Brae Restaurant: a fine balancing act

It was wonderful to return to Brae Restaurant in 2017 and astonishingly Chef Dan Hunter’s menu has become even more impressive during the intervening year. Mr Levin, hard taskmaster, pronounced mid-lunch ‘forget Denmark and Spain, this is the best food in the world.’

Again, we enjoyed the unique Iced oyster, a goat’s milk sorbet flavoured with oyster brine and the dehydrated and powdered oyster on top of its half shell, with an interesting 30-month of lees pinot meuniere grower Champagne, NV Francis Boulard.

bbq-beetrootServed with the starter tastes, the Smoked eel doughnut with Barbecued beetroot seasoned with Brae farm honeycomb and rainbow trout roe was a revelation in balance. The roe, loosened with mirin and white soy, provided the saline bursts to the highly floral and waxy honey and smoky, earth baby beetroot, with the churro, with a suggestion of eel, was perfect to mop up whatever escaped from the fork. This was creatively matched to Rogue Wave ‘Cranky Mrs IPA’ from a bit further down the Great Ocean Road, with its malty, orange peel and citrus blossom notes. @roguewavebrewing

king-george-whitingKing George whiting, zucchini, leek and lemon was where the whiting was the star. It’s pristine white, flaky, springy flesh, matched to the livening zest of the lemon rind. From heritage family producer Best’s in the Grampians, their ‘Foudre Ferment’ was perfect. Wild yeast fermented in a large format, 2500L Burgundian barrel imparting a little openness, spice and honeyed texture, once again it was beautifully balanced with the more traditionally Australian citrus Riesling notes. @bestswines

summer-garden-tartSummer garden tart tartin and Wessex Saddleback saucisson was perhaps our favourite dish. Made from ‘today’s tomatoes’ (‘whatever was just falling off the vine that morning’) and a perfectly flaky puff pastry, it was glossy and savoury-sweet and together with the summer saucisson (hung in Dan’s office) felt like the world’s most sublime picnic. The 2014 Enigma Variations ‘Emptybell #1’ Rosé made by the talented biodynamic winemaker Tamara Irish just for Brae was such a wonderful accompaniment with its herbal, sweet tomato, earthy, mulberry, charcuterie notes that we asked to buy a bottle to take home. @enigmaVwine

crayfishCrayfish and shitake with Brae farm egg yolk, meat broth and seaweeds was both delightfully comforting and clean on the palate. The sumptuous, white chunks of local crayfish were sauced by the orange-est egg yolk and beefy rich stock, with the shitake and samphire offering alternative bursts of earthiness and sea spray in the mouth. 2000 Mukai Shuzō ‘Natsu no Omoide’ with its textural, honeyed, umami, pencil shaving characters was a wonderful match, apparently fermented with a 100-year-old yeast strain and aged for 14 years.

Reportedly, from tiny brewer in the Kyōto prefecture made by Kuniko Mukai who was one of the first women Master Brewers in Japan at the young age of 22 and carried on the traditions of her 260-year-old family brewery. @blackmarketsake

short-ribShort rib of beef cooked overnight, barbecued carrot, fermented and fried onions was such a decadent, gelatinous, tender beefy morsel, with a perfectly cooked smoky carrot and a thatch of fine onion curls excellently matched to the beautifully-honed, subtle and savoury 2015 Izway ‘Maurice’ Grenache from the Barossa Valley. @IzwayWine (Usually, Madame L is attuned to grenache’s raspberry confection, but was so enamoured with this wine that she claimed it had finally changed her mind after 62 years!)

red-fruitsRed fruits, lemon and lovage, wild cabbage and buckwheat was a delightful dessert course with farm raspberries and mulberries, buckwheat wafers and a white chocolate and berry ‘earth’ that slowly melted over sweet and crisp mouthfuls. It was matched with the 2015 Braida Brachetto d’Acqui, which was very much like a red, slightly drier, tannin-spicy Moscato – delicious!

We finished once again with the gorgeous Parsnip and apple, a creative homage to the cannoli and some perfectly ripe Ananas melon – a perfect Autumn lunch.

