I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Barossa region twice in as many months. My first visit was with friends to sample the best winemakers of the area, the second with South Australia Tourism to experience a handful of highlights the state has to offer. Personally I think the wine is enough of a drawcard to make a weekend trip to South Australia, however I was very impressed with the food and nightlife offered by Adelaide, which has matured dramatically in the past five years with an explosion of cultural destinations.
Our visit started off with a bang as we headed straight to the corner of King William St and North Terrace, and took a lift to the roof for lunch at 2KW Bar and Restaurant. The aesthetically on point 2KW is one of the cities pre-eminent dining destinations. Chef Nick Finn has created a sophisticated but approachable modern Australian menu with a diverse wine list promoting the best winemakers in area. I must make special mention of the Sardines on toast with Orange and parsley gremolata, a simple but utterly delicious entree. If you’re in the city on a Sunday, I suggest going for lunch followed by afternoon cocktails to enjoy the live music and excellent view from the garden terrace. Whilst in town we also visited Street ADL, another take on Australian cuisine, albeit a slightly more adventurous one. The restaurant was absolutely packed with punters enjoying true Aussie fare such as Kangaroo and Crocodile hotdogs, Mulloway ceviche and grilled Lamb with fresh cooked donut balls to finish.
Since the Government decided to revive the small bar scene in Adelaide, there has been around 30 small-bar licences handed out, with many more to come. Suffice to say the scene is thriving, even on a Sunday night. We took a stroll down Peel St’s faux subway tunnel to sample a couple of the area’s most popular night spots, all within a stones throw of each other. Maybe Mae is a dimly lit basement bar with a lively vibe and adventurous cocktail list, hidden below hipster eatery Bread and Bone. Up stairs, Clever Little Tailor, a cozy colonial style bar offers tasty bites, local beers and leather booths while Chihuahua Bar, opposite, touts Mexican themed cocktails and food. There’s a refreshing positivity to the Peel St, a small community of business owners encouraging Adelaidians to socialise and be merry – a lovely change from the woeful Sydney scene.
Those familiar with wines from the Barossa region will recall ‘big’ characteristics; rich colours, intense tannins and high alcohol content. While there’s no arguing that such characteristics define the area, there’s a plethora of world class winemakers producing everything from Reisling to Shiraz as well as interesting varietals like Savagnin, Mourvedre and Montepulciano.
Picture perfect Hentley Farm was voted 2015’s winery of the year so it’s not a surprise that most of the wines at their cellar door, Clos Otto especially, are sold out. Regardless of this, the cellar door is lovely, and their range is exceptionally strong. Around the corner from Hentley Farm, Greenock Creek are producing huge Barossa reds, the Seven Acre Shiraz is a personal favourite and an exceptional example of the iconic region’s style. If you’re a fan of Greenock Creek wines, I suggest dropping into see Joe at Ballycroft Vineyard who used to be head winemaker at Greenock and also Rockford. His humble operation is truly boutique, and self sustainable, producing wines that should have price tags well above his RRP.
Unfortunately we mistimed our visit to Henschke (they’re only open from 9-12 on a Saturday and closed on Sunday) so headed straight to Rockford to taste the latest Basket Press release but walked out with their extremely good Rod and Spur Shiraz Cabernet. One of my favourite tastings in the area is at Charles Melton, next to the open fire. Whilst Melton is most famous for their Nine Popes release it was the $22 GSM that I took a shining to, leaving with a two bottles and what will probably end up being a life long relationship with the winemaker. I also wanted to note some of the interesting wines emerging from Damien Tscharke, the champion of non-mainstream rape varieties.
Tasting wines all day requires a solid breakfast, followed by an even more substantial lunch. If you’re staying in the area the Barossa Farmers Market is a great place to start the day with local butchers, bakers and cheese makers retailing quality local produce. Once you’ve visited a few wineries and built up your appetite there’s a handful of excellent lunch spots to choose from. I’ve eaten lunch at Vintner’s Bar and Grill and Harvest Kitchen (at Artisans of Barossa).
Vintner’s is more of a fine dining affair with a very good wine list (as you’d expect), whilst Harvest Kitchen focuses around smaller tasting plates, giving you the chance to eat like a local and sample wines from one of the seven producers that use the venue as their cellar door. If you’re looking for a day trip or tour from Adelaide I’d recommend dropping Ralf Hadzic from Life Is A Cabernet a message. He has an intimate knowledge of the area and a fleet of luxury vehicles to suit groups of all sizes.
Whilst I was disappointed not to stay at Adelaide’s latest and greatest hotel ‘The Mayfair’, I was pleasantly surprised the choice of hotels in Adelaide and our eventual digs at Crowne Plaza. There’s plenty of quality options, and more to come, as the city plans to accommodate the ever growing crowd that flock to the capital for the annual Santos Tour Down Under cycling race.
With world class wine, a bustling bar scene and excellent dining options I see no reason why Adelaide won’t begin to tempt travellers away from destinations like Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. If you’re yet to visit Adelaide I suggest you add it to the bucket list.
For more info or holiday planning tips visit SATC.