Budburst in November was phenomenal. More than 30 Macedon Ranges wineries united to bring you the best the region has to offer in wines and local produce. If you missed a chance to visit don’t despair! We have had a chat with Patrick Eckel, aka ‘Wine Reviewer’, gaining his top tips on how to make the most of a trip to the area….at any time of the year!
For a wine lover visiting, can you explain why the area is unique to Australia?
Patrick: One of the great things about Macedon Ranges and the surrounding regions is the diversity that can be found both in terms of the climatic conditions and styles of wines produced. The region is capable of producing everything from Gewurztraminer to Chardonnay and Shiraz to Pinot Noir, most importantly there are already a number of vineyards tailoring their selection of varieties to the uniqueness of their part of the Macedon Ranges.
The towns of Gisborne, Woodend, Newham, Hesket, Cobaw, Lancefield and Romsey are amongst the coldest growing regions in Australia which means that Pinot Noir and Chardonnay thrive here.
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay enjoy long growing seasons with a balance between hot and cold that fits perfectly with the milder conditions of these areas.
If you look at areas like Kyneton, Malmsbury and Metcalf there are opportunities to also grow grapes that are still cool climate but have a better opportunity to achieve full ripeness. Shiraz, Cabernet, and Merlot are good examples of varieties that have found their home here.
TOP TIP 1
If a visitor could have just one drink, what should it be?
Patrick: Domaine Epis Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir has been produced since 1998 by this small but iconic producer. The wines are delicious and complex in their youth, but with age have the ability to rival some of the great wines of the world. It may be hard to try at the winery as it isn’t typically open for tastings but a number of local restaurants stock the wines.
TOP TIP 2
If a visitor could visit just one cellar door, where should they go?
Patrick: The experience at Curly Flat is quite unique, the vineyard itself is meticulously maintained and the tasting room is the perfect rustic, yet elegant setting to enjoy great wine. Curly Flat offer wines under the Williams Crossing and Curly Flat Labels with Williams Crossing offering good value and in most instances an earlier drinking style. There is typically a few vintages of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on tasting for the Curly Flat label which gives tasters the opportunity to see what a current release may look like with a few years of age, an experience that not many other wineries offer.
The wines are also consistently excellent which helps!
TOP TIP 3
Of the restaurants in the region, who would you recommend for wine lists and pairing; a truly local dining experience?
Patrick: There is a raft of excellent restaurants in the Macedon Ranges that provide terrific support to local winemakers and producers. One that I would recommend is La Bonta on Piper Street in Kyneton. The list is a who’s who of local producers that is consistently updated with owner come chef and sommelier Tim Austin. He is a passionate and proud advocate of wines from the region.
TOP TIP 4
If a visitor had a single weekend to cover the wineries in the region where would you suggest visiting?
Patrick: I would drive through Woodend on Saturday morning and go to the farmers market (1st Saturday each month) where I might be able to try Hesket Estate, Midhill Vineyard and Rowanston on the track whilst sampling some local produce. I would then head towards Lancefield and stop in at Hanging Rock Winery on the way before enjoying the more plentiful number of wineries in and around Lancefield. This would include but not limited to Curly Flat, Parkside, Lyons Will and Lane’s End (Appointment Required).
If you could somehow sneak in Cobaw Ridge you won’t be disappointed.
About Patrick Eckel – Patrick is a skilled wine appreciator and has spent a majority of his life pursuing his passion for wine. His site, Wine Reviewer, provides independent reviews, over 3000 in fact, of the wines he discovers. It’s fair to say he knows a thing or two about wine!