Something happened in a McLaren Vale tasting room on the second weekend of Spring.
It was at Wirra Wirra, while shooting the breeze with a Scottish couple with a lovely brogue. We were talking about Durif.
This was not a completely random topic because there was a Belgian woman behind the counter who was about to share with us Wirra’s version of a Spanish wine, Tempranillo, then their take on Portugal’s Touriga.
So Durif was in context. But even so, there was a moment of continental drift. New world. Old world. Euro-Australian. Belgian brogue. Wirra wirra what?
It passed quickly enough. I’m not going to say it was a willy willy. But it was a good enough reminder that wine takes you places. And you don’t always know where you’ll end up ... especially by mid-afternoon on a bike tour through the vineyards.
Good thing Paul kept an eye out. He got us back In the saddle after the Wirra tasting, generously offering to carry in his pannier a couple of bottles of Wirra’s very nice 2016 biodynamic Shiraz, Amator, while we pedalled blissfully on.
Tour de Vines has a tempting line-up of bike rides. Clare Valley and McClaren Vale in South Australia, Beechworth in Victoria, and Mudgee in New South Wales. They’ve also gone international: France, Croatia, New Zealand, and most recently, Cambodia.
We cycled about 23kms on our McLaren Vale tour. It was a cruisy day, starting with a short ride to Willunga for an organic cider tasting at the local market.
Later, we dropped into Pertaringa and finagled a taste of winemaker Geoff Hardy’s top shelf Cabernet, called Tipsy Hill, which is a very fine wine indeed.
On a cool sunny day, with a light breeze at your back, there’s nothing quite like riding a pushbike through the vineyards, stopping for lunch along the way. McClaren Vale has a lovely feel to it: relaxed in its skin, quietly confident, well made but not overdone. Same for the wines.
It puts me in mind of Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows. Remember Mole and Rat, rowing up the river in Rat's boat?
They’re discussing nautical things and life in general when Rat says, ‘Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.’
Rat might have added messing about in vineyards to his list of things worth doing. But I suppose it is a kids’ book.
Pertalinga, McClaren Vale
Red Poles, McClaren Vale
View from Wirra Wirra, McClaren Vale