Raise Your Glass: The McLaren Vale

21 Mar

Cellar Door – widely used in the English language to exemplify a term that is beautiful in phonaesthetics (sound) but without regard for semantics (meaning).” – how.. odd. After witlessly repeating the word to myself in varying intonations (all strangely British), I arrive at the conclusion that the World Wide Web is sadly mistaken.

Here in South Australia, the word “cellar door” is more than a pretty roll-off-the-tongue. It is, in definition, where one goes to sample wines from a specific wine-making establishment. It is the representation of a winery – the face, if you will.

On a particular sun-splashed afternoon, we took to the McLaren Vale, one of the jewels of SA’s wine regions. Just short of an hour’s drive south of Adelaide – we escape the drab monotony of the city and find ourselves amongst some of the most established vines in Australia. It’s nearly harvest season – a carpet of green. Our taste buds can wait no more..

Maximus Wines

Only 2 years on since releasing the label, this spruicy boutique winery is already churning out some lip-smacking fare. I returned after sampling their Tempranillo a while back, a restrained yet prominent ovation of fresh berries and floral notes. We made our way through three whites and seven reds – mulling the characteristic vein of elegance/playful wit that flowed similarly throughout. Their wines are priced with incredibly good value. Pulling out a carton seems almost feasible.

The sweeping views from this hilltop cellar door was breathtaking to say the least. In my mind, the word  “potential” is written all over their walls.

Note: The Maximus Cellar Door is only open every weekend (11am-4pm), but if you ring up beforehand, you may be able to secure a tasting with the amiable Rowland Short sometime throughout the week.

Pertaringa Wines

We made a quick stop at Pertaringa and picked our way through their collection; all of which held beautiful florals, whilst displaying hints of character and depth. Like dating a brainy blond. I particularly fancied the shirazs. Inky, dignified, yet not overbearing. Many take to their sweets and fortifieds, which I agree, are rather enjoyable.

Samuels Gorge

Undisputedly one of the quirkiest, quaintest cellar doors ever put together. Dusty islands of antique machinery, sideboards formed from wood and metal scraps, and sensitive touches of old knick-knacks make for an endearing setting. Unfortunately, they only had two whites and a single red available for tasting. Drops have sold out quite quickly we were told. But those that we did try (the whites) were crisp and clean. Simple, and ready for food.

Perhaps we may return when their new lot comes out in the coming months.

In essence, it was a visitation of humble heroes. There is nothing more satisfying than discovering a boutique label that produces mind-boggling work. Whilst the McLaren Vale has its share of  grand household names (d’Arenberg remains  a favourite) we never tire of exploring the craft of small, passionate makers.

For together, they make South Australian wines great.


4 Responses to “Raise Your Glass: The McLaren Vale”

  1. jm March 21, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    Hooray for a good drop (or a dozen)! Thanks for a fantastic tasting afternoon! Not to mention – what fantastic weather it was… simply glorious blend of great wines, friends and weather! What thirsty traveller could have asked for more?

  2. Mann! March 25, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

    Great day out!!! Thanks to Amanda & JM for the wonderful trip… should have one in September before we all done with uni!

    Although havent really heard of Maximus, it exceeded my expectation!

    Time to revise & have a glass of Maximus’ tempranillo.

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