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Wine

Behind The Vine At Helen's Hill

To celebrate the Helen's Hill Ingram Road Pinot Noir 2015 being our April Wine of the Month, we caught up with Allan Nalder from Helen's Hill.

What makes the Ingram Road 2015 Pinot Noir so appealing?

To answer that I need to take a step back. All of our wines are 100% single vineyard and are all made at my winery. Only fruit that we grow on our vineyard goes into the wines that we make. It's not that we don't trust anyone, it's just that we don't trust anyone. We think this is super important. Come visit and I can take you to the very vines that make the wine you are going to enjoy. Call us "control freaks". I'll take it as a compliment.

The Ingram Rd 2015 Pinot Noir benefits greatly from this approach. Pristine Yarra Valley single vineyard fruit, French oak maturation, careful "hands-off" winemaking and a great vintage all combine to produce a wine that expresses hallmark Pinot Noir characteristics. And its price point is extremely compelling.

You have over 50 acres of Pinot Noir, what makes you so enthusiastic about this often-difficult grape?

You're right, Pinot Noir is a difficult grape to grow and can really only grow well in specific, little tucked away corners of the world. The Yarra Valley, and the little patch of dirt I call home, is one of those places.

It also helps to be a bit of a Pinot Noir fanatic. To me, it is one of the most remarkable red wines in the world. I once saw a quote about Pinot Noir growers from a wine writer:

"its makers are lunatic-fringe, questers after the holy grail…" - Marc de Villiers wine writer.

We fit that mould.

Who is the Helen of the hill?

We bought the property from Mr. Fraser in the mid 90s. He had owned the pasture land from the early 1950s. The reason he bought the land was because he fell in love with a woman called Helen, who wouldn't marry him unless he owned a farm. True love prevailed and he bought the farm. Sadly, Helen passed away some 6-7 years after their marriage. Mr Fraser never re-married and throughout the property inspection, he recalled many stories of Helen and her time there. From his stories, it was obvious that she had a passion for the land. We share that passion and thought it appropriate to name the vineyard after her.

What makes Scott McCarthy a standout winemaker?

To be blunt, the fruit. We live by the very old, well used, but absolutely true saying: "great wine is made in the vineyard". The most important decision we make in the winery is deciding when to pick the fruit. The rest of the process is relatively simple. Pristine quality fruit allows us to rely on natural fermentation, minimal filtering and minimal winemaking intervention. Our ethos is not to describe "perfection" as when there is nothing left to add, but rather, when there is nothing left to take away. We feel this is the key to winemaking. Ensure that we do as little as possible so we can deliver mother nature in the bottle.

You also make a range of beers - why did you decide to go into brewing and what do you think makes a top beer?

It gets pretty hot and sweaty picking grapes. Added to that, I ain't getting any younger, so after a big day in the fields a nice, cold craft beer is a perfect tonic. As winemakers and vignerons go, we drink a lot of beer, so it wasn't that hard to come up with the idea of brewing our own.

Getting the recipe right, the choice of hops and quality malt is critical and keeping the fermentation process under control. The rest depends on what you like. We serve our brews at Cellar Door and luckily our customers reckon they're pretty tasty.

What are the top 3 attractions you'd recommend to a first-time Yarra Valley visitor?

The great thing about the Yarra Valley is the diversity. You can visit the YV Dairy and sample a variety of cheese, the Chocolate Factory, world class art museum, on-farm produce stores for things such as apples, strawberries, etc, 6 top golf courses, mountain biking, bush trails, historic buildings, micro breweries, gin distillery and of course the odd cellar door and vineyard restaurant. The valley really has a huge range of things to do.

Obviously, a great place to start is Helen's Hill. Full al-carte restaurant on top of the hill with sensational views or our Cellar Door and casual dining nestled down in the winery amongst the vines.

