Pulling into the hotel’s circular driveway, with vines sitting prettily off in the distance, I knew we were in for a treat. The Barossa Valley area is a wine region renowned for its outstanding Syrah vineyards (or Shiraz, as we like to call it in Australia).
With only 15 suites, The Louise offers intimate accommodation, and is famous for its excellent restaurant, Appellation, and the hotel’s ability to create bespoke and memorable experiences around the region for guests. We were fortunate enough to experience a day out with the passionate and knowledgeable folk from Two Hands Wines, but other unique and delicious journeys on offer include meeting the wildlife over “breakfast with the kangaroos”, or sampling a vintage tawny port from your own birth year at Seppeltsfield winery.
It’s not only the kind staff, luxury guest rooms, and these bespoke experiences in the area that make a stay at The Louise so memorable. It’s the Appellation dining experience that really screams perfection.
This evening, we sat down to enjoy one of Executive Chef Daniel Murphy’s four course ‘set’ dinner menus: a lovingly prepared seasonal showcase of fresh produce straight from the restaurant’s own kitchen garden, as well as produce from nearby local growers and farmers. Just the bread alone, served with churned jersey cream and sea salt, will blow your mind! Should you opt for a wine that goes well with it, charming Appellation sommelier, Patrick Burgun, will happily make suggestions for wines to match each dish along the delicious journey.
Behind the scenes of Appellation
Dan Murphy claims that his guilty pleasure is eating too many of the donuts he and the team cook up and serve every Monday at The Louise! He is a passionate promoter of the region and the impressive produce that can be found there, and he has become well-known for his instinctive flair for simplicity and seasonality which reflects close ties with these Barossa producers and growers. A commitment he shares with his wife Emily Laubsch is Appellation’s head pastry chef. The Appellation award-winning cellar is a dynamic illustration of the best in Barossa Valley winemaking, with an impressive selection of rare, iconic, and contemporary local wines complimented by samples of global and Australian excellence.
We sat down with Dan to find out just what it is about the Barossa Valley that he loves the most. “ In South Australia we can source some of the best produce I’ve ever had the pleasure of cooking. There’s sustainable seafood from Spencer Gulf and Kangaroo Island, sensational beef from the Coonawarra and Coorong or locally grown fruit, vegetables and nuts from our farmers here in the Barossa valley.” His favorite product? “ If you asked me in December, it’s raspberries, mulberries and Silvan berries from our friend Steven in Williamstown. In May it would have to be pine mushrooms growing in Mt Crawford forest. local citrus, Yuzu fruit and mandarins particularly. But right now, local citrus, Yuzu fruit and mandarins particularly.”
Our Two Hands Wines’ vineyard experience
In the morning, we were collected from The Louise in a stunning old Land Rover Defender by Mason, our expert local guide who then drove us to their nearby Cellar Door, to slip on a pair of South Australia’s own Rossi Boots, grab a jacket, go through a map of the region to explore some of their Single Vineyard sites.
Two Hands specializes in Shiraz-based wines from six premium regions, with 85 percent of the fruit in any vintage being Shiraz. Owners Michael Twelftree and Richard Mintz founded the winery back in 1999 and produced their first vintage in 2000. Michael therefore likes to keep production to a minimum and chooses names for his wines based on whatever he likes. The 2017 “Gnarly Dudes” Shiraz for example was named after Jeff Bridges’ character in “The Big Lebowski”, a film he loves!
After visiting the beautiful “secret block” vineyard – perched high up on a hill overlooking the valley - we then continued on Branson Coach House vineyard in Greenock, followed by Wazza’s Block in Seppeltsfield before heading up to their largest estate, the Holy Grail, with stunning and expansive views of the vines and the valley.
We then sat outside in the sun, in Two Hands’ pretty garden, under the shade of a big canopy of trees, sharing in one of their huge grazing platters - full of French and Spanish cheeses, Iberico jamon, and famed Spanish Ortiz anchovies - while being entertained by charismatic Mason and his stories of the region. Of all the wines we tasted in the cellar, the 2014 Ares, their flagship wine, was a standout favorite. A great way to end this memorable day.