Ever dreamt of your own country manor? With your own chef and kitchen staff, personnel to take care of your every whim. You know the kind of place where you can feel like a member of the extended Downton clan. But, these days because of the high cost of upkeep on such a grand residence, you sometimes have to share it with paying guests. There is just such a place; welcome to the essence of serenity – Lindenderry at Red Hill on Victoria’s remarkable Mornington Peninsula.
Mornington’s reputation as a sophisticated getaway for Melbournites is richly deserved. This stunning headland is home to some of Australia’s premier wineries and food destinations. Lindenderry is in the centre of it all (if you can drag yourself away that is).
The 16-hectare Lindenderry estate includes 3 acres of vineyards, planted equally to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Of the 6 Lindenderry wines submitted for James Halliday’s most recent Wine Companion 5 received a score of 95 or above.
Even with brooding skies overhead, you can’t not feel special as you wind your way down from the road, flanked by conifers and rose gardens. It feels and looks like something out of a French film about illicit weekend dalliances.
Recently given a little makeover the expansive rooms and suites are resplendent in new soft furnishings that turn up the glam. Although there are still some indicators that Lindenderry began life as more of a conference facility than boutique hotel, the property ticks all the luxury boxes: free and reliable Wi-Fi, spa baths, fire places in the balcony suites and big flat screen TV’s. This is the place to take a deep breath and definitely smell the roses.
There is tennis, a glass enclosed heated pool and sauna and so many places indoor and out designed to take in the tranquillity. Our room opened to more roses and further on there were ducks and carolling magpies. Inside you can lounge with a complimentary glass of wine and a good book or take time to reconnect with your significant other.
Linden Tree restaurant overlooks the conifers, vines, roses and pathways of the estate. For as a youthful as he looks, Executive Chef Michael Greenlaw has quite the CV: Melbourne’s Crown and Vue de Monde to Bibendum in London and Gilt at New York’s Place Hotel. He also is the current winner of the Copper Skillet – an award where chefs from around the world are faced with mystery box challenges and more to determine the global winner.
He has selected for us a six-course degustation with matched wines that diverges a little from the a la carte offerings. We sipped a fine Lindendrry Pinot Noir sparkling with an exquisite line caught Kingfish ceviche with white soy, beach bananas, sweet and nutty radish linguine was fragrant of the ocean and garnished with ice plant and shiso.
Petals of South Australian venison Carpaccio were next. Partnered with preserved black berries, toasted hazelnuts, bull’s blood leaf and a lightly fragrant Lindenderry pinot noir sauce, the plate looked quite dramatic and autumnal but tasted as light as Spring. For a little crunchy flourish, the pork crackle was clever.
Rosé proved perfect with a deceptively simple, multi-coloured heritage tomato salad – relying on exceptional produce not ‘cheffiness’ to do the heavy lifting. The Harts Farm olives, Main Ridge goat’s curd olive dust and assorted basil were a top-notch support. Then there was Port Phillip snapper in the most delectable Provencal inspired salmon roe and chorizo sauce with wild fennel, sorrel and earthy jamon. If only to eat fish this delicious on a regular basis.
The luscious smoked John Dee scotch fillet stood up well to kale, charred shallots and a wonderful pickled beetroot puree. The degustation had been paced and portioned so perfectly we looked forward to dessert. Chocolate is not my usual choice, but this was no ordinary chocolate finisher. What looked like a Kit Kat of soft milk chocolate, was surrounded with crumbs of dark chocolate, yogurt sponge crumbs, candied almonds, orange gel and the custardiest orange and brandy ice cream.
Lindenderry at Red Hill is unsurpassed as a weekend getaway. It is nearly otherworldly; they have a lock on serenity. The rooms, the views, the wine and the food set it apart from other so-called luxury escapes. Two nights here in your own (nearly private) country manor and you’re guaranteed to leave as refreshed as if you have had a week away just about anywhere else. http://www.lancemore.com.au/lindenderry
(On November 21, Linden Tree will host an Age Good Food Month ‘Evening in the Vines’ – a three-course shared table dinner between the vines to meet local producers, farmers and growers).