Hermitage Rd, Maiden Gully, Bendigo, Victoria
Visited 16th August
Bendigo is a place of legends; tales of a goldmining past, the home of Banjo Paterson's fictional Mulga Bill, but also the stories and myths from my uni days. I spent four cracker years as a student in Bendigo and have nothing but fondness for a place that is bursting with memories of past adventures and people. I swung through town to catch up with a mate who's pretending to be respectable (owning both a house and a job) and next morning - after coffee at the magnificent Green Olive Delicatessen - headed out to Balgownie Estate.
The Bendigo wine region has a scattering of excellent wineries and Balgownie Estate, which was established in 1969, is definitely one. I arrived on a quite Thursday and received fantastic welcome from the lovely lady at the cellardoor. Balgownie produces great wines from Bendigo and the Yarra Valley. First up I tried the Gold Label blends; the aromatic Shiraz Viognier 2005 was good, while the Cabernet Merlot 2005 was all about green pepper and capsicum on the nose, replaced by lovely dark berries on the palate. I was also impressed by their slick drinkability of both these wines; it was about 10.30am and I could have quite easily have continued sucking on these little numbers all day. Next was the delicious Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2006; it hints of bacon aromas, while the palate was bursting with bright, fresh cherries. The Estate Pinot Noir 2005 comes from the warmer climate of Bendigo and had awesome, intense flavours and a big slap of spice. Next was the Estate Shiraz 2004, another intense wine, but one with definite structure and classy tannins. The Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 was again about structured class and I'll even say sophistication, the tannins here were good and obviously built for the long haul, as was proved by the final tasting; a museum release Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1998. This wine - with nearly ten years of age - still had good fruit flavours, but also lots of delicious spices coming through, especially cinnamon; the tannins were still there suggesting possibilities of an even longer future.
Balgownie always blows me away; for a winery to be making such fantastic wines at such reasonable prices is impressive. The big Estate reds are age-worthy for decades and offer classic Australian drinking, while the Yarra Valley Pinot Noir and the Gold Label wines are of the dangerous drinkable type. Bendigo really has a lot to offer; whether as a place to study or a place to make wine.
Visit winery website or checkout the Bendigo wine region.