Nothing short of the word “sublime” could be used to describe Barossa Valley in South Australia. Arts, food, tradition, architecture—name it, and Barossa has it on a vintage level that is overwhelming and deeply moving. If the world would lift the old but beautiful air that envelops Barossa, like one would lift a net covering a fruit-bearing plant, there is no doubt about what aspect of the valley will draw you right in—and that is the exquisite winemaking that Australia prides itself in.
Travelers and tourists, both local and foreign, wouldn’t dare miss the chance to go around Barossa Valley, sniffing and tasting wines made from an unimaginable variety of grapes. Home to the world’s best Shiraz, Barossa Valley alone has 80 wine cellar doors (sales rooms of wineries). And on board a sedan (just be careful of the rough roads here and there), you will never run into a shortage of exquisite surprises for your palate. All Barossa cellar doors hold no obligations on wine tasting, so try all the bottles that you want, free of charge. But there are no promises that you’re not spending on this trip, because with these top-quality wines at just an arm’s length, once you taste ’em, you gotta buy ’em.
Just for a quick taste of what Barossa Valley has to offer, here are a few cellar doors Asian Dragon visited this fall—and we did take home a couple of bottles to last us a while.
If you’re going vintage, might as well get the baddest and oldest. Chateau Tanunda is Australia’s largest and oldest cellar, dating back to 1890. To try out a few bottles and maybe take one or one dozen home, there are three long bars to cater to guests. But the beautiful garden with the croquet lawn is just too breathtaking to pass up, so grab a bottle, order a regional platter of local cheeses, smoked meats, dried fruits, or quince pastes, and enjoy the cheerful autumn breeze and scenery for a perfect start or highlight to your Barossa visit.
Entering the chateau’s cellar door transports you back in time, as it is a cellar door as much as a vintage collection exhibition. Right after their long bar, which delivers some of the most interesting and fine reds, are small rooms, around two meters in diameter, that display curious collections of old trinkets. One room holds old tin cans, laundry detergent cartons, and soap boxes, some as old as 100 years of age. One room displayed timeworn photo frames and glass vases, while another showcased vintage radios. The owner even promises that some of these almost hundred-year-old radios still work! Chateau Dorrien is definitely a cellar door unlike any other across Barossa. Interestingly, there is only one winery in the whole of Barossa where one can find a sweet red wine—and that is in Chateau Dorrien. One of their bestsellers, Falcons Nest Late Harvest, is a sweet red matured in American oak barrels that gives a faint blackcurrant hint to wash over the palate. It is surprisingly affordable, too, despite its quality and popularity—a must to take home.
More cellar doors to visit inside Asian Dragon Magazine’s May-June 2015 issue.
[Photographs: Jovi Figueroa]