Mudgee has long been a thriving wine region in Australia, producing some amazing reds from their world acclaimed vines. The drive from Sydney through quaint country towns with picturesque sweeping plains is a joy in itself. A gorgeous journey that entices you to keep your eyes open, absorbing the breathtaking landscape.
Mudgee township is a town filled with heritage buildings, pubs, tasty cafes and lovely little gift stores. A five-minute drive out of the town is the relaunched Blue Wren. This vineyard harvests some of the best wine I’ve enjoyed in a very long time, and today I sit in New York dreaming about the amazing Australian wines that I took for granted just a short while ago.Accommodation at Blue Wren features a large guest house named The Farmhouse down a long drive, lined with strikingly tall trees that soar upwards to the sky. The homestead is simple and welcoming from the outside but inside the elegantly refined interiors, shiny amber timber floors and modern décor offer a five-star boutique hotel feel to what used to be the home of the vineyard owners. Housing four bedrooms, the house can be rented in its entirety or each room individually. It proves the perfect wedding or conference destination able to sleep many and with several communal areas ideal for socialising. The main bedroom is large and spacious with an ensuite bathroom and huge walk-in wardrobe. The other three bedrooms can be created to suit sleeping requirements of couples or singles, with a further two bathrooms.If renting for single room use, the communal areas of The Farmhouse are shared with other guests. A full kitchen, comfortable sofas and lounge area sit adjacent to a dining area. The alfresco terrace is lined with blossoming lemon trees yielding the tastiest fruit. I can already imagine BBQs as the sun sets beautifully over the vineyard lined horizon. A small pool is perfect for cooling off in the summer heat, taking relief in the sparkling aquamarine water.The Farmhouse at Blue Wren is only the start of what Blue Wren has to offer. Owner and chef Kip creates a world class menu drawing on his extensive experience from kitchens around the world. His resumé boasts some famous institutions around the world and in Australia.
Both days our minds were blown with the inventive and creative menu items that Kip created for us to enjoy in a seemingly long and endless culinary journey into a dreamy food coma. Kip loves “experimenting with methods when putting together the ingredients for a dish” and “pushing boundaries” with pre-conceived ideas of what expect, especially with the most simple but creative of flavours such as Australian favourite vegemite.One of the key foundations of the restaurant is its exclusivity and personal touch with limited seating and open plan kitchen, allowing everything to be on show, and diners to see the culinary exquisitely that the chefs use to execute dishes. Kip strives to create a truly “memorable experience” for his diners, that they will remember for times to come. Both evenings we were lucky to be seated at the Chefs Table, chatting away leisurely into what turned into hours as the chefs cooked our Tasting menu of five generous courses. Kip and his counterpart taught us about flavours, how things were made, the way they created the menu and we watched as they expertly plated dishes with beauty and finesse.
The dining room is sleek and elegant with a refined industrial but homely feel emitting from the polished silver grey tones. Bottles of house wine line the shelves, and the symmetry of lines throughout the whole room yields a sense of stylish sophistication. The Wisteria hall next door is a breathtaking room proving intoxicatingly beautiful. Layers upon layers, flowers dangle from the ceiling in the ultimately Instagram worthy picture. Constantly booked for weddings, this room is absolutely stunning and magical. To begin each night, we were treated to some of the most delicious warm soft toasty bread pan-fried indulgently in generous amounts of duck fat and paired with lashings of butter. The winter tasting menu describes itself as a ‘simplistic view of food with an innovative twist’ taking diners on a journey of ‘relaxation, adventure & exploration”.
The first night we enjoyed the March 2017 menu which features five courses plus amuse bouche, for $98pp. For an added $35pp diners can enjoy a wine pairing, which I highly recommend given the high calibre of wine this vineyard produces (not to mention an absolute bargain).
The first dish of the evening was a Golden egg, bronzed spiced meats, squid ink rice, enoki mushrooms. This dish was a masterpiece of art, presented so wonderfully that it was almost too beautiful to eat. The cured meats sprayed with gold, hence giving the namesake of Golden Egg, surrounded a luxuriously delicate egg whose soft yolk was just begging to be burst.
Next was the Crispy skinned salmon, Himalayan rock salt, seared scallop, smoked potato puree, broad beans asparagus, corn dust, caviar. Another stunning dish, the salmon was magnificently pink inside, just lightly seared on the outside, it fell apart gracefully when pierced with a knife.We were already full, but the dishes just kept on coming, all immaculately plated up with each proving to be as pretty as a picture. The Crispy skinned duck breast, duck liver ice-cream brulée, pickled radish, cauliflower, crouton, dehydrated raspberry was a piece of art on the plate. Following a delicious piece of red meat with the Sous vide chateaubriand, cacao, spinach sponge, golden black pudding, honeyed garlic, vegemite foam, horseradish snow. The night was finished with a dessert of Raspberry sorbet, blueberry sorbet, liquorish custard, chocolate mint, basil cream foam, crumbed pistachio, chocolate soil.The next morning the team at Blue Wren played host to a champagne breakfast for a special event and we were lucky enough to be invited along. This would be a great idea for a recovery brunch or a conference breakfast, with an assortment of pastries, fruit, yoghurt parfaits and delicious bacon egg rolls.We spent the day exploring the township of Mudgee, visiting other wineries and walking around the property. One beautiful winery worth a visit just for the grandeur architecture was the Logan Winery, which featured floor to ceiling windows showcasing a breathtaking view of the Australian countryside.The next evening, we enjoyed the Winter Menu. Dishes ranged from Celeriac soup, broad beans, peas, asparagus, poached egg, truffle oil, parmigiano reggiano, which was rich with a delectable truffle flavour that had us scooping up every last droplet from our bowl until it was licked clean.
The second course of Himalayan rock salt seared scallop, pork belly, sage thyme barley, caviar, corn dust, pork neck croquette, crustacean curd combined the richness of pork belly with a light scallop and decadent crowning of indulgent caviar.Again tonight we enjoyed one of Kip’s signature dishes with the Sous vide chateaubriand, cacao, smoked potato puree, pear, black pudding crisp, morel, vegemite foam, horseradish snow, however with a few slight alterations.
Like the rest of Australia with the donut obsession at the moment, Kip has taken note to make such an appropriate inclusion on his menu. The Cinnamon doughnut, malt custard, banana icecream, coffee crunch, crumb pistachio, callebaut chcolate, white chocolate bubble was addictive and delicious. My dessert stomach prevailed and I managed to polish off this without a problem, no thanks to its amazing flavour.Blue Wren is definitely a dining experience I would recommend for anyone in the Mudgee region or regional New South Wales. Its made even better if you’re lucky enough to stay in The Farmhouse allowing you to stumble home with a tummy full of food and wine.
433 Ulan Road Mudgee, NSW
Phone: (02) 6372 6205
I Ate My Way Through stayed as guests of Blue Wren Winery Mudgee