Nepenthe Twilight Tasting and High Teas

Nepenthe, in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, is celebrating autumn by hosting a series of events at its cellar door in Balhannah.

The first, a very special one off “twilight tasting” is taking place on Friday 5 April from 5pm. Food will be matched with Nepenthe’s wines, so you’ll be able to try, for example, the 2010 Altitude Pinot Gris matched with sweet potato and avocado salsa on rye, and the 2012 Winemakers Cabernet Sauvignon matched with fig and roquefort tartlet. The tasting, of six wines, matched with six dishes, costs $35 per person and bookings are essential.

If a Friday night doesn’t work for you, the cellar door is also hosting sparkling high teas on Wednesdays and Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm. Again, bookings are essential and tickets are $35 per person.

For more details, or to book, contact the winery by email,, or by calling (08) 8398 8899.

Adelaide Hills Day Out


date of day out: Saturday 5 May 2012

A group of friends recently organised a day out wine tasting in the Adelaide Hills. We had a reasonably modest agenda for the day – lunch and three, maybe four, wineries.

For me, the day proper began at lunch time. Our original food plan was scuppered so, at the last minute and with no warning, twelve of us descended on the Charleston Hotel in a tiny town (population 120, apparently) called … Charleston.

Luckily for us, the dining room was empty because by the time we’d sorted out our table, only a handful of other diners could have squeezed in. We obviously massively swamped the poor kitchen (the rumour at the table was that there was one person working there) so yes, our food did take a while to come out and no, it didn’t all come out at once. But we quickly figured out what was happening so people had the good sense to start eating. From where I was sitting I heard only one complaint about the food which concerned a very disappointing looking bar meal of spaghetti bolognese. The disappointment was compounded because the individual concerned had considered ordering the awesome looking lamb burger.

I was pleased to note that, for $13, I could order a ‘half size’ schnitzel (topping/sauce extra). I don’t think I’ve had a pub meal where the schnitzel has not been ridiculously huge and I’ve often commented that the children’s sizes have looked sufficient. All the schnitzels (even the half sized ones!) were generously proportioned and thick. This meant they were juicy – no dried out cardboard here. The salad was definitely above par (although, as usual, drowned in dressing) – it was Greek style complete with feta.  And I very much enjoyed my glass of Kersbrook Hill Shiraz too!

The accommodating nature of the businesses around Lobethal was further demonstrated when we turned up at Golding Wines. The cellar door man didn’t bat an eye at our large group – he herded us towards a large table, lined up the entire range and led us through it. If you want a welcoming cellar door, I can think of few places that do this better than Golding*.

Next up we headed to Bird in Hand, where our large group most definitely caused a problem. “Have you booked?” … er, well, no. “Hmm, that will be $10 a head” … er, well, no. The cellar door was full of a bus load of tourists and obviously we represented hard work. While I realise that large groups arriving unannounced can cause problems there must be a more delicate way of dealing with the situation. As locals, it means that we’re unlikely to take guests (either overseas or interstate) to Bird in Hand in future …

We wrapped up the day with Barristers Block, where we were treated to some further Adelaide Hills hospitality. The tasting here was a lot less formal than at Goldings with everyone trying whatever they were interested in. Which worked well because by the end of the day the two cellar dogs were garnering a lot more attention than the wines from some people!

I’ve been all inspired to work my way through the wineries of the Adelaide Hills – I just can’t work out which end to start!  But hopefully there’ll be some more cellar door tales soon.

* I have been there several times before and I’m a fan of their Last Hurrah sparkling and Handcart Shiraz.

Charleston Hotel on Urbanspoon

Kersbrook Hill Shiraz 2005

Kersbrook Hill Shiraz
Kersbrook Hill Shiraz

Our household has been submerged in a fug of early winter colds for about 3 weeks – at one point, all three of us were ill at the same time which was fun. Needless to say, this put a significant dampener on our enthusiasm for eating out, cooking and drinking. I kid you not but at one point I felt so rough that I didn’t even eat any of the chocolate cake that was in the house!

So, yesterday, I was quite thrilled to come across a random piece of paper with a tasting note on it …

Our local bottle shop is a pretty stock standard affair: there’s plenty of cask wines, a walk in beer fridge, a range of cheap wines (usually on some kind of deal) in the west facing window (don’t get me started on how wrong that is) … Fortunately, the staff are enthusiastic, friendly and helpful and the shop stocks a tiny selection of wines from boutique South Australian wineries. I picked up the Kersbrook Hill Shiraz because I had been impressed by their Riesling and the wine was marked down from $24.99 a bottle to $16.

Kersbrook Hill, which describes itself as an “ultra premium five star winery” makes use of the contract wine making services of Ben Jeanneret, of Jeanneret in Clare. So that explains why the Riesling is so good. I’m not sure whether it was him or Harry Dickinson who made this single vineyard Shiraz – but whoever made it clearly knew what they were doing.

The wine still looks young and there’s very concentrated, almost preserved, black fruit aromas accompanied by black pepper and even star anise. On the palate the wine is a lot spicier again, with black pepper dominant and plenty of ripe, full black fruit. The wine has lovely weight, with very soft tannins and some acidity. I did feel that the wine was just the slightest bit too hot, suggesting that the alcohol was just a tiny bit unbalanced – but that’s also a very common criticism of mine, so I wouldn’t give that too much weight.

The Kersbrook Hill tasting notes suggest drinking with with veal or white meat. I think you’d want to be careful taking this route – ensure you have some reasonably big flavours in your sauce because the wine could swamp a delicate dish. We drank some last night with spaghetti bolognese – the wine having made an appearance in the sauce – and it was a good match.

Even if I’d paid $25 for this wine I would have been happy, so $16 represents something of a bargain. Of course, now I’ve paid $16 for it, I’d probably blanch at paying full tote odds. But that’s just me!