owned company and I was impressed by the quality of their wines. The Paulett's Polish Hill River Riesling 2008 was fresh and crisp with lovely citrus flavours and good length, while their Sauvignon Blanc 2008 was refreshingly fruity, nicely balanced and not over the top. The Cabernet Merlot 2004 had a delicious aroma of raspberries, good structure and nice herbal notes on the palate. I liked the Shiraz 2004, but their reserve release The Andreas Shiraz 2004 was a superior wine; dark, rich and tannic, it was packed with loads of intense black fruit.
Pikes could be responsible for my love of Riesling. Years ago their version was my knock off drink of choice while working in Chinese restaurant in Darwin. The Pike family started off as brewers back in 1886, but today they're all about their wine. I though both the 'Traditionale' Riesling 2007 and the semi-sweet 'Olga Emmie' Riesling 2007 were excellent. The 'Gills Farm' Viognier 2006 was a good example of a variety I'm not overly enthusiastic about; it wasn't 'oily' or 'flabby', but a fresh and intense drop with a lovely nutty flavour. The reds were all of a high standard, but my favourites were the 'Dog Walk' Cabernet Merlot 2006, the 'Premio' Sangiovese 2004 and the outstanding 'Eastside' Shiraz 2005, all of which had powerful noses, impressive length and beautiful texture.
A pie stop at the South Gawler Bakery and we were on our way back to Adelaide after an absolute cracking couple of days in the Clare. The Rieslings I tried were all fantastic, but for me the surprise was how good Clare Cabernet was. I was also impressed with the Semillon, Grenache and Tempranillo I tasted; varieties that I think have a real future in this fantastic part of the world.