It's Winter in Adelaide, and the sun is shining. It glows in the pale sky, sending arcs of warmth through the chilled air. The coldness creeps from the earth to reclaim the day. Dew, wet with morning, sogs my feet with its frosty tounges. Still - the sun is shining. The breeze is pushed and tousled by the trees as they shiver off the night's cold. The sun is shining in a blue sky, in Adelaide, in Winter.
This is the kind of day that can transcend the strictures and structures with which we prop up our artificially busy lives. I have no thought for the papers that need reading, the room that needs cleaning, the report that needs writing, or the forms that need filing. This is not a day for such trivial needs. What I want, what I really need, are the simple things that are too often obscured beneath the tired-eyed exhuastion of a modern life. Sun in my eyes, a cool breeze in my hair. Food to eat, to nourish, to fill. Friends to share it with. Wine to celebrate it with.
It is now evening. We have stealthily sneaked into the conservation park that is a few minutes walk from my friend's house. We have walked the trails, lit by moonlight, up to the second waterfall. We climb over the handrail and sit on the edge with our feet flowing over, anchored to our bodies, swaying in the night air. The hills hide the street lights, and the stars peek shyly from behind the crowd of clouds that have settled over the sleeping city. We share bread, and cheese, and wine. This evening, our liquid lover is the liqueur verdelho from Sevenhill, in the Clare Valley.
It is the oldest winery in the country, and is still run by a handful of Jesuits who see their creations as the perfect expression of a love for God and for our extraordinary world. The vines are blessed before harvest. The priest who maintains the cellar door makes an incredible bolognese and always serves it with a bottle pulled casually from the cellar. The tasting list is ridiculously long, but the Scottish cellar hand who was there when I last visited saw that as no reason why we shouldn't try the lot. He'd pour a new glass before the old one had hit the counter, and would regale us with tales of gentle Armenian warlords and insane London landlords. Afterwards, we lunched on the grass and had a slow, full-stomached game of football before continuing on our way.
To continue, then: it is now evening. We are on a waterfall (dry, of course- this is Australia), bathed in stars, minutes away from the gridded city streets. We open the Sevenhill liqueur verdelho and splash it into the glasses that rest tenuously on the worn, undulating stone. It is a smooth, suave wine. It will court your lips, flirt with your tounge and seduce your throat. It starts with a warm, syrupy sense of honey and nuttiness, which then grows into a toasted caramel that understands the meaning of 'too sweet' and remains respectfully on the right side of the fence. Many of its liqueur contemporaries are dogged by a slick, oily shadow of taste that wipes its dirty feet on your tounge as it passes by. Sevenhill rise above this unpleasantness and the verdelho continues onwards, now with a full, chewable flavour of toffee that swells, pirouettes, bows and recedes with no trace of tartness or hastiness. This wine, my friends, is an utter gentleman.
And we drink. The world spins us slowly away from the moon and midnight passes unnoticed among these friends, this wine, this waterfall, and this lovely day.