We landed in Adelaide from Auckland after flying through Melbourne, at about 11 a.m . We picked up our rental car and headed to the Barossa Valley to visit Jim and Pam Lambert at Lambert Estates.
Jim and Pam have a lovely guest home called Lambert Estates Retreat, at the vineyard in Angaston. We met Pam and Jim about 8 years ago when we had, with partners, an on-line wine company that specialized in boutique wines from around the world. We had spent some time on their visits back to the United States and visiting their winery was one of the highlights of our last trip to Australia in 2011.
If anyone read about that visit with Jim and Pam it was an adventure, we were sure this would also be the same, and were looking forward to it. A wonderful change has been the addition of their son Kirk and his new wife Venessa as the winemakers. It has truly become a family business. Kirk and Venessa, originally from Peru, met while attending the University of Adelaide, Wine Science program.
When we arrived Pam greeted us with open arms and we introduced Pete and Bunny. It turned out that Bunny had some family that had been nuns at a Wisconsin convent that literally backed up to the farm that Jim had grown up on. Again, what a small world! There are a few changes, one is a contraption that makes noises to scare the birds away from the grapes, powered by gas, another is the work on a new winery and tasting room/ restaurant, more about that later. The other changes included new plantings and replacing some of the riesling grapes with Durif (petit shiraz) which will take five years to mature,be picked, bottled and drinkable.
Pam gave us the keys to the Retreat house and invited us for cocktails and dinner at their home at four o’clock. We drove around the corner to the Lambert Estate Retreat. It is a great full house with 3 bedrooms and two baths along with washer and dryer. Fantastic!
After resting and cleaning up we headed back down to the house. For those that visit the Lambert Estate Retreat, the 4:00 cocktail hour is a regular feature most days of the week where you can sample some of their estate wines.
First thing was sparking chardonnay/pinot noir. Kirk and Venessa have been changing the formulation of this sparkling wine and the new 2014 has a reddish, rose color to it and is spectacular. We followed with the Nordic Frost, Cold Pressed Riesling. It is very dry and typical of Australian rieslings as opposed to the sweetness of German rieslings. With each of us having a glass, we headed up to the new winery. The Lambert’s are building the winery and cellar door (tasting room) that includes offices, conference areas, a VIP tasting area and full catering facilities to service up to 300 guests for a sitdown event or wedding. Pam had a bottle of their A Thousand Word Chardonnay, hand pressed estate grown grapes, that was great.
The winery is not quite completed but our walk through the facility and what is planned for completion in April, means we must return for another visit. The winery has many holding tanks, one of them can hold up to 80,000 bottles of wine, Holy Cow! At the completion of the tour we return to the house, having run out of wine.
At the house we met their friends Kingsley and Kathy. Kingsley
owned an earth moving company and even though he no longer is in business, he is completing the excavation for the building of the winery, lots to go! What a fun and delightful couple, Kingsley shared stories of his travels along Route 66.
Jim opened a bottle of Sparkling Shiraz that had been made as a private label wine for a client, what fun. The bulk of the wines made by Lambert Estates are red varietals. Jim and Pam started serving a number of appetizers, the beginning of a wonderful Australian BBQ! We started tasting, OK drinking the various wines with the appetizers of sausage, multiple kinds, cheeses, chicken wings and on into dinner. Jim slow cooked pork on the barby, which was an old round Weber grill that was inside a wine keg, tha tt allowed for a slow cooked, smoked flavor. It was tender and fantastic. Pam prepared her Chinese noodles and Pok Chow lettuce with her secret sauce salad which was a favorite from our last trip, that we have tried, unsuccessfully to duplicate. One of the reasons is that the noodles are not available in the US.
We continued through the meal with their red wines including Three’s Company which was a wonderful combination of grenache, shiraz and mouvedra. You could taste the eucalyptus influence in the wine. We then tasted, drank, Foregive Me Zinfandel, very smooth and good. It was then on to what the Barossa Valley is so famous for, the Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Starting with the Thoroughbred Cabernet, always one of our favorite wines, then The Commitment Shiraz, both wonderful full bodied wines. We were now going to have the pièce de résistance, The Silent Partner Cabernet Sauvignon and The Family Tree Shiraz. Words cannot describe these two wines. They can be put up against any and hold their own. As a matter of fact, The Family Tree was in a blind tasting against Penfolds, Grange Shiraz, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Nine of the ten judges picked the Family Tree. In many minds, Grange is one of the finest Shiraz wines available. A four year old bottle can fetch in excess of $400.
Having tried about 13 bottles of wine between the group, it was time to call it an evening and craw back to the “Retreat”.
We woke early so John and Janice headed up the hill to see if we could find the Kangaroo’s and the path through the vineyard to town. The Lambert Estate has nine Kangaroos in residence. As we headed up the hill we saw two jumping and then one turned around to see who we were then off they went. Janice’s hip was a little tender so we went back down the hill and drove to town to purchase some coffee, tea and eggs for breakfast.
We visited the villages around he Barossa Valley stopping in Angaston for afternoon coffee and tea along with using the cafe’s Internet.
We drove over to the Lambert’s for cocktails again, starting with the sparkling and off we went enjoying more wine. We headed out for dinner, following Jim up through the vineyard. We got over the top of the hill and there were five of the kangaroos out to our left.
We went to the Wanera Wine Bar for dinner, drank some of Lambert Estate Silent Partner and Family Tree, two of the best red wines you will ever taste! Dinner was fantastic.
On our last trip in 2011, we had enjoyed dinner there. We were served by the lovely young lady Abbey Wilson, with a name like that she has to have a picture in the post!
After dinner Pam said we must go play Pokies, we headed down the street to a small bar with Pokies machines (slot machines with a different name). We started rolling and Bunny hit it big winning over $50, Janice broke even, Pam lost a few, a great time was had by all!
The visits with the Lambert’s was just great fun. We wish them the best with finishing up the winery and great success as this family business grows with the stewardship of Kirk and Vanessa as the winemakers and the steady hands of Jim and Pam guiding Lambert Estates forward.