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Paringa Celebrates Thirty Vintages

A pioneering spirit and good instincts led to Paringa Estate being established on the Mornington Peninsula. Now it produces some of the best wines in the country.

PARINGA ESTATE CELEBRATES THIRTY VINTAGES

With winemaker Lindsay McCall celebrating his 30th vintage in 2017, the corks are popping at Paringa Estate. As part of the celebrations, Paringa Estate chef Julian Hills has collaborated with TeageEzard of Ezard to cook two memorable dinners matched with rare back vintages and stunning current releases. The dinners were held at Ezard in Melbourne on 16 November and at Paringa Estate on 17 November. Make a booking and come and celebrate with them.

THE AWARDS KEEP COMING

With dozens of trophies adorning the display cabinets at the cellar door, a hatted restaurant, and two wines in the Langton’s Classification, Paringa Estate has certainly come of age. Lindsay received his first gong a few decades ago at the Yarra Valley Wine show, where he was awarded gold for his 1990 shiraz. Many awards have followed. In 2007, the geography teacher with no formal training in wine was awarded the inaugural Best Winery in Australia in the James Halliday Australian Wine Companion. In Lindsay’s words, it was like being chosen to captain the Australian cricket team. In recent years, however, it’s the Provenance trophies that have been the most significant for him. The Estate Pinot Noir was awarded Trophy at The National Wine Show of Australia in Canberra in 2014. At the 2015 Mornington Peninsula Wine Show, the Estate Chardonnay was awarded the Chardonnay Provenance Trophy, and in 2016 the Estate Pinot Noir won the Pinot Noir Provenance Trophy.

THE RESTAURANT’S NEW LOOK

There have been many changes since 1999 when the restaurant first opened, but the renovations last year have added a touch of glamour. Once loved for its rustic charm, the Paringa restaurant now has a sleek new look. A striking façade, topped with a statement sign, makes for a sophisticated exterior. Once inside the weighty door, the mood is warm and intimate. New banquettes and floor coverings give a luxurious feel. Diners can look out over the vineyard, or down into the winery. In a region known for fine dining, Paringa is at the pinnacle. Head chef Julian Hills arrived in 2013. His genius and vision have resulted in the restaurant being awarded a Chef’s Hat in The Age Good Food Guide every year since then, and “Best Restaurant in a Winery” in Australia at the Savour awards in 2014.

The menu is a celebration of locally sourced, seasonal produce. Julian works with whole fish and beasts, rather than individual cuts, thus reducing waste. The beef is sourced mainly from Gippsland; the pork from the Western Plains; and the majority of the seafood is Victorian, too. Vegetables and herbs are sourced from the Paringa garden and other local farms. Foraging also plays a major role in Julian’s culinary style. The paddocks, woodlands and shores of the Peninsula are a rich source of wild ingredients, such as mushrooms, sea herbs and other native flora. He can often be seen early in the morning, basket and knife in hand, gathering the different seasonal delicacies.

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Having a ‘wine epiphany’ has become something of a cliché. However, for Lindsay it led to the creation of one of the finest wineries in Australia. The wine was a 1980 Seville Estate Shiraz. Until that moment, he hadn’t realised that Victoria  could produce a wine of such calibre. In 1984, he bought a derelict north-facing orchard and began clearing it. In 1985 he began planting the ten-acre property with vines. He sought advice on planting shiraz in the region, but was told by a local vigneron that it wouldn’t ripen in the cool maritime climate of the Peninsula. Not to be deterred, he planted it in the warmest spot. Numerous trophies later and a Langton’s Classification, his hunch has struck gold. 

A SPECIAL PLACE

The Paringa Estate vineyard, in the cool climate subregion of Red Hill, is a very special site. North-facing, on 10 acres of un-irrigated rich red volcanic soil, it’s at an elevation of 140 metres. It curls around the slope like an amphitheatre, protected from cold south and south-westerly winds.  

THE NEXT THIRTY YEARS

In 2015 Lindsay bought the seven-acre property next door. He has already planted some Abel clone pinot noir, and plans to put in some chardonnay soon. The extra space will also allow him to expand the infrastructure of the winery. Son Jamie McCall joined the winemaking team in 2012 after completing winemaking and viticulture at the University of Adelaide, Waite Campus. He was put in charge of winemaking at the end of last year. The next generation of Paringa has begun. 

This article originally appeared in: Gourmet Traveller Oct/NOV 2017  issue 

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