LEVIN joins Squaremeal Tasting 2016

Squaremeal Tasting 2016Can’t wait to join the party at the fabulous Squaremeal Tasting 2016 on Wednesday 16 November at the Honourable Artillery Company.

A temple to all things gastronomy, guests will wet their whistle with SWA Gold medal LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc 2012, LEVIN Rosé 2015 & MADAME L Gamay 2010, taste our Verjus by Nathan Outlaw & Cod’s Roe Canapes, as well as dishes from some of the hottest London restaurants.

The team at Squaremeal call it ‘A celebration of the best of the capital’s restaurant scene’ and no wonder.

Squaremeal Tasting FoodGuests will get to try signature dishes from London’s top restaurants, featuring Darbaar, Galvin Restaurants, Grain Store, Cinnamon Club, Aqua Shard, Jose Pizarro, Black Roe, Chotto Matte, Fucina, Sake no Hana, Zoilo, Outlaw’s at the Capital and M Restaurants.

Plus, over 200 Champagnes and wine from around the world, from some of Europe’s oldest to new world classics and, of course, a selection of premium spirits.

See you there!


#EatJersey16 with Chef Tom Brown and LEVIN Wines

Tom Brown, Head Chef of Outlaw's at The Capital

Tom Brown, Head Chef of Outlaw’s at The Capital

So excited to be joining our very own Outlaw’s at The Capital Head Chef, Tom Brown at #EatJersey16 Food Festival @atlanticjersey next month.

Our Michelin-starred Tom will be sharing the pans with Michelin-starred Executive Head Chef Mark Jordan at Ocean Restaurant at The Atlantic Hotel on Saturday 5 November 2016, for lunch and dinner. (Click to book.)

Ocean Restaurant at The Atlantic Hotel

Ocean Restaurant at The Atlantic Hotel

It was a pleasure to match LEVIN Wines to the incredible menu, showing our current vintages as well as reaching back into our museum stocks for some special food and wine experiences on the eight course menu.

LEVIN Wines vintage 2016

LEVIN Wines vintage 2016

Mark Jordan’s Squid, ‘Risotto of Jersey squid and cauliflower, scallop carpaccio’ will be matched to our Museum 2006 LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc.

The 2006 LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc is an extraordinary wine, with excellent balance, bright acidity and freshness, evolved with wonderful weight and texture that will be a brilliant match with the squid, scallop and cauliflower.

Tom Brown’s Scallops, ‘Raw Jersey scallops, bacon, onion, anchovy, chilli’ will be matched to our just released 2015 LEVIN Gamay Rosé

The 2015 LEVIN Gamay Rosé is an elegant but complex wine, the slightly savoury Gamay characters match with the bacon anchovy and chilli characters, but the wines crisp acidity and minerality enhances and underpins the scallop.

From the outstanding menu to the views from the Ocean Restaurant, it’s bound to be a feast for the senses in the Channel Isles in November!

Eat Jersey 2016 #Eat Jersey16 @atlanticjersey

Saturday 5 November

Outlaw’s at The Capital in London when Head Chef Tom Brown will join The Atlantic Hotel Ocean Restaurant Executive Head Chef Mark Jordan to create a collaborative menu of beautifully crafted seafood dishes for both lunch and dinner.

Ocean Restaurant at The Atlantic Hotel

Lunch 12:30 – 14:30 (£40 for four plates or £60 for six plates menu)

Dinner 18:30 – 22:00 (£60 for six plates or £80 for eight plates menu)

To purchase tickets please contact James Peters on 01534 744101 or email


2012s LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc & MISTER L judged top tier in premier trade driven awards


Media release 
EMBARGOED until 11:00am GMT, Tuesday 26 April 2016
London, United Kingdom

LEVIN Wines is very pleased to announce their double gold medal success at the 2016 Sommelier Wine Awards, Britain’s only on-trade wine competition, judged blind by a panel of sommeliers and wine buyers from the UK’s top hotels, bars and restaurants.

‘Our wines have always been made to match with complex menus, originally for our own restaurants and hotels and today many other beautifully curated wine lists around the world, so it’s really very gratifying to have them recognised by London’s top sommeliers,’ enthused LEVIN Wines director, Lynne Levin.

