ARCHITECTURALLY designed Rochford winery and restaurant at Coldstream must enjoy one of the most peaceful and verdant outlooks in the Yarra Valley — over their own vineyards and sound shell, where open-air dusk concerts are held on some summer weekends, then up to vine-clad Coldstream Hills in the distance.
We are shown a table by the window in the light-filled restaurant. Menus arrive promptly, along with freshly baked bread. I choose a glass of 2011 Yarra Valley saignee rose ($8 a glass, $38 a bottle) from the list of all Rochford's estate-grown wines.
It is a set-price menu of any two courses for $55 and any three for $65, with side dishes $10 each.
Born in Galway City, Ireland, executive chef Ciaran Butler found his way to the Yarra Valley via several Michelin-star kitchens, including that of Gordon Ramsay.
To start, my husband chooses a pumpkin soup deliciously flavoured with parmesan and topped with creme fraiche and toasted pumpkin seeds, while I opt for wagyu carpaccio with a deconstructed tartar sauce.
While the local Yeringberg lamb back-strap and free-range Bendigo poussin appeal, we go for the pan-fried ocean trout with truffled cauliflower florets, asparagus and pommes parmentiere, and the pressed Coldstream pork belly glazed with soy and maple syrup with grilled Mediterranean vegetables and topped with pea shoots and basil oil. The pork calls for a fuller-bodied wine, such as the 2009 Yarra Valley Latitude marsanne rousanne viognier ($8 a glass, $38 a bottle).
Pastry chef Francois Vantier ups the ante with desserts that include white chocolate and Japanese citrus-flavoured yuzu cake with lemon jelly and raspberry (pictured) and a delicate griottine cherry cheesecake served with Iranian fairy floss and caramelised pecan — just made for the 2011 Yarra Valley Latitude late-picked viognier ($8 a glass, $38 a bottle).
Rochford, corner Maroondah Highway and Hill Road, Coldstream, 5962 2119. Restaurant is open noon to 3pm daily, and cellar door 9am to 5pm daily. See rochfordwines.com.au. Melway Ref: 277 D9. To stay: Yering Gorge Cottages (yeringcottages.com.au), Chateau Yering Historic House Hotel (chateauyering.com.au), Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa (balgownieestate.com.au).