Cool Climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

Bended Knee Vineyard

Earlier Happenings...

Anyone with a small vineyard needs to be multi-skilled and able to juggle a number of tasks at one time. It also has its compensations. These pages track the many events in the life of the vineyard, here are some earlier weeks

22 May 2007


One of the benefits of this job is getting to eat in some great restaurants and cafes. Today, I had the most superb lemon tart (almost the best ever!) at Nostro Baretto which is in a little lane behind the old GPO in Melbourne and just off Little Bourke St. The lemon curd was so soft and the top was finished with a brulee (sugar sprinkled on top and torched) – sensational! The coffee was also very good and certainly worth going back for. This place is a well kept secret.


Other recent meals include a Duck Waddle in Ballarat last weekend. Five courses of Duck, in four restaurants, matched with what must have been ten Pinots. There were some really good Ballarat Pinots as would be expected, and some great imports from Gevrey Chambertin, Central Otago and Oregon’s Willamette Valley. For me the stand out wine on the night was the 2005(?) Domaine Serene Pinot Noir which had everything: a great and enticing nose, fantastic tannins and flavours, appropriate acid, all nicely balanced and integrated. The menu demonstrated many different ways to cook and present duck – all dishes were very well done. I most enjoyed the dish at Tozers at the Ansonia, this was so good, another diner was heard to say later that they had forgotten to try the wine until they had almost finished the duck!


Other great meals in recent times include a fantastic experience at pearl (631 Church St) in Richmond. As would be expected, the ambience, service, and knowledge of the menu and wine list were spot on. As we lingered over an extended lunch we noted that the staff have an incredible attention to detail and have exacting standards even for something as simple as setting a table. The food was great. My highlight was an entrée (often the case): seared and coconut dressed yellow-fin tuna, with Lebanese cucumber, finger lime and coriander. The flavours were sensational (loved the coconut) and quite complex. I chose a 2004 Chablis (Pommier?) which I thought went quite well until the sommelier suggested a vermintino (Antinori vermentino Bolgheri 2005) which was perhaps a better match with more acid and slightly more linear. The Main (rabbit) was also very good and again going with the sommeliers suggestion, matched it with a 2005 William Downie Pinot Noir. This is a great wine, with tremendous structure and incredible length-seek it out.


A great Barramundi at Il Bacaro (168 Lt Collins St) with braised baby fennel on a puree of artichokes (and I’m sure a few other bits and pieces). We tried three different wines by the glass, a Pinot Gris from Macedon, a Neudorf Sauvignon Blanc (NZ) and an Italian variety that escapes me. I thought maybe a chardonnay would have been a better match in terms of texture whilst maintaining the acidity-but perhaps I’m biased towards that variety.


Apart from eating my way around Melbourne, work continues in the winery as we prepare for bottling – and getting the wines just right. In the vineyard, some of the maintenance has started (eg on mowers and machinery as they are bedded down for winter) and we are having a closer look at how we go about pruning this year and which bits of trellis need fixing etc. The leaves are now all gone and the winds are getting cooler-almost ready for the thermals but not yet. We also have the last of the vines to go in to our new close planted block of Pinot (see the section on the vineyard). With all these lunches, I need some physical activity, and a bit more time on the bike!