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Wine
The Best McLaren Vale Wineries and Cellar Doors
Exceptional wine blends, new varieties, and ocean views abound as we present the best McLaren Vale wineries and cellar doors with this guide and interactive map McLaren Vale is a dream to visit, with exceptional wines, regional produce and beautiful scenery nestled between the Mount Lofty Ranges and the beaches of Gulf St Vincent. The region is the gateway to the stunning Fleurieu Peninsula, which looks remarkably like much of the coastline around Lisbon in Portugal. It’s this warm, Mediterranean-style climate and proximity to the sea that explains the fantastic range of Italian, Spanish and Portuguese varieties on offer throughout the region. Expect to see  Tempranillo ,  Sangiovese , Touriga Nacional, Vermentino, Zinfandel, Fiano, Touriga and countless other  alternative varieties   on offer. There is clearly no fear of experimentation in McLaren Vale, which is evident in their superior  Red Wine blends  and a real sense of passion and something new evident at every winery and cellar door. You can find out more about the wines on offer in our  McLaren Vale region guide . Wine Selectors’ Tasting Panellist and Wine Show Judge , Trent Mannell is a big fan of McLaren Vale: "It's a region where the vines meet the sea, so it has a unique coastal vibe and the wines reflect the influence of the maritime climate. The cellar doors are so peaceful; it’s the most tranquil wine region I know.” The Best McLaren Vale Wineries Hugh Hamilton Wines
The Hugh Hamilton Wines cellar door is not to be missed during your next McLaren Vale visit. The unique setting, perched above the vines with near 270 degree views is remarkable, as is the passion for wine on show by the cellar door staff. There is a great range of wines available for tasting from their classic Shiraz through to the eclectic blends and new alternative varieties for which McLaren Vale is so famous. We recommend booking for one of the great hosted wine and cheese flights of their single vineyard wines. 94 McMurtrie Rd, McLaren Vale –  view on our McLaren Vale winery map Open Daily 11 am to 5 pm Visit the Hugh Hamilton website Battle of Bosworth
This charming boutique cellar door is a must visit in the region, particularly so if you are curious about learning about  organic wines . Winemaker Joch Bosworth took the reins for the family business in 1995 and began the conversion to organic practices. There is a real pride in doing things the old-fashioned way, which comes through in the fantastic examples of Touriga Nacional, Shiraz, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. The cellar door is located just outside historic Willunga, in their restored 1850s stables, with views over the vineyards and west to St Vincent. 92 Gaffney Rd, Willunga –  view on our McLaren Vale winery map Open Daily 11 am to 5 pm Visit the Battle of Bosworth website D’Arenberg
d’Arenberg is an institution in McLaren Vale, with d’Arry Osborn and his chief winemaker son, Chester renowned for their fantastic Shiraz and Grenache. For now, the d’Arenberg cellar door is housed in their beautifully restored 19th-century homestead. In this charming setting, you can enjoy an extensive range of great wines, guided by their always entertaining cellar door staff. But not for long, soon the daring and ambitious ‘d’Arenberg Cube' will be complete. At the moment, it is more of a sight to behold, than the multi-venue cellar door it will become. But, if you’d like to keep an eye on its progress, you can watch one of their regular  construction time-lapses . Find out more about The Cube and d’Arenberg in our interview with  Chester here . Osborn Rd, McLaren Vale –  view on our McLaren Vale winery map Open Daily 10 am to 5 pm Visit the d’Arenberg website Gemtree Wines
Husband and wife , Mike and Melissa run  Gemtree Wines   with a simple philosophy – minimal intervention in the winemaking process and a more environmentally conscious farming system to produce wines which are powerful, concentrated, and expressive of the true characteristics of each grape variety and the region. This relaxed and simple outlook translates through to the cellar door experience on their outdoor verandah with views all the way to the sea. Here you learn more about  organic  and biodynamic farming practices while sampling their fantastic wines, or get adventurous and explore the 10 hectare wetland eco-trail. 167 Elliott Rd, McLaren Flat –  view on our McLaren Vale winery map Open Daily 10 am to 5 pm Visit the Gemtree website Leconfield Wines
