the big barossa

A free hire car upgrade is always a good way to start a weekend away. Satnav on and away we go, out of Adelaide, up the Main North Road to wine country. Shiraz country, to be precise: the Big Barossa.

Once past the outer suburbs the landscape becomes more and more sun-scorched, all browns, ochres and straw-yellows. An hour later we round a bend in the highway and there they are: vineyards stretching as far as the eye can see. “Hello vines!”, I call excitedly.

Off the main highway we meander towards the town of Nuriootpa. I welcome each winery sign like an old friend: Torbrecks; Richmond Grove; Peter Lehman. We locate our guesthouse and head straight to the cathedral of wineries. Penfolds seems the perfect place to worship on an Easter weekend.

I queue to buy some tawny, then join the crowd at the tasting bar. Never mind the pinots, or the affordable Koonunga Hill: I ask the pourer to start me on a shiraz-grenache-mourvedre mix. The first sip is divine, and so it begins.

On down the list I go, past an interesting shiraz-mourvedre and a very lovely cool-climate shiraz, but predictably it is the big Bin 28 that has my eyes rolling back in my head as the deep purple liquid hits home.


The big hitters of 2010 – Bin 408 cabernet sauvignon and Bin 389 cabernet shiraz, the Baby Grange – are tempting. But it’s the last pour, the 2010 Bin 150 Marananga shiraz that is the very best of all. As the last drops trickle down, I thank the lord for those first pioneering Barossa winemakers who made their home here way back in the mid-1800s.

Back in our guesthouse, we open a bottle of the farm’s own 2008 shiraz and lower ourselves into the waiting hot tub on the verandah. We sit and gaze over the vines as the sun sets, moving on to a decent local tawny as we put the world to rights.


Back inside we curl up on the sofa with a platter of local pates, cheeses and salamis as darkness settles and the countryside falls silent.

Another day in wine paradise.


good life modern organic pizza

good life modern organic pizza
150 Hutt Street, Adelaide

A working lunch with colleagues in Adelaide took us to this amazing pizza place around the corner from our offices.

Unusual and traditional pizza toppings included my choice of hot salami, fresh chilli, fresh mozarella and basil.


My colleagues chose a roast chicken pizza served with hunks of freshly-roasted chicken and roast potatoes, and the “SNG” which was a vegetarian mix of Singapore-spiced aubergine and other fresh produce.

Although not large, these pizzas are delicious, filling and clearly made with love. I would say that this was by far the tastiest  pizza I have eaten for a number of years.

Other friends advise that not all branches of this small chain serve up food that is quite as good, but in the case of the Hutt Street branch, this is now up there with Rigoni’s as my favourite place to eat in Adelaide.

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cork wine cafe

cork wine cafe
61a Gouger Street, Adelaide
08 8410 0645

A pre-night-market drink with Noela took us to Cork Wine Cafe, a cosy little wine bar right in the centre of the market precinct in Adelaide. We sat on chocolate leather banquettes surrounded by cushions and friendly patrons, sipping Some Young Punks shiraz from enormous wine glasses and listening to rare groove on the stereo.

The people next to us had a pâté grazing plate, which would have tempted us had we not already made dinner plans.

I have read some reviews citing pretty bad service, but we were treated well by two friendly staff. Certainly worth a second visit.


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