Wide-Ranging Wines and Close-to-Home Food in Australia's Hunter Valley
With first-rate wines and delicious food, both based on ingredients grown on the property, Margan Hunter Valley Wines and Restaurant is an essential stop in the New South Wales wine country.
Margan Hunter Valley Wines in the town of Broke, in Hunter Valley in New South Wales — Australia's original winegrowing region — makes a wide range of vintages, more than many producers in the area. Andrew Margan, who established and runs the property with his wife, Lisa (the two also designed the striking contemporary-style winery complex), makes the standards of the valley: sémillon (a luscious sweet one and a naturally fizzy frizzante in addition to the standard dry version), chardonnay, and shiraz.
But Margan also produces a bright shiraz rosé, a chardonnay–pinot noir sparkling wine, both merlot and cabernet sauvignon, barbera, and a fruit-filled interpretation of the popular Portuguese variety verdelho. These aren't loud, look-at-me wines; they're just superbly crafted, full of varietal character, and exactly what they should be — a standard for the region.
The attraction here, however, goes beyond the wines. There is an extensive one-acre market garden on the site and the Margans raise their own chickens and lamb, and at the winery restaurant, with chef Michael Robinson in the kitchen, everything but the seafood is either from their own property or that of their neighbors. Cheese, honeycomb, hazelnuts, figs, mangoes, tomatoes, all kinds of other fruits and vegetables, dry-aged, grass-fed wagyu beef…
Robinson shows real technique, but knows enough to let his ingredients shine through. We thought his salmon pastrami with cucumber sorbet and kohlrabi purée and his roasted lamb loin and braised lamb shoulder with smoked potato purée, beets, and charred leeks were some of the best things we ate on our whole visit to Hunter Valley. As for the wine list, well, the "house wines" were all we could ask.