Been well? Things at LTLT are all gearing up for the Summer season, I’ve got loads of great wines and can already feel things taking that decidedly more festive turn. But anyways, that’s not what we’re here to talk about…
This week, we’re going to South Australia to have a look at some of the more interesting wines coming out of the land of the big red. There’s been some interesting things happening in SA wine over the last couple of years, and it’s something that I’m going to explore in a future post, but today I’m going to look at a venue in SA that is really highlighting some of the great new styles coming out of the state.
South Australians are a parochial lot, parochial to the point of fault. I should know – I grew up there. It’s a continuing disappointment to go back to SA and see wine list after wine list bursting at the seams with massive, high alcohol shiraz and young, tannic cabernet. Just because there’s lots of it made, doesn’t mean that you should be forced to drink it with every food style, including some of the great asian that you can find in Adelaide.
So it’s with a breath of fresh air that I’ll focus this post on the Kings Bar & Dining (the old Kings Head, for those who like a bit of history). The Kings is an ‘SA Only’ pub – all food, beer & wine comes from SA. However, rather than pack it with the same old staples they’re making a serious effort to do things differently – and it’s represented in their excellent and interesting pub list of smart wines at good prices. I often wind up there when back in Adelaide and thought it a good idea to write a piece that focusses on some of the great wines on their list after the bar staff kindly allowed my to do a tasting through their by-the-glass list (disclosure – being the small world that is Adelaide, I know some people that work at the pub, but I paid for everything I consumed and would choose to frequent it regardless).
It got off to a great start with the Round Two Blanc de Blanc and La Prova Pinot Grigio NV sparklings. The former being the cheapest wine on the list and deliciously bursting with crunchy green apple flavours, the latter being made by the supremely talented Sam Scott and having a pretty refined bead (read: great fine bubbles) to go with the steely pear nose. The Niccolo Prosecco was pretty minimal and the Penley Estate Sparkling Pinot was dusty, eucalypty and with a dry finish. Not tasting much like pinot (more like Cabernet!) but a nice food-friendly sparkling red.
Moving onto the whites with a Pork Belly sandwich, the ‘13 Kaesler ‘Stonehorse’ Palomino (a grape best known for its use in Sherry) was super fresh with stonefruit kernel aromas and a textural palate. A steal at 8.50 a glass. The ‘12 Rieslingfreak No. 3 Riesling (who’d guess) was light, briney and peppery with some more textured acid than the usual from the Clare Valley, contrasted by the ’12 Mayhem & Co ‘Hipster’ Riesling which was decidedly funky & floral. A couple of Sauv Blancs later (Teusner ‘Woodside’ and Reschke ‘Fume’) and we’re onto ’13 The Pawn Gruner Veltliner a textbook Gruner from the hills, all texture and fruit skin – if you’ve tried a Gruner this will make sense, if you haven’t, it’s probably time you tried one. My pick of the whites was the ’11 Torbreck Roussane Marsanne Viognier, a waxy and spicy wine underpinned with great acid thanks to the cool 2011 vintage. I’m not usually a fan of the Torbreck wines but this one is a cracker. Cleansing the palate with the floral ’12 Woodstock ‘Little Miss Collett’ Moscato it was time for some pink.
Only two roses on the list, and both opposite styles. The ’12 Koppamurra Shiraz Rose smells and drinks just like a cold glass of…shiraz, while the ’13 Sc Pannell ‘Arido’ Nebbiolo Rose is all about perfume and roses with a tight finish.
Onto the reds. A great start with the ’11 Mosquito Hill Pinot from the Southern Fleurieu showing rich sweet fruit and hiding some decent tannin. Not a purists pinot but totally enjoyable. The ’12 Kangarilla Road Sangiovese was a bit ‘generic red’ for my liking but the ’11 First Drop ‘Nacional’ Touriga was fantastic with its ripe, plump fruit and licorice flavours. A big wine but the spice keeps it food friendly. The ’12 Willunga 100 Tempranillo came next with some dark fruit & black spice (with a touch of volatility), before moving onto my pick of the reds, the ’07 Garfield & Thomas Cab Merlot. This was a cracking wine; soft, varietal (no mean feat for McLaren Vale Cab) and luscious. Softened by the bottle age it was a fantastic example of a Cab blend, and while not usually what I’d order by the glass it was totally irresistible. Finishing with the ’10 St John’s Road ‘Line and Length’ Cabernet and the ’10 Muster ‘The Lucky’ Shiraz, the only two wines on the list that really fit the ‘big red’ mold, it was a great run through some interesting and well priced SA wines and demonstrates some of the great things happening in the state right now.
Most importantly, almost every wine on the list favoured texture over pure power – a perfect choice for the food on offer and also inherently sessionable. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday…