The Adelaide Hills hide many visual and culinary delights. Driving through the fields and vines surrounding Hahndorf I watch as the verdant rolling slopes drop away to reveal The Lane’s modern cellar door perched within the idyllic vista.
Since the initial plantings in 1993, the Edwards family have embraced the structure and finesse of the European style of winemaking to produce some of the best wines of the region. Their cellar door is also enhanced by Executive Chef James Brinklo, who has been using local seasonal produce to create sophisticated dishes in the Lane’s kitchen for over 10 years. I am excited to see what the gardens have offered for him to plate for us today.
After finally managing to peel our eyes away from the incredible view we begin with the ‘Gathering Experience’ – a journey through the Lane’s Occasion and Heritage wine series. Aside from 3 smaller varieties all of the Lane’s berries are estate grown, which allows head winemaker Michael Schreurs to explore the idiosyncrasies of each vintage’s variations. These explorations have led to an awarded selection of wines which can be enjoyed directly at the cellar door or cellared for up to 20 years.
We start with the Cuvee Helen, a méthode traditionnelle sparkling from the Heritage series which splashes across the tongue in a succulent lemon spritz of smooth bubbles. With 5 years on lees and touch of oak, the sparkling supports its zest on a warm open palate which brings to mind fresh baked, nutty patisserie.
Keen on encouraging guests to embrace a full culinary experience, many of the Lane’s wines are designed to be paired with food. Our next wine, the Gathering Club Riesling, characterises this in its restrained acidity and juicy citrus texture. Though it can be cellared, I can see the immediate potential for a glass to be enjoyed on the sunny deck outside.
When the 2016 Gathering Sauvignon Blanc Semillon is poured into our glasses it immediately releases a vibrant bouquet of kaffir lime and lemon sherbet. While the current release has the citrus sorbet freshness of the new fruit, customers can also purchase the aged version of the wine for only $5 more at the cellar door. This impressively affordable way to jump ahead of a potentially lengthy wait allows us to taste the condensed fruit driven characters which rise from a perfume of vanilla, created from a touch of French oak during the original fermentation.
We delve deeper into the Lane’s offerings with the first red of the tasting, the 2016 Pinot Noir. A complex nose of smoky cherry and rhubarb drifts away on the tongue to silky tannins and notes of ripe plum. I’m impressed at their deft and delicate skill at coaxing the potential from the cooler climate red varieties and their 2014 basket pressed Reunion Shiraz and 19th Meeting Cabernet Sauvignon continue the trend, exuding elegant savoury femininity.
Every table in the Lane’s dining room has the chance to take advantage of the large windows and bifold doors which open out to let in the stunning views of the surrounding hills. We sit at the Chef’s Table, a long stylish concrete table positioned perfectly so guests can either take in the view or watch the skilled kitchen staff adeptly man the pass. As we try to select from the delectable menu on offer we are presented with house baked bread which still steams from the oven. Spreading it with the charcoal salted butter we make our selections and watch the activity in the kitchen in eager anticipation of our orders.
Chicken liver parfait, pickles, brioche
Light and velvety smooth, it glides across the golden brioche croutons. The tangy cornichons cut through the richness and lift the whole mouthful to the next level.
Though the season is almost over we still have the pleasure of enjoying the Miso Eggplant before it makes way for a new spring dish. Scattered with edible flowers, the earthy dish make me feel like we could be back in the sun warmed garden it originated from. The addition of vadouvan, a French curry blend, is genius. It blends with the soft eggplant flesh and melts into sweet smoky notes.
The bright sweetness of the carrot reduction lifts off the plate and blends the subtle salt of the pastrami. The scallops are perfectly cooked, and the crispy rye cracker adds a welcome textural quality.
The meaty snapper fillet has been carefully handled and falls apart under our forks. Its delicacy is juxtaposed against the robust flavours of native saltbush and blood orange. A sail of crunchy fried fish skin completes the elegant arrangement.
Simple and sophisticated, the kitchen shows off their capacity to produce key elements to perfection. The poached pears still retain enough firmness to allow their flavours to hold against the delectably tender sous vide chicken breast and the chicken cream is wonderfully aromatic. Native South Australian muntries add a novel, spiced, apple–juniper flavour.
Adeptly showing simple French techniques once again, the sweet yeasted bread is moistened with mandarin infused syrup. The blend of the caramelised milk and honeycomb makes me think of cornflakes, though only if they had somehow achieved Michelin status.
Velvety and syrupy in the mouth, though with enough acidity to cut through the sugar. The dish is all sticky sweetness and a combination of intriguing temperatures, melting into a lingering, tasty finish.
The Lane offers a variety of experiences, from a select tasting to an afternoon of sensory bliss. When you visit allow much more time than you would think, as their delightful hospitality and quality will entice you into a long languid afternoon in the Hill’s sunshine.
Words by Danielle Clarke
WHERE: 5 Ravenswood Lane, Balhannah