Aug 15, 2015

A day on the farm, Hentley Farm Barossa Valley

For those of you who have been following along, you know we have recently had a tasting and a master class with wine maker Andrew Quin of Hentley Farm from the Barossa Valley South Australia. The first tasting and the first time we met Andrew was in Carmel California at Southern Latitude Wines. He was on a world tour promoting Hentley Farm wine and upon tasting the current releases we were reminded of why we liked Hentley Farm wines. Jump forward a month or so and upon arriving in Adelaide South Australia for a visit, we once again ran across Andrew as he presided over a master class at the National Wine Center in Adelaide.
Too much Hentley Farm? Not even close. While chatting all things wine with Andrew he invited us up to the current Australian Wine Companion Winery of the year located in the Barossa Valley for a look around the vineyards, the winery, some barrel tasting, a tasting of the new releases and lunch at the award winning Hentley Farm Restaurant. There was no way this opportunity was going to get by us! We may have been born at night, but it wasn't last night...

We met Andrew at the cellar door and it was inside for a warm up taste of some lovely Eden Valley Riesling. Once Andrew had got things going it was off for a cruise around the vineyards.
Set on the red-brown soils of the western Barossa Valley, Hentley Farm founders Keith and Alison Hentschke (not related as far as we know) acquired the 150 acre vineyard and mixed farming property in the 1990s following extensive research to find out where the best red wine grapes in the Barossa Valley were being produced. During the researching of areas their studies led them towards the rich red and brown soils of the Seppeltsfield area. Keith used an old soil map from the 1950s to strategically locate the best parcels of land and after a number of years acquired Hentley Farm.

The Hentley Farm story is very short by some Barossa Stories but the with a focus on perfecting the vineyards, the first wines weren’t even released from the property until 2002. The estate was extended with the purchase of the neighboring high quality Clos Otto block in 2004 (nice purchase by the way).

The most noticeable thing about the vineyards is the abrupt soil transitions and the surprisingly large elevation differences. One of the terms that came up in conversation with Andrew was 'winegrowers'. At Hentley Farm their philosophy is to grow great grapes and then just guide them along to be the wine nature intended. Thinking about that statement and after driving through the various vineyards it seems like a natural term. What at first seems a little strange makes total sense once you have tasted the wines and looked at the vineyards they came from. The range of wines are definitely each very unique and with names like The Beauty and The Beast, the wines reflect those differences.

After a number of tastes from barrels it is easy to see how these wine evolve. So beautifully structured and balanced. Next up was a tasting of the current release and a couple special wines inserted, well because Andrew wanted to. Thank goodness he did. Sitting in the Tally room tasting these amazing wines was a great opportunity and to do it and discuss opinions and observations with Andrew made it even better. Andrew is an astute and gifted winemaker and is one to keep an eye on. Not only that, he is a genuine nice bloke.
With a range of wines that are continually earning awards from all over the world what more could you want? How a bout adding a world class restaurant to the cellar door experience!

The stables at Hentley Farm, originally built in the 1880s overlooking Greenock Creek, have been beautifully restored and converted into a wonderful contemporary yet still rustic dining room.
Head chef Lachlan Colwill offers two set menu options, the Discovery menu and the du Jour menu, which are created according to what is abundant, fresh, and of the highest quality. He has a strong focus on harvesting produce from the farm’s 150 acres, including foraged ingredients growing wild, as well as fruit, vegetables and herbs grown in the garden beds and orchard at the property.

All the wines that are beautifully matched with the menus are from the Hentley Farm portfolio, and some are unique to the dining experience only.

The Hentley Farm Restaurant is a member of the prestigious Relais et Chateux Association, one of only five in Australia, and since opening in May 2012 have been awarded:
  • “Best Restaurant in a Winery” category at the coveted 2014 SA Restaurant & Catering Awards.
  • South Australia’s Best Restaurant of the Year and Best Regional Restaurant in the Advertiser 2013 Food Awards.
  • Named Best New Restaurant at the SA Restaurant & Catering Awards 2013 and awarded four forks in The Advertiser Food Guide 2014
No small accomplishment, and after having a good feed with the du jour menu, taking about two hours, we can only agree that this place is simply amazing. The menu is not based on the food components that I would choose, but having no choice I ate it, and I was totally in food and wine heaven. The menu changes based on seasonally available ingredients, but rest assured it will be wonderful and delicious.

Thanks to Andrew and the Hentley Farm and Hentley Farm Restaurant team for making our day so special. Seriously, a 'must do' if you can get to the Barossa Valley.

Happy Tasting Adventures,

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