In Beechworth there are approximately 30 wine produces which I have to admit surprised me. What surprised me even more was that there are only 4 Cellar Doors (I think) which was music to my wife’s ears. So, with a mate’s recommendation and a phone call to Rob Hawkings of Indigo Vineyard, off we went.
Firstly, Rob kindly took us for a drive to the vineyards and what a site it is. This time of year it’s a mix of vines still with their gold and red leaves while others had dropped theirs and seemed to be exposing themselves to the visitors (Adam and Eve would never drop their leaves in front of visitors). The sites seem to roll and undulate so seamlessly in the vale it was like they were suited to the location. Although not certified, they do practice organic and, to a certain extent, bio-dynamic principles in the vineyard. As much as we talked, I couldn’t help but take it all in.
After brief meet, greet and chat with vineyard manager Dan, I learnt just how much work there is in a 120 acre vineyard. Just one example, Dan had to replace 1000 vineyard posts since vintage finished and they were only the ones needing to be replaced immediately! Actually, I’ll give you another. I think I’ve got this right but, they are about to start hand pruning the whole vineyard. Have a quick look back at line two in this paragraph and you’ll get an idea how much work there is to be done.
Back to the cellar door (which was a former butcher shop with slaughter house attached but that’s another story) to taste the line-up of wines. From whites through to the reds, it was a excellent range with wines to suit anyone and everyone (I think they are one and the same).
The Pinot Grigio is lovely and dry with plenty of flavour and a hint of spice and both Chardonnays were a delight. The Cowra is an easy weekday drinker while the Secret Village is something else. This shouts out to be consumed with food. Don’t ask me what with, you work it out but the structure, the richness, the texture and the length are working perfectly well together already.
A couple of delicious discoveries, for us anyway, were the Secret Village Rousanne and Viognier. This might sound a little bizarre but I spent a little extra time with both of these wines. They are both quite expressive showing the varietal characters very well and we came away with a bottle of each (thanks heaps Rob).
With us coming from (arguably) the Pinot Noir State of Australia, being poured this variety can be a cause for concern but not for Rob. Nope, he wasn’t fussed at all and why would he be? These were scrumptious. The 2017 was fresh, fruity, and easy drinking with the 20% whole bunch giving it a nice dimension. The 2016 Secret Villages (30% whole bunch) is an obvious step up. The colour is gorgeous, the abundant aromas and flavours are in the middle of red and black cherry with a hint of spice/savoury oak. The palate fades away so slowly that, if you tasted it on a Saturday night, by the time it faded completely you’d be wondering if you need to get ready for the first day of the working week!
The Secret Villages Shiraz deserves its own paragraph. Another delightful wine. It’s a dark cherry-skin colour that belies its medium bodied palate. Quite elegant but there’s a good whack of dark fruit on the palate that hangs on too. Oak is very supportive and is a good friend to the end.
Among all of these we were also treated to tastes of the nice and juicy, gluggable Sangiovese and the soft, subtle, fruit forward, medium bodied Cabernet, both of which would be the glamour couple at any Sunday lunch no matter the time of year or where you live in this great country.
So, after a couple of hours with Rob, we left Indigo Vineyard having seen the idyllic vineyard location, tasted the impressive line-up of wines, met Mary at Cellar Door (who keeps everything ticking along nicely at cellar door) and left with smiles on our faces and some bottles in the boot…well hatchback area to be precise. A perfect end to our time in Northeast Victoria.
Location: 1221 Beechworth Wangaratta Road, Everton Upper Vic