Many people think of South Australian wines as big, bold and brash expressions of warm climate viticulture. However, the Adelaide Hills (lying 400m above sea level) have a fascinating range of topography and micro climates suitable for producing some of the most delicate wines in Australia.
Only 30 minutes from Adelaide the region is a labyrinth of tiny valleys and interconnected roads that provide every nuance a wine lover could want. Vineyards in the hills tend to be small, with large areas of native bushland and challenging topography. The historic town of Hahndorf is well worth visiting, with traditional storefronts harking back to the German settlement of the region.
The northern end of the hills borders Eden Valley (a cool sub-appellation of Barossa Valley) and is home to some spectacular Shiraz. The vineyards around Paracombe, Birdwood and Gumeracha make some excellent full-bodied reds with an aromatic subtlety quite distinct from neighbouring Barossa. The central hills are cooler yet, with predominant plantings of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The vineyards around Lenswood, Piccadilly and Hahndorf are particularly attractive in this area.
While traditional varieties are widespread, there has been some very successful experimentation with less common varieties such as Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Fiano and Gruner Veltliner.