Sundays chilling in McLaren Vale
I love Sundays, a time to chill and rest. With such great weather here, for me Sundays means trips to the beach, bike rides but being passionate about wine as much as I am, plus loving the boutique wineries, visits to the cellar doors can really top off a perfect Sunday!
And last Sunday was pretty good, a spinning class in the morning and a trip to McLaren Vale with a visit to two wineries; Ekhidna and S.C. Pannell.
We headed to Ekhidna winery and brewery first and arrived just after 12. Along with a large range of wines, they produce beer and cider. The winery was set up by winemaker Matt Rechner in 2003 and they soon gained recognition for their Shiraz gaining “Best Australian Shiraz” award for the Linchpin in 2006. It is a very open and bright cellar door/restaurant. Overlooking the vines is a private dining area. There’s also a shaded open courtyard in next to the restaurant and cellar door. Being so spacious and open with lots of room to move around and also put our pram was important.
A lady called Kelly served us. She was very quick with pouring the wines which is always a winner when you have a toddler who doesn’t like to wait. We didn’t taste the whole range as our little 2 year old required some attention and so ordered a shared platter of olive oil, dukkah, olives with Turkish bread for $16 which we had along with the beer flight of 5 beers.
Prices for their wines start at $20 for the Shiraz rosé. I was intrigued by their Pinot Gris, there was so much flavour and liveliness there with a touch of honey. We also bought the GSM, perfect at $23. The full range of wines are on tasting were:
- NV Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir, $25
- 2011 Pinot Noir Sparkling (Adelaide Hills), $50
- NV Sweet Sparkling, $23
- NV Shiraz Sparkling, $35
- 2017 Sauvignon Blanc (Adelaide Hills), $25
- 2017 Fiano (Adelaide Hills), $27
- 2016 Pinot Gris (Adelaide Hills), $25
- 2017 Shiraz Rosé (McLaren Vale), $20
- 2016 Mourvèdre (McLaren Vale), $25
- 2016 GSM (McLaren Vale), $23
- 2016 Grenache (McLaren Vale), $25
- 2014 Grenache Shiraz (McLaren Vale), $27
- 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Fleurieu Penninsula), $25
- 2014 Shiraz (McLaren Vale), $25
- 2014 Linchpin Shiraz (McLaren Vale), $45
- 2012 Rechner Shiraz (McLaren Vale), $65
- 2012 Rarefield Shiraz (McLaren Vale), $100
- Matts # Red Special, $35
- Topaque, $35
- Muscat, $35
After a brief tasting and a quick bite to eat, that thankfully came shortly after we ordered, we then headed to a playground by Serafino. It’s always good to run off energy in a playground complete with slide and sea saw and two swings plus a BBQ with a sheltered picnic area.
Our next visit was to S.C. Pannell. I’ve been a fan of S.C. Pannell wines for a while as Swanbourne Cellars stock quite a few of their wines. Since moving to South Australia, I tasted their wines when Tom was displaying them at East End Cellars in November. Working in wine in WA, I’ve learnt the history of the Pannells from when his parents (Bill and Sandra) set up Moss Wood in Margaret River in 1969 and then Bill and Sandra together with son Dan, set up Picardy in Pemberton in WA in 1993.
I was really impressed by the cellar door at S.C Pannell. From the tasting room is a huge deck which overlooks the vineyards sloping down to the road and has beautiful views of McLaren Vale. The tasting room is light and airy with a cool neon sign ‘S.C. Pannell’ on the wall. As well as the outdoor seating on the deck, there is a grassed area with bean bags (great for kids and adults alike), umbrellas providing essential shade and a huge lawn out the back next to the vines and vegetable patch. There’s also paper and colouring pencils for entertainment, always good to know! There’s also barbeque facilities but you need to book in advance to use. Still, the picnic area is pretty impressive. Plus there’s a huge eating area with fairy lights decorating the rafters. It is closed in on three sides, one lined with barrels and a stove, the other huge wooden sliding doors that open up to the kitchen and the third side with glass with the magnificent views of McLaren Vale. The other wall is open but can be closed in with blinds, so perfect for summer with them up and cosy for winter with the blinds down. When we went on Sunday there was live guitar music and a fun vibe. We were served by the friendly staff; Tom, Michelle and Sam.
Steve and his wife Fiona set it up in 2004 and moved to the current location ten years later. Reading about Steve, I’m blown away with all his awards and accolades including being named Gourmet Traveller Wine 2015 Australian Winemaker of the Year, the 2015 McLaren Vale Bushing King crown with the 2014 Grenache Shiraz Touriga and the 2014 Jimmy Watson winner plus numerous others.
We tasted the Premium Selection and a few wines from the Tasting List. At every price point, the wine offered length and depth and structure. They were fantastic and if my budget could have stretched further, I would have bought the 2013 Nebbiolo. As it was I bought two rosés, the 2017 Nebbiolo Rosé and 2017 Grenache Rosé plus 2016 The Vale.
- 2015 Grenache, $60
- 2016 The Vale (New Release), $40
- 2015 Cabernet Shiraz, $50
- 2014 Koomilya Estate Shiraz, $70
- 2013 Koomilya DC Block Shiraz, $110
- 2013 Nebbiolo, $60
We also tried a few wines from the Tasting List which include:
- 2017 Pinot Grigio
- 2017 Amuse
- 2017 Nebbiolo Rosé
- 2017 Basso Garnacha
- 2016 Barbera
- 2016 Dead End Tempranillo
- 2016 Grenache Shiraz Touriga
It is such a wonderful cellar door, with great wine, views and a chilled fun vibe, can’t wait to go back. I’l make sure I stay for food, they say it’s locally sourced and grown as much as possible. From what I can see on Facebook, the menu looks very tasty!