Nestled amongst the vineyards with magnificent views to the Willunga escarpment, the  Leconfield  cellar door is the perfect place to sample Richard Hamilton’s Estate, Single Vineyard Reserve, and select Leconfield wines. With family owned vineyards in McLaren Vale, as well as the lovely vines surrounding their McLaren Vale cellar door, you are able to sample and appreciate the difference that the natural environment has on the wines. You can find out more about Chief Winemaker,  Paul Gordon’s process in our recent Q&A . With platters of local regional food on offer and sweeping lawns and verandahs, the Leconfield cellar door is a delightful stop during any visit to the area. 439 Main Rd, McLaren Vale –  view on our McLaren Vale winery map Open Daily 10 am to 5 pm Visit the Leconfield website Mr Riggs at the General Wine Bar
Part restaurant, part cellar door, this McLaren Vale institution is a collaboration with Zonte’s Footstep, another noted McLaren Vale winery. It is the perfect place to stop for lunch or Friday night dinner. There are fantastic wine flights on offer in which spectacular Mediterranean varieties, Shiraz, and whites are matched with morsels of contrasting and complementary dishes from Chef Ben Sommariva. Winemaker Ben Riggs is able to use his extensive contacts with growers to cherry pick fruit from McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, and other premium South Australian sites. This, combined with Ben's considerable European experience, is evident in every wine available for tasting. 55a Main Rd, McLaren Flat –  view on our McLaren Vale winery map Open Daily Sat-Thur 10 am to 5 pm, Fri 10 am to late Visit the Mr. Riggs website Oliver's Taranga
This fantastic McLaren Vale cellar door is contained within a charming original 1850s stone workers cottage, built by the first generation of the Oliver family. There is a great range of exceptional Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as small batch Fiano, Grenache, Mencia, and Sagrantino. Before you visit McLaren Vale, be sure to check their  events page , as they host many novel wine and food events such as their monthly Porchetta Parties and Twilight Pizza events through to pop-up events in Adelaide. 246 Seaview Rd, McLaren Vale –  view on our McLaren Vale winery map Open Daily 10 am to 4 pm Visit the Oliver’s Taranga website Coriole
Coriole is situated in the undulating hills of McLaren Vale, within sight of the sea. The small and boutique cellar door is found in the old ironstone barn built in 1860 and is surrounded by the Estate vineyards.  Coriole is famous for pioneering alternative varieties in the region, namely Sangiovese in 1985 and the release of Australia's first Fiano in 2005. Their diverse range includes Sangiovese, Barbera,, Fiano, Picpoul, Nero d’Avola through to exquisite examples of the classic varieties, Shiraz and Cab Sav. Chaffeys Rd, McLaren Vale -  view on our McLaren Vale winery map Mon – Fri 10 am to 5 pm, Sat – Sun 11 am to 5 pm Visit the Coriole website Penny's Hill
Set on the historic Ingleburn property and its stunning grounds, this charming winery is the perfect place to stop for lunch during your travels through McLaren Vale. Indulge in the Kitchen Door Restaurant before wandering through the Red Dot Gallery or visiting the farmyard animals. Winemaker Alexia Roberts has picked up a swag of wine show wins recently, including the World’s Best Cabernet at the Concours International des Cabernets in France, as well as Best Australian Red in Show at Mundus Vini Germany for the past two years running. This talent is very obvious in the premium wines available for tasting. 281 Main Rd, McLaren Vale –  view on our McLaren Vale winery map Open Daily 10 am to 5 pm Visit the Penny’s Hill website Serafino
