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Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc

By Alex Russell on January 23, 2013 in Food

Photo: Beau Vine

When most people think of South Australian wine, they think of regions like the Barossa and Eden Valleys, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra and Clare Valley. The Adelaide Hills region often doesn’t get a look in, despite being home to some famous producers, like Shaw and Smith.

But the Adelaide Hills has another issue. The majority of wine produced in the area is either Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc. The Sauv Blanc is a more grassy, herbaceous style than the incredibly popular fruit-driven Marlborough wines, so it’s not as popular. In terms of the Pinot Noirs, they’re often quite thin or overly tannic. In short, for both of the most popular styles from the region, wines from other areas are often a safer bet for the consumer.

Of course, this isn’t always the case and, as with any wine region, there are some producers who do what they do very, very well. Here are a few of my favourites…

Shaw and Smith
You can’t really talk about Adelaide Hills without talking about these guys. They have great scenery there, although don’t drop in unannounced and expect a taste. Their Sauvignon Blanc is famous, but it’s the rest of their wines that work for me, particularly the awesome M3 Chardonnay and the Shiraz. Both are in the $40 range, but they’re well worth it. They’ll take on similarly priced wines from other regions and win most times.

Ashton Hills
Stephen George makes the wines here, as well as at Galah Wines and the famous Wendouree – all very different styles of wine.

The whites here used to be phenomenal but most of the white vines have been pulled up to plant more Pinot Noir. I have mixed emotions about this: the Pinot Noirs are very, very good – possibly my favourites from the region – so I’m glad he’s making more, but the increased production has come at the cost of other wines I loved. No doubt it was a difficult decision.

The Pinots are really different styles. The regular Pinot at $45 is a great drop, while the reserve at $65 is phenomenal (97 points from Halliday for the 2010). If they’re in your price range, don’t think twice. Also try the Salmon Brut. It’s what it sounds like.

Pike and Joyce
Most of you will know of Pikes Riesling from the Clare Valley (although they make some other very good wines there too). When they make wines from Adelaide Hills fruit, they use the Pike and Joyce label instead. I was recently talked into buying some 2009 Pike and Joyce Pinot Noir. At about $30, this could become part of any cellar quite easily. It’s got great acid through it, along with vibrant fruit.

Hahndorf Hill
Larry Jacobs does some really interesting stuff. Sure, you can find some Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and some very good Shiraz here, but he’s also not afraid to try something different.

In particular, the push behind Grüner Veltliner (a grape that he’s passionate about) and Blaufrankisch (both are Austrian grapes) is really exciting. The Blau picked up the highest rating for ‘Alternative Red Variety’ (95 points) in Halliday’s 2013 Wine Companion while the Grüner gets rave reviews from just about everyone. At $35 and $28 respectively, what are you waiting for?