Day 65 – McLaren Vale – No fish, a little wine!

So the quote of the night comes from Grandpa. Last night when I had finished demolishing everyone playing S’head, Grandpa yelled out (in a quiet voice) “Watch out, there is a bird there!” Looking at a little bush near our caravan, a small bird had perched itself on one of the flimsy branches of an equally tiny ‘shrub’. Caroline and Nanna had almost walked on said bird when saying our good nights to each other.

Grandpa, being the scholar on most things, then proclaimed “It is a Tawny Frogmouth Owl. Guaranteed”. Grandpa continued with his identification bending down to look at the ‘face’ of the bird along with other appendages confirming that the bird was indeed a Tawny Frogmouth Owl. Nanna, Caroline and I weren’t as convinced on Grandpa’s species identification. After a while of hearing Grandpa’s continued examination of the bird, I blew some air from my mouth onto the front of the bird and it revealed it head. It seems that Grandpa’s owl had transformed into another bird species – we soon learnt that the bird had tucked it’s head under it’s wing. Much to our disappointment the owl was actually one of the common native bush birds that are lurking around the caravan park. May be best to leave the bird identification to David Attenborough.

After breakfast this morning I thought it would be lovely to go fishing with Grandpa while the girls had a play on the beach. We bought some frozen pilchards from a service station and headed to Port Noarlunga, specifically chosen as Grandpa could easily make the walk along the jetty – a good fishing location.

We baited up and dropped our lines. The jetty had over a dozen fishermen dotting the walkway, so it looked like quite a good location to catch dinner for the family. Some fishermen were using jigs and successfully landed substantial squids, while the fishermen seemed to be having no luck (a fact I discovered when asking one of the fishermen that had packed up his gear and was leaving for the day). Despite this, Grandpa and I were still keen to try our luck and see what we could land.

After an hour of continuous casts and rebaiting our lines (it seems the pilchards were quite old and may have been falling off the hooks) we left empty handed and called it a day. We headed back to the caravan park to freshen up before preparing ourselves for a day of wine and food.

Working on the same requirements we employed at all the vineyards frequented to date, Caroline had completed her research and compiled a list of estate, single vineyards and boutique vineyards that didn’t supply wine to the larger liqueur houses. First stop was Hugo Wines, a vineyard established in 1951 with 25 hectares with both trellised and bush vines. With Grandpa and I as the designated tasters for the day we were well prepared for a day of sampling some of McLaren Vale’s finest.

The owners of Hugo’s Wines were really lovely. They had a little girl there with them (possibly a grand daughter) who seemed a little older than Ava and was happy to entertain the girls whilst we tasted wine. The vineyard specialised in the red varietals particularly a Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and an Estate Shiraz. Grandpa and I diligently worked through the entire list of wines a little underwhelmed. The wines were nice at best, a reasonable flavour but a little on the ‘watery’ side. We left Hugo Wines empty handed and optimistic that the remainder of the vineyards would set the bar higher.

Second stop Graham Stevens Wines. Approximately 14 acres of gnarly green bushy vines situated in McLaren Flat. The owner, Graham, was behind the bench at the cellar door. A lovely 77 year young gentlemen, wearing Hark Yakka blue overalls – a ‘salt of the Earth’ kind of fella.


Portrait of Graham Stevens 

Graham was finishing up with a group that were part of a wine tour. An interesting bunch from “Kal” (Kalgoorlie Boulder), loud, uncouth with no knowledge of wine. Part of me thinks bewildered that wine doesn’t always come out of a cask. Despite their abrasive nature, they did provide some entertainment, particularly the mother whom still had her tag attached for her “going out drinking dress”. Part of me wonders whether it was intentional to keep the tag on – to allow a refund after wearing the dress. Meow Lachlan, back to the blog please!

Graham walked us through a range of his white wines – including a particularly lovely 2016 Fleurieu Chardonnay, a very affordable lightly oaked wine (only spending four weeks in French oak). We were extremely delighted when Graham suggested it was time to move onto the red wines. Rather than stepping through all of his amazing wines, here is a list of what was purchased:

  • 2014 Arrogant Cleanskin Shiraz/Grenache
    • An exceptional quality wine that was probably the best value wine we have ever had. Period.
  • 2014 Graham’s Vat 52 Shiraz/Grenache/Cabernet Sauvignon (50/25/25)
  • 2012 Fleurieu Cabernet Sauvignon
    • A dry styled red matured in New French oak barricades for 12 months.
  • 2012 Stevens Family Shiraz
    • Probably one of the best value Shiraz I have had, spending 15 months in new American oak. This wine is estimated to cellar for 30 years if it lasts that long in the cellar.
  • 2015 Vintage Fortified Shiraz
    • Another wow factor. If I pull this fortified wine out when you are at our place then you are very lucky.
  • The Old Man’s Liqueur Grenache
    • Caroline’s favourite. A port styled liqueur.

We left Graham Stevens Wines ecstatic with the find – an amazing wine grower (another of the fantastic characters we have met on this trip) and incredible wines. We will keep in touch with this vineyard! Next stop lunch at Penny’s Hill.

A fantastic lunch at Penny’s Hill. Huge portions with a fantastic bottle of 2014 Footprint Shiraz to wash down the meal. The girls were entertained whilst we ate, playing with other children in a grassed courtyard. A lovely way to spend a lunchtime! Next stop after lunch was a vineyard called Kay Brothers – the last vineyard for the day before heading back to the caravan park.

Kay Brothers. What do I say? A nice historic estate vineyard owned by the same family for three generations and supposedly the oldest in McLaren Vale. Unfortunately only one wine that was worth mentioning from a vast selection, the 2014 Hillside Shiraz – a wine which if we are tempted in the future can purchase from Dan Murphys.

Back to the caravan park, I took the girls for a swim while Caroline put on a load of washing. The girls had a ball and became suitably tired from the swim. img_2557We fed the girls then had Nanna and Grandpa over for a light meal and refreshments – no need having a large dinner after the amazing meal at lunch today.

With the sun going down and an evening ahead of us, you will have to wait till tomorrow to hear who won S’Head and to find out whether any rare and exotic birds are spotted during our evening.

One response to “Day 65 – McLaren Vale – No fish, a little wine!

  1. Nanna you are correct, I cannot wait to read the blog each day (just shows how great it is to be retired). You must be having a great time with the family, you will go home tired in a very different way than when you arrived exhausted. Such precious time together can’t be underestimated.
    Not too happy that all the wines you are tasting are not shipped to the UK, so nothing much for us to learn with the exception of envy as each of your days pass experiencing so many varieties and tastes.
    Lachlan you will need to teach us the card game when we come then we will have something different to play when in Megève during winter evenings; it will make a change from canasta.
    The water babies are so happy. Great photo of Audrey on the noodle – what a difference a year makes. They seem to be able to entertain themselves so well but what I want to know is: Do they ever say “not another bxxx vineyard”!!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s