Opening up Passing Clouds
STORY BY RICHARD CORNISH
PICTURES BY MARNIE HAWSON
The aroma of wood smoke mingling with the smell of cooking meat wafts around the vineyard. Perched on a hill, surrounded by extinct volcanoes and vast tracts of native forest, Passing Clouds is a winery that has evolved with changes in the physical climate and the changing tastes of the wine lover. In the early 1970s, Graeme Leith and Sue Mackinnon planted shiraz and cabernet sauvignon vines in scant dry soil in old gold diggings, north west of Bendigo. With the grapes they made a blend that went on to win medals, and make Passing Clouds a name much admired by wine drinkers around the world.
In 2009 Sue lost her battle with illness. In 2010, the millennial drought proved too much for Graeme who moved the winery to their vineyard at Musk, a short drive from Daylesford. At 700 metres, and with 1000mm of rainfall a year, it was more suited to cold
climate varietals. The opening of the cellar door also saw the start of long winery lunches, something the modern wine lover, particularly those who travel to cellar doors, is looking for. The simple but truly delicious offer of dishes such as charcuterie platters, grilled free range meats and chicken, and plates of roasted seasonal vegetables are perfect partners to Passing Clouds range of wines.
This month the team are preparing for the Annual Vintage Release. It is a decades long tradition. The last Sunday in November sees the release of the previous year’s vintage. After spending nearly a year and a half quietly maturing, the wines of 2016 will be opened for the public to taste and assess for the first time. “’Elegance’ is the word that defines these wines,” says Passing Clouds winemaker Cameron Leith. He is particularly excited about the Fools on the Hill estate chardonnay.
After 12 months on French oak, it is complex but maintaining that signature elegance with romas of citrus, white spice and stone fruit.
The 2016 Fools pinot noir is all about summer berries and cherries with fine tannin texture from new French oak. Also on show for the first time is the 2016 Graeme’s Shiraz Cabernet - a masterclass in the art of blending in a bottle. Add to this a NV sparkling blanc de blanc, the new Bendigo Shiraz and a new Gewurztraminer. This is a really fun day with a three-course lunch option and Derek Guille’s band The Ugly Uncles performing.
SUNDAY 26TH NOVEMBER 10AM-5PM
ANNUAL WINE RELEASE - $15 ENTRY
(INCL TASTING, RIEDEL TASTING GLASS & SURVIVOR PACK)
$55 SET PRICE LUNCH (BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL)
30 RODDAS LN, MUSK; DAILY 10AM-5PM;
LUNCH FROM 12PM FRI-MON; (03) 5348 5550;