The remarkable Mt Remarkable

Free settled South Australian

The problem with being overly ambitious is that you often don’t realise it until you are over half way in. My partner and I fell victim to this in our visit to Mt Remarkable.

Excited by our last camping hiking experience we thought it was entirely practical to drive from Adelaide at 7:30am arrive at Baroota campground about 11am, set up the tent and then head off on the 18km Hidden Gorge Hike. Followed on day two with the 12.2km Mt Remarkable summit hike, pack up the car and have enough time to stop through Tsharkes Cellar door to pick up some wine.

We were right on track until halfway through the Hidden Gorge hike  where we realised we were going to have trouble finishing this one hike let alone completing another hike of comparable length and after a broken nights sleep, as we so often have in a tent…

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The remarkable Mt Remarkable

The problem with being overly ambitious is that you often don’t realise it until you are over half way in. My partner and I fell victim to this in our visit to Mt Remarkable.

Excited by our last camping hiking experience we thought it was entirely practical to drive from Adelaide at 7:30am arrive at Baroota campground about 11am, set up the tent and then head off on the 18km Hidden Gorge Hike. Followed on day two with the 12.2km Mt Remarkable summit hike, pack up the car and have enough time to stop through Tsharkes Cellar door to pick up some wine.

We were right on track until halfway through the Hidden Gorge hike  where we realised we were going to have trouble finishing this one hike let alone completing another hike of comparable length and after a broken nights sleep, as we so often have in a tent. Us changing our plan, while it meant we would be missing out on what I am sure would be an amazing hike, meant that we left the weekend feeling relaxed and that we had achieved something rather than stressed and too sore to even move.

The Hidden Gorge hike is a stunning hike and well worth the aching muscles. The dramatic red rock faces were too tempting for my bouldering partner to resist and we stopped often to give him the chance to try climbing. The wild life was also dramatic particularly when we nearly walked into a meter long Goanna at head height while it was climbing a tree, this was the first Goanna I had ever seen.

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Tree climbing Goanna 

After the long hike a few glasses of wine and a warm dinner were required. Consisting of a chicken curry with rice from semi cooked rice packets we have found to be fantastic for camping as they don’t even have to be kept cold, and our last bottle of Tsharke Cabernet Savignon from 2011.

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Cheers to an overly long hike

Sunday consisted of sleeping in until 8:30, a real feat while in a tent that lets all the morning sun in. Then the drive back with a detour through Clare Valley where we got lucky with Grosset vineyards being open. This is a winery that is normally only open 6 – 8 weeks a year as thy produce such small batches and they only stay open until sold out. Their Chardonnay is one of the best I have had but was too priced out of my range being $59.

After the stop at Grosset we made our way through to Tsarkes where we found that the next vintage of the Cabernet Savignon has been released and I liked it even more than the 2011 vintage. A sure buy every time I drop by the Barossa Valley.

Wine tip : The traditional way of making chardonnay means that taste wise it should be fresh fruit flavours to begin with, cut through with acidity followed lastly by the distinctive oak, buttery flavour. The Oak  in chardonnay is starting to make a comeback in Australian wine after going out of vogue

Hike-in at Deep Creek

After originally booking this camp for the October long weekend, where Adelaide and surrounding suburbs flooded, the lovely people at National Parks SA allowed me to reschedule to another night. Last weekend ended up being the chosen weekend and  how did I manage to get lucky enough to go hiking on the first weekend with out much rain in months. My partner and I have loved camping for the last few years and at this stage we can pack for a few nights camping in about an hour.

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Trails around the campsite

As we started the hike it opened up into a large field full of bright yellow flowers and packed full of kangaroos. I had never seen this many Kangaroos in one spot in my life and it was quite daunting. While Kangaroos are not often aggressive, we were not prepared to take a chance and take the set path through the middle of the pack of kangaroos, especially as there were so many joeys which in turn means protective mums and dads. We did not realise that the detour around the hill mean that we took the wrong path and therefore ended up hiking double what we should have.