Steve (Serafino) Maglieri arrived in Adelaide in 1964 as a teenager from Italy with little more than a passionate dream to make great wine. After many highs and a few lows in the wine industry, eventually the Serafino label emerged and the Maglieri family was able to craft their own piece of paradise amongst the gumtrees of their McLaren Vale winery. The warm, friendly and familiar ethos of Serafino is evident in the cellar door, charming restaurant, and four-star accommodation. As such, it is the perfect place to base yourself during a weekend getaway. There is a great range of Italian and alternative varieties such as the Bellissimo series of Vermentino, Fiano and Montepulciano through to reserve Grenache and Shiraz. Kangarilla Rd, McLaren Vale –  view on our McLaren Vale winery map Open Daily 10 am to 4:30 pm Visit the Serafino website Mclaren Vale Winery Map  Planning a trip to McLaren Vale? Download our  interactive McLaren Vale winery map.  To save on your browser or device,  click here For more information on visiting McLaren Vale, be sure to visit the official  McLaren Vale region website  or stop by the McLaren Vale & Fleurieu Visitor Information Centre in the centre of town. But, if you’d like to sample some of the wineries listed in this guide before you visit, explore our wide selection of McLaren Vale wines and find out more about the wineries listed here in our  Meet the Makers section . With the Wine Selectors Regional Release program, you'll experience a different wine region each release with all wines expertly selected by our Tasting Panel, plus you’ll receive comprehensive tasting notes and fascinating insights into each region. Visit our  Regular Deliveries  page to find out more! 
Wine
Meet the Maker – Oliver’s Taranga
Spend some time with Winemaker Corrina Wright from Oliver’s Taranga, whose 2016 Fiano is our September Wine of the Month . Your Oliver’s Taranga vineyards are located in McLaren Vale , what makes the region so special? I think that McLaren Vale is such a beautiful region- the vines, the beaches, the food, the proximity to Adelaide. Pretty much Utopia! Your family has a fantastic grape growing history in McLaren Vale dating back to 1841. In 1994 you made and launched the first Oliver’s Taranga branded wine – is that correct? Yes, I am the 6th generation to grow grapes on our Taranga vineyard in McLaren Vale. So we are 176 years and still going strong! In 1994, I started my oenology degree and began making some wines from the vineyard after begging my Grandpa for some fruit. He was pretty keen to sell some wine to his bowls mates, so he was on board. I suppose things just grew and grew from there. I was working for Southcorp Wines and making Oliver’s Taranga on the side. Eventually, Oliver’s Taranga took over, and we renovated one of the old worker’s cottages on the property and turned it into a cellar door in 2007. We are still growers for a number of different wineries, but now around 35% of the crop from our vineyard goes to our Oliver’s Taranga brand. Find out more about the Oliver's Taranga cellar door in our McLaren Vale Winery Guide .
Six generations on, you and your cousin Brioni Oliver are winemaker and cellar manager respectively – what’s it like working with family? I love it. Brioni is actually on maternity leave at the moment –  little 7th generation Hugo was born a few weeks ago, and I am really missing her. We work well together and are focused on making our business as good as it can be. Your wine labels are quite fun and quirky – who’s responsible? We work with designer Chris Harris from Draw Studio , who has a very quirky sense of humour. Also, we know there’s a myriad of wine brands for people to choose from out there, so what makes us different? It is the people and the history, so being able to tell real stories are key to helping us stand out above the white noise! We have been on the property for 176 years now, and have many documents from back in the day. Producing the wine each year is a continuing documentation of our time on the land, so we use our little comments on the label “The Year That….” To tell something quirky that happened on the farm that year. Our Wine of the Month is your 2016 Fiano –  what is it about alternatives like Fiano that you like so much? They suit our climate and lifestyle so well. Fiano is very drought and heat tolerant and has lovely natural high acidity, it is also disease resistant and has great thick skins. Also, the resultant wine works so well with our foods and regional produce. Being coastal, we eat a lot of seafood in the region, and Fiano has lovely texture and line that works perfectly in this space. Find out more about Australian Fiano here . In our food and wine matching calendar, we’ve paired it with a delicious avocado spring salad (avocado, snow peas, radicchio, witlof, radishes, red onions, pea shoots and roasted macadamias) – what’s your choice of food partner? That sounds yum! I love it with kingfish ceviche with avocado, lime, cucumber, tomato, spring onion, coriander, salt, pepper – delish.  