Laying by the pool at the Novotel Hotel in Barossa Valley, the last thing I wanted to do was leave, especially considering this was my last chance to get some sun before returning to grey England but I had an appointment with Jacob’s Creek and so I reluctantly left the pool.
However, once I met up with James Keane from Jacob’s Creek and we were standing on top of the Hill of Grace, I was glad I had abandoned the pool. We were standing on a hill overlooking the vines of Steingarten, a legendary riesling vineyard of the Barossa Valley. Colin Gramp originally dynamited the hills to plant the vines in the rocky soil and planted roughly 1000 vines on side of the windy hilltop. Jacob’s Creek still uses grapes from this plot to make the Steingarten although they do source grapes from the Eden Valley, which the vines face, in the distance.
Steely, pure and intense, James and I had a glass of the Steingarten riesling before toasting the vines with the leftovers in our glass. Afterwards we did a brief tour of some of the other vineyards of Jacob’s Creek before lunch.
After that we headed over to the new visitor’s centre recently opened by Jacob’s Creek. Now I know Jacob’s Creek has a bit of a reputation in the UK as being a cheap supermarket wine but the Australians keep all the good stuff for themselves. I have to admit I had certain prejudices regarding Jacob’s Creek’s wines but over there they have lots of interesting wines available.
We sat down to lunch and I had a choice of 3, what James called, ‘new varieties’ of Australia, fiano, vermentino and arneis. Jacob’s Creek likes to experiment and these 3 are part of ‘cellar door only’ wines available to the public. The other ‘new varieties’ included montepulciano, tannat, negroamaro, mataro (mouvedre, not really a ‘new variety’ so to speak as it’s been grown in the Barossa for many years) and sangiovese. The concept behind this project is to see how these vines fare in the hot Australian weather but also their potential for product development in the future. I ordered the Fiano, which is an Italian variety, to have with our meal. Fiano is normally very aromatic and this one was no exception but it was full of tropical fruits on the nose and palate while at the same time being very fresh and easy to drink. A great little wine to have on a hot Barossa summer’s day.
The visitor centre has one of the best restaurants in the Barossa Valley (open for lunch only) and the centre also offers free wine tastings of most of their range to the general public. The Executive Chef is Genevive Harris and her creations are delicious. I had lunch there twice in the 3 days I was there but honestly, I didn’t mind at all. The first day I had soy lime marinated steak which was melt in your mouth tender and the following day, grilled chicken. I have to say both days, the food was fantastic and if you’re in the Barossa you should have at least one of your lunches at the centre.
A bit of wine education and a fantastic lunch, sounds like a great way to spend the afternoon in the Barossa. Many thanks to Jacob’s Creek for the visit and lunch and to Novotel Barossa for providing my accommodation.