The site of Eagle Watering hole felt magical, it was a glade full of lilies and a partial island where the stream split in two. We were the first to arrive at the camp site so of course we took the island for ourselves and arriving after 3pm I had a small hope that we would have the campsite to ourselves but it was not to be. As there was time available we made the hike down to the beach, a 5.5km round trip which followed the creek down to the beach and included quite a hike up and down the near cliff face.
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This has really made me remember how much hike-in camping is fun and challenging and just how much I loved the planning and completing of a 4 night hike. Trust me to figure this out right on the cusp of fire ban season where a lot of hike-in campsites are no longer bookable due to fire safety reasons. This means a 6 month wait until we can pick up that style of camping again, but on a positive the next six months of camping will end up being Glamping, with the ability to pack a lot of extra items to make camping much more comfortable. Stay tuned for Glamping take 1 of the season in only a few weeks time we will be trying out camping at Mt Remarkable, a first for both my partner and I.

Wine/camping tip : I always find red wine to be a warming drink and as such, with the cold weather we are getting at night I managed to sneak a bottle into my bag, which my partner was quite grateful for.
Wine tip 2 :  swirling the wine is an important part of tasting the wine. Not only does it aerate the wine but give you a hint to the alcohol content. If the little streams cling to the glass longer it often means a higher alcohol content and that they have a larger, riper flavour.

Cape Town Memories

With the super crappy weather in Adelaide over the last month I have been spending a lot of time inside. The torrential rain and cold cyclone means there really hasn’t been too many options to go outside. To combat the down you feel when being stuck inside I have been doing a lot of remembering previous happy times. 

One that really stuck out, possibly because it is easy to have a similar experience here, were the wineries we visited in Cape Town.

Arriving in Capetown came at exactly the right time for me as we had lived in Berlin for two years and I was starting to get a bit homesick. Cape town cured me for a while as the weather, the open space and even the accent was similar, quite often we got mistaken for South African. These similarities made me feel like I was taking a breather and had returned home for a short trip. Part of what made this feeling of being home so real was that we were Couch-Surfing and ended up staying with Michael and his family. Michael was a uni student and loved to live like a tourist in his own town, this meant he had a lot of free time and was excited to go with us and show us around Cape Town.

 

Wine was not an interest of mine before arriving in Cape Town but as the wine region is so well known we had to go try it out.  The tastings are paid but are only $2 or $3 and you get a whole experience out of it, plus the guilt of leaving a winery without purchasing a bottle does not happen with this system. We were sat outside on the balcony and got given a list where we got to chose 6 wines each, these were then brought out on tasting plates with some information on each wine and in the order you should taste them.

This was the place I really started to appreciate wine and I think it was mainly due to the experience of wine tasting rather than just wine drinking. Prior to this beer had been my drink of choice.

 

Cape town is a fantastic city to visit even if you aren’t interested in wine. Some of the amazing places we visited include climbing lions head and table mountain and then boulder bashing our way down, swimming in little known streams between two mountains where you have to park on the side of the road (no signs) and climb down thick Fynbos to find them. The animals are special to this area with the constant reminders to make sure your cars are locked as the baboons in this area have learned how to open unlocked doors and the ability to swim with penguins at boulders beach .  Cape Town is truly one of my favourite Cities to visit.

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The truthful sign at the top of Table Mountain 

 

Wine Tip : a lot of wineries sell products other than wine, I have come across gin, beer, cider, cheeses, olives and whisky. This means there is really something for everyone you just have to do a bit more research and then you can satisfy even the non wine drinkers

Yangarra Members Made Event

Due to family commitments this past weekend was taken up with events, which gives me the perfect opportunity to share one of my favourite days of the last year – the Yangarra Members Made Grenache event. 14375164_10155145357238238_1092672914_o

Yangarra is one of my favourite wineries and with it being names Halliday winery of the year for 2015 it is obviously a favourites for quite a few people. The first time I was at Yangarra I signed up for their emails. They email quite infrequently, but what they email are events only open to people on their mailing list. My partner and I are mainly interested in experiences we can do together and when this popped up I knew it was ideal for a Valentines gift. The Price tag was more than I would be willing to pay for a normal weekend but it was a whole day experience and I don’t often get the chance to wander through the entire winery, including where the vats are.

