Two Hands Wines and The Louise: Drink a Barossa vintage from your birth year

It's safari time in the Barossa and we're hunting down the Holy Grail. A Land Rover carries us through a landscape striped green with vineyards and gold with autumn grass. Turning off-road we spy a mob of kangaroos bounding across a hillock as though to greet us. But they're alerted by the dust kicked up by our tyres; they screech to a halt, turn tail and hop away until they've dissolved on that immense, golden-blue horizon.

"They don't eat the grapes, which is surprising," says Pippa Merrett, my guide from Two Hands Wines. "They eat the wheat, though."

Full bellies – confirmed by the 'roos' chunky flanks – are a theme for this fecund valley located around an hour's drive north-east of Adelaide. After all, agriculture was the drawcard for the original British and Lutheran settlers in the Barossa; with its rich bedrock nourishing vineyards and farmlands, hunger and thirst are readily slaked here. Before us, Two Hands' Mataro grapes adorn the squat bush vines so characteristic of this region.

"You see a lot of them throughout the Barossa simply because the original settlers didn't have infrastructure like trellises," Merrett says.

Behind us are the Holy Grail Shiraz vines, held aloft on stakes and cropped now of their voluptuous fruit. Merrett uncorks a bottle of this very vineyard's 2019 vintage, and we discern its essence –treacly, aromatic, intense – while gazing across those cornrow vine plantings towards the avenue of date palms demarcating neighbouring Seppeltsfield Winery.

The Barossa's story of sustenance is told most poignantly, perhaps, in this avenue of palms planted after the Great Depression by winery workers grateful they'd been given free board and lodging. If those satiated workers and their families could see Seppeltsfield Winery today, their tummies would rumble anew. For lunch we sit beneath a clutch of trees – transplanted from that original plantation during Seppeltsfield's 2014 restoration – at beloved South Australian institution Fino, relocated here, too, from its previous home in McLaren Vale's Wilunga.

Platters heave with smoked duck and fresh figs, falafel, shishito peppers and preserved lime, Giardiniera and olives and braised leeks with ricotta and capers; our glasses condense with a crisp Sicilian Vermintino – a relatively new varietal for this region, planted around six years ago. But the estate is custodian of far older harvests: secured in its Centennial Cellar are barrels of every vintage dating back to 1878 – a 143-year collection believed to be the world's only unbroken lineage of single vintage wines.

"Benno Seppelt [son of Seppeltsfield's founder, Joseph] had the vision to dedicate the first cask and mature it for 100 years," says Seppeltsfield  spokesman Nigel Thiele.

"None of the barrels have run out. There are nine very rare vintages we don't taste or individually sell – they're offered as part of a collector's set."

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Thankfully there's sufficient reserve tipple from my birth year, though it coincides with an auspicious event: the moon landing. Fruit sugars and nostalgia (and a touch of moonlight?) coalesce in the extract Thiele pours for me; as it glides down my throat I muse that we were babies at the same time, this port wine and me. Reading my mind, Thiele says, "It's a bit like walking around through time."

It's a journey of a different sort at Appellation, where the degustation transports us to unexpected destinations. Bite-sized hashes droop beneath glistening mounds of black pearl caviar; blue swimmer crab bobs against delicate fronds of sea-grape; blue lentils wreathe bright persimmon cubes and a dollop of parmesan custard. Fruits of the surrounding vines flow with each dish, segueing from that Vermintino varietal we'd sampled earlier to pinot gris, rose, shiraz with the Gumshire pork and gewürztraminer with the dessert of poached rhubarb and smoked sheep's milk.

The clue to executive chef Kyle Johns' heritage comes in the fire bread with peri parfait – served charred on a bed of hot pebbles and reminiscent of the braai sarmies you might eat in his homeland, South Africa; and the mini melktert (milk tarts), delivered in a box at the meal's conclusion. It's true that hunger and thirst are readily sated in this bountiful valley; like those rotund kangaroos we saw this morning, we must waddle off to bed.

Catherine Marshall was a guest of Luxury Lodges of Australia and The Louise.

DETAILS

FLY

Qantas operates daily flights to Adelaide from major Australian centres. See qantas.com.au The Barossa is around an hour's drive northeast of the city.

STAY

Suites at The Louise, part of the Luxury Lodges of Australia portfolio, start from $645 per suite per night and include breakfast and complimentary minibar. The two-night getaway package starts from $1490 per suite and includes dinner at Appellation on one evening, a $100 dining credit for the lodge's three75 bar + kitchen, and breakfast each morning. See thelouise.com.au and luxurylodgesofaustralia.com.au

VISIT

Two Hands Wine's Search for the Holy Grail experience starts from $150 per person. See twohandswines.com Seppeltsfield's Taste your Birth Year experience from $99 per person. See seppeltsfield.com.au