Gippsland Gourmet Trail August 07
by Lisa Hill
(Cheltenham Vic. )
Marie & Robert Young (Lillico Wines)
Gippsland has no officially designated wine regions, but is home to many small wineries that emphasise the hand-made. It is also a fine place to indulge a gourmet palate with farmhouse preserves and condiments; specialty breads; outstanding cheeses; game meats such as venison; and delicacies such as smoked trout pate from the trout farm. The roads are good, the scenery is beautiful and there are plenty of accommodation choices & restaurants to suit all budgets.
En route from Melbourne, call in at Yarragon in the foothills of the Strzelecki Ranges. Enjoy lunch at Café Sticcado, which specialises in organic produce sourced locally, including beef from their own farm. The coffee is the best in Yarragon and they offer local boutique wines by the half bottle, a very sensible option for drivers. Here we discovered a 2004 Kouark Wines pinot noir – and on the strength of that, bought a 750ml bottle ($19.90) and 2001 Shiraz ($24) to add to the cellar at home…
Browse next door at Wardrobe in the Lane where you will find gorgeous designer clothing and hand-made jewellery, and then find the perfect gift for the animal lover at the All Creatures Great and Small gift shop. There’s much to see, it’s best to call in again on your way home to check out the bookshop, the antiques and the galleries, and you can stop in at the Tea Rooms for local cheeses, Flinders breads and scrumptious preserves for the pantry at home.
It might be a bit out of the way, but
the Star Hotel in Walhalla is a fine place to stay overnight if you’re making a weekend of it. The Walhalla Historic Precinct offers plenty of things to do – you can take a tour of a working gold mine, there are many fine old buildings to investigate, and you can even take a trip on the scenic steam railway. The hotel is actually more like a stylish B&B, with a comfortable guest lounge, and gourmet dining. Even in the depths of winter it is always warm and cosy, and it is *so* nice to have dinner where conversation can’t be interrupted by mobile phones!
For lunch on Sunday, head for Lillico Wines, a small boutique winery run by Marie and Robert Young. They offer an excellent farmhouse platter, with Tarago River cheeses, smoked chicken and trout, and other fresh local delicacies, served with Redback mango & chilli chutney from Jindivik and Marie’s own onion marmalade. The marinated goats’ cheese served with cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and caramelised balsamic vinegar is scrumptious, complemented perfectly by a glass of 2004 sparkling cabernet.
Marie is the winemaker, and she makes a fine Cabernet Sauvignon (rated 87 points by James Halliday). On the day we visited they had just taken orders for their 2006 chardonnay from Bottega’s Italian Restaurant in Bourke St – so stock up on this delicious wine while you can. While they’re still on a learning curve with the ever tricky pinot noir, they’re soon to release a Pinot Gris and are definitely a winery to visit regularly.
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