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The Ceramic Eggs

 

The day started with a welcoming coffee (they had a proper machine and Barista’s  to make it)  before we headed out to the 80 year old grenache vines, bright and early with fog still hanging over the hills. The group, of about 60 people, spent the next 2 hours picking the grapes. This was when my partner started questioning what I had signed him up for. It did get a bit tiresome by the end of it but in those two hours we managed to finishing picking all of the old grenache vines. Our immediate reward was a glass of the 2015 Old Vine Grenache and a muffin, I think this was the earliest I have started drinking, but a 9am start went down very well.
Brunch was buffet style, of course served with more wine and was held outside with the back drop of their wine barrels stacked 5 high and a view over the vineyard.  The children and some adults had a go at stomping the grapes, there were also tours running.

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The haul for the day 

If you are starting to get a bit bored of the normal winery experience this would be a great event to go to. I will have an update once the 2016 Members Made Grenache is ready to purchase, a wine only available to the people that attended the Members Made event.

Wine tasting tip: place your hand over the top of the glass when you swirl it, this traps the scent and allows you the full bouquet of the wine before you even taste it.

Central Market picnic and Hahndorf brunch

A central Markets picnic and a trip to Hahndorf were the highlights of this weekend, trying to make the most of the rare sunny weather we had the weekend just gone.

14203524_10155092102753238_429338904_oZeds cafe was the main reason for braving the crowds on Saturday at the Central Markets. The Central Markets are an Adelaide staple when you want to spend a lot of money on groceries and love every minute of it. In that spirit my partner and I wanted to have a picnic with items we bought at the markets. It would have cost us about $20 to buy the sandwiches already made so that was our budget for this challenge. Two bread rolls at $2.50 each, 150gms of chili, capsicum and cashew dip at $4.50, Pecorino cheese and Porcheta (cold meats) rounding out the $20 budget at about $5 each for 100gms. We managed to come in on budget but only because we managed to “borrow” a plastic spoon, from a coffee store, to spread the dip. We ended up eating our picnic in Victoria Square, only a few minutes walk from the central markets14233807_10155098786153238_1227953114_o

 

Sunday was spent in the Hahndorf, with breakfast at the Haus. We specifically went for breakfast as  the cost of breakfast is on par with many other restaurants but lunch and dinner menus are considerably more. The food was quite good and has a large menu so everyone will have something they like.The coffee was good without being great, it is not  a place I would go specifically for coffee.14233380_10155092103453238_1580973046_o

 

Hahndorf is a great town in the hills that has everything going for it, but that means it is full of tourists. Hahndorf has German character,  wineries, great food, breweries and specialty shops all on the main street, this means it is too easy to while away an entire day just on the main street. I am especially fond of the candle stores (the only candles I have found that melt outwards and can create art while they burn).

Wine Tasting Tip : Dont rule out any varietal, for such a long time I ruled out Chardonnay but I did keep trying it at wineries and eventually figured out it’s just the new style of Chardonnay that I am not a fan of but that I love the oaked style. this is something I would not have realised if I had not kept trying most varietals.

Hiking around Adelaide

The last few weekends have been quite gluttonous what with plenty of wineries, an abundance of food and not much exercise at all. To counter balance this (for one weekend at least) my partner and I went on three different hikes around Adelaide.
To raise the energy levels and prepare for this fitness filled weekend coffees were needed, and there is no better place on a sunny Saturday morning than Espresso Royal, a small cafe on Magill rd. Espresso Royal has some of the best coffee I have found in Adelaide, the coffee has a delightful smokey flavour to it and a double shot does not need any sugar, there is a garden area out the back and their breakfast roll is the prefect hangover cure. I am a fan of locally owned business and this is one that is locally owned, great product and has lovely staff.
The first hike, Giles Conservation hike, was not the best start as we got turned around and ended up back at the beginning, having cut out the majority of the hike. The wild flowers are currently out which means plenty of yellows, pinks, reds and whites peppered amongst the multitude shades of green. This hike would have a high possibility of seeing native animals, in the first few minutes we saw three koalas. If you are just starting out at hiking, Giles Conservation is great practice. Do be warned that this hike is quite steep in parts and it is quite easy to get turned around on this hike (as my partner and I found out), this is a harder hike but it is stunning, especially now. The weather is also ideal for steeper longer hikes, as it is a bit cooler you are less likely to overheat, dehydrate and come across snakes.

