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Dan's Blog

CELLAR DOOR FEST 2020

Friday, January 31, 2020

Next Friday afternoon is the start of the 10th CELLAR DOOR FEST, to be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre. The three day indoor event is a sensational way to check out South Australian wines. The exhibitors are arranged into regional stands which not only allows you taste the wines of that region, but you can also compare the same variety from different wineries within the region.


This will be the fifth year that I have been reporting on this superb event and I am looking forward to it as each year it has been bigger/better and more interesting than in the previous one.

These days they have a section for new/up and coming winemakers which usually offers the first chance to try the wares of newbies. Every year there are 8-10 new wineries in this section and whilst they all make good wine, there is always one or two that are outstanding. For example, it was here that two or three years ago I first met the great family crew from the Barossa’s THE CUTTING www.the-cutting.com.au – Shiraz specialists who make an absolutely smashing Shiraz and are about to evolve to other varieties soon.


Some of the winemakers in this section are long-term/old hands who have been making wine for other wineries and have only recently set up on their own. A great example of that, again a few years ago, was Lévrier by Jo Irvine. Jo has been making wine for at least two decades and contract makes wine for around 30-40 small guys under her Wine Wise Consulting hat. However, more recently she has launched her own brand. In my opinion Jo is one of the best Zinfandel makers in the country.  www.levrierwines.com.au


Another great feature of the CELLAR DOOR FEST is that three years ago they also started featuring Boutique Spirit and Beer producers along with the wares of artisanal provedores. So you can now try boutique gins, whiskeys, beers and salami’s.

Apart from being able to taste stacks of wines, the event also conducts a number of Masterclasses, celebrity chef lunches and dinners, including the ever popular, “Long Table Dining”, held on the Friday night. The 10th Anniversary Menu has been designed by celebrity chef’s Adam Liaw, Callum Hann and Jessie Spiby and will be hosted by wine identity, Tony Love. It is a four-course degustation dinner which will be paired with some of South Australia’s iconic wines.


Some of this year’s Masterclasses include – d’Arenberg Blending Bench Experience; St Hugo Wines & Riedel Glass Masterclass; Henschke Single-Vineyard Wines Masterclass; Cheese + Sparkling Masterclass; Cheese + Chocolate Masterclass; Cheese + Gin Masterclass; Cheese + Tea Masterclass; Summer with Seppeltsfield Masterclass, Penfolds Modern Chardonnays Masterclass and Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling Masterclass.

One of the greatest advantages of this event is that you can compare wines made from the same variety from producers’ right across South Australia. Say for example that you are really keen on Chardonnay – well, under the one roof at the CELLAR DOOR FEST you can taste and compare Chardonnay from every single growing region in the state –Barossa vs McLaren Vale or Coonawarra vs Adelaide Hills.

A special feature this year will be an auction to raise funds for the bushfire victims. Headlined by a bottle of Grange the organisers have been sourcing bottles from a range of donors. I donated a 24-year-old bottle of Fifth Growth Bordeaux and a 10-year-old bottle of the excellent Patritti JPB Shiraz from McLaren Vale. I would also encourage you to visit the stands of the Adelaide Hills winemakers and support them where possible.

This is an outstanding event and is a great example as to why Adelaide is one only ten officially recognised “Wine Cities of the World”. If you are in Adelaide/South Australia, I strongly urge you to come down and check it out!!

For further details please visit the official website at:  www.cellardoorfestival.com

Tickets to this event are available online from:  www.eventbrite.com.au/e/2020-cellar-door-fest-tickets-67941016409

THIS WEEK’S WINE REVIEW:

This week I am talking about Australia’s one and only “1st Growth” dessert wine – the incomparable, De Bortoli ‘Noble One’ Botrytis Semillon.

Launched in 1982 this wine has been has been the icon/benchmark for unfortified dessert wines here in Australia and probably the whole southern hemisphere. I had the good fortune to taste the original vintage when I was doing “sensory evaluation” as part of my Wine Marketing course at Roseworthy College back in 1988. It just blew me away! I had never tasted any wine that was so rich, so complex and so sweet, yet not cloying.

Since then I have tasted quite a number of Sauterne and Barsac wines including quite a few vintages of Château d’Yquem and I have come to consider the Noble One as a “Sauterne on steroids” – not quite as sophisticated, but bigger and more powerful. It is a true Icon of our wine industry.

The reason that I am raving about my fave unfortified dessert wine is that recently I received a bottle of the 2016 vintage in a stunning presentation case. Wow! What smashing, world-class presentation/gift packaging – complete with presentation canister, two stemless wine glasses and two stainless steel marbles, which you store in the freezer and use them to chill the wine instead of ice (which would otherwise dilute this nectar of the Gods).


This is a very seductive wine. The bouquet is complex with alluring aromas of dried apricots, orange rinds and a dash of honey. The palate is seduced by the divine, rich, sweet, complex flavours, the great texture and viscosity and the superb, sweet finish that lingers for absolute eons without cloying. Truly a Nectar of the Gods – AMAZING!!! www.debortoli.com.au

Cheers!