F hasn’t really been to the Hunter Valley, so he was pretty excited for our little weekend getaway at Bimbadgen. That and we haven’t been away for a while, so it was quite perfect timing!
When we went through the elegant gates, we found ourselves surrounded by well-tended, neat rows of grapevines. It was so pretty that we couldn’t resist taking some very touristy snaps.
Y’all know that I’m a terrible light-weight, so when we had sampled 10 wines, I was quite pleased to find that I was still relatively sober… Yay!
Besides that achievement, we learnt quite a bit about wines and the wine making process too. We learnt that Pinot Gris are made from grapes that has origins from France (Pinot grigio is from Italy), Gewürztraminer has a spicy after taste and is great with spicy food, and that the colour and type of soil affects the taste of the grapes. This was clearly demonstrated with the Shiraz: one was made right in the Hunter Valley’s red soil and the other was in Barossa Valley’s darker soil. The Shiraz from Barossa Valley is distinctively more full-bodied and drier than the Shiraz from Hunter Valley, because the Hunter Valley Shiraz was lighter, I found it much easier to drink (never did think I’d like a Shiraz!).
While we haven’t been to many wine tastings, the ones we’ve been to always seem to have a couple of wines that weren’t as palatable, but with the wines at Bimbagden, we enjoyed all of the wines we tasted. Of course we liked some more than others, in particular the sparkling Semillon, sparkling Rose, Gerwürztraminer, Pinot Gris, and the Moscato (my new favourite!).
It doesn’t come as a surprise that quite a few of Bimbadgen wines has won awards as well, like the Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot at the International Cool Climate Wine Show this year.
After the wine tasting, we had a spot of lunch at Esca. We haven’t had a degustation in what feels like an age; I was a little giddy with excitement!
Knowing I wouldn’t last very long with a wine-paired degustation, I decided to order just a glass of Pinot gris to slowly see me through the courses.
On offer was a deliciously fragrant and tasty cheddar oregano foccacia and health loaf with (or without) poppy seeds.
To whet our appetite, we had a mushroom arancini with beetroot jelly. It was one of the better arancinis we’ve had too – not too dry, wet, or cold in the middle (that particular experience was quite terrible); it had a light mushroom flavour that paired well with the slightly sweet beetroot jelly.
The beef carpaccio from Emerald valley was served with wholegrain mustard seed ice cream, Parmesan crisp, and balsamic vinegar jelly.
It was a wonderful dish with amazingly tender beef combined with the sweet, tangy balsamic jelly, sharp Parmesan crisps and dusting, and an interesting creamy tang from the mustard seed ice cream. I quite enjoyed the ice cream, as I thought it was quite unusual, but F had some reservations, as he felt they were a bit too distracting to the delicacy of the dish.
This brilliant sugar cured pork belly was served with corn veloute, Harvey Bay scallops, bacon dust, and garden peas. The pork was succulent and had the perfect amount of saltiness, tempered by the delicate and fresh scallops. The bacon dust brought a hearty meaty flavour to the dish and the peas were bursts of refreshing brightness to the scrumptiously creamy veloute. Gah, it was so good!
The amazing and perfectly cooked trout was accompanied by Vongole clams and garden vegetables, lavishly covered with lemon butter. While the clams were quite delicious (the lemon butter really made it pop) and the vegetables were very well-seasoned, the trout was definitely the star; this was such a wonderfully balanced dish.
I would have to say that this is probably the first alcoholic palate cleanser I’ve had. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining – the strawberry sorbet in a shot of sparkling Semillon was super light, refreshing, tangy, sweet, and fruity all at once. I could have a tall glass of this – it was definitely “drunkable”!! Haha.
The African-spiced Milly Hill lamb shoulder was fantastic. I loved the explosion of the spiced flavours on such a tender and juicy piece of lamb; the croquette was awesomely crunchy, containing an equally awesome soft lamb filling. The perfectly cooked potatoes were topped with something akin to a very smooth curry sauce, while the roasted beetroot brought a light sweetness and the spinach base a brightness to the dish.
Oh my goodness, it was so good we practically licked the slate clean!
From top to bottom, left to right, we have a rolled chocolate brownie, spiced chocolate, aerated chocolate sitting on top of chocolate crumble laced with pop rocks, frozen chocolate nougatine, and finally chocolate ice cream with a smear of dark chocolate.
Gods, everything on this platter was just mind-blowingly good; it was hard to choose a favourite! The aerated chocolate and frozen chocolate nougatine probably just edged out the others with their uniqueness. Especially the aerated chocolate – it completely melted as soon as it was in our mouths, had a fudge-like decadence, and the surprised pop rocks really made it so much fun and interesting to eat.
To top it all off, the dessert platter was sprinkled with some roasted grains, which added a nice crunchy texture to the platter.
And to accompany our dessert, we had a fluted glass of Bimbadgen’s scrumptious moscato. Bliss.
We honestly were considering coming back to Esca the next day purely to have this dessert again, but sadly, they weren’t opened yet when we had to leave.
Dark chocolate petit fours rounded off our absolutely amazing degustation with a cup of Earl Grey tea for me and a macchiato for F.
We were told to look out for kangaroos, as they come out quite close to the cottages around early morning and dusk.
Sure enough, we spotted some as we drove up to the Homestead. I couldn’t stop from sounding a girlish squeal when F pointed them out to me… then bounding out of the car to take some shots of them haha. So touristy.
The Homestead had such a lovely rustic charm and we couldn’t get over how huge it was! Definitely perfect for a family or with a group of friends.
I wanted to challenge F to a game of pool later that night (seeing he totally smashed me at darts), but my enthusiasm for the wines kinda came back to bite me on the bum and *cough* I had to have a little lie down. Terrible, I know.
I woke up just as Bruno, Esca’s very affable maitre d’, hand delivered our dinner and breakfast hamper. I don’t know about F, but I felt so pampered!! Which was nice, because I was feeling a little under the weather still (bah).
The pampering continued as F took pity on me (after laughing at me of course) and made us dinner.
The produce were all so fresh and delicious that it wasn’t hard to dig in at all, even for someone in my fragile condition.
Despite getting bored in baths very easily, I decided to make full use of the spa bath in the master bedroom. I think bubbles make every thing better: the bath was more fun and I felt infinitely improved!
We woke up to a wonderful view and another gorgeous day.
Since F made dinner last night, I thought I’d make breakfast, though he ended up helping out with whipping out glasses of berry yoghurt with sliced bananas.
A sense of utter contentment and relaxation rolled over us as we ate – to have breakfast like this every weekend would be perfect.
Our overnight stay at Bimbadgen was such an amazing and wonderfully relaxing experience – we left feeling so much more relaxed, a little fatter, and that bit more knowledgeable about the different styles and types of wines. All the staff there were so friendly, attentive, and well-informed; they just really made the experience that much better.
If you’re ever in the Hunter area, I highly recommend popping by for a bit of wine tasting or better yet, a spot of lunch – they also do a la carte menus. Or even better: why not both! Hehe.
And if you happen to be in the Hunter area on Saturday, 2nd November, Bimbadgen is hosting A Day on the Green event, featuring Bernard Fanning with The Cruel Sea, Sarah Blasko, and Bob Evans as special guests. Double win!
es&t attended the overnight experience as guests of Bimbadgen
790 McDonalds Road,
Pokolbin, NSW, 2320
Ph: (02) 4998 4650 (Cellar Door)