Archives for posts with tag: Geraldine McFaul

Just as I was complaining that there didn’t seem to be much new out and about on the Peninsula, Jackalope lands and what a thing it is.  If you remember Salix and the Willow Creek cellar door, well think again – it is all changed, and I mean really changed.  Just getting your head round the names is a challenge that requires several glasses of Pinot Noir.

As I understand it, Jackalope is the name of the hotel itself, which has 46 rooms, from the standard “Terrace” room up to the much larger “Lairs”.

Doot Doot Doot (and no that is not a typo) is the name of the super snazzy restaurant in Jackalope.

Jackalope 1

The Jackalope hotel on the site of the Willow Creek vineyard.  I’m very glad they kept the old house – that has become the new hotel reception area.

Rare Hare is the bit you might recognise from the old cellar door and Salix restaurant.  They’ve lowered the floor to one level across the building.  Diners sit at long tables, and the food is very much inspired by the things you can cook in a wood fired oven.

Rare Hare 1

The dining room at Rare Hare.

The Willow Creek cellar door has taken rather a step back in the midst of all this shiny newness.  I did manage to get a tasting, and Geraldine McFaul is still doing a great job with the Willow Creek wines.  The Rare Hare thing has allowed her to produce two new wines under that label – a white blend and a Pinot Noir rose both of which were most quaffable and at $28 a bottle a good price for the Peninsula.

Reports are that the food in Rare Hare is pretty good, although while the staff are getting the hang of the place keep an eye on where your orders are going.  I heard one story about a Kangaroo tartare (yes, that’s a thing) ending up on the wrong table.  The diners there, although well into their desserts, didn’t question the appearance of this dish and happily got stuck in.  Maybe they thought it was a rhubarb compote?

This kind of investment means that prices within Jackalope are not going to be cheap.  The word is that some rooms within the hotel are $650 a night.  But there are people out there who can afford it.  More importantly though it represents a huge show of confidence in the Mornington Peninsula as a destination, and it’s employing far more people than the old operation.  I hope it works out well for the new owners.  I’m just glad that Willow Creek wines are back in their old home albeit under very different circumstances.

Jackalope 2

The monumental statue of the Jackalope

The cellar door entrance at Stonier

The cellar door entrance at Stonier

A few years ago I was at a winemakers dinner and ended up sitting next to a food writer.  Her command of language was impressive, but one thing she said made me chuckle.  In describing a particular meal she explained “It was as though the flavours had just met at a rather dull party and weren’t getting on very well together”.

That was how I felt about some Stonier’s wines the last time I tried them – that the oak was at one end of the bottle, the fruit at the other, and they really weren’t integrating at all.  Not so now – the wines I tried there recently were excellent.

Stonier cellar door - the walkway

Stonier cellar door – the walkway

Brian Stonier, an ex Managing Director of Penguin and Macmillan Books Australia, started planting the vineyards back in 1978.  At that stage there were very few vineyards on the Peninsula – he was one of the true pioneers in the area.  More significantly he built a very capable and successful team that included Geraldine McFaul (now Willow Creek) and Stuart Marshall.  Now something happened there a bit later on, but I can’t speculate about that.  Obviously a good business man, Brian was also able to get out and sold the business to Lion Nathan in around 2002.

Stonier tank room

Stonier tank room

Now the wines – fabulous Chardonnays – the 2011 Reserve Chardonnay is a beauty.  Fruit, creamy malo and some oak – loved it.  I preferred it to the Halcyon Vineyard Chardonnay which is more acidic – it has no malolactic fermentation.

We’ve moved on to the 2012 Pinots which is a relief.  To be fair Stonier’s 2011 wasn’t bad considering the conditions, but the 2012 is great.  Very delicate with a hint of strawberry.  The 2010 Windmill Pinot Noir is a superb wine.

But the star could be the Stonier Sparkling, an 85% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir blend.

After all that the one I would recommend is the 2011 Reserve Chardonnay.

Stonier tasting bench

Stonier tasting bench

So another great Peninsula cellar door experience.  Beautiful wine, and apparently you even get a cheese platter.  It would be a great place to work through a cheese platter too – the outdoor area is very pleasant AND there is a lawn with a little children’s play area.

Wine in the Fine category.