The team was very excited. The reason: We were visiting one of the best, if not the best Pinot Noir winemaker of Australia, Michael Dhillon, owner & winemaker of the famous Bindi estate in the Macedon Ranges. The temperature dropped by 20 degrees over night & we had a misty, foggy kind of day. We were also slowly making our way back to Melbourne, where we would arrive in the evening.
Turning onto the Bindi Estate, the scenery had the effect of something out of the Jurassic Park movie: open fields, surrounded by large trees & kind of a jungle forest with undefined creatures in the mist. We saw 20 to 30 kangaroos before we were greeted by one of Australia’s greatest small producers: Michael Dhillon (below right)
The estate vineyards & the small winery (founded in 1988) were a treasure. After getting a tour through the vineyards & the property we had the pleasure of tasting some amazing barrel samples of the 2010 Estate Chardonnay, 2010 Quartz Chardonnay, 2010 Composition Pinot Noir, 2010 Quartz Pinot Noir & 2009 Original Pinot Noir.
Highlights in the bottle:
Bindi 2009 Composition Pinot Noir ~ Very inviting nose of fine raspberries, ripe black cherries, spice & herbs. Phenomenal Structure & texture. Well-balanced, extracted & a little creamy. Great acidity through the beautiful finish.
Bindi 2009 Block 5 Pinot Noir ~ Most fragrant, aromatic, with red & black fruit. Intense, powerful, but velvety & silky with beautiful red & black fruit. Lots of raspberries & cherries. Going all the way through a long, lingering finish.
Pumped up after visiting one of the trip’s highlights, we took off for a 45 minute ride to Curly Flat. A pretty modern facility specializing in Pinot Gris, Chardonnay & Pinot Noir it was founded in 1991. We got a warm welcome from owner & winemaker Philip Moraghan who gave us a wonderful tour of the winery which is located 75 miles north of Melbourne.
During lunch (salad & lamb) we tasted through a wonderful line-up & experienced Philip’s winemaking philosophy: good wine comes from good fruit & the grapes from the vineyard determine the quality of the wine. The winemaker is the custodian of nature. Some highlights were the 2008 Chardonnay, the 2008 William’s Crossing Pinot Noir and:
Curly Flat 2007 Pinot Noir ~ Plum, dark cherry & spicy aromas turning into a powerful palate with lots of dark & red fruit, raspberries & black cherries. Wonderful spice on the long finish.
Last winery on the way back to Melbourne was Craiglee which is actually more a sheep, lamb farm than a winery but Patrick Carmody does it all. We figured out on arrival that it was sheep shearing day. Lots going on there. The tasting room was something else. An old wooden tasting table was covered in spider-webs as were old bottles of wine which seemed to be opened years ago. Since establishing the winery in 1976, Patrick has made his name a producer of fine cool climate Shiraz. We tasted several vintages of Chardonnay.
The highlight: Craiglee 1996 Chardonnay ~ This wine had still a lot of life. Vibrant acidity & fruit. Fantastic flavors of pear, melon, with some citus & lime notes.
We also tasted a vertical of 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2005, 2007 & 2008 Shiraz. Absolutely stunning Shiraz with consistent quality. The one which stuck out:
Craiglee 2000 Shiraz ~ Beautiful dark fruit , black plums upfront. Smooth, soft, velvety texture. Wonderful dark fruit with black plums, prunes, blackberries & blueberries with spicy & herbal notes with soft tannins on the long finish. Still great acidity. Could still age for 10 more years.
After that experience we were definitely ready for some “Aussie culture” & life again in the big city. Good thing we were heading back to Melbourne. Dropped our bags & went straight to Chinatown experiencing the Chinese New Year Celebration before we had a rather fancy dinner with 8+ winemakers at Press Club in Melbourne.
One more day to go … Good night!