The premium cuvée MISTER L Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (which is certified organic, handpicked from a single vineyard in Choussy, barrel fermented and matured on lees for nine months in new French oak) and the flagship LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (also certified organic, handpicked blend of 18 vineyards across Bourré, Choussy and Oisly, before low temperature fermentation and maturation in stainless steel) were both included in the Gold List – the SWA competition’s ‘ultimate wine list’, chosen from the 2,500 wines submitted.

Both wines were provided with tasting notes from the judges:

LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc 2012 GOLD MEDALLEVIN Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Competition category: France Loire Sauvignon Menetou/Pouilly

Judges’ Tasting notes:

Truly fresh varietal characteristics took this well priced wine to the Gold podium. ‘Elegant and mineral, with gooseberry and herbaceous style and decent acidity,’ began Dario Barbato of Individual Restaurants, while Sara Bacchiori of Chez Bruce highlighted its ‘asparagus, gooseberry and greengage, quince with some pear notes on a ripe, fruity palate with some length’.

MISTER L Sauvignon Blanc 2012 GOLD MEDALMISTER L Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Competition category: France Loire Sauvignon Menetou/Pouilly

Judges’ Tasting notes:

Barrel fermentation gives depth and creaminess to this Gold Lister. Gustavo Medina of Tate Britain found this ‘complex with great concentration’, finding ‘gooseberry blossom notes on the nose, lime and lemon freshness with a touch of tropical fruit and a rich midpalate’. ‘Rich and complex, with some honeyed development,’ added team leader Natasha Hughes MW.

For more information, bottle shots or samples, please contact:

Lynne Levin  or 

Kimberley Pearce  +61 413 120 385.

For trade orders or enquiries in Melbourne, please contact:

Victoria Sharples +61 411 202 750

LEVIN double at Bacchus Alumni Awards

It was an exciting Levin double win at the Bacchus Alumni Awards 2016 on April 11, with David and Lynne Levin both honoured for their important contribution to Oxford School of Hospitality Management.

David Levin MBE (pictured here with Head of School, Donald Sloan second from right)

David Levin MBE (pictured here with Head of School, Donald Sloan second from right) has a long history with Oxford Brookes, including 15 years ago, funding the refurbishment of the teaching restaurant Brookes (that recently even won Runner-up in the Observer Food Monthly Awards 2015). David has been appointed Visiting Professor and conferred an Honorary Doctorate; he’s been pivotal to Oxford Brookes becoming the world’s premier hospitality school and yet the presentation of his Special Award, the final of the night, was just so unexpected and very warmly received.

Lynne Levin (pictured here with James Franklin, Restaurant Manager, Brookes Restaurant

Lynne Levin was equally surprised and thrilled by winning the Bacchus Mentor Award (pictured here with James Franklin, Restaurant Manager, Brookes Restaurant), especially amongst such eminent nominees. Lynne has been part of the Bacchus Mentoring Programme for five years, which is designed for final year undergrads and post-graduates to engage with experienced figures from international hospitality. Lynne remarked that it’s ‘one of the most rewarding aspects of my career,’ equally, her mentees are exposed to some career-defining experiences, evidenced by the programme of this year’s post-grad that included:

–Travelling to Loire Valley to meet LEVIN’s winemakers, taste the vintage and discuss fermentation protocols for the 12 styles LEVIN produces; being shown blending, bottling procedures, logistics and organic production (and how it differs from conventional winemaking).

Tasting the vintage and discuss fermentation protocols for the 12 styles LEVIN produces

–Touring several of LEVIN’s vineyards and understanding planning and timelines for new vineyard planting, including soil analysis and its importance in organic preparation, clonal selection, pruning and infills; preparation for vintage and seeing ‘green fertilizers’ used to prepare the soil. Developing a strong understanding of the difference between organic and non-organic vineyards.

–At The Capital Hotel, having her CV reviewed by the Director of HR, touring the function rooms, restaurant and brasserie and meeting key hospitality staff; spending time with the Sales & Marketing team and The Capital’s Oxford Brookes student intern.

