BMAC Table setting

My Year in the Hills

Set back from the street in a secluded and private setting sits a magical sandstone cottage in the Adelaide Hills. Once a farmer’s cottage amongst strawberry fields, it is now a unique gem amongst the trees. It is light and bright yet full of character and charm. A fairy tale cottage in a fairy tale setting…

The thing about fairy tales is that they are fantasy, an indulgence of the imagination inevitably destroyed by adulthood. A reality where mortgages replace glass slippers, mould tarnishes musical candelabras and the bitter cold deters any potential Prince Charmings. Once upon a time was mooching off your parents. My year in the hills has been… humbling, made humbler by a house purchased on the merits of ‘character and charm’ rather than storage and waterproof framework. It is these beguiling real estate adjectives that mask a reality of mice, mildew and marsupials. To Julie Andrews, I can attest, the hills are, indeed, alive.

However, there is a je ne sais quoi to counteract the frost bite and freeways. Perhaps it’s the verdure after rain, the honeyeater birds diving into native heath or that undeniable sense of community. Suddenly, there is an urge to evangelize and love thy neighbour, which is fortunate for mine as a Leo’s love for ‘thyself’ is comparatively greater than most. 

So, when my neighbour’s son left a note in the letterbox asking for recyclables it should come as no surprise that this city slicker scoured her garbage. It has since become a weekly routine of reciprocity – the budding entrepreneur amasses his fortune as I discover altruism. This week, amid the Cottee’s lime cordial and Fever Tree tonics, were a selection of the region’s wine show trophy winners. As they currently stand, their exemption from the state’s container deposit scheme will be disappointing news for the youngster. However, one day a 10c refund in Queensland will become negligible to the realisation that these are some of the best valued wines in the country.

Longview label no vintage

Longview Macclesfield Syrah 2022
93pts | $50.00 

Magenta with a violet rim, akin to the fuchsia flower. And despite a brown thumb in capability, my appreciation is unfettered. In the glass, a fragrant chasm of brooding fruit; blackberry, cassis, freeze dried blueberry and hints of confectionary. Fenugreek, turmeric and sweet and sour pork, a nod to the region’s cool climate. Surprisingly buoyant red fruit on the palate; raspberries, morello cherries and santa rosa plum, their piquancy a display of the wine’s youth. Coming from a person who wore a blue, glittery plate in her adolescence and was gifted a lisp, time really brings things together. If the deft oak work and satiny tannins are something to go by, then its future is promising.

SW IR

Sidewood Isabella Rose Sparkling Rosé 2015
94pts | $45.00

A category that has become synonymous with the Adelaide Hills and was promoted from ‘varietal trophy’ to the ‘major trophy’ in the region’s 2023 wine show. Gifted with vinous immortality, I am ashamedly envious of Owen and Cassandra Inglis’ daughter Isabella Rose. It makes the signed Collingwood guernsey conferred by my father seemingly inconsequential. Bronzed blush and a swathe of glittering bubbles, there is decadence yet levity. A wine reminiscent of Arnott’s Monte Carlo – honey biscuit, vanilla cream with that thin toffee-like coating of raspberry jam. Blood orange sorbet, peach skin and ripe strawberries curb it from cloying. On the palate its vibrancy is palpable, the mousse bursting like popping candy. Instant yes, transient no – the flavours carry a body of red fruits, cinnamon donuts and savoury miso paste edge. A complete wine that balances on pointe grace.

The real thing Albarino

Artwine The Real Thing Albariño 2023
94 Points | $35.00

After a false start when the CSIRO misclassified Savagnin as Albariño, Artwine produced their aptly titled ‘The Real Thing’. With Iberian origins, this exotic varietal is vinous escapism and unlike The Kardashians or Fifty Shades of Grey will not be held in contempt. Purity unlike the latter, there are top notes of white grapefruit, and kaffir lime. A string of sour passionfruit and nectarine is swept up en masse by a reverie of pebbled, European beaches. Piles of acidity, fruit weight and phenolic grip help form a palate of depth yet delicacy. Like a prism the palate refracts a spectrum of flavours – when chilled this is all citrus, crunch and saline minerality. As it reaches ambient temperature; ripe stonefruit, green pear, and sweet fennel emerge. And albeit not 50 shades, there are certainly enough to keep things interesting.

MAP CHD

Sidewood Mappinga Chardonnay 2021
95 Points | $45.00

You may be familiar with the famous IKEA advert. The one where a woman looks at her receipt whilst leaving the Swedish furniture conglomerate. Mistakenly believing she’s been undercharged she runs towards her husband who is waiting in the car and yells “start the car!”. Long story short, at $45 Sidewood’s Mappinga Chardonnay, too, is unbelievable value. And whilst I won’t be starting the car after a bottle, I will be replenishing supplies. Appealingly pungent; a consortium of peach cobbler, cedar wood, flint, crème brûlée and candle wax. Decadent upon first sip, a serving of crème brûlée with fresh slices of nectarine. The second displays lemon curd, raw cashews and nougat. The third, a nostalgia of cinnamon sugar toast and melting butter. Tonic water characters and a taut line of acidity mean this rounded Chardonnay never verges on obtuse. A satiating wine that this hedonist will keep solely to herself.

Ombre Gamay Contoured

Golding Ombre Gamay 2023
92 Points | $32.00

Isn’t it funny how the meaning of a word changes with age. In my early 20s, ‘Ombré’ was the hair trend I hid behind to excuse ghastly regrowth. Today, it is the trophy winning Gamay that I have pulled from my fridge. The Mondrian-like label is a contemporary take of Golding’s Western Branch vineyard through a bird’s eye view. Initial notes of morello cherries, goji berries and red sour strap lollies show Gamay’s affable nature, while earthy lines of sarsaparilla and autumnal leaves are reminder of this wine’s eminence. Tight and compact, with a juiciness that bursts like pomegranate arils when broken. For me, this wine puts its best foot forward when chilled, a cold brew of pomegranate and hibiscus tea with the sweet/sour appeal of stewed rhubarb. Piquant cherries ride on the palate from start to finish, gradually ripening along the way. Their lingering sweetness is met with powdery tannins, like the fine dusting on Turkish Delight. And a delight is what this is!

I may not have the necessary tools to boil an egg at home, however what I do have is access to some of Australia’s greatest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir topped with a splash of Gamay. In France, such a region is referred to as the Cote d’Or – ‘the side of gold’. So there is certainly justification that the Adelaide Hills, my home with character and charm, is sitting on a gold mine.

Reviewer:

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