What’s your favourite wine memory? Probably doing the Len Evans Tutorial – a week of wine, learning, sharing and food. On a personal level, the 1996 Salon Cuvee ‘S’ Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs I shared with my husband on our wedding day. Other than your own wine, what wine do you like to drink at home? Anything goes. Grenache is a current favourite. Riesling gets a solid bashing. I probably tend to drink more white wine at home and the Champagne is always cold. What are your three top recommendations for a first-time visitor to the area? A summer day in the cellar doors, followed by a dip in the ocean at Pt. Willunga and fish and chips from the Star of Greece as the sun goes down. Early Saturday morning at the Willunga Farmers Market getting all your produce for a decadent feed. Visit tiny wine shop Fall from Grace in Aldinga for something quirky and meet up with the locals. What is your favourie? ​ Way to spend time off? Beachside/poolside somewhere warm with a book. Holiday destination? We are heading to South Africa for the first time, next year, so I am very excited about that. Our go to is Bali – surf, sun, food, easy as. Time of year? Spring Movie? I just binge-watched ‘The Handmaids Tale’ on SBS On Demand last weekend. So, so, so good. And disturbing. Restaurant? Pizza-teca or Salopian Inn. McLaren Vale has loads of choices, and it’s hard to go wrong! Sporting team? Adelaide Crows #weflyasone FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OLIVER'S TARANGA SMALL BATCH FIANO
Wine
Riverina: Farming, Food And Wine
Words by Nathalie Craig on 16 Mar 2018
The Riverina region has undergone a renaissance that’s seeing its established traditions given a fresh makeover. The result is a dynamic food and wine experience presenting local produce with European flair. The Riverina  has long been referred to as Australia’s food bowl. This south western region of New South Wales between Griffith and Wagga Wagga is abundant with citrus and stonefruit, grapes, figs, olives, nuts, lamb, beef, chicken, wheat and rice. What is not so widely known is that there is a shift happening in this rural farming centre. It’s being led by a growing number of innovative chefs, winemakers and growers dedicated to providing new and unique wine, food and agritourism experiences. Dining Out
The wealth of fresh produce available in the Riverina , combined with a strong history of Italian immigration following the World Wars, means there is no shortage of quality places to dine. Chef Luke Piccolo, who owns and runs Griffith’s renowned Limone Dining , cut his teeth at Sydney restaurants Pilu at Freshwater and Pendolino before returning home to Griffith to open his own fine-dining establishment. Luke, who is of Italian heritage, won the Council of Italian Restaurants Australia (CIRA) Young Talent Award in 2013. His nonna, who cooks beautiful rustic Italian food, was the first to show him the ropes in the kitchen. “When he left school, Luke came to help at our family restaurant and we were blown off the planet with what he could do,” his father, Peter reveals. “We were blind to what had been going on for the past decade. Then all of a sudden there he was in the kitchen at 16 years of age with amazing cooking skills, work ethic and creations.” Luke’s nonna taught him about the no waste policy, which you can now see woven into Limone Dining. The place is built almost completely from recycled materials and Luke offers an evolving seasonal menu featuring local produce. Think fresh tagliolini with spring lamb ragu followed by char-grilled quail with pancetta finished off with blood orange almond sponge and lemon custard. For full-blown Italian dining in Griffith, visit Zecca Handmade Italian in the old bank building. Run by returning locals, Ben, Michaela and Daniel, Zecca’s regularly changing chalkboard menu is packed with delicious Italian staples. Their Maltagliati, casarecce and pappardelle pastas are lovingly made by hand each day. Plates of house-made antipasti are packed with olives, salumi and baccala from local Murray cod. Another restaurant not to pass by is Pages on Pine in the main street of Leeton. It is a stalwart of the area, run by French-born chef Eric Pages and his wife Vanessa. They serve up French fare with a creative twist and are huge supporters of local producers, including Coolamon Cheese, Bruceron pork, Riverina  lamb and Randall Organics. They also offer a three-course set menu, matched with Leeton wines from Lillypilly and Toorak. Coolamon Cheese
