Gold, Rutherglen style – Tuileries

This article was written by Smudge Eats.
Find out more in their coffee-table book, Flavours of Victoria.

 

In the 1860s, when gold was the metal du jour, a Frenchman named Michele Roux found his way to Rutherglen, hoping to strike it rich. He eventually found wealth – but not in gold. The savvy European had the foresight to plant vines on a plot in the High Country, now the home of Rutherglen Estates and Tuileries Restaurant and Accommodation.

Located on the main street of the bustling township in the Tuileries Complex, the established culinary destination is home to a historic cellar door, cafe, fine dining restaurant and luxury accommodation. The modern winery and vineyards are located just a tractor’s ride away on the outskirts of town.
The two sites make up an offering that comes under the Rutherglen Estates name. However, the pieces of the puzzle exchanged hands a few times before landing in the arms of the innovative team who run it today.

 

A respect for the past is complemented by an inventive approach to new varieties and techniques to produce high-quality alternative varietal wines. Head Winemaker, Marc Scalzo, oversees this process, bringing 12 years of winemaking experience with him when he joined Rutherglen Estates in 2008. Many of these years were spent managing a diverse array of wines at Brown Brothers, standing him in good stead to lead Rutherglen Estates in producing the highest calibre in traditional and alternative varieties.

It’s a delicate process, requiring constant attention to each block and variety of vine to help the grapes reach their fullest potential. The white vines must be irrigated in warm weather to reduce stress, and the reds are constantly monitored to make sure they are only irrigated sparingly. The goal: to produce clean, fresh grapes of optimum quality, translating into whites that are floral and opulent and reds that are deep-coloured, textured and rich.

The best way to experience these characteristics is to taste them yourself. Stop by the Tuileries Complex, named after the famous gardens on the banks of the Seine River in Paris, to visit the Cellar Door. Let the friendly Cellar Door staff share their knowledge and talk you through the range, which includes well known varieties like shiraz, tempranillo and sangiovese, as well as up and coming drops like arneis, savagnin, viognier, durif, muscat and roussanne.

 

The highlight of the Rutherglen Estates range is the award-winning 2013 Renaissance Durif. The flagship red wine was produced using traditional methods and the finest grapes to create a perfect balance of flavour and finesse, a full-bodied wine with hints of chocolate, liquorice and spice, and base notes of dark plums and prunes.

Naturally, the best way to experience fine wines is with food, and Tuileries is where you’ll find this perfect union. If you’re after a relaxed lunch, take a seat at Le Café, surrounded by the estate’s gardens. All meals and wines have a set price, so the only decision you’ll need to make is what to order. The penne with slow-cooked lamb ragu, peas and gremolata is the perfect midwinter meal with a glass of red, while the barbequed calamari with white bean purée, olive salsa and rocket is best enjoyed in the sunny courtyard with a glass of the Rutherglen Estates Pinot Grigio. Towards the evening, drop by the wine bar for oysters, tapas and artisanal pizzas complemented by an extensive wine and cocktail menu.

For the full gourmet experience, it’s impossible to overlook dinner at Tuileries Restaurant. Executive Chef, Sam Massari, takes inspiration from both Europe and Asia to highlight the best of the region’s produce. The menu changes seasonally, always placing the produce first.

To start, try the pressed pork terrine with prune chutney, before moving onto the Milawa blue cheese pannacotta served with pear and rocket salad and crostini. For mains, it’s hard to look past the lavish confit duck leg, kipfler potatoes, red grapes, verjuice and duck jus, but for a real indulgence, order the Tuileries grass-fed ribeye for two, with lashings of café de Paris butter and shiraz jus. Although the menu suggests impeccably matched wines for each dish, the staff will be more than happy to help you select a glass or bottle to suit your tastes.

With so many options in play, you’re better off making a weekend of it. Stay at the Tuileries accommodation, overlooking the vineyards and olive groves. It’s an ideal getaway, and makes a perfect pairing with the Tuileries dining spaces to host weddings, meetings and functions.

Rutherglen Estates may draw from the past, but it’s certainly looking to the future. The Tuileries dining complex’s use of local, seasonal produce supports the region, fostering a community of producers. Every element of the careful way the vines are tended and the respect for the soil speaks of Rutherglen’s commitment to ensuring the vines flourish for many years to come. The decades may pass, but the estate’s passion for wine remains the same.

Rutherglen Estates
Tuileries Complex, 13-35 Drummond St, Rutherglen
Ph 03 6032 7999

rutherglenestates.com.au