A truly unique tasting experience at d’Arenberg in McLaren Vale
About a 30 minute drive south of Adelaide city is McLaren Vale, famous for making some stunning wines and home to d’Arenberg. Part of Australia’s First Families of Wine, d’Arenberg has been making wine in McLaren Vale since 1912. Last year they launched and opened the long awaited brand new cellar door called the Cube. Just about 200 metres from the restaurant and former cellar door, the Cube offers customers a totally unique tasting experience.
As you near the entrance of the Cube, you slowly descend among the vines and a sound envelops you. This sound is transmitted from the wind and other noises in the vineyard captured on microphones placed among the vines.
After paying the $10 entry, you are led into a dark room with a lit floor and where the walls are decorated with different vegetables and fruits in jars. This is an innovative sensory room where you can squeeze the rubber seal on the jars to smell the aroma inside. It really is engaging and so unique especially with the fake fruit which is covered from floor to ceiling on the walls.
The second room was a 360 degree projection room where you are transported into a biographical contemporary animation of d’Arenberg’s history. The panoramic projector encapsulates the culture of d’Arenberg including the story behind the wine labels. I felt it gave me an alternative view of the vineyards and the creativity that goes into the wine labels. It is a unique experience to see this panoramic projector artwork live. The woman who led the group of us described what work had to go on behind the scenes to create such a masterpiece.
We stepped out onto the fourth and top floor that is the tasting room. With its 360 degree views of McLaren Vale and broad vistas from every side of the Cube, it is fantastic. There are small balconies where you can stand outside and soak in the view. The tasting room is bright and light, naturally with so many windows plus the décor of white walls and light coloured floors. The couches are rather bright and loud with a touch of regal funkiness to them. We would imagine something like this would be at home at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland.
The $10 you pay on entry includes tasting much of the selection. However if you want to taste more of the premium selection, there is a fee and a separate private room to taste. Friendly and informative staff behind the bar who knew their wines were more than happy to take us through the selection
The best was yet to come, a visit to the toilet was an experience. The restrooms are actually hidden behind an intricate floral display that lines the outside walls and door. Finding the door to the restrooms was a fun adventure. The urinals and walls in the toilets are brightly decorated with cartoon like images. The hand washing area is so bright with the sinks facing out onto the vineyards.
When you buy your wines at the cellar door, you can then head over to The Stables to pick them up. The former cellar door is now called ‘Polly’s’ where you can order wines by the glass and build your own platter of different meats, cheese, dips.
There is still the restaurant and d’Arry’s veranda overlooking the rolling hills of McLaren Vale. And the beautifully kept lawns with wooden deck chairs crafted out of old wooden barrels, picnic blanks and boules make a picnic there very inviting indeed!