It’s a tough life being a food blogger, facing daunting challenges on a daily basis and struggling, on a personal level, to cope with overwhelming difficulties.
Oh, that’s such a lie. I love every minute of what I do. I get to meet some of the most amazingly inventive, productive people who generously share with me their stories, their histories and their food and wine. The only things I struggle with are my waistline and my diary dates.
Such has been the case with Oliver’s Taranga (the diary dates bit, not the waistline bit) who’ve invited me to share in some of their pop-up food/wine events in the past, but we’ve not been able to synchronise our timings. As a greedy girl with a profound respect for all things pork, I was bitterly disappointed to have to miss the pop-up Porchetta Party Oliver’s Taranga hosted, with porchetta from Marino Meats, in the Adelaide Central Market earlier this year. Combining the almost spiritual properties of Marino’s porchetta with Oliver’s Sagrantino was an inspired move and the event was wildly successful, with both porchetta and wine being inhaled by the very appreciative Friday night shoppers, so when another Porchetta Party was announced I was there with bells on!
This time the party was held at Oliver’s Taranga picturesque McLaren Vale winery on a sheltered deck overlooking their vineyards. I was quite spoiled and sat with Oliver’s winemaker, Corrinna Wright, enjoying the fruits of her labour, Marino Meats bliss-inducing porchetta and learning some remarkable things about their historic property.
The history of white settlement in Australia is a relatively recent one so, unlike family-owned land in Europe, we don’t have many properties that have been in the one family for hundreds of years. In fact, Oliver’s is one of these few in South Australia and one of the very few in the Mclaren Vale area.
Corrinna is one of the sixth generation of her family who have lived and worked on the same property since it was settled in the 1840’s by William and Elizabeth Oliver who sailed to Australia from Scotland. They took up the land in what was largely a wheat belt in the southern vales of Adelaide, planting wheat, fruit trees and, for reasons that remain an utter mystery to their descendants, grapevines. For equally obscure reasons, William then proceeded to make wine from his successful vineyards, even entering it in the Willunga Agricultural Show in the 1850’s, although there is absolutely no record of why he was inspired to do so or where he learned any of the skills. Aside from being in the same family for six generations, Oliver’s Taranga also has the distinction of being one of the few properties in the area which has been home to vineyards for over 170 years. The original Shiraz, Mataro, Grenache and Doradillo vines, which were un-irrigated and largely unproductive, were pulled in 1948, but were immediately replaced with new cuttings grown from the old stock.
These grapes have for many years been sold on to other wineries in the area, making their way into top-end wines, including the likes of Penfolds Grange, and Corrinna’s choice to become a winemaker had as much to do with seeing the premium wine potential in their own grapes as it did with taking the opportunity to build their own brand and safeguarding the property in the hands of the family for another generation. While the Doradillo is no longer produced by Oliver’s Taranga, the Shiraz, Mataro and Grenache find their way into award winning wines. Corrinna has been quick to see the advantages inherent in some of the lesser-known, but more drought, heat and disease tolerant grapes which are growing in popularity in South Australia and her Vermentino and Fiano wines are attracting attention and awards and her Sagrantino – which pairs so very well with porchetta – is turning more than a few heads.
I’d suggest you keep an eye on what’s happening at Oliver’s Taranga as they are working closely with chef Todd Steele and there are more pop-up dining events planned for the very near future. There might be more pleasant ways to pass a sunny afternoon than eating fine food and enjoying some splendid local wine in glorious surroundings, but I can’t think of any off the top of my head. I’m also hearing that there is something pretty special, but very secret, happening there later on in the year so keep your ears to the ground – or just keep reading me and I’ll update you!