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wild flowers of Giles Conservation park

Horsnell Gully was the second hike of the day, after being coped up inside with bad weather, the sun setting so early still and full time work, only an hour in nature this weekend just wasn’t enough to satisfy me so one of my favourite mainly flat walks was chosen to help out. Horsnell Gully is a walk that is stunningly Australian no matter what time of the year and it can be easily adapted to time restraints, this weekend we had already done steep inclines so we decided to keep to the flat in Horsnell Gully which is still a stunning hour long return walk. One of the main draws of this walk is that you are right on the edge of the creek most of the time, there is also a section where you can climb up the waterfall but to continue that walk means you will be in Horsnell Gully for about 3 hours.

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entrance to Horsnell Gully 

As I am in the hills and my partner lives at the beach I am lucky enough to get the best of both worlds and finished off the weekend with a seal sighting and a sunset that would be the envy of all other sunsets. I was surprised to find a seal warming itself in the shallow waters at West Beach, while I occasionally see dolphins I had never seen a seal that close to shore before. There seemed to be a few people worried about it but an animal information hotline was called and everyone was reassured that this is normal behaviour at this time of year.
Wine Tip : if you do end up liking a winery, sign up for their online mailing list. There are always good deals to be found, museum releases and events happening at wineries. Quite often numbers fill up just with people wanting to join from their mailing list – so these events don’t get publicly advertised. Around Adelaide I know there are quite often special Sunday sessions, with music and food, Porchetta Parties (I really have to try this one out) and some wineries come together and hold a sale day of back vintages or just some wines that aren’t quite selling as well as they want. I have got a case of wine for $50 purely because the type of wine (verdelho) isn’t widely recognised in South Australia but the wine was very good for the price and we got to taste it beforehand so we knew we weren’t buying cheap and nasty wine.

Weekend of Opulence

This weekend was all about wine, two full days of wine tasting, eating delicious food and fantastic company. My partner and I have found a kindred couple, not only happy to taste wine (and drink lots of it) with us but also to appreciate it.
I have decided to spilt this weekend into the categories of – Don’t waste your time, worth giving a try and Must visits:

Don’t waste your time : 

Alpha Box and Dice

Wine tasting can be full of both good and bad wineries and you just have to go and try them out to know for sure. Some times the reviews don’t quite lead you in the right direction. An example of this is Alpha box and Dice, a winery in Mclaren vale that for some reason gets quite good reviews but i would presume the people giving the reviews didn’t actually taste the wine, most wineries I go to will have at least one bottle open that I would consider buying but Alpha Box and Dice had nothing, I believe this winery survives on intrigue alone. The cellar door is quite funky with plenty of dated furniture, the wines themselves are confusing with often too much going into the bottle, I understand trying new things but Alpha Box and Dice goes to far and misses the mark on all of their wines.
Pizzateca
Lets take a step away from wine to dinner, and the takeaway we got from Pizzateca. this was quite a disappointment as the reviews are often quite good, I think the main problem was that either the Pizzas were to small or the takeaway boxes too big – it would have been easy to fit two pizzas in each box which meant opening up the box for a nice hot large pizza was very dispiriting.
Worth giving a Try : 
Hugh Hamilton 13918662_10154974913418238_590371720_o
This cellar door is lovely to drive up to, lined on either side by tall trees, the large stair case (with a black sheep standing proud in the center) leading to a large circular tasting room perfectly positioned to give near 360 views of the vineyard and was a good place to start the weekend. This winery is a perfect balance of worth my time but still leave ample space for the wine tasting to improve over the day.
Pirramimma
Piramimma is the winery that you go to when you want to taste forty different wines, get very drunk and leave with a case of wine for under $80. Their wines are spot on that price point – quite cheap tasting wines but hey you get to try a lot of them. There are a few nicer wines in the tasting just be prepared to try quite many to find a single decent wine.
Mollydooker
13898661_10154974963803238_689380320_oThis winery does have some interesting wines and are very proud of their listing in “top 20 wines” in a write up that most people haven’t heard of. Mollydooker has quite a selection reasonably priced but quite good tasting wine, and these wines are available in many places so if you do find one you like it should be relatively easy to find again. The tasting style was not quite to my taste, it was a massive table with the bottles of wine on it, it looked like you are meant to help yourself. It was a good thing someone who worked there walked in before we started pouring for ourselves.

