Monday, 25 June 2012

King Valley Part Due - Wineries

The King Valley wine region is likened to Northern Italy, both in the landscape of rolling hills and more recently in the choice of grape varietals grown. There is a strong Italian presence in the region, and the festival “Weekend Fit for a King” is a winter celebration strongly reflecting the area’s Italian links.
The King Valley region is often portrayed as the King Valley “Prosecco Road”. This clever diversification is highly marketable, and leads to a point of difference from the numerous other wine regions in Victoria.
Brown Brothers
239 Milawa Bobinawarrah Road, Milawa
The Grandfather of the region is steeped in the heritage of both the King Valley region and of the Brown Family history. Brown Brothers specialises in exploring a wide range of grape varieties, their extensive and diverse range of wines presents offerings for both the traditional and non-traditional wine lover. In 1989 Brown Brothers established the ‘Kindergarten’, an experimental “mini-winery” for testing new varietals - an innovation well ahead of its time. Many other wine makers in the region have subsequently adopted a similarly experimental approach.
The original shed still remains

Brown Brothers are a founding member of ‘Australia’s First Families of Wine’, a group of twelve of Australia’s oldest wine families, charged with the purpose of raising the profile of Australian wine to the world and highlighting the quality and diversity of Australian wine. Together the families represent seventeen wine-growing regions across Australia, forty-eight generations of winemakers and in excess of 1000 years of wine growing experience. Basically, they know a thing or two about good quality wine. This group is doing tremendous things for the promotion of Australian wine and the preservation of the history of Australian wines.
We were fortunate enough to enjoy the ‘Feast fit for a King’ lunch held in the Epicurean Centre at Brown Brothers. Ross and his wife, Judy, are such charming company and it was absolute pleasure to dine with them at this decadent feast.
‘A Feast Fit for King’
·         Whole fried school prawns
·         White anchovies
·         Marinated olives
·         Pickled Mushrooms
(Brown Brothers Prosecco NV)

·         Pickled ox tongue and salsa verde
·         Cotechino sausage and braised lentils
·         Rabbit and snail pies
·         Guinea fowl and duck liver terraine
·         Boiled eggs with pine nut sauce
·         Farro and cavalo nero salad
(Pinot Grigio 2011 and Limited Release Vermentino 2011)

·         Smoked pork neck and candied cumquats
·         Roasted legs of Nug Nug goat
·         Whole roasted ducks with walnut stuffing
·         Braised chickpeas
·         Assorted root vegetables
(Montepulciano 2010 and Barbara 1999)

·         Assorted Milawa cheeses
(Dolcetto & Syrah 2010 and Moscato 2011)

Smoked pork neck and the whole roasted duck

Nug Nug Goat
After the delicious bountiful feast, Ross took us on a tour of one of the Brown Family enviable cellars, which is an incredible archive of the Brown Brothers wines and was a fantastic end to the day of regal lunching!

The role of the Brown Family in the growth and establishment of the Australian wine industry should not be underestimated. Their Milawa cellar door is a must visit, as is dining at their aptly named Epicurean Centre. Our favourites of the range were the Patricia Shiraz, the Barbara 1999 and Montepulciano 2010.

If you’ve never experienced Prosecco or a Tempranillo, both Brown Brothers releases are widely stocked throughout Australia and retail at about $15.00 - $18.00 and are well worth sampling. Brown Brothers wines are also stocked and distributed in the UK, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand and Europe. The Brown Brothers range certainly offers some very affordable options which present an opportunity to sample varietals you might not normally purchase.
With the next generation of the Brown family now working in the business, I am sure many more great achievements are in store.

Dal Zotto Wines
4861 Wangaratta-Whitfield Road, Whitfield
Otto Dal Zotto migrated from Australia in 1967 and found himself in King Valley in 1987.  In what is a reoccurring story in region, the collapse of the tobacco industry led Otto to try his luck at making wines. Now his son Michael is the winemaker, and Dal Zotto maintains a strong family feel. In fact Nonna Elena’s vegetable garden still supplies produce to Dal Zotto’s trattoria. Otto’s other son Christian is the winery’s marketing manager and has certainly done a great job with the brand. Funky styling and packaging of the products has certainly attracted a younger and growing crowd.
I really enjoyed the range of wines at Dal Zotto, the reds were on the whole more enjoyable than many King Valley reds we tried. My picks were the L’Immigrante Prosecco and the Barbera. The Elena is very good too.
We also had the most amazing slow cooked Pork Belly roll with slaw. So so so good. If that dish is an indication of the food at the trattoria, we’ll definitely be back.

Pork Belly Roll

251 Upper King River Road, Cheshunt
Chrismont has the most spectacular view, perched on the upper end of the Valley. This former tobacco plantation made the transition to vineyards in the late 1970’s, and now produces a wide range of wines. Chrismont has two labels, ‘Chrismont’ and ‘La Zona’. Chrismont consists of more classically Northern European varietals such as Chardonnay, Riesling, Shiraz etc. La Zona is an exclusively Mediterranean range which includes Prosecco, Arneis, Sangiovese, Barbera and Tempranillo. My understanding is James Halliday named Chrismont one of his top ten ‘Dark Horses” of 2010.
My favourite was the Chrismont Simpatico Chardonnay Pinot Noir, a really delicious deep flavoured sparkling which surely gives some of the best Australian sparkling wines a run for their money.  At the other end of their range, their “Casa” (meaning house) sparkling was surprisingly good in light of the price point.
I am definitely planning another visit and hoping to convince the Husband to stay in their guest house.
Chrismont's spectacular view

Pizzini Wines
175 King Valley Road Whitfield
I was not convinced on their wines. Nothing bad at all, but more importantly nothing I really loved. Similar to the wineries in the regions, their ranges include Arneis, Verduzzo, Nebbiolo, and Sangiovese. Their Prosecco was good – nicely fresh and clean. I’d be keen to visit their cooking school, which looks to be doing some fabulous things and includes classes on Antipasti and Tapas, Pasta, Ravioli and Gnocchi.

Sam Miranda Wines
1019 Snow Road, Oxley
A very impressive cellar door (designed by Sydney Architect Alex Popov) is a definite standout site of the King Valley. A really cosy but funky space that suits the younger crowd to a tee. Again, a good range of sparkling things – Prosecco, Sparkling Durif and my favourite, the Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir. The champagne like yeast taste was really impressive, and arises due to a fermentation period in the bottle in a traditional Method Champenoise style. Well worth a visit if you are in the area.
The Husband disappearing into the cellar door (glass in hand!)

The impressive cellar door upon our departure

No comments: