I remember the last time I was up in ‘The Clare’, the other valley up north of the Barossa and Eden valleys in South Australian wine country.
As our car meandered along an achingly picturesque country road, all of a sudden a large, rust-coloured kangaroo leapt out from between the old gum trees and was soon bounding along beside us without a care in the world.
By mid-morning, I was sitting on a rise above Jeffrey Grosset’s Polish Hill Vineyard, sipping an impeccable 1984 Auslese style Riesling and eating a delicious leek flan prepared by his partner Stephanie Toole, herself vigneron of the nearby Mount Horrick’s winery.
I was looking out under a clear duck-egg blue sky, far out across the land and all the way down to the Gulf of Saint Vincent, who just happens to be the patron saint of wine.
I was in a region first planted to vines by Jesuit monks in the 1830s and here was I having a spiritual epiphany of my own, my soul was being cleansed, my sins forgiven, my guilt washed clean away by a wine, clean air, a clear sky, a view and a home cooked leek tart.
Perhaps I had died and gone to heaven but, just now I was in too good a place to care either way.
At a little over 100 kilometers north of Adelaide, at the tip of the Mount Lofty Ranges, the Clare Valley is a region of rolling hills and sweeping valleys, lush with native Australian bush, prime farmland and pristine vineyards.
There are five distinct sub-regions within its boundaries, Auburn, Watervale, Sevenhill, Polish Hill River and Clare.
Vineyards are planted at 400 to 500 meters above sea-level and the cool to cold nights at this altitude allow for a slower ripening period, producing small, concentrated berries with exceptional balance and intense flavours. Soils vary from sub-region to sub-region but are mostly red and brown loams to over clay and calcareous rock.
Long renowned for its incredible, flinty dry, long lived Rieslings, the region also produces exceptional Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Recently, the World Association of Wine Writers and Journalists voted the Taylors of Wakefield, 2012 Saint Andrews Shiraz their ‘2016 Wine of the Year’ recognising it as the world’s most awarded wine on the international show circuit for the previous 12 months.
This is an impressive accolade and a welcome one for a breathtaking region deserving of such recognition. Both Grosset and Taylor’s Wakefield wines are available in Cambodia.
Darren Gall has spent a quarter of a century involved in virtually every aspect of the wine industry and the passionate pursuit of the next great bottle continues. firstname.lastname@example.org