21 April 2023

A long lunch at Lerida Estate? Lovely

| Lucy Ridge
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Bunch of grapes on the vine at Lerida Estate Winery

Visiting Lerida Estate in early Autumn gives you the chance to see the vines covered in fruit. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

Lerida Estate is perched on the hillside overlooking Lake George in the landscape of the Cullerin Range foothills. Renowned architect Glenn Murcutt designed the cellar door, which sits lightly in the landscape, nestled behind the grape vines.

The terrace is the best place to sit on a sunny day to take full advantage of the view and appreciate the proximity to the vineyard. Visiting at the tail end of summer, the vines are laden with bunches of grapes, nearly ready for harvest.

For colder days, plenty of seats are available inside the cellar door building, surrounded by stacks of wine barrels. Wherever you sit, you’re surrounded by reminders of the winemaking process.

Visitors can do a full tasting of 10 wines before sitting down for lunch or opt to do both simultaneously. Tasting wines as the meal goes on is a nice opportunity to keep the tasting casual and approachable. A half-size cheese and charcuterie board is a lovely way to kick things off with an oozy ripe ashed brie, manchego and Spanish bosquito sausage.

Cheese and salami on wooden board at Lerida Estate

Charcuterie and cheese boards come in half and full sizes to suit the size of your party. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The first wine on the tasting list is technically not really a wine at all: a piquette is a farmhouse-style fermentation made with the leftover grape seeds, skin and flesh once the juice proper has been pressed. Fermented again with water and sugar, the result is a light, low-alcohol drink with a gentle fizz and citrusy notes. It’s a sustainable way to make the most out of the grapes and was traditionally a poor man’s alternative to fine wine. But it is fast becoming a trendy choice in the growing trend of low and no-alcohol beverages.

Lerida Estate’s piquette is the first I’ve tasted from the Canberra region and it’s a refreshing drink. It lacks the body and viscosity of a ‘true’ wine but has a nice gentle flavour. To borrow a beer drinker’s term, I’d describe it as ‘sessionable’, and it’s the perfect drink for the designated driver.

Colourfully plated dish of pork

Locally grown ingredients are used on the menu, including some grown onsite. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

Lerida Estate is well known for its rosé, and they have two on offer in the tasting.

The first, the pinot noir rosé, is made from grapes hand-harvested at the estate vineyard, which is too steep for machine picking. The result is a light wine with lolly-sweetness on the nose but crisp fruits on the palate.

The second rosé is a shiraz pinot blend that uses grapes from Lerida’s second vineyard site at Murrumbateman. Machine picking results in juice that sits on the skins picking up more colour resulting in a darker, more complex wine.

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As we progress through the tasting, we also share a pork belly entrée, which is very moist and comes with delicious chimichurri, harissa and cauliflower puree. An un-crisped skin feels like a missed opportunity to add some crunch and texture to the dish, but it’s tasty nonetheless.

The chardonnay is a particular stand out in the wine list. Our server explains that the winemakers store the chardonnay in larger barrels for a more subtle oak flavour. The balance of fruit and floral to oak and earthy tones is on point, and it feels very much in line with the modern resurgence of chardonnay.

Lerida Estate is one of Canberra’s most recommended wineries. Photo: Lerida Estate.

The kangaroo is very tender, served with a rich jus that is great when mopped up with the accompanying sweet potato mash and beetroot. Barramundi with chilli jam and salad is a lovely fresh dish with fennel salad and citrus. Their risotto flavour changes regularly. Wild boar salami and capsicum were on the menu during my visit. Ingredients are sourced locally, often from the gardens on site at the winery. There are a couple of vegetarian options for the entrée but only one main: a Moroccan couscous salad.

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My favourite red wine was the 2021 syrah, which they describe as a blend of old and new world styles. It’s aniseedy, with lots of red fruit notes, but not quite as jammy and full-bodied as you often experience in Australian shiraz.

Grapevines at Lerida Estate Winery

The view across the vines to Lake George is a nice perk of sitting on the terrace. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The botrytis semillon is a lovely dessert wine with dried apricot notes. It has a complex sweetness and avoids being sickly sweet. With dessert or cheese, it would make a lovely finish to a meal.

A quick zip down the highway and we’re back in Canberra before you know it.

Lerida Estate Winery is located at 87 The Vineyards Rd, Lake George. The cellar door is open from 10 am to 5 pm seven days a week. Find out more information about stockists on their website.

Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on Riotact.

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