Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tilbrook Estate Cellar Door - Lobethal

The Adelaide Hills have developed a fantastic reputation for producing distinctive, high quality wines.  And deservedly so.  With over 50 cellar doors and more than 90 wine labels, the Adelaide Hills is Australia's most vibrant cool climate wine region, all set against a backdrop of stunning scenery.

Like me, you probably love a good wine.  But with so many Adelaide Hills cellar doors and so many labels where do you start to sample the best that the region has to offer?

A particular favourite of mine is Tilbrook Estate.  Tilbrook Estate is a boutique winery (one of the smallest grape to bottle wineries in the Adelaide Hills) producing fantastic wines in the rustic ambience of the Old Onkaparinga Woollen Mills in Lobethal (40 minutes from Adelaide).  The Tilbrook Estate vineyard is located only a short drive from the cellar door, between Lobethal and Lenswood.  Lenswood is known Australia wide for its quality apples and pears, but it is also one of the coolest wine grape growing areas in the Adelaide Hills.  This results in some breathtaking wines of a very high standard, with the winery probably best known for their Reserve Chardonnay and Late Harvest Botrytis Pinot Gris.

The philosophy behind Tilbrook Estate is simple: "Hand made by our hands".  In this day and age that is an increasingly rare commodity.  A visit to Tilbrook's cellar door offers the visitor the opportunity to view a working winery, talk directly with the winemaker and sample the range of award-winning wines.

In an addition to the existing range, Tilbrook Estate recently released a sparkling variety named Moneypenny - a reference to the character from the James Bond novels (James' mother worked for British Intelligence).  In keeping with the "hand made by our hands" philosophy, this sparkling is made in a very traditional French style using Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varieties.  These are whole bunch pressed, fermented in tank, with the second fermentation in bottle and then disgorged by hand.  The result is a very fine sparkling indeed!

 For a unique Adelaide Hills experience, I highly recommend Tilbrook Estate's "Licenced to Chill" package.  This includes a structured tasting of their range of wines, private tour of the winery, barrel and tank tasting, and disgorging your own sparkling!  Follow this with a cheese platter and your own bottle of personally disgorged sparkling Moneypenny - a very chilled way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon!  You'll need to book in advance but I highly recommend it.

If sparkling isn't your thing, Tilbrook Estate produces a range of reds and whites, including a stunning Reserve Syrah and my personal favourite, 2010 Sauvignon Blanc.  All wines are available for tasting at the cellar door, and for purchase by the glass or by the bottle.  In addition to being a skilled winemaker, James Tilbrook can also whip up a brilliant coffee which you can enjoy with a range of Emmalines cakes and biscuits (also produced in Lobethal).  It all makes for a perfectly relaxing afternoon!

The cellar door also welcomes groups if you want to gather some friends together, book ahead and make a day of it.  Group bookings will be treated to a unique Adelaide Hills Wine Region experience including a tour of the winery with barrel and tank tasting.  This unique opportunity allows visitors to experience how wine develops differently depending on whether it is matured via tank or barrel.  You'll experience how different French oaks influence the flavour of wines, and during vintage period discover how wines taste at different stages of development.  For the wine enthusiast this presents a unique opportunity to be immersed in the process and bask in the passion of a craftsman winemaker.

Tilbrook Estate is one of the Adelaide Hills best kept secrets.  The ambience of the Old Woollen Mill and the passion of the winemaker make this a must-see destination on any Adelaide Hills itinerary.  Highly recommended!

Visit Tilbrook Estate website

Tilbrook Estate, Building 17, Old Onkaparinga Woollen Mills, Lobethal.  Phone 8389 5318 

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