A nirvana for cheese-lovers has been formed inside an historic 1920s co-op building in the main street of Coolamon. Cheesemaker Barry Lillywhite and his son Anton Green have filled the space with top-of-the-line cheese making facilities, a commercial kitchen, deli and generously sized dining area. All their cheeses are handcrafted on site using just four simple ingredients: local Riverina milk, starter culture, rennet and salt. “By hand-making our cheeses in small batches we can tend to them more closely, watch them mature cheese by cheese and release them to our customers at exactly the right time,” Barry explains. Barry’s signature collection of native Australian-flavoured cheeses pack a punch. Right now he has lemon myrtle, river mint, bush tomato and alpine pepper cheeses on the menu. Other cheeses available include vintage cheddars and oil-infused fettas, blues and runny Bries and Camemberts. His soft cheeses are a far cry from varieties you find in the supermarket. “Our soft cheeses are not stabilised and this is why they are soft and gooey and have a mind of their own,” he explains. “In fact, the only preservative we use in any of our cheeses is salt.” Visitors to Coolamon Cheese can taste test the cheeses or sit down to a cheese-inspired meal from the cafe menu. Here the cheeses are served with a range of gourmet accompaniments like tempura saltbush, cold roast lamb, pickles, onion jam, sticky prunes and balsamic strawberries. Guests are also invited to take a tour of the factory led by one of their cheese makers. “We want visitors to understand where their food comes from and the processes it goes through to get to their plates,” Barry says. Wine a plenty
The Riverina  is home to 20,000 hectares of vines, making it the largest wine producing region in NSW and the second largest in Australia behind Riverland in South Australia. The region is well established, having been pioneered in 1913 by the famous McWilliam family of the Hunter Valley. Riverina wineries are largely family owned with many having Italian heritage including Calabria Family Wines, Mino & Co, Lillypilly Wines and De Bortoli . Some of the families behind these labels actually began making wine out of necessity when they first migrated to Australia, so they could enjoy a glass with their meal as they would have back home in Italy. “At the end of the long working day, my grandfather found he looked forward to a glass of home-made wine,” Elizabeth Calabria of Calabria Family Wines explains. “Unfortunately, he didn’t have the money to invest in all of the necessary equipment to make it, so he took over my grandmother’s laundry tubs and improvised,” she continues. “Soon enough, he was producing wines for the local Europeans who had also made Griffith their home.” Ideal conditions
The Murrumbidgee Irrigation scheme, coupled with rich red soils and a warm Mediterranean climate, allows most varieties of grapes to grow well. Although the area was once looked upon as a producer of table wines, successful Italian varieties are fast becoming the star. “What is exciting is what we are learning about alternative varieties, such as Montepulciano, Nero d’Avola, Aglianico, Vermentino and Pinot Bianco,” chief winemaker at Calabria Family Wines, Emma Norbiato says. “By controlling the yield and the canopy, we are seeing some beautiful fruit and making some exciting wines. “In the next five years, I would like to think we will see more thoughtful viticulture and winemaking in our alternative varieties. Montepulciano , Nero d’Avola , Pinot Bianco are new to our region and haven’t even reached their potential yet.” Vermentino has also been a successful addition to Lillypilly Wines. Their first vintage of the dry Italian white was released in 2015 and went straight on to win the trophy for Best Dry White Varietal at the Perth Royal Wine Show and another gold at the Small Vigneron Awards in Canberra. General manager of Mino & Co, Nick Guglielmino says while Italian wines are not new to Griffith, there is now a higher demand for them. “We are experiencing a time where these varieties are being more accepted by consumers,” he says. “Griffith indeed has a rich history of Italian culture, so it makes sense for us to follow the style of wines we are familiar with, that of Italian authenticity yet grown in Australian conditions similar to that of their origins.”
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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