Wine Matching 101: Adelaide & The Barossa Valley With Andy Allen
How to eat and drink your way around South Australia.
Jacob's Creek Barossa Signature range: capturing the Barossa in a Bottle for you to enjoy wherever you are.
After being crowned the winner of Masterchef in 2012, ANDY ALLEN has been exploring the world seeking out the best in local cuisines and produce. For his new series Eat Australia, Andy has turned his attention to his home country to find the best food experiences in out great southern land. He recently visited South Australia – a region which took out a coveted spot on Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2017 list – to give us some expert insight on where to eat, and how to wine-match in this great state.
When I was brainstorming Eat Australia with the show’s producers, our aim was to create a show that was ours – full of stuff we wanted to do. So we pulled together our own dream itinerary: visiting produce makers, product owners, foodies and characters from across the country, to eat and drink the great stuff being made here in Australia.
On our must-visit list was South Australia. The seafood, the wine, the lamb. Tick. Tick. Tick. We nearly didn’t make it though – filming started just days after the huge storm that plunged the state into darkness. But the clouds parted, and the locals welcomed us with open arms and full plates. Here’s my pick of what to do, what to eat, what to cook, and what to match with it in South Australia. Keep an eye out for Eat Australia, coming to a screen near you in early 2017.
Did you know you can find one of Australia’s best African restaurants in downtown Adelaide? Africola specialises in African cuisine, but it takes inspiration from all over the place. I was lucky enough to have an afternoon with Duncan Welgemoed on our first day in the state. As I walked into the kitchen and spotted the open fire, I could immediately tell this was my sort of place. It’s here that Duncan and his crew cook veggies, seafood and meats; smoking and braising all on-site. Duncan is a big ambassador for local produce and the menu changes to highlight whatever is in season. Do yourself a massive favour and head here for dinner.
Wine pick: Duncan’s vision is for Africola to showcase local wines from the Adelaide Hills and Barossa Valley, although there are wines from further afield on the menu. Try the CRFT Pinot; this is the Arranmore Pinot Noir. Open it early, and let the flavour develop before you tuck in. You’ll notice the flavour is like a strong, warm hug, with reassuring dark elements to match many a dish.
The farmers’ market
In my book, all great food journeys begin at the local farmers’ markets, and the Barossa breaks out the big guns for their weekly Saturday market. Held in the permanent Vintners Sheds in Angaston, you can enjoy the markets rain, hail or shine. If you’ve got some time, stay and enjoy a cooked brekkie with produce from the surrounding areas. There’s great coffee, bacon and egg rolls, local yoghurt, honey and plenty more to graze on. The cheese selection is what I came for, and I wasn’t disappointed. I picked up a range of both soft and hard cheeses, because why choose one when you can have both? Before leaving, I grabbed some local fruit (the fruit and vegetables are insanely fresh, and so full of flavour), and couldn’t go past some of the local preserves and oil too. Next minute, you’ve got a near-instant cheese platter to enjoy in one of the many beautiful vistas that this area has to offer.
Wine pick: Jacob’s Creek Barossa Signature Shiraz. This is a quintessential Barossa Shiraz that won’t lead you astray when pairing it with anything, from a beautiful Aussie steak to some delicious local cheeses. It’s beautifully balanced and I recommend having a few of these at arm’s reach for when mates pop over unexpectedly.
Andy had a little lamb
From oyster hatcheries to oyster mushroom farms, we got involved in all things farming on this trip, and were lucky enough to meet so many great producers in South Australia. Set on the rolling hills an hour or so outside of the Barossa is Wunderbar Lamb. Their animals are happy creatures, raised ethically in a place that I’d be stoked to call home, too. We hugged a lamb or two and saw how great farming can be done. We were sure to pick up some local produce and cooked up a storm that afternoon. Here’s a flavour combination that you need to get involved with: lamb (we had ribs), with a sticky orange, sweet soy and star anise combo. Beautiful lean lamb can only be improved with a glass (or two) of shiraz.
Wine pick: For the local lamb, I’m opting for a local, small wine producer. Try the Craneford GSM (Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvedre). Grown in the Barossa, this GSM is full of spice and intense fruit aromas that are typical of its location. It goes down smooth and matches the natural flavours of the lamb, enhanced subtly with the orange and anise additions, just perfectly.
The world’s your oyster
A wise man once said, “the first man gets the oyster, the second man gets the shell”, so we headed to Pacific Estate Oysters (PEO) as soon as it hit low tide to be first on the scene. We were greeted with some of the freshest oysters you could get your hands on (literally, we were waist deep in water amongst the oyster beds). In the protected waters of Stansbury, we were able to understand the lifecycle of the oysters, as well as how many oysters PEO have growing (around the two million mark!). Look them up to order oysters or book in for a tour or event.
Wine pick: The tried-and-tested combo is certainly oysters and bubbly, but I’m quite a fan of a dry white. A bottle of local Kalleske Florentine Chenin Blanc matches well – the clean and super-drinkable flavours perfectly complement the delicacy of fresh oysters.
Drink in the view
I’m a big fan of a good sunset – always have been. A local gave us the hot tip about where to see the sun set over the hills, from a small vineyard called Steingarten. It’s just a short drive from the heart of the Barossa Valley to find this little hidden gem that’s absolutely worth discovering. We had the ridgeline to ourselves to witness an incredible dusk view, and the evening put on a real show. In fact, this would be the perfect spot to bring the cheese platter you picked up at the farmers’ markets earlier. If you’re feeling active, arrive earlier and take on the 8 kilometre circuit walk (Steingarten Walk) that meanders across paddock tracks and barely-used roads. We’re told the early morning light is pretty special, too.
Wine pick: I’m partial to a red that can stand up for itself without needing to be accompanied by food, so for me, the Jacob’s Creek Barossa Signature Cabernet Sauvignon was the perfect match for our romantic crew evening. This drop will also pair superbly with any rich red meat dishes.
Vines on bikes
We spent an arvo on the 42-hectare site that is home to the picturesque Jacob’s Creek, but you could easily spend days here. Firstly, the location: the views are incredible, there’s wildlife everywhere you look (we got some pretty amazing footage of kangaroos bouncing through the vines), there are bike paths that wind their way around the vineyard. Secondly there’s plenty to do: vineyard bike rides (with or without a gourmet picnic packed for you), food and wine masterclasses, or take the easy way out and enjoy an almost three-hour long lunch with matching wines. We lifted the lid on one of Australia’s most popular wineries and were damn impressed.
Wine pick: Whatever you fancy. Pull up a chair in the visitors centre and try, try, try. The team at Jacob’s Creek know their wines like the back of their hands, so soak up their expert tips. That said, Rose does seem to be the craze in the valley this season.