South Australia is known for growing the grandfathers of the Australian wine industry. Within an hour of the city, you will find the greats of Penfolds, Wolf Blass, and Henschke, but thanks to the Government’s regulation revamp on liquor licensing, wine tourists no longer have to leave the square mile of the capital’s CBD for truly great experiences.
The last year has seen small bars sprout up through the cracks in neglected laneways, long-empty shopfronts and grandiose heritage buildings. The eclectic mix of statement venues with views, culinary havens and understatedly hip hideaways has colored in our cultural map; enjoy my top three spots in the vino-centric City of Adelaide.
If Adelaide is the heart of South Australia, then the Rundle Mall precinct is our coronary artery. The mall itself is over 1700 feet long and is both the largest and busiest open-air shopping precinct in Australia. Made up of 700 retail stores, 15 arcades, 350 offices and service businesses, and three department stores, this retail hub is built to service the wining and dining demands of its patrons.
In an inconspicuous off shoot from the mall lies Lindes Lane. Though the location is incredibly convenient for shoppers and workers, it is a destination in itself. The festive atmosphere is an urban oasis that offers wholesome breakfasts, fresh and feisty lunch flavors and vivacious dinners for every palate.
The team at Lindes Lane comprises of the state’s coolest young innovators, but the man behind my laneway love is award-winning furniture designer Jason Jurecky. After working with a myriad of SA establishments on venue fit-outs, Jurecky sought his own creative hub for locals and tourists to enjoy.
The coffee is nothing short of excellent, but once it hits wine o’clock, Lindes Lane really starts to liven up with homegrown live entertainment and DJs. The service ensures guests will be hosted, and invited to sample from the extensive wine list compiled by sommelier and wine maker Wes Gilson. The locals are the superstars here, but only the best imports are selected to cosy up to them in the cellar. You will also find premium native craft beers with a few options that tell tales of faraway lands.
22-26 Vardon Avenue
My second stop is a walk down the street from the mall. Just off the main drag of Rundle Street’s boutiques and restaurants is Mother Vine, nestled amongst fine chocolatiers and specialist coffee spots. This suave bar is the namesake of the Pinot Noir clone MV6, which originated from Burgundy’s Clo Vougeot vineyard and was part of the original cuttings brought to Australia by James Busby in 1832.
Naturally, the aim at this establishment is to touch on the Australian wine industry’s roots that connect us to France, while exploring local and international trends. Mother Vine’s wine bible shines spotlights on Domaine J.P. Fichet, Ochota Barrels, BOJO! Beaujolais, Domaine Jean-Marc Bouley, Isole e Olena and Wendouree.
The swanky after work stop and weekend watering hole is ideal for wine enthusiasts who know what they want, or for patrons seeking an educational experience. The extensive menu includes wines of all countries and varieties, from hatchlings to bottles deserved of beards; the bonus of informative service will help to guide your decision.
Try your wines by the taste, bottle or glass, and sample a small variety of tapas, cheese, chacuterie and dessert. You can expect to sink your teeth into white anchovies on horseradish toast, terrine, Valencia orange, radicchio and walnut salad, and confit duck on braised lentils. For the sweet tooth, try chocolate whisky mousse, and salted caramel.
158 Hutt Street
My final stop is in the southern precinct on the popular gourmet strip, Hutt Street. Bar Torino is the second child of the creators of a beloved haute Italian restaurant, Chianti, and stands far out of its sibling’s shadow. The pairing of food and wine is the delight here, with a heavy focus on authentic Spanish cuisine with an Italian umbilical chord.
The invention of vermouth came about in Torino, Italy in 1863, and permeated the upper echelon of society, funnelling its way into Barcelona by 1893. 1902 saw Cafe Torino open in Barcelona - their very first vermouth bar – and became the hang out for the bourgeoisie. Even Bar Torino’s logo pays homage to the Bull’s Head sculpture of Picasso.
Although vermouth is the star in this establishment, and drinkers can play with vermouth cocktail kits and rockstar gin and tonic combinations at their table, the wine list is undeniably charming. Bar Torino values quality over quantity, where each selection on their wine list is followed by a detailed tasting note.
The options for reds, whites, rosé blends, fortifieds, and sparkling range from South Australia’s McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley and Southern Fleurieu regions, to Tasmania, Rhône Valley in France, La Roja in Spain, and Piedmont in Italy. There is even a place on the list for an ’07 Chateau Musar ‘Hochar’ Cabernet Blend from the Beqaa Valley, Lebanon.
On your plate, you can expect an array of traditional tapas and pintxos hailing from Basque and Catalan origins, such as pan con tomate, locally cured meats, bagna cauda, and pops of modernity in the way of tuna and veal mayo piped into cigar pastry, and fresh tuna, pea and mint on rice crisp. On the sweeter side, Bar Torino praises the simplicity in a daily duet of gelati, the expected churros, and tarta de Santiago. Fridays are beginning to serve up charcoal delicacies and Sundays will offer paella thanks to uber-chef Soon.
It seems our cool climate creates perfect conditions for the growth of wine and talent. Visit Adelaide and discover your favourite three wine experiences.