Restaurant review: Libertine, Melbourne

August 30, 2009

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The town

When on vacation on the farm (Two Hills Vineyard), we hardly visit the big town, i.e. Melbourne, just about an hour and a half south of Glenburn. This time the girls needed new passports and therefore also new visa, and Margit also needed to get one. Therefore we had to collect the items but planned to combine it with meeting old friends over a pleasurable lunch in town. The Thai consulate people are the friendliest on earth and were very helpful. We were in a joyous mood. The girls took zillions of pictures from the car: when country folks visit town!

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After our business was completed we made our way to North Melbourne. Libertine, the French restaurant, where I had indulged in wonderful French cuisine earlier this year, was our object of desire. It is easy to find. Just drive along Victoria Street until you reach the house number 500. If you get to Errol Street you have just passed it. Find a parking and walk.

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The diners (Helen, Tony, Lucy, Charlotte, me, Margit and Joe)

We arrived ahead of time and took a stroll through the neighbourhood with its many restaurants and small local shops. Margit insisted on buying some cigars for me. Good ones are hard to find in the country side.

Our friends – Tony, Helen and Joe – had already assembled when we finally made it to Libertine. What a great reunion over an excellent meal and some good wine awaited us here.

I like the Libertine menu since it allows you to combine your preferences. It was a bit hard for the girls, though. We usually have Italian and Asian food at home, and therefore most of the dishes on offer were rather very unusual; “raffine” as the French might say, more elaborate might describe it as well.

Libertine had joined the recent campaign for the promotion of Victorian agricultural product: “Put Victoria on your table”. All the ingredients for the various dishes cam from the state of Victoria. As a person believing in free trade and global markets, this type of promotion is not my favourite one.

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I find that Libertine’s two- and three course-meals are moderately priced. If you dine out in the Yarra Valley, for instance, you have to fork out much more for a comparable meal than here in the middle of town.

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The great surprise was that there was no French wine coming with the meal (all ingredients Victorian of course so how could there be French wine?). Instead, the wines came from the Yarra Valley. We were delighted to see two Yering Farm Wines, the ‘2008 Run Rabbit Run Sauvignon Blanc’ and the ‘2004 Foxtrot Cabernet’ made by Alan Johns, who coincidentally also makes our Two Hills wines. Both wines were a good choice for this kind of cuisine. The SB was fruity and crisp, the Cabernet round and well balanced.

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Some of us had the Port Arlington mussels…

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…followed by the “Marmite Dieppoise” with Port Phillip Bay scallops.

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Others choose the beef which came from Gippsland (apologies for the bad photo above).

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Joe went a la carte and ordered the hare. Libertine is famous for the quality of its game.

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The girls ordered a la carte as well and went for assorted fish.

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For the ones of us who did not have to drive, the Yering Farm Wines, were like a dessert. But we had some sweets afterwards just that I did not take any photos. The time was running faster than usual (that’s how it is with good friends and good food). We enjoyed the atmosphere, the warm hospitality and the friendly staff at Libertine as long as we could but finally had to part company and say good bye to our friends.

Until we meet again, maybe at Libertine (very likely indeed). In a rather joyous mood we returned to the vineyard in Glenburn.

The casual visitor to Melbourne, however, should not waste time searching for a good place to eat excellent food. Just go to Libertine, and you’ll be right mate.

Address:
Libertine‎
500 Victoria St, North Melbourne VIC 3051, Australia‎ – (03) 9329 5228‎
Rated 4.1 out of 5.0 16 reviews


Yering Farm Wines

June 13, 2008

Enough of Europe and Indonesia, today I will take you to my future home country, Australia. This might be a sign of homesickness. Usually during the months of June-July-August we go back to our farm and spend splendid winter days in Glenburn, work a bit in the vineyard, plant trees, watch the kangaroos, have friends and family over for lunches on the grass (it’s not a lawn) and visit neighboring wineries and pubs.

As you probably know from earlier blog entries, the owner-winemaker of Yering Farm Wines (www.yeringfarm.com.au), Alan Johns, is also the person making our Merlot wines. In his huge shed thousands of bottles of Two Hills Wines wait to be consumed and in a dozen or so barrels our 2008 Merlot is doing what young wines do.

Yering Farm is beautifully located. When you turn off the Maroondah highway (also known as Whitehorse Road taking the name from White Horse Hotel in Box Hill) in Coldstream on the way to Yarra Glen, you will find it on the right hand side long before you see the town. The cellar door is an old hay shed with a very rustique character and great views of the Yarra Valley. Since I have posted pictures with these beautiful views before, I present today photos from the inside of the cellar door.

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The cellar door and tasting room

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Many medals on the wall

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Alan introducing his wines to a group of wine tourists

My hot tip of the day: when you are in the neighborhood visiting Yering Farm should be on your to do list. Have a good time there and say hello to Alan.


Two Hills Merlot

February 11, 2007

It was the perfect day for a Merlot. Actually any day is good for Merlot but in the tropics one has to be careful with alcohol of any kind. Nevertheless, we had to do some tasting today. 2001 was our first Merlot vintage. Nobody wanted to buy the fruit. This is why I decided to make all of it into wine. Alan Johns of Yering Farm (www.yeringfarm.com.au) did this for us.

All our wines are hand crafted. They come from a single site vineyard, Two Hills Vineyard in Glenburn, and are hand picked. The fruit was fermented in traditional open fermenters and aged in old French barriques to preserve the Merlot’s elegance and finesse. At 12.8 % alcohol it is not too “heavy”. It is medium bodied, dry with a good acidity and a long finish. Its subtle flavours of ripe forest fruit and its firm tannins give the wine a fine balance.

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Two Hills Vineyard – Merlot Block, single site (3 1/2/ acres)

We do not have many bottles left of the 2001 vintage here in Jakarta, and in fact not many are left on our vineyard either. It has matured in the bottle and some of our friends like it better then the lighter more elegant 2004 vintage. 2001 was a warm year with a golden autumn to ripen the fruit in perfect conditions. Timo Mayer, our friend and winemaker at Gembrook Hill (www.gembrookhill.com.au), described it as an “umpf” wine, rich and heavy whereas the 2004 Merlot vintage is elegant with great finesse. Anyhow, we enjoyed the drop today far from the place where it was grown. It reduces the homesickness we feel from time to time.

If you want a bottle or two please call in the bottle shop of the Old England Hotel in Heidelberg/Melbourne (www.oldenglandhotel.com.au) and ask for Two Hills Merlot. If you are in Germany please contact Dr. Ulrich Hillejan (ulrich.hillejan@s-h-r.de). Zum Wohl. Salute.

Product Range THW

2001 and 2002 Sauvignon Blanc and 2001 Merlot vintages of Two Hills Vineyard