In Search of Premium Wines, Marcus & Rachel in McLaren Vale: Jan. 24-27

January 24 – First day of tasting was a busy one. This is one of the busiest week-ends in the area being Australia Day week-end (January 26th), as well as the Tour Down Under professional cycling event (with Lance Armstrong). We did find some great wineries however. This first was Lloyds where the wines were very tidy and reasonably priced, their hand picked Shiraz was truly amazing. The second was Samuel’s Gorge, great whites and reds. The whites, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnnay were both made from Adelaide hills and the reds, Grenache and Shiraz from McLaren Vale. Both of these places have made it to our short list. Some of the other wineries we stopped at were either already represented in Canada or the wine quality was not up to par.

January 25 – We made some calls to set up meetings for early in the week with the wineries that only open by appointment  then spend the rest of the day relaxing at the beach.  Most of the roads were closed for the cycling tour.

January 26 – AUSTRALIA DAY! Today is a very busy day in McLaren Vale…and I am not the only Canadian in the area. Tonight is the big event, Leonard Cohen concert in the vineyard…unfortunately the concert was sold out so we couldn’t get in. However we did get to taste some more great wines. The most notable was Hoffmann’s reds, particularly the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine blew me away and even blew Marcus away, which is a difficult thing. It was the best Cabernet I have tasted in a long time. We set up an appointment for the following morning before the cellar door opens to discuss further.

January 27 – Today was over 43 degrees…and it felt hotter with the northerly breeze blowing. It was the hottest temp in the region in 5 years! It is supposed to be the same all week, however I am not complaining coming from -10 degrees and snow! We met with Hoffmann’s winery owners Peter & Anthea Hoffmann early in the morning to discuss the possibility of purchasing their 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon and…..WE have purchased our first wine for Hemispheres and it is FANTASTIC. I will be sending more details shortly on the wine and some pictures as well but this wine will not disappoint!

We then headed back to Samuel’ Gorge for a tasting with the winemaker Justin McNamee. He went through the reds again and did a barrel tasting of his 2008 Temperanillo, which was also an eye opener. Marcus has an appointment to meet with him tomorrow to talk further. He is a very experienced and passionate small producer.