Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ernest Hill Wines, Nulkaba, NSW

Living in the Hunter Valley it can be difficult to commit to becoming a member of a winery as you want to try them all. There is so much variety (120 cellar doors at last count) that you don’t want to fill your wine rack with any one particular brand.

Having said that we were introduced to Ernest Hill Wines ( through a family member who has been a long time member, and when we moved here we enjoyed the wine so much that we decided to become members ourselves.

Ernest Hill Wines - Tasting Room
Just a few weeks back (Saturday 26th March 2011) we were lucky enough to take part in one of their complimentary monthly member’s lunches, held in the Alexander Room at the vineyard. We were greeted upon arrival with our first glass of wine which we enjoyed as we introduced ourselves to the fellow members who we were to spend a long lunch with.

Lunch was hosted by Ross Wilson who runs Ernest Hill along with his son Jason and the whole family. Ross is about as down to earth as you get amongst Vigneron’s and whilst helping educate us as to which wines match best with what food he kept the afternoon very light hearted.        

Lunch consisted of a five course banquet with matching wines.
Menu for Members Lunch
The 5 courses began, after a delicious canape of mini crostini with persian fetta, caramelised pumpkin, sage & copa (which Mel forgot to photograph), which we would have happily munched on all afternoon, teamed with the 2010 Cyril Semillon. We were served our canapes at the wine barrel tables while last minute prep work was underway in the Alexander Room.  We then moved into the room and were seated with 10 other lucky members.
Perfect setting for pre-lunch introductions
The clean table before festivities began
1st course was our favourite wine, 2010 Rosalie Joan Verdelho which was matched with Smokey Paprika Prawns, Spinach and Red Onion Salsa and a Romesco sauce. The Verdelho is a fantastic match with spicy food, we often have it with Thai & Indian, so was a perfect starting point with the beautiful Spanish style prawns.
1st course - paprika prawns
2nd course was the 2009 ‘Chickenshed’ Chardonnay (The wines are either named after family members who are no longer with us or as in this case where the grapes come from on the property, eg near the chicken shed). The Chardonnay was matched with BBQ Miso, Sake and Nori Chicken with a Mirin and Coriander dressed Japanese Coleslaw. Chardonnay is usually a wine we seem to stay away from but matched with this style of food we quite liked the wine and even walked away at the end of the day buying a bottle. The chicken was so tender and moist, we're hoping to steal the recipe from the chef (Ross' daughter) on our next visit.
2nd course - miso chicken
3rd course was the 2009 ‘Andrew Watson’ Tempranillo. Ross informed us this was a relatively new (Spanish style) wine to the Hunter Valley and they were amongst the first to produce it. The Tempanillo was matched with Fetta, Ricotta and Romano Empanada’s with Spicy Seared Chorizo and a Chimmichuri sauce. The wine is very nice on its own and was even enjoyed by a few who don’t usually drink red wines but when it was matched with the spicy chorizo it really came into owns. The chorizo really had a zing to it after a mouthful of the Tempranillo, not too hot, just a nice zap of spice to keep your tastebuds tingling. Highly recommended for those whose partners don’t allow them to open to many bottles of red on their own (not pointing fingers at Mel here at all!).
3rd course - empanadas
4th course was the 2009 ‘William Henry’ Shiraz which we enjoyed with Slow Braised Oyster Blade with Stout, Onion and Porcini mushrooms, Pea and Watercress Salad and a Sweet Pumpkin Mash. Real winter in front of an open fire stuff this. I love a Shiraz and it was a really good match for this hearty European style food. All that was missing was the cold weather and the fire but you cant have everything.
4th course - oyster blade
5th course was the 2009 ‘Silver Moon’ Desert Semillon which was served with a Golden Syrup, Almond and Lemon Tart with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. What a great way to finish off what was already a fantastic lunch. The lemon tart was as good as I have ever had and the vanilla bean ice cream was great with the sharp lemon. I can drink a bottle of Silver Moon just on ice but it was even better with the desert as intended. On reading the description of the dessert we thought it might be a bit too sweet for Silver Moon, but while it was a very sweet combo, it was still delicious. A few at the table thought it was too sweet, so Ross bought out a bottle of the ultra luscious 2010 'Moondance' Dessert Gewurtztraminer, which combines some of Mel's favourite flavours, rosewater, honey & turkish delight.  The match with the dessert was even better than the Silver Moon, not as sweet, and allowed the flavours of both wine & dessert to sing.
5th course - golden syrup tart
This was the first time we have attended a members lunch in the two years or so we have been members and we now hope to make it an annual occurrence. From the expertly cooked food and the perfectly matched wines through to our great host and the company of some great fellow members it was one of the better dining experiences we have had in the Hunter.
Always a sign of a good meal!
If you find a winery that you really enjoy, give some thought to becoming a member as the benefits outside of the great wines really make it worthwhile.

Cam & Mel of Hunter Valley Grapevine were guests of Ernest Hill Wines - (we also bought several wines on the day!)

Ernest Hill Wines
307 Wine Country Drive, Nulkaba NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 4991 4418


  1. Oh my goodness that lunch looked absolutely divine.

  2. Great photos - you made even the menu look delicious! What a break!!

  3. Hi Peta - lunch certainly was divine, also hosted by and shared with some terrific people which makes it all the more enjoyable. -Mel.

  4. Thanks Scather, we were very lucky to be invited to the lunch, was a special afternoon. -Mel.


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