Must visits:

KI Winery

These were wineries I have been to before but am more than happy to try out again and to take friends to as I know they will enjoy it. For a smaller but great wine selection, a free tasting, and a cellar door to wow anybody, K 1 is unbeatable. K1 is an old dairy in which they have extended the lake and built the cellar door on top. While one of my all time favorite wine, Arneise, is no longer avaliable their current selection is still worth the long and unsealed road to get there.
McLaren Vale Foodland 
Ok! I know this isn’t a winery, but hear me out as the cheese selection is unmatched.
The Foodland in Mclaren Vale is a testament to how well cheese and wine pair, the largest cheese selection I have seen in any food store with a cooled cheese room within the larger store. All this cheese alongside gourmet Barossa meats and fresh fruit are the basis for and good cheese board.
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Wine Tasting Tip : take advantage of cheese or charcuterie boards as they will help you continue your tasting through lining the stomach, plus they taste amazing

Longview and the best pies in Adelaide

The ridiculously cold snap in Adelaide over the weekend could only be broken by the warmth of a beautiful red wine and Pie. The winery of choice was Longview vineyard, but the weekend started with brunch at Butterfingers, a small bakery/cafe on Melbourne st.

Butterfingers is well known for their pies and they have most definitely earned it. Brunch consisted of 18 hour slow cooked Lamb pie where the meat  was both generous and delicious and the crust buttery and crispy, if you don’t like pie you just haven’t tried the ones from Butterfingers yet.The coffee is quite good, my double shot only needed a little sugar to take the edge off of the bitterness. If you want fantastic quality at a low price Butterfingers is a great choice for lunch with Pies and Coffee about $15.

Longview Vineyard

Longview winery is a bit more funky than most but still holds its own in class, they hold an annual street art contest with the winner being the artwork for their “the Piece Shiraz” for that year, along with annually selling out in the Winter Reds festival on their BBQ and Blues night.

My partner was much more into the whites than I was, although the Savignon Blanc was a nice surprise as I find this wine normally to be to harsh for my palate but the Savignon Blanc at Longview was much smoother, less acidic but was still quite fruit driven. The Chardonnay was another note worthy wine, made in the new style but still had some time on french oak. This wine was my partners choice of the day but I thought it wasn’t quite good enough for the $40 price tag.

The reds of Longview did not disappoint with my favourite of the day being “Devils Elbow” Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine had subtle tannins  and lots of berry flavours but with staying ability to be cellared for and extra ten years, if you can keep away from it that long and only $27. We got lucky with the tasting as their prized “the Piece” Shiraz was open, this is the wine that celebrates street art, Longview is releasing the 2013 later this year.

Wine Tasting Tip: while sediment is mainly thought to be linked with the age of the wine, young wines will sometimes have sediment as well. This is due to the processes used to make the wine, whole bunch fermentation is a good example of this as the wine stays on the grapes longer.

Lost in the Adelaide Hills

A new wine bar has opened up in the little town of Uraidla, less than thirty minutes drive from Adelaide CBD – Lost in a Forest. This bar is well worth the visit, especially for the wood oven pizza, of which there are plenty of interesting and delicious options. Our choice for the night was the Bahn Mi pizza which initially sounds pretty confusing but comes together very well in the oven.

On arrival we were only asked ‘white or red?’ which instantly made me weary and feel like I was in a cheap  club where no one cares about the wine but boy was I wrong! There is a small selection of organic, bio-dynamic wine and sulfer free, there were only two reds and two whites open and they couldn’t have given you a bad wine they were all delicious. Lost in a Forest also serves mulled wine, a fantastic addition to any cold winter night (which we are having a lot of right now) along with the open wood fire outside to huddle around.

If you want to make a day in the hills, there is Mt Loft Botanic Gardens with plenty of walking trails to wander and it is only ten minutes drive from Lost in a Forest. This garden is made up of plenty of different areas including the rhododendron garden which last time I was there I just kept getting looped back around to. Take a picnic and  eat on the bank of the lake, hike through the gardens and then top off the day at Lost in a Forest.

Wine Tasting Tip : the  region the grapes are grown results in a different taste in the wine and this can be down to a different side of the same hill. An example of this are the three closest wine regions to Adelaide – Barossa, Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale. Shiraz tastes very different from each of these, Barossa is home to the big and bold Shiraz, Adelaide Hills have the complex and softer taste with the Mclaren Vale Shiraz being a comfortable easy to drink taste midway between Barossa and Adelaide hills.