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The Adelaide Hills wine region was the first stop on my Australian wine adventure this week.  There are about 30 wineries, called Cellar Doors here, located in the Adelaide Hills region.  To many, the Adelaide Hills is known as Australia’s premier cool climate wine region.

hhwThis post marks a personal milestone for me – this trip to Hahndorf Hill Winery (HHW) is my very first visit to an Australian Winery.  In mapping out my tasting route for the weekend, I had HHW at the top of my list for several reasons – one of which was the fact that the winery practices biodynamic viticulture.  I don’t think I could have made a better choice to begin my wine adventures in Australia (except for the fact that I should have waited a couple days to get acclimated to the 14.5+ hour time difference).

HHW proprietors Larry Jacobs and Marc Dobson were gracious enough to allow me to schedule a personal tasting appointment.  Larry’s passion for his land, grapes and the resulting wine was infectious – I truly enjoy meeting people like Larry who exude absolute belief in what they do.  I was accompanied to HHW by two colleagues who are not avid wine drinkers, but both of whom were struck by Larry’s true passion for his wines.  me-and-larry

Our tasting began with a glass of fresh rain water from the rain storm that morning.  Yes, HHW captures and utilizes rain water due to the significant drought conditions in the Adelaide region.  How’s that for a sustainable, green practice.?.  From the rain water, we moved on to tasting the full line up of HHW wines.  A few of the notables include…

Rose 2008

13% alcohol.  $19 AU (~ $13 US)/bottle.  A very unique Rose made from Trollinger and Lemberger grapes.  Trollinger grapes are grown mainly in southern Germany, and Lemberger is grown extensively in Austria, where it is known as Blaufränkisch.  Hahndorf Hill Winery is the only grower and producer of these varietals in Australia.  On the nose I picked up raspberry, watermelon, and quince.  A dry Rose (which is the way Rose should be) with raspberry and light lime zest taste.  This would be an ideal wine for relaxing on the deck on a summer evening.

Sauvignon Blanc 2008

This is the signature grape of the Adelaide Hills region.  13% alcohol.  $21AU (~ $15US)/bottle.  Nice pale straw color with tinges of gold.  Nose of lemon grass, flint, stone – solid acidity with lemon and lime in the mouth and a slight hint of bell pepper.  This was a much different Sauvignon Blanc that I expected from Australia.  This was more in the French style in terms of the mineral/flinty character.  This wine would definitely be a crowd pleaser at a summer gathering.    

White Mischief 2008

An interesting blend of Sauvignon Blanc, unoaked Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.  12.5% alcohol.  $19AU (~ $12 US)/bottle.  A ‘whiter’ straw color with abundant citrus, mineral, spice and floral component on the nose.  The Sauvignon Blanc dominated this blend in terms of the citrus on the nose.  Remarkably silky smooth mouth feel – different than the nose indicated it ‘would’ taste like.  The texture and smooth mouthfeel reminded me of a Werthers Original Candy. 

Shiraz 2005

14.5% alcohol.  $29AU ($21US)/bottle.  After my experience with the Molly Dooker Blue Eyed Boy last week, HHW’s Shiraz renewed my faith in the balance potential of this grape.  Dark purple color complimented by reasonable fruit nose of dark plums, blackberry, mocha and cinnamon.  Well structured and balanced with tastes of earth, dark berries and vanilla.   

hhw-rowsA couple of items I noted (and found interesting) during our visit:

  • Larry feels that Grüner Veltliner is “the most food friendly wine.”  That’s quite a statement – Not sure I totally agree, but this dude knows wine so I do give this statement significant credibility.  I now have this on my list to try as soon as I can find some here in Australia.
  • HHW brought Gruner Veltliner vines to Austrlia and their first vintage of GRU will be available next year.
  • Larry was very ‘aware’ of the influence (and importance) wine bloggers are having in the world of wine.  It always amazes me how many wine makers/winery owners seem disconnected from the social media/wine blogging world.  I appreciated the fact that Larry took the time to read thru my blog prior to my visit and was able to also recommend several other wine blogs that he reads.  He gets it!

My only disappointment with HHW is the fact that they currently do not have distribution in the United States.  I also wish that I had planned more time to stay for lunch and enjoy Marc and Larry’s wines on the patio overlooking the vineyard.

A great start to the week.  Barossa Valley next, then Yarra Valley next week!