The mid-1980s was perhaps the time that the popularity of the Rubik’s Cube had reached its zenith, when the 3-D combination puzzle, created by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik, was the hottest thing invented since sliced bread! But like all trends, this one too proved to be ephemeral and was soon forgotten. Well…almost.
The Rubik’s Cube Redux
Childhood memories of me desperately trying to line up the iconic 3×3 grid of block colours came swirling back the moment I set my eyes on a peculiar-looking structure one particularly torrid afternoon. A structure that stands out, quite abruptly, I might add, against the bucolic, vineyard-infested landscape that the hills of McLaren Vale, South Australia are famous for.
Simply called the d’Arenberg Cube, this startling structure is part of the d’Arenberg Wines estate that has been in the wine-making business since 1912. Inspired by the Rubik’s Cube and by the graceful folds of Japanese origami, the five-storied cubist, glass structure is a multi-purpose one. Inspired by the complexities and puzzles of winemaking, chief winemaker and viticulturist Chester Osborn and the fourth generation of the d’Arenberg family, imagined the idea of a cube-shaped building that came to fruition in December 2017.
Seeming as though they independently rotate on a single, common axis, each of the five levels have been carefully designed to entice and excite the senses. In fact, Rachael Whitrow, d’Arenberg’s cellar door and tourism manager tells me that Chester had tried his best to convince his building contractors, Sarah Constructions to have the entire structure rotate 360 degrees. But alas, that was not to be!
So, while the top level houses the d’Arenberg cellar door and private tasting areas, offering guests the opportunity to blend and bottle their own wine, the other levels offer varied treats. Level one houses an informative wine museum, along with a faux fruit-lined ‘wine fog room’ where alcoholic vapours flavoured with wine and other botanicals are released for an unusual ‘sniffing’ experience. I was particularly intrigued by the fragrance of the zesty lemon, that one often can find in a light, summery wine like a Riesling.
Offering perhaps the most sophisticated wine-paired lunch in all of South Australia, the restaurant on level four at The Cube is truly the piece de resistance. Conceptualised by husband and wife team, Brendan Wessels and Lindsay Durr who’ve worked in Michelin starred kitchens before their current stint here, The Sisypheanic Euphoria is a three-hour, 10-course degustation meal.
It was here, that I was treated to a selection of some of the 60 wines produced by d’Arenberg Wines. So, while my Barramundi bush coals course consisting of a black pudding doughnut and smoked salt icing was twinned with a 1996 Grenache called The Custodian, my fish course of the sublime scallop silk with sea grapes, sudachi and kosho worked brilliantly with the 2010 Chardonnay, quirkily named The Lucky Lizard.
And if I thought I could be surprised no more, the grand finale of the meal made me do a rethink. Printed on Australia’s first fully functional 3-D food printer, that is housed in The Cube’s kitchen, a delicate hexagonal-patterned grille made from ‘printed’ sugar was what crowned my dessert of a Japanese Namaleka-style chocolate-malt mousse, served with a citrus sauce and garnished with fennel fronds. Ah, bliss!
Address: 58 Osborn Road, PO Box 195, McLaren Vale, South Australia 5171
Phone: +61 8 8329 4888
Images courtesy of d’Arenberg