Review: Black Estate Winery
Stepping into the restaurant, the hot drive from the city was long forgotten and we weren't the only ones out on the deck snapping photos of the view. Black Estate has capitalised on the vista with a long narrow restaurant with bifold doors out to the hillside vines below.
The mood is industrial meets vintage meets plenty of black - obviously.
A chalk board details today's menu, a mixture of smaller shared plates and light lunches. The small wine menu is exclusively Black Estate's.
A light pinot noir to start (Spye Omihi 2008) and a glass of the 2008 chardonnay which is dry, as promised, and refreshing in the heat.
To start, shared plates. The charcuterie of cured meats is a subtle first dish, served with ciabatta. We wish there was more of the pickle, the acidity cutting the richness of the meat beautifully. The pork rillettes has the perfect retention of fat and shredded pork texture. It comes in a little jar to be spread, like a pate, on bread with the afore-mentioned pickle. Service at all times is warm and knowledgeable.
Our personable hostess times her service, allowing us a leisurely pace to better enjoy the view and indulge in another glass of wine. This year's rose is a striking ruby red, the result of pinot noir skins being left a little longer, we are told. Another pleasantly dry wine, with a slight spice.
The 2008 pinot noir is richer than the Spye from the same year and a bold drop for the second half of the meal.
A Moroccan lamb salad is served on a wooden board (a plating choice slightly overdone at the restaurant) which is too small for the meal. Some dexterity with the cutlery is required to keep the salad off the table.
Pomegranate seeds and green olives add excellent punches of flavour, but the lamb itself, while perfectly cooked and juicy, is lacking . . . spices? The confit leg of duck is crisp, and the meat falls off the bone.
The real hero of the dish, however, is the honey-roasted Jerusalem artichokes. Sweet and salty, they pair beautifully with the duck.
Unfortunately, there is a mis-step. The dish is let down by the absence of sauce.
Orange panacotta with berry jelly is a fresh, light dessert for a hot day and of the cheeseboard a Karikaas gouda and a Mt Grey Barnes Blue show careful selection of quality local produce.
Hearing a coffee grinder going is always a good sign when drip coffee is on offer. Better to present a well-executed drip than a fumbled espresso. A lovely wake-up for the drive home.
Black Estate Winery
Where: 614 Omihi Rd, Waipara
03 3770398, blackestate.co.nz
When: Open Wed to Sun 10am-5pm
Cost: shared plates $8-19; mains $25-35; desserts $12.50
Upside: Incredible view, personal service
Downside: A duck with no sauce
Go again? Absolutely