At The Capital Hotel, , touring the function rooms, restaurant and brasserie and meeting key hospitality staff

–Accompanying Lynne to wine staff education at Michelin-starred Trinity Restaurant to see the trade sales channel and taking part in vertical and horizontal tasting of Levin Sauvignon Blanc, done as a blind tasting. Detailing vintage variations of weather conditions, picking dates, volume of grapes per hectare, length of the growing season and diurnal temperature variation; ensuring the information is appropriate to all levels of knowledge. And, offering not just technical information, but imparting philosophy, passion and history to arm sommeliers with a compelling story to tell their diners.

–Lynne also spent time discussing specific career goals and planning, team work and interpersonal dynamics; as well as opportunities in the food and wine industry, corporate and small business settings and emerging opportunities in the catering segment, all to help achieve her key goals.

Lynne Levin's past mentee, Wil Fuller

With Lynne gaining just as much satisfaction as her Oxford Brookes mentees, it’s little wonder her involvement in the Bacchus Mentoring Programme has been such a roaring success!


The Wine Station now represents LEVIN Wines in Melbourne

Victoria Sharples, The Wine Station

Sales Agent Update

Media release 
Monday, 11 April 2016
Melbourne, Australia (for immediate release)

David and Lynne Levin are thrilled to announce that Victoria Sharples from The Wine Station will now represent and act as the agent for LEVIN Wines in the Melbourne marketplace.

The Levins undertook an exhaustive search and are pleased to have found a well-suited agent with deep experience and an excellent reputation in the trade. Likewise, Victoria is so pleased to add LEVIN Wines to her portfolio of hand crafted, family owned and small batch European and Australian producers.

Victoria Sharples is the founder The Wine Station, a Melbourne-based wine agency that represents and consults to both wineries and government. Her Masters of Wine program in progress, Victoria has been in the industry for 15 years and has worked as a buyer, importer, sommelier and wine judge in both the UK and Australia. Her skill and knowledge of International wines has led her to become a Senior Judge at International Wine Challenge (IWC) in London and was appointed as IWC’s Australian Ambassador in 2010.

Victoria will be available to assist LEVIN Wines current customers with orders and information and can be contacted via e-mail at or phone on +61 411 202 750. LEVIN Wines delivery arrangements via Jayline Distribution will remain the same, invoicing will continue to be raised by LEVIN Wines and payments received to LEVIN Wines.

Once again, David and Lynne Levin would like to welcome Victoria to LEVIN Wines and look forward to her contribution to LEVIN brand in Melbourne.

For trade orders in Melbourne, please contact:

 Victoria Sharples +61 411 202 750

Twitter @WineStation Instagram @thewinestation Facebook @VictoriasWineStation 

Telephone (03) 9388 8895

Address Po Box 1002, Fitzroy North 3068


For more information, please contact
Lynne Levin  or 
Kimberley Pearce  +61 413 120 385. 


Adventures in Armadale

Our dinner at the newly opened Amaru (@amaru_melbourne Amaru Melbourne 1121 High St, Armadale, Melbourne) hosted by the inimitable Phil Hude (ably assisted by Aine Conran) from Armadale Cellars was such a wonderful treat.Amaru Restaurant

Clinton McIver’s background as sous chef at Vue de Monde has been well documented, as was his dazzling 14-month stint at Clayton Bowls Club, where he honed his menu and carefully plotted his next steps (undoubtedly the best food to ever grace that particular eastern enclave!).

Clinton and his partner Ali have set up close to their home in High Street, Armadale, in a strip formerly more renowned for its pret-a-porter than haute cuisine, but with this addition it’s sure to become a real food destination. Ali and Clinton have been able to create an impressive, high concept menu, but with a warm sense of welcome and dinner party ambience.

Our starters, served as canapes (chivalrously camouflaging any latecomers) each had a nod to Indigenous produce. Puffed Kangaroo tendon served in wildflower honey, caramelized roo fat & burnt fig leather, was like a very antipodean prawn cracker, the saltiness combined with a thin wafer of richness and sweetness making for a lovely mouthful. Lightly cured bass grouper with fresh finger lime, native pepper leaf & fried pigs ear was a gorgeous ceviche of deep water wreck fish on a crispy, porky skin.

