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The Clare Valley – More Than Just Riesling

By Alex Russell on November 26, 2014 in Food

Photo: Alex Russell

Photo: Alex Russell

The Clare Valley is famous for Riesling, but the reds are also something to behold, especially the Shirazes. It’s well worth a visit, and you can rent a bike and ride along what used to be an old rail line between wineries (The Riesling Trail). It’s really scenic and, more importantly, pretty flat. Below are a few of the wineries I popped in to last time I was in the Clare.

Kilikanoon

This was the pick of the wineries that we visited in the Clare. The Killerman’s Run range ($20 direct) pops up in restaurants and bars around the place and they’re really good value. You can get a Riesling, Cabernet, Shiraz or GSM.

There’s also the Mort’s Rieslings. The Mort’s Block is outstanding at $23, while the Mort’s Reserve ($35) takes it up another notch. We bought a lot of these, along with some of the Mort’s Cut Cane Cut Riesling (a dessert wine – $30 for 375mL).

All of the reds are good, but The Duke Grenache ($80) in particular was stunning. The Oracle Shiraz ($80) has been making a name for itself too, and I’ve been collecting it for a few years. The 2010 vintage is brilliant; if you’re serious about cellaring awesome Shiraz you should consider laying a few of these down for a decade.

For something a little different, there’s a bubbly that they make in Vouvray, a famous part of the Loire Valley in France. Vouvray is famous for sparkling wines made in the same way as Champagne, but using a different grape (Chenin blanc). This is stunning value at $30 and I would highly recommend that you get a bottle. It’ll be perfect over the warmer months and the holiday period.

Mitchell

From Kilikanoon, we rode around the corner to Mitchell. You may only find two of their wines in retail in Sydney – the Watervale Riesling ($22) and the Peppertree Vineyard Shiraz ($25) – but they have a few others that only make it to cellar door and select restaurants, including a Semillon, a sticky (Noble Semillon), a GSM and a Cabernet (all priced between $18 and $25). Better still, they’re all released with a bit of age on them. The Cabernet comes from 2005 (for $25, a steal!) and many of the others from 2009. As always, these vintages may have changed by the time this is published, but they’re still worth checking out.

They also have a reserve range called McNicol. The Riesling ($35 for the 2006 vintage) ripens a few weeks later than their Watervale Riesling and is a really solid wine – great length and intensity of flavour, plus a little bit of bottle age, a bargain for aged Riesling. The McNicol Shiraz ($40 for the 2004 vintage) is a little more medium-bodied than a lot of the other Shirazes we tried and has some beautiful elegance to it. If you like aged wines at great prices, you should certainly check out Mitchell.

Pikes

Pikes is in a hilly region, so it’s best not to ride there. Their Traditionale Riesling has been picking up huge awards everywhere and is available in many bottle shops, so it shouldn’t be hard to find. They also have a couple of reserve Rieslings that are stunning too, particularly The Merle. Their Viognier was also looking brilliant.

I can recommend pretty much all of their reds, but the ‘Eastside’ Shiraz and the ‘E.W.P’ Reserve Shiraz in particular are amazing. And if you do cycle there (you crazy person), then they also make three beers to quench your thirst. Pricing depends on membership – if you order enough of the reserve labels, you can get some really special pricing. Talk to them to find out the details.

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