Locale @ De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate

Add: De Bortoli Yarra Valley, Pinnacle Lane, Dixons Creek, Victoria, Australia
Opens: Thu-Mon from 12pm (lunch), Saturday from 630pm (dinner)
I have always wanted to blog about this wonderful place from the trip Down Under that took place more than 5 months ago but… Procrastinator is my middle name, so tadah! Better late than never huh? 🙂
 
A little introduction:De Bortoli Yarra Valley is located an hour east of Melbourne on a 240 hectare plot of land.  The De Bortolis migrated from Northern Italy to Australia in the 1920s and settled down in the Bilbul Region (New South Wales). I guess it was almost by accident that Vittorio De Bortoli (first gen De Bortoli winemaker) discovered his flair in wine-making with some surplus grapes from the fruit farm he acquired in 1927. The tradition was then passed on and now, De Bortoli Wines is a third generation family wine company that is one of the larger privately-owned companies in Australia.
Their ‘flagship’ wine has got to be the award-winning Noble One (sweet wine – my favourite!) which I should get my hands on one day since their other desert wines that were available for tasting at the recent Savour 2012 event were splendid. Swear it was the best among all the other exhibitors and I am sure R would agree too! The Yarra Valley vineyard (they have 3 other sites all around the country) however, is well-known for producing cool-climate wines like Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Anyways… I digress, I am here to talk about the food @ the vineyard’s very own restaurant – Locale 🙂
Well firstly, I am an easy foodie to please. Any restaurant that serves F.O.C freshly baked bread with their home-made dip to start my meal has already won half the battle. And of course, Locale did just that.  My memory fails me but I think the bread was of the rustic Irish Soda genre, and it went down well with the dip/olive oil combi that came with it. There were some really yummy chips drizzled with herbed cheese too.

Side dish & Vegetables (contorni e verdure): we ordered the Italian roast potatoes with garden rosemary & garlic (AUD 9). Best side dish ever! The rosemary-infused potatoes and whole garlic cloves were roasted to perfection. Not charred or undercooked – just about right. It might sound odd but I vote this side dish as my favourite among all the other dishes served throughout lunch.

 

First Course (Primi): Fresh linguine with pancetta, guanciale, calabrese salami, tomato & spring onion (AUD 18 for 1/2 size). This, to be honest, was a tad bit disappointing. The linguine was done al-dente, the flavours from the olive oil, pancetta and other ingredients were great. However, I think it was too salty – no thanks to the pancetta (Italian bacon). I hope the chef did not throw in even more salt though! Was totally an overkill and not particularly enjoyable. Probably would have to ask the chef to go easy on the pancetta or salt if you do order it.

 

Second Course (Secondi): Seared milawa free range duck breast & confit leg with braised farro & white onion purée (AUD 36). Outstanding dish. The duck breast was cooked evenly through and the confit leg was crispy on the outside and really flavourful as a whole. Although a little pricey at AUD 36, it was well worth the $$$. (ok, I admit, I can’t say that with full conviction since I didn’t pay for it :p)

side notes: Confit by the way, in its most traditional concept, is a salt-curing process in which the meat is seasoned with salt, garlic and sometimes herbs. It is then cooked in its own fat (theoretically) before serving. Farro (just in case you are wondering), is a kind of grain from a certain wheat species. Widely-used in Italy.

The service staff were attentive and helpful with wine-pairing suggestions. The interior decor of the restaurant was simple and I loved how it was filled with the lovely afternoon sunshine pouring in from the huge windows. The walls are lined with photos of the De Bortoli family from when they first arrive in the 1920s – a great pictorial history. Strolling around peeking at their photos was a nice pre-meal activity. And of course, after-meal activities are aplenty in a VINEYARD. Head downstairs for more wine and cheese tasting frenzy or head out into the open air and marvel at the manicured valleys that extend way into the horizon around you.

Locale is definitely one of the places I hope to have the privilege to re-visit.
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