I had planned on being in the Barossa Valley over New Years’, in part because it worked out better with my schedule and trying to book a hotel in Sydney on New Year’s Eve, some two months prior, was at best laughable. If you thought getting a hotel room in New York City was difficult that time of year, try Sydney.
Knowing I would be in the wine country on the holiday, I knew I would be limited to which wineries would be open. Thankfully, Wolf Blass was on the list. It also worked out that New Year’s Eve and a 24 hour flu bug and I coincided. So, come New Year’s Day I was probably the only guy sober in the entire wine country ready to walk into a cellar door as early as possible to go tasting. And thus, there I was, at 10:00 am at the doors of Wolf Blass.
Wolf Blass Winery is located on the northern end of the Barossa Valley, just passed the town of Nuriootpa. I mention this not because the winery is there, but I just wanted a justifiable reason to write the town name Nuriootpa in this review. Ok, back to Wolf Blass.
Walking into Wolf Blass I was taken aback at just how stunning the inside is. This is not your Grandfather’s winery, selling jug wine out of a rickety old tin barn. I don’t want to know the volume of Windex and Pledge the winery has to go through to maintain the exquisite cleanliness of the floor-to-ceiling windows or the longest tasting counter north of Nuriootpa.
I also had a sudden yikes when I realized the size of the tasting counter. I thought to myself, this place sure can hold a lot of people. So much for selecting small wineries. Oh well.
As I approached a section of the tasting counter, one of the ladies behind greeted me with, “Good morning, you’re sure chipper this morning.”
“Yep,” that’s an understatement considering I couldn’t even get out to taste the day prior, but figured I’d just smile and nod.
“Well, let’s get you started. Here is a tasting sheet. What would you like to try?”
Apparently, at Wolf Blass the length of the tasting counter is only second to the sheer voluminous amount of wines available to try. Normally, I’d scoff at such a huge selection, but being in another country and ready to spit, I was in favor of this. Think of it as after a day of fasting, you’re presented with an all-you-can-eat salad bar. Well, except you have to spit…you know what? Don’t think of it that way. That’s not the best analogy. Where was I? Oh yes, wine tasting.
Being rosé obsessed, I knew I wanted to try one here. But in general, I usually go with the whites first, then to the rosé, then to the reds with leaving the dessert wines (ports, sherries, tawnies) to the very end.
I sampled both a Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay to get my taste buds going but soon ventured into rosé waters. Yum. Yet as much as I can spend all day re-tasting rosé, I was intrigued by the various Shiraz wines available. I slowly had to come out of being twitterpated by their rosé and get my taste buds ready for a few Shirazes.
Only this adventure took me down the rabbit hole farther than I anticipated. At Wolf Blass, the Shiraz comes in many colors, as in label colors. The day I tasted, I was able to sample the white, yellow, grey, brown and black label Shiraz. I think one of them was a Shiraz-Cabernet blend, but it still had the word Shiraz on it. And if that isn’t enough, they come from different wine regions: McClaren Vale, Brossa and Clare Valley, just to name a few.
If you’re confused as to where those wine regions are (ok, well except for the Barossa), they have a handy map. For someone who still can’t figure out how far 5 kilometers is (shakes fist at Google Maps) and might be able to find the southern cross in the sky (no guarantees, especially after all of those Shirazes), a map was a welcomed help.
The tasting staff happily pointed out where the grapes were picked, why, and where it was on the map. I loved it. I got a quick Cliff Notes wine tour at just one winery. How cool is that?
The winery also features Moscato. Which isn’t my first choice, but I always say, “Drink what you like.” And if you’re wine is Moscato, then Wolf Blass has a glass for you. It also comes in Pink. To round out the list, you’ll also find a Tawny, a staple amongst the Barossa Valley and a sparkling Brut or two (made from Chardonnay, not Shiraz).
About half way through my tasting, a tour bus rolled up and I think 1-2 counters were utilized, still leaving me with a glorious amount of counter space for maps, maps, and Shiraz. It’s a bit of a drive out of the main town of Tanunda, the unofficial centre of the Barossa Valley, but it’s worth the drive. They are open 7 days a week and on various holidays. I can at least attest to New Year’s Day. And they’re open early—10:00 in the morning. Which, ironically, I can also attest too. Wolf Blass is a great start to your wine tasting journey through South Australia.