The unbearable lightness of Adelaide

Max Crus
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Rows of vines in a South Australian vineyard

Rows of vines in a South Australian vineyard [©Winepros/]

Adelaide is known as the city of churches not because the residents are a religious lot, although they are in a sense - notwithstanding ‘Crows fanatics’ is not so appealing to tourism types.

No, there are plenty of churches but hardly a soul in any of them.

It is also known as the city of light, the root of which has three variations.

Firstly, a bloke called William Light stood on a hill overlooking the Torrens River, pointed and said "let there be Light...Square, around which we will build a city of restaurants surrounded by wineries".

Lo and behold he was turned to bronze and still stands in the same place today.

Another etymology of the unbearable lightness of Adelaide are the “sparkling jewels on a bed of velvet”, as local muso, JJ, chucklingly puts it, that one sees from an aircraft at night or from any of the local lovers’ leaps.

However the third scenario is the most likely for such a sweet sticker - the appallingly inefficient system of traffic lights and the accompanying traffic.

Anyway, Adelaide traffic stopped recently for the Big M’s big birthday which went off with a bang. But birthdays don’t qualify as tax deductions so we did the quintessential Adelaide thing and thought about wine.

Unfortunately, apparently nobody else does, and the city’s well intentioned and architecturally splendid National Wine Centre, by all accounts, is a flop.

Unsurprising really. Why would anyone want to go to a wine centre when you have the Hills, Barossa and McLaren Vale within an hour’s drive? And given those traffic lights, who could resist getting out?

Much better value would be a kinky-crime centre.

They could have the body-in-the-bag murder, the body-in-the-freezer murder, bodies-in-the-barrel murder, the poor bugger on the banks of the Torrens murder, Truro, Snowtown, the Beaumonts and a few others...but then again all of those are all within the space of a bottle of Queen Adelaide too.

Speaking of which...

Woodley Queen Adelaide White Velvet, 2005, $7. What sort of name is that? But guess what, it is perfectly palatable. Sweet white somewhere between fruity and dessert wine, it lives up to its name. Chilli ice cream anyone? 7/10.

Haselgrove Adelaide Hills Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, $25. How spoiled am I expecting a reserve wine from McLaren Vale to taste better than 8.5/10. Maybe it’s just not big enough at 13.5 percent. Time for me to get off my high(alcohol) horse perhaps.

Coriole 2004 Shiraz McLaren Vale $28. This is most un-McLaren Vale. Even at 14.5 percent it tastes much more sophisticated than one might expect. I wasn’t ready for it. Better have another bottle then. 8.5/10.

Shaw and Smith 2004 Shiraz $38. Indian can be tough to match wine to, but you’d never know it as we put a new meaning to the world’s fastest Indian, and downed the wine in quick time to match. 8.8/10.

Fox Creek McLaren Vale Reserve Shiraz, 2002 $70. The 2004 should be out soon...and I am always impressed by wineries who don't make a song and dance about their reserve wines. But you wouldn't want the price to escape notice would you? 9.2/10.

Wines reviewed:
Woodley Queen Adelaide White Velvet, 2005
Fox Creek McLaren Vale Reserve Shiraz, 2002
Shaw and Smith 2004 Shiraz
Coriole 2004 Shiraz McLaren Vale
Haselgrove Adelaide Hills Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

© Max Crus

Column on prospective wine tours of Adelaide published the week beginning July 2nd 2006

Published in Cairns Post/Rockhampton Morning Bulletin/Northern Star Lismore)/Daily Examiner (Grafton)/Wagga Daily Advertiser/Geelong Advertiser.

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