Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Hahndorf Hill's cellar door gives wine tasters the opportunity to drink their wines alongside some of the world's greatest chocolates, in a sit down, formal setting. The staff at Hahndorf Hill recommend you give an hour to spare for the tasting, which is conducted with detailed explanations of each chocolate. There's a variety of options to chose from, ranging from a single glass with a single style of chocolate, to a trio of wines (a third of a glass each) matched to 5 individual chocolates. Prices range from around $20 up to around $40, most of which seems to cover the cost of the chocolate.

I sampled the 2008 Chardonnay with Michel Cluzel tasting (pictured but only showing 2 of the 3 chocolates), incorporating a glass of chardonnay and three small blocks of chocolate for $20 all up. The dark chocolates (all around 66% cocoa) matched the chardonnay surprisingly well. It left a delightful fusion of smooth chardonnay acid and dark, bitter chocolate tannin lingering in the mouth, implying both freshness and grip. I also had a glass of Hahndorf Hill's 2006 Shiraz with the Menavava (50 grams-$26) chocolate tasting, which cost me another $31. The German made but Madagascan sourced Menavava was 52% cocoa and included both vanilla and cocoa nibs. Not only was it the finest milk chocolate I've ever had but it's the only one I've seen with a 39 page booklet included in the package as well as a delightful tasting note on the back;

'Milky, with intense cocoa note. With crispy roasted fresh Menavava cocoa beans and fresh vanilla.'

My only question over the experience is pricing. What you pay for a glass of wine and in some cases very little chocolate could easily afford you a good square meal (or dessert) plus a glass of wine at many of the Hills' delightful pubs and eateries. Given the rather exorbitant prices of the Vino-Choc tastings I'll be interested to see if the experiment lasts, but even if it doesn't, at least they would've opened the eyes of a few people to the world of wine and fine chocolate tasting, just as they did with me (sauvignon blanc and 99% cocoa chocolate, well I never!).

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