Simply put, this resort and winery should be on every piece of advertising for Victoria tourism. It’s pretty much perfect. My only regret is that I had no idea of this before my visit to the restaurant for lunch, and was staying in Creswick instead of in one of these cute little chalet cottages amongst the rolling, vine covered hills of Moonabel in the Pyrenees. Think I will make a weekend escape my priority for 2014!
As we were staying in the Macedon ranges with friends who happened to be big fans of Athalie and Luigi Bazzani and their wine, we decided to do a little day trip to their restaurant and cellar door. We visited on New Year’s Day (this place is open every day, year round), and were greeted by Linda and Kevin in front of house, whose easy, relaxed charm and light sense of humour made us feel immediately at home.
We were a little early for our lunch reservation, but instead of venturing to the cellar door, we decided to kickback in the inviting bar area with some bubbles in the form of a bottle of the 2000 Bazzani Saluté (my heart was broken later in the afternoon when I discovered that this wine was no longer for sale at the cellar door – I will have to wait until it hits the ‘Museum’ list). We sipped our sparkling wine and chatted with our hosts while gazing out upon the vista of Warrenmang through the mist of the light summer rain that had only just floated in (much to the delight of the owner, Luigi, who paced along the verandah with a very satisfied look on his face).
On moving in to lunch, Kevin mentioned that they were out of the linguine from their NYE revelries, which was disappointing, as it was the star vegetarian option in the mains. He immediately popped out to the kitchen to see what else was on offer, and we were treated to a very tasty spaetzle with seasonal greens (and maybe a hint of truffle?). This egg noodle dish (not sure if it’s of German or Austrian origin) had the substantial flavours and gravitas to match our bold and full-bodied 2000 Black Puma Shiraz – outstanding! I could’ve sat with my nose in my glass for half the afternoon…were it not for the fact that it was begging me to drink it! Our side dishes for this fine fair were a light salad of rocket, pear, pine nuts and shaved parmesan, and (at Linda’s suggestion) a bowl of chunky beer battered chips tossed in rosemary salt. Now, I’m not usually a fan of chips with my meal, but Linda’s suggestions had been spot on so far, so I was willing to defer to her recommendation on this one. And I am so glad that I did – without exaggeration, these were absolutely the best chips I have EVER eaten (even surpassing the ones from the pub in London in 2000).
After this mighty fine repast there was no room for dessert, so we farewelled Kevin and Linda and toddled off down to the cellar door. There we met Athalie and Luigi, and enjoyed a private tour of the cellar. The approach underground with its long tunnel lined with barrels is atmospherically lit, but that is just the entrée to this high ceilinged cavern filled with countless gallons of exquisite ruby liquid. One corner of the cellar is set up as a candlelit tasting room, bordered with a sizeable and impressive antique sideboard. The acoustics and the ambiance would make this an ideal venue for a private party or small concert (am adding ‘party at Warrenmang’ to my wishlist). The centrepiece to the area, a rustic dining table, was dressed with more candles and a gigantic bottle of the Black Puma Shiraz – it would take several people to lift this monster, let alone attempt to pour it! This ‘Nebuchadnezzar’ holds 15 litres – the equivalent of 20 bottles of wine!!! Worthy of a very special occasion, indeed!
Inspired by our surrounds, we headed back to the cellar door for some tasting and buying, and met another of the Warrenmang ‘community’ – Ian (the resort manager). We felt very privileged to have the undivided attention of the owners and manager helping us make our selections, and we left with a car full of excellent choices – from very fine, limited supply bottles, to less rare (and more affordable) varieties that will be far too easy to drink! Our parting gift from Luigi was a bottle of Torchio Blue Aged Pressings – no longer being sold at the cellar door. Completely chuffed by this kind man and his generosity, we left in the rain, more than a tad disappointed that we weren’t walking back to our room onsite, instead of travelling back to Creswick (and I’m sure our designated driver was disappointed we weren’t being housed at the resort, too!).