Dan's Blog

Various Blog Stuff

Friday, March 15, 2019

CELLAR DOOR FEST: At 5:00pm this afternoon the fantastic three day Adelaide Cellar Door Festival kicks off at the Adelaide Convention Centre. This is a sensational event that has around 150 cellar doors (organised by wine growing region) showing of their wares. These days they also have boutique spirits and beer producers exhibiting so as to round out the experience.

Here is a brilliant opportunity for South Australian based wine drinkers to be able to compare stacks of wines for a very modest fee. You can compare one region against another or one winery within a region with another. OR, the same variety from different regions. To be able to fully check it out, you really would need the full three days and a strong constitution.

Additionally, they have a section for new wineries (these are not necessarily new winemakers) to be introduced to consumers and show off their wares. The calibre of some of these new wineries is awesome. For example last year this section included the superb wines of Barossa Shiraz specialist The Cutting and the stunning wines of Levrier by Jo Irvine. I can’t wait to see who is there this year.

This is the fifth year that I have written about it and I am still excited as each year there is always something new and exciting as well as some brilliant wines in Australia’s Wine Capital.

Come along – it will be money well spent, in fact an amazing bargain.

THE MOUSE THAT ROARED: Some of the oldies amongst you might remember the hilarious Peter Sellers 1960smovie by that name whereby a little European duchy took on the USA with “bows and arrows” and conquered it.

Well, in this case it is the Spanish DO of Rueda who make only white wine from the excellent native variety of Verdejo (plus a smidge of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc) who have taken on the UK and last year sold over one million bottles of their wine there. Given that Rueda is comprised of only around 70 wineries, and they make five different styles of wine from their Verdejo, these sales figures are an amazing achievement.

Incidentally, there are a few wineries making Verdejo here in Australia, in particular Trentham Estate in Sunraysia and Dell’uva in the Barossa. Both make excellent wines and are well worth trying.

THE RUN-AROUND: Wow! How’s this for something completely different! In Moldova (a small country wedged between Romania and The Ukraine) recently they conducted a 10km run that was mostly held underground in the world’s largest wine cellar (certified by Guinness World Records, as holding 2,000,000 bottles). The total length of the underground galleries is around 200 kilometres.

The 350 runners involved ran through some of the galleries, between rows of wine barrels, except for the small portion of the race that was outside in the snow. Along the route they were treated with local food, drinks, including wine, and traditional music.

Well, I am off to get ready for the Adelaide Cellar Door Festival, so I hope that your day will be somewhere near as good as mine will be exploring some of South Australia’s best wines. Cheers!


This week I am talking about an old McLaren Vale favourite of mine – HASTWELL & LIGHTFOOT.

Visiting their airy and relaxed cellar door, their wines reminded me of their motto, “Wines made for eating”, as they were all tasty, beautifully balanced and ready for current drinking.

In this day and age of instant everything, it never ceases to amaze me how many wineries produce wines that are almost undrinkable upon release and need eons to soften off and become drinkable.

Tasting through the HASTWELL & LIGHTFOOT wine range, I loved the smart thinking in labelling their emerging varieties with a huge and prominent first letter of the variety such as V for Vermentino. This makes it so easy for consumers to recall which wine that they really enjoyed. Also all the labels in this range have a white background, where as their French originated (mainstream) varieties have a yellow background – great differentiation.

The other white in this range is a fabulous Fiano labelled F. Australian Fiano is powering ahead as a viable and exciting variety, and this wine amply demonstrates why this is so. Alluring aromas, masses of zippy flavours and a lively crisp finish – brilliant and oh so drinkable, with or without food.

It is so much easier to remember (and say) "I love the M” instead of saying “I love the Montepulciano” – which I do as the 2017 has great depth of colour, lovely varietal aromas and a superbly drinkable tasty palate without the searing acidity often found in young Montepulciano.

The other emerging varieties in their range are Tfor Tempranillo – which is probably no longer an emerging variety as around 400 wineries produce a Temp these days. The 2017 vintage is a great Aussie example of this Spanish variety as it has that characteristic hint of savouriness that the great Temp’s have.

B for Barbera is a very attractive Italian variety, first planted in Mudgee in the 1970s. Since the turn of the century plantings have been expanding considerably and it is easy to see why when tasting the excellent 2017 example. It has a great structure, lashings of flavour and perfectly is balanced. Dangerously easy to drink!!

G is for Garnacha or as we all it Grenache – again the 2017 Hastwell & Lightfoot is a cracker, it is the fulcrum between the “old style” Big & porty Grenache and the “new style” elegant (Thin, green and pissy) Grenache.

Their “mainstream” wines (with the yellow background on the label) were also great wines but time constraints mean that I will have to talk about them another day.

In any case, I would suggest that you go to and check out their excellent wines for yourself or for those of you in Adelaide, pop down to their cellar door at 301 Foggo Road, McLaren Vale and try the wines.

Cheers and have a great week.