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lunch at Bulong Estate winery in the Yarra Valley

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I’ve been too busy doing things recently to write about them. On a recent Sunday I took a relative visiting from interstate to lunch at Bulong Estate winery in the Yarra Valley. They offer what they describe as a French – Japanese fusion menu. We tasted and bought some wine and enjoyed a leisurely lunch that was mostly good, although it did not quite meet its potential.

The entrees were the highlight of the meal. From the top down: duck salad with pickled figs and snail, mushroom and garlic pie. Both were perfectly prepared and a pleasure to eat. With these we enjoyed glasses of the winery’s pinot gris and chardonnay.

yarra valley wineries wine victoria regional food  yarra valley wineries wine victoria regional food

We waited for a long time for our mains. A suspiciously long time. I was about to ask one of the wait staff when the waitress in training come to our table and asked us if we would like to see the dessert menu. Yes, I replied, after we have eaten our mains. She fled with a mixture of confusion and trepidation. It was a timely intervention.

Not long after our meals appeared. The steak came with a yuzu pepper sauce and was reported to be delicious. I was somewhat less impressed with my sour plum pork belly. I suspected that it had been prepared some time ago and that it had sat in the kitchen waiting to come out with the forgotten or delayed steak because it was slightly dry in parts. There was no hint of sour plum and it was served with Dijon mustard. The vegetables for both meals were generic and disappointing, with no evidence of fusion innovation.

yarra valley wineries wine victoria regional food  yarra valley wineries wine victoria regional food

Bulong makes some lovely wines, including an unusually light and delicate cabernet franc. I’ve had two other straight cabernet franc varietals produced in Victoria, from Wild Dog winery in Warragul and a very limited release from Harcourt Valley near Bendigo. Both were excellent in a more conventionally dark, heavy style. In contrast, Bulong’s is closer to a pinot noir in colour than an average cabernet sauvignon and fragrant and gentle on the palette.

yarra valley wineries wine victoria regional food  yarra valley wineries wine victoria regional food

Bulong Estate has a beautiful vineyard with wonderful roses adjacent to the restaurant and cellar door. It’s worth a visit, as I think that my experience on the day may not have been representative of their potential, as the restaurant was mostly full and the front of house staff were inexperienced. The quality of the wine makes it easier to recommend Bulong if you are exploring the Yarra Valley.

yarra valley wineries wine victoria regional food

One comment

  1. I am the winemaker at Bulong Estate and stumbled across your review while looking for feedback about our winery.

    Your comments about our restaurant are an accurate reflection of the service at that time. Back then our chef worked the kitchen on his own. On busy days he ensured that everyone was served their entrees quickly and then worked his way through the mains. Some tables had to wait a very long time. Your experience was by no means unique.

    We are now under new management and since your visit we have employed a new restaurant manager, who is an industry veteran and big on staff training. We also have a new chef and have added a 4th year apprentice chef to the kitchen. This past mother’s day we had a full house and all meals were served promptly by much more confident wait staff.

    As for the Cabernet Franc, I have been making the bigger style you describe for a number of years, however vintage 2011 was cold and wet, thus the lighter style you tasted. Interestingly the trade love the lighter, less oaky, wine likening it to a Loire Valley red, while our regular customers much prefer the bigger style.

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