In these times of ‘doom and gloom’ here is something to enjoy and celebrate – the sensational Cellar Door Fest.
Each year in February, the official ‘Wine Capital’ (there are only 10 worldwide) of Adelaide shows off its wares at this event.
It is the most comprehensive wine tasting event in Australia, with wineries from every South Australian winegrowing region represented, as well as boutique breweries, distillers and provedores.
Despite having slightly fewer exhibitors due to the Covid-19 separation rules, there were still many wines on taste.
Given my focus on emerging grape varieties, I concentrated on trying the wines made from the emerging (non-mainstream grape varieties). That is not to say that I didn’t try some cracking Chardonnay, Riesling and Shiraz wines, but the focus is on the new varieties which will help future-proof our wine industry against global warming.
One of the great features of the Cellar Door Fest is the section showcasing the ‘Emerging Producers’, displaying the products of winemakers and distillers who have been doing their own thing for three years or less. They are often long-term artisans who have just recently branched out on their own. This year I didn’t try any of the spirits or beers, however I was impressed by the wines of the following winemakers:
Aphelion Wine Co: Its WELKIN Chenin Blanc by Aphelion 2020 (Adelaide Hills), is fascinatingly delightful and the reds are none too dusty either.
Genista Wines: A Shiraz-only producer – the Taking the Mickie Barossa Valley 2020 Shiraz has lashings of ripe fruit aromas, a hint of coffee with great flavours and a rich, round palate.
Price’s Wines: Has an excellent and unique blend of Alicante Bouschet and Malbec in its ‘Block’ Series of wines, very appealing, Price’s No.6 McLaren Vale 2019 Alicante Malbec.
As in most recent years, the wine region that most stood out for their excellent emerging variety wines was the Riverland.
This year the Riverland region was ably represented by:
919 Wines: The Touriga National (Portuguese red) and Tempranillo (Spanish) stood out this year.
Spook Hill Wines: Two wines especially stood out, Petty Criminal Petit Verdot and the 2016 The Dark Durif.
Whistling Kite Biodynamic Wines: Here three wines stood out, the sensational 2020 (no additives) Montepulciano, the classy 2015 Petit Verdot and the Riverland’s first Mencia, which is brilliant.
Bassham Wines (my personal favourite once again): With an impressive line-up of excellent organic wines which included a cracking 2019 Verdejo (Spanish white), a scrumptious 2017 Fiano, a divine 2013 Lagrein and a very classy 2017 Durif.
Other outstanding emerging variety wines from around the state that were interesting/exciting included:
Purple Hands Colours of the South Barossa Valley 2020 Pinot Blanc – classy and delightful.
Lévrier by Jo Irvine Barossa 2014 Perita Zinfandel – arguably Australia’s best Zin, as well as having an indecently fabulous 2017 Cabernet Franc.
Paisley Wines Linen Adelaide Hills 2020 Fiano – elegant, classic style.
Mt Bera Vineyards, Adelaide Hills: Gruner masters with both their 2018 Gruvee Gruner Veltliner and Boundless Horizons Gruner Veltliner being smashingly good.
Massena Wines ‘The Howling Dog’ Barossa Valley 2018 Saperavi: another great example of this cracking Georgian red variety.
Paracombe Wines, Adelaide Hills: The 2019 Grüner V5 is an exotic white blend headed by Grüner Veltliner, while the 2015 The Rueben is a superb blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Shiraz, and is stunningly complex and divine.
Rusty Mutt McLaren Vale 2017 Viognier: Superb.
Nova Vita Firebird Adelaide Hills 2019 Grüner Veltliner: Another great example of how well the Hills do this sensational Austrian white variety.
The Islander Estate Vineyards, Kangaroo Island: Great wines and one of its flagship wines is the world-class The Independence 2015 Malbec.
There were quite a number of other, more conventional or mainstream variety wines that are also well worth a mention:
The Cutting Barossa 2019 Shiraz: Absolutely outstanding! The best, most sophisticated wine so far from this Shiraz-only producer.
Hey Diddle Wines Barossa Valley (Single Vineyard) 2019 Shiraz: Delightful and ever so drinkable.
Lindsay Wine Estate LWE Barossa Valley 2017 Semillon: Bright lively, tasty palate.
Rollick Wines Folly Eden Valley 2019 Riesling: Lovely tight aromatics, very textural.
Patritti McLaren Vale Merchant 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon: Eminently drinkable and raring to go.
This year the Barossa was the most represented region with 26 stalls, while both the Adelaide Hills and Clare Valley were less represented than in previous years, probably as a result of bushfires last summer.
For those who are not as narrowly focused as I am, there were a dozen boutique distilleries, a couple of chocolatiers, three cheese producers as well as the unique Fleurieu Prime Alpaca which offers alpaca meat, sausages, burgers and salami.
So if you live in South Australia, please make sure you pencil in the 2022 edition of the Cellar Door Fest into your diary.
Check it out at www.cellardoorfestival.com and hopefully I will see you there next year.
Dan Traucki is a wine journalist and a wine industry consultant specialising in assisting with exports to Asian markets. You can contact Dan at [email protected]
Photo: Cellar Door Fest.