Leave all of your sanity at the door people! Well that’s what the sign should say as you enter The d’Arenberg Cube at McLaren Vale. At the entranceway there is only the slightest hint of the weirdness that you are about to be drawn into as you step inside this five storey glass and metal architectural Rubik’s cube. Inside you’ll find a tasting room, restaurant and ‘Alternate Realities Museum’, not to mention the anything but humble toilets. All I can say is make sure you have a male with you to clear the way so that you can safely step inside the ‘mens room’ to have a peek in there too (it’s allowed). I will leave photos of the interior until later though, as the story behind all this needs to be told first.
We visited the d’Arenberg winery on the weekend on an organised group tour and were lucky enough to have access to a special private tasting in an old part of the winery complex. Here we could see the concrete fermentation tanks that were built in 1927, bubbling away with red grapes in a frothy mass as we were given the history of the Osborn family that are now into their fourth generation of winemakers.
As we taste wines from just a fraction of the over 70 wines produced by d’Arenberg we are taken from sparkling wine to Riesling, to Mencia, Shiraz Viognier to a big bold Shiraz and finished with a special Shiraz Rousanne Viognier Marsanne blend. If you have no idea of what I’m talking about, neither did I before we tasted, but boy is it worth it, and all before 12 o’clock!
The stories behind the winemakers, the labels and the processes are all something to be experienced and well worth the $55 per head to go on the Vintage Tour. Where else can you find out that to this day all of the reds are still made by foot treading and that a team in the state football league take part in this as part of their training? The football team is Norwood and ironically they are known as ‘The Redlegs’, this refers to the colour of their socks, not the wine stains hopefully.
The current winemaker, Chester Osborn is the colourful character behind ‘The Cube’ and his humour flows through to the wine labels. Make sure you ask about the story behind the wines ‘Lucky lizard’, ‘Laughing Magpie’ and ‘The Old Bloke and 3 Young Blondes’. The last is actually a clever combination of the wine being a blend of one red and three white grape varieties and also refers to Chester and his 3 daughters, this was the last Shiraz we were lucky to taste on our tour.
With the tasting over it’s time to venture into the cube itself and suspend reality. Without giving away too much, think Willy Wonka meets Alice in Wonderland with a wine twist and you are beginning to get the picture!
You are taken on a sensory trip through sights, sounds, scents, touch and taste as you make your way through this amazing experience. There is little more to say so I will let the photos do the talking, (or should that be screaming).
The d’Arenberg Cube and tasting room is open daily from 10am to 5pm. Entry is $10 per person which includes tasting a selection of wines and a self-guided tour of the 5 storey cube and incredible views it affords.
A big tip would be to go on a weekday if possible as the weekends can still be a bit of a crush. Have any questions about visiting the cube or about the wines? Just ask and I will do my best to give you the answer.
Seeing is disbelieving.