Things to Do in Adelaide – McLaren Vale Wine Tour

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After a rather disappointing wine tour of the Barossa Valley (click here) and a fun/easy outing to the National Wine Centre, I wondered if I had over-organised by booking three wine trips in a week in Adelaide?!


I waited outside my hotel for the bus to arrive… no bus, but a tall and heavyset gentleman approached me, “Are you Patrick?”.  “Who is asking?”, I mustered!  It was the driver and guide – he had parked around the side in his S-Class Mercedes, there were just three of us going on this tour!  A mother and daughter combo, one slimmer and more glam than the other in head to toe black, sandalwood perfume and expensively ‘did’ hair.


First up was the d’Arenberg Cube, the cellar door (tasting venue) for d’Arenberg wines and the mind-food of the Willy Wonka of Australian wines, the current doyen of the family.


A Salvador Dali exhibition had just arrived, but the product of the minds of the d’Arenbergs was already on the surrealist side of the spectrum.


Not that one! This one:


In each glass bottle is a key scent associateed with wines (e.g., grapefruit, plums or cinnamon).  When you parped the bottle, a little of that smell came out.


A video experience room was on offer showing a surrealist movie in the style of 1950s Czech animation.


These chairs are so passe (much in evidence in sunny Northern Ireland furniture shops!).


In fairness, the wine tasting room being on the top floor of the cube is a great idea, the views are stunning.


There was none of the scant tastings of the Barossa Valley – here the pours were a little more generous and the introductions more personal as we were seated at a bar with a dedicated (and knowledgeable) sommelier.


I did like the rainbow stripe lift!


These were my drinking companions for the day!


We were advised that the bathrooms were something else.  This picture leaves little to the imagination…


There were more!


More like Alice through the looking glass?


Next stop was a lovely winery (the best on this entire trip) where we had the dedicated time of the vineyard owners for our tasting – the Geddes Vineyard. Below were the options for tasting and buying.


The dog was a new addition to the vineyard but a very happy and huggable dug.


The owner described the terroir of the grapes they were using to make the usual Shiraz but also some Cabernet and Tempranillo.


Here are the grapes in the vat, crushed and juicy!


When the rich juices are drained away, the remaining skins, seeds and organic material are pressed (hard) to remove all of the delicious flavour.  From 3 tonnes of grapes remain just under 500kg of material in the ‘Grape Cake’ (see below).


Our host noticed that I’d said I like Spanish wines – this was a huge vat of tempranillo.  She squeezed the fermenting grapes into my glass – this was already alcoholic (about halfway through fermentation) and incredibly sweet.  What a treat to try this out!


Here I am feeling left out in the black outfit parade.


Fear ye not, Wine Man is here!


This Shiraz was so good (and I’m not usually a fan) that I picked up a bottle for my friend Toby.


We visited a third winery, Pennys Hill / Black Chook.


I am sharing no other pictures of this as the guy serving us was a complete anti-Irish arsehole.  Yes, I get to say ‘arsehole’ on my own blog. Do one.

Lunch was served in the restaurant next door, and THAT was fantastic and we were served by adorable staff members.  This platter was all for me. That pate (again, not usually a fan) was everything.  The black stuff in the dish was a rich onion marmalade made with reduced red wine and balsamic. Of the gods.


Next up, another disappointing winery. The name escapes me.  The server was grumpy as he had had two big bus tours in and didn’t see his millions coming from the three of us giddy Magees.


Even our tour guide looked entirely grumpy. He wasn’t, in fairness, but he was wearing his resting b*tch face.


Finally, we enjoyed a rather cooky and Instragram friendly winery, Alpha Box & Dice.  Each wine is named after a letter of the alphabet and has quite a different character. My tour companions LOVED this one already (it has a great reputation in the wealthier salons of Sydney and the Gold Coast, it seems).  My tasting was okay. Nothing amazing.  The Geddes winery was far superior, but – like all things – wine is in the tastebuds of the beholder!


But… what a cool wall!


So Insta-rrific!


Our final stop was a chocolate shop which is (it seems) a popular destination after sampling the vineyards.  I had not heard of Australia as being in the league of Switzerland or Belgium in all things chocolatey, but I was open!!


Violet Crumble is like a honeycomb enrobed in chocolate. However, the speciality of this region is a peach sort of jelly, coated in chocolate (available in other flavours like raspberry and Turkish Delight).  Willing to give anything sweet a go, I tried all of these flavours.  The problem? The chocolate was of terrible quality.  Inedible.  Worse than raw cooking chocolate (don’t ask me how I know). And so into the bin these went.


I did chuckle at the name of this freebie magazine in the chocolate shop.  The effects of too much wine!


Here was our car! And it was off back to Adelaide after a pretty solid trip and the best of my Adelaide wine adventures!


I'm Patrick, your Irish guide to the skies and beyond. With 58 countries visited, my journeys have taken me from busy economy to fabulous first-class.

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