Day 3: McLaren Vale and its spicy Shiraz!

This was probably one of the slower-paced day in our trip but no less interesting. We began our wine-tasting journey in earnest as we ventured into our first South Australian wine region of this trip – McLaren Vale. I think it is agreed that McLaren Vale is far too commercialised as a wine region,  much like the Barossa Valley, also a place famous for its Shiraz! We did not enjoy much of the Shiraz for they were spicy.

Our route today: took us from Kangaroo Island back to mainland Australia, where we would be staying in Adelaide for a night before continuing onto the Limestone Coast!

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We got up quite early to catch the ferry across the sea back to mainland. Like the previous morning, we had breakfast that was bought from a supermarket the night before. The ride from Kingscote was mostly easy – 20 or 30 minutes or so, and rarely would you get too much traffic, so we made good time also. The weather today was not ideal, cloudy and the sun hiding from behind the clouds, a tad bit depressing but meh.

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Once you get into line for the ferry, we need to get boarding passes for the ferry. You go “check in” in the office in exchange for some passes, and there will also be a pass for the vehicle crossing the harbour, too. Passengers on the vehicle would need to go on the ferry separately as the driver would drive the vehicle into the ferry.

The ferry ride took more or less the same time as the inbound one – around 45 minutes. Despite the mostly depressing weather, the ferry ride was mostly smooth. I did not see anyone getting particularly unwell on the ferry, including myself, who would get carsick even on a National Express coach ride from Cambridge to London Heathrow (2 hours 30 minutes to 3 hours).

On our way from Cape Jervis (where we disembarked the ferry) to McLaren Vale, we found a Buddhist temple (well, it was spotted on the way in, but I was too tired and I thought I was dreaming…) It’s called the Nan Hai Pu Tuo Temple. Nan Hai in Chinese means south sea. Pu Tuo is, I think, sort of one of the saints in Buddhism. It was probably the crowdest place we have been to that day, flooded  by Chinese people coming here to worship.

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Not Buddhist ourselves, we elected to look at the view that this temple affords to. It was a lovely view and would be lovelier had the weather been better. But the road leading into the temple was unpaved, so I don’t think that the view merited that much ordeal of getting in, at all.

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Soon, after a lunch stop at one of the McDonald’s on the road (a cheaper alternative indeed, fed four of us within $30 – that’s no mean feat!) and a gas stop (gas on Mainland is around $.10 cheaper per litre, so unless necessary, do not fill in your gas on the Island), we reached the vineyards of the McLaren Vale.

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Our first stop off the highway was Shinglebecks, which we have paid a visit many years ago. My parents recalled that they did not particularly liked the wine they bought from Shinglebecks, so we only stopped for the loo and carried on vineyard hunting!

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Such depressing state of the grapes!

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Next up for us is Hardys’s Tintara Vineyard, which we also visited a few years back. We enjoyed our wine tasting there. There was a viewing platform that you could see how wine is produced and you could indeed smell the red wine in production!

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Like in Shinglebecks, Shiraz is the protagonist in the play! We were offered to taste one of the more expensive wines produced by this vineyard here in McLaren Vale. On the left is a 2012 McLaren Vale Shiraz, and on the right is the Tintara Shiraz (which is produced from grapes from one single vineyard, which would have meant that the wine producers were very very confident of the quality of the grapes). The left one cost $55 and the right one $80. And indeed, we were impressed by the Tintara Shiraz!

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We moved on to Paxton later. We were not quite impressed with their wines, their whites were slightly acidic and dry and very table wine in quality. Nothing to write home about on the quality of wine, but lovely views there – would recommend getting a cheap bottle of wine opened and sit all afternoon for the view (though in Day 7, I would recommend an even better place in Clare Valley with excellent Rieslings!)

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We went to Hahndorf next. Hahndorf was quite a different experience, quite a sharp turn from what could be described as an Anglophone experience to a European one. Hahndorf is very much a German town…

Autumn is in the air…

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We had a nice stroll on the street and a lovely sausage feast in a pub. Hahndorf is quite an expensive town if you need to eat/drink; while the atmosphere is mostly great, I would not say that it is money well spent. Hahndorf tends to get really busy during weekends/public holidays – the time we visited – so it is advised that you visit Hahndorf either very early in the morning or during weekdays, or a small village would indeed turn into a Frankfurt, just a Frankfurt cramped into one street!

On our way into Adelaide, we passed by Mount Lofty Viewing point. It would have been a lovely place to see sunset during summer time, and I can see how it would be lovely to hike up the mountain. But unfortunately for us, the cloud was in the way! But a good view into the city of Adelaide and beyond, though!

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And finally for dinner, we went to Ding Hao Restaurant (26 Gouger St) – which is one of my family all-time favourites. We just cannot say even good things about the restaurants – great quality food, lovely waiting staff willing to accommodate requests (like my father’s preference of a circular table over a rectangular one) and the reasonable price (often 50% less than eating Western-style meal in town for 4 people). Of course, mostly the food.

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Food was excellent, especially the duck – you couldn’t have it better in China I bet you. And I am hungry just writing about Ding Hao, and I will head out for dinner.

Will be back for updates soon – until then, happy flighting!

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