Friday, 2 April 2021

GUEST POST: The Hills are Alive: South Australia's local wine revival

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Greenhill Wines Pinot Noir

Words and images: Roderick Eime 

As a youngster, I used to enjoy riding my pushbike through the Adelaide Hills, past the acres of orchards and market gardens. 

Apples, pears, plums, cherries and strawberries were everywhere through Summertown, Ashton and Lenswood, and we often stopped and scrumped a juicy Pink Lady or two.

That was 40 years ago and the landscape has now been transformed. Gone are the rows of fruit-laden trees, replaced by vineyards chockers with pinot noir , chardonnay and even the Europopular grüner veltliner.

About the time I was ready to leave Adelaide for my own adventure, the Adelaide Hills were embarking on their big wine revival. 

Led by such names as Brian Croser, Stephen George, Tim Knappstein, Stephen and Prue Henschke, Geoff Weaver, Michael Hill Smith and Martin Shaw, the cool-climate characteristics of the region were rediscovered and now produce a most impressive array of wine.

It’s going to take me another 40 years, I reckon, to visit all the cellar doors in my old stomping ground, but I have to start somewhere and the new winery cafe at Greenhill Wines is a great place to begin my reacquaintance if, for no other reason than I must have passed their driveway many hundreds of times on two wheels or four.

After a couple of tries, I did finally catch up with the most affable Dr Paul Henschke of the famous Eden Valley dynasty and who one might more accurately describe as a wine scientistic and academic. Along with his similarly credentialled wife Penny, the couple started Greenhill Wines at Summertown in 2009 and bottled their first vintage two years later.

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Dr Paul overlooking his idyllic patch at Summertown (RE)

“I do still teach at the uni occasionally,” Paul says modestly, “but these days I like to focus on producing our own wines.”

“We are presently making three whites, a fresh style grüner veltliner, a barrel-fermented chardonnay, using grapes sourced locally together with a type of  yeast native to the Piccadilly Valley (cryophilic Saccharomyces uvarum for the boffins) and a white, non-sparkling, Pinot-Chardonnay (pinot grigio blended with chardonnay).”

While I may not be a wine judge in the league of Hooke or Halliday, each of these are flawless to my palate. The grüner veltliner is popular throughout Europe, but not so widely grown here, so it was a bit of a surprise. Paul describes it as a “highly textured mineral palate of apple, pear and citrus, and a long, fresh, crisp, dry finish”. For me at least, it’s the type of fragrant, crisp white that can be paired with a wide variety of foods, but perhaps ideally with spicy Asian dishes or cooked seafood. 

What did make my eyes pop was his magnificent Monomeith Vineyard Pinot Noir

“This reminds me of those fabulous pinots from Tasmania,” I remarked meekly. My confidence lifted when Paul agreed. Apparently, it’s the ‘whole bunch fermentation’ and post-fermentation maceration that are the secret ingredients. I feign wisdom and nod in agreement. 

Paul and Penny make such small batches that you’re unlikely to find any in the big bottle barns. You’ll need to come and taste them for yourself at the Henschke’s idyllic little establishment overlooking the glorious Piccadilly Valley or sign up for mailings.

Most bottles are under $30, even for these expertly crafted vintages. 

For the full story and details on ordering, visit www.greenhillwines.com.au

For more information on the Adeliade Hills, visit www.adelaidehillswine.com.au

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