In Melbourne, a city full of food and obsessed by coffee, I cook, I eat, I share the good news and the bad. essjay eats

Eastern Peake Pinot Noir Dinner at Gerald’s Bar

It felt like a dinner made specifically for me … my favourite independent wine seller, Cloudwine, was joining forces with one of my favourite haunts, Gerald’s to serve me back vintages of my favourite wine variety, Pinot Noir.   I didn’t know a lot about Eastern Peake wines, except that they are supposed to be one of the styles of Pinot that I prefer, elegant and spicy with fine tannins.

We were a small group, 11 of us, including Chris from Cloudwine, and Norm and Owen Latta from Eastern Peake.  The group size meant that we all had a chance to talk with Norm and Owen about the wine and the history of the vineyard.

Eastern Peake was established 27 years ago between Clunes and Ballarat, about an hour and a half west of Melbourne. They are on the very edges of the last vestiges of the Great Dividing Range at an elevations of about 400 metres.  They havs some of the latest ripening Pinot in Australia.  (I reckon it would also be bloody cold out there).

Trevor Mast (formerly from Mt Langi Ghiran) was looking for contract wine growers in the area in in 1983 and chose the site for Norm to grow some Pinot. Eventually Trevor told them to bottle the pinot themselves. So they did. The winemaking has been mostly handed over to son Owen these days, but the traditional practices and fittings remain, including concrete open fermenters and copper fittings.

They don’t irrigate, and they have just started mulching the vines, and produce just 5-600 cases a year from 12 acres.  This is artisanal, hand made wine.

We started the evening with a glass of Pinot Taché (very Rosé like),  which was a nice crisp, dry wine – perfect on this warm and sticky evening, a bit of chat in the back room of Geralds.  We sat around one table and were served some of Gerald’s excellent cold cuts , and we started drinking our way through a few more bottles.  I think we tried 10 wines? My notes get a bit hazy later on.

The oldest wine we drank was a 1997 Pinot Noir, which was still fruity and had mellowed beautifully.  The wines have a good firm acid to them, which probably is what allows them to age so beautifully (i’m no wine writer .. sorry, but I did take lots of notes and ask lots of questions). The winery keeps back vintages, and even now you can buy vintages back to 2000 on their website.  We’re pretty lucky they do so, as I wouldn’t have trusted a 13 yo Pinot Noir under cork otherwise.  They did move their entire Pinto Noir production under screw cap in 2001 – which is pretty early from what I know of the history of the screw cap, I think Norm is a bit of a rebel really!

Foodwise, we moved on to some glorious picked anchovies and then main was an entire chinook salmon cooked in a salt crust.  The fish was a beautiful texture, almost like it had been cooked sous vide.  There was some lamb too (umm.. 8 bottles or so by now…). Dessert was a great hulking slab of Queso de Valdeon, served with a honey icecream.

The Wines: (click through for tasing notes from the winemakers and ordering info)

 2009 – Eastern Peake Pinot Taché                 (Retail cost per bottle: $25)

1996 – Eastern Peake Pinot Noir                    (Approx retail cost per bottle: $147)

2008 – Eastern Peake Pinot Noir Intrinsic        (Retail cost per bottle: $49)

1997 – Eastern Peake Pinot Noir                    (Approx Retail cost of bottle: $177)

2000 – Eastern Peake Pinot Noir                    (Retail cost of bottle: $80)

2001 – Eastern Peake Pinot Noir                    (Retail cost of bottle: $90)

2007  – Eastern Peake Pinot Noir OB Terroir    (Retail cost of bottle: $60)

2005 – Eastern Peake Pinot Noir Intrinsic         (Retail cost of bottle: $40)

2006 – Eastern Peake Pinot Noir Intrinsic         (Retail cost per bottle: $45)

2006  – Eastern Peake Pinto Noir OB Terroir     (Retail cost of bottle: $60)

We finished with some Walsh Block Syrah Owen brought in from the car.

For me the pick was the 2007 OB terroir, though the 1997 was drinking very, very well.  Perhaps that preference just shows my lack of access to aged Pinot Noir in the past.  I’d sure like to get used to drinking old Pinot Noir of this longevity and quality.  I’d sure like to taste the 2001 Reserve Pinot Noir, a museum release available from the vineyard (just to check how those screw cap closures have held up of course).

It was such a lovely, relaxed evening.  I got to know a lot about Eastern Peake wines, and what makes them special, and it was easily one of the best wine nights I’ve been to. Norm and Owen spoke candidly about their wines and I’m fairly sure, won a bunch of new fans.

The back room at Geralds

Lachie from the Gourmet Husbands went along to last year’s dinner.

Eastern Peake Vineyard Clunes Rd,
Coghills Creek, Vict
oria 3364.
Telephone: (03) 5343 4245
Fax: (03) 5343 4365


3 thoughts on “Eastern Peake Pinot Noir Dinner at Gerald’s Bar

  • Ahh yes – details of the waddles are listed on the Eastern Peake website. The 1997 was a lovely wine it’s true, it gives me faith in keeping my 2002’s a bit longer. The food as you say, was outshone by the wine, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing really. For a wine dinner. Though I do recommend the food at Gerald’s, worth another visit. Thanks for the comment, welcome to the blog.

    Comment from: essjayeats

  • It was a lovely evening with the contrast between the 96 and 97 being a highlight as I havent had a lot of aged Pinot.

    I thought the food was lovely but at time overwhelmed by the wine.

    My favourite was definitely the 2001 though.

    I believe Norm is planning a few ‘Waddles’ of Pinot and duck in various locations – supposed to be a memorable time.

    Comment from: Minatorious

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