Wednesday, September 7, 2011

McLaren Vale

Remember how we told you that we were completely unprepared for how big Kangaroo Island was? After having spent 48 hours on it, and having circumnavigated the island the day before, we were somehow still shocked by the distance from our hotel to the ferry. We had a nice, liesurely morning, packed our bags and piled into the car. And then the Garmin told us our time of arrival was about 10 minutes before the ferry was supposed to leave. They recommend you arrive 30 minutes beforehand. Of course then, 5 minutes into our now rather frantic drive, the gaslight came on. Double-crap. Laurel called the ferry people to let them know we were running "a little" behind and found a gas station on the map not too far out of our way.

When we got to the gas station, at first it was closed, but then a guy hustled over to open it up when he saw we were there. This seemed to be typical KI- closed until patrons arrived.  We thought our luck had turned, but then we found out he only took cash. So we bought $11 worth of gas, paid entirely in the spare coins we could find in our pockets. This isn't quite as ridiculous as it sounds since Australia has $1 and $2 coins, but still. With about a quarter tank of gas we arrived at the ferry with 6 minutes to spare. Phew!

Our plan for the day was to drive from Kangaroo Island to McLaren Vale, about an hour's drive south of Adelaide. We didn't have high expectations for lunch since it was mostly small towns along the way. However, we hit a jackpot. When we inevitably had to stop for gas again to actually buy a full-tank, we were in the town of Normanville. While Greg filled the tank up, Laurel scouted out the surrounding shops. She found this place, Jetty, an entirely locally-sourced family-style diner. It. Was. Amazing. We loved their morrocan lentils so much we tried to get them to tell us how to make it. The woman at the cash register showed us a few of the ingredients that went into the sauce, but two attempts to re-create the dish since then have failed. Pretty sure they left something out.

Here is another one of the "Stop Creeping" signs we were telling you about. Looking at this. Do you get "don't speed" from it? We sure don't. It's a little strange, but maybe that's the point? Or maybe the rest of the advertising (as in commercials?) help it make sense.

McLaren Vale and Barrosa Valley are the two main wine regions of South Australia, and they could not be any more different. Barossa is spread-out and feels rather aristocratic. McLaren Vale is compact, tourist friendly, with multiple hotels, restuarants, and vineyards all within kilometers of each other.

I hate to say this, but the scenery at this winery, which was named Tapestry, was the best thing about it. The wine was, quite frankly, crap. It was the only place we went to that we didn't buy at least a bottle. I think the staff knew it was bad, too. The woman who was pouring our tastings had a way of kind of lingering to see what we thought. It felt a little desperate. Needless to say, we did not stay long.

We went to another handeful of wineries that day, the rest of which were amazing. However, our favorite of McLaren Vale was probably Coriole.  It was a very simple, yet beautiful, family-owned winery. Below is a picture of the building that served as the tasting room. It was a Tuesday and the previous weekend had been a holiday, so it was very quiet when we were there. This made for some excellent one-on-one service with lots of stories about the winery's background and fun details about each of the wines. Also, we got to help taste/finish the leftover bottles. We wouldn't have wanted the girl serving to have to check them all by herself- we're helpers like that.

And here is the final haul. Australian wine delivery service is fast. Half the boxes we bought and had shipped beat us home! The rest arrived within days of us getting home. No broken bottles, no hitches, we were impressed. I guess when wine is one of the things your country is known for, it's not something you are going to mess around with. This picture is actually incomplete, we still had another box on its way. And yes, they are divided up by category (location & type/grape primarily) in this picture. The longest row on the left are the Muscat & Tokay bottles (which are types of fortified wines, like Port) that we got an awesome deal on while in Barossa.  Now, if we only had a subterranean wine cellar, this would be perfect.

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