Blue swimmer crab with day old bread, vinegar, brown butter & pickled nasturtiums was a delectable crouton topped with shredded crab, its richness lifted by the pickled flower. The 80:20 blend of 2011 Le Vin de LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay, served ‘en magnum’ with fresh notes of lemon, green apple and a rounded palate complemented each taste beautifully.

After Phil’s typically idiosyncratic introduction of the wines (he always manages to include a few references to Hawthorn FC), Lynne Levin explained the some-35-year history of the domaine, the organic and biodynamic production, the vineyards and flavour profiles of each of the wines to the avid vinophile audience.1heirloom

Next, we enjoyed the deceptively simple Heirloom tomatoes stewed with marron heads & muntrie berries. The rich umami sauce created by the marron mustard was contrasted with the just-collapsing, multi-coloured heirloom tomatoes, with bright bursts from the berries, which we greedily mopped up with the Organic spelt sourdough & Tasmanian grass fed cultured butter. Such a wonderful match to our savoury, dry, tomato leaf, cool cherry and redcurrant 2011 LEVIN Rosé. Bass Groper

Next, we returned to the groper in greater proportions, Bass Groper, sauce of roasted wallaby bone & tender sea grapes, which was an ever-so-gently cooked fillet with lashes of salty seaweed and a rich reduction of wallaby. The 2011 LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc with its subtle herbaceousness, pink grapefruit, and minerality was a bright and jaunty foil to the sea grapes, though 2011 MISTER L Sauvignon Blanc with its richer, smoky layers of complexity and gentle spine of acidity was a transcendent match.Dry aged Burrawon Gaian duck

The Dry aged Burrawon Gaian duck, preserved blueberry, barbecued radicchio was where our gamays really shone. This dish’s lift of blueberry played joyfully with the more generous cherry and dark berry notes in the 2011 Le Vin de LEVIN Gamay, while the smoky duck and radicchio was a brilliant compliment to 2011 Madame L Gamay’s savoury, spicy, earthy notes overlain with violets, lavender and cherry.
Cultured buffalo milk ice cream

Finally, we were treated to the impressive and slightly savoury dessert Cultured buffalo milk ice cream, cold pressed olive oil, Tasmanian pepper berry and seasonal aromatics. Almost playing the cheese course, the curd-like buffalo ice cream had a lively twang, with the clean, savoury flavours of the olive oil and pepper berry seeming to match equally well with the 2011 LEVIN Gamay and 2011 LEVIN Noble Botrytis Sauvignon Blanc, creating a good deal of lively discussion in the process!

We were so proud that LEVIN Wines was part of Amaru’s very first winemaker’s dinner and we know that Ali and Clinton will enjoy some very deserved success at their world class restaurant. Mister & Madame L look forward to dining at Amaru again when they return to Melbourne!


@amaru_melbourne Amaru Melbourne

1121 High St, Armadale Victoria 3143, Australia

+61 (0)3 9822 0144

Return to Brae

Returning once again to Brae (@BraeRestaurant braerestaurant 4285 Cape Otway Rd, Birregurra, Victoria) in the first week of the antipodean autumn surpassed all our expectations. While only a month had passed since our last long lunch, we were treated to some amazing new experiences and some fast favourites from last time.

For the autumn menu, we decided to give our complete attention to Dan Hunter’s menu, so rather than matched wines with each taste, we decided to choose some special bottles. We were very kindly treated to NV André Beaufort ‘Reserve Polisy’ Brut, Aube, Champagne with our first small dishes, an interesting organic grower champagne, with a smoky, mineral character.

Brae autumn starters

Chilled cucumber and cold garden leaves was a bright combination of clean flavours to thoroughly whet our appetite. Zucchini flowers and lemon aspen tart was an incredibly fresh and inspired use of zucchini flowers, as very good as it looks.

Crimson pearl potato and smoked eel sandwich, which we’d tasted in a slightly different way last time, was a delicious little wafery-fishy mouthful.

Brae larger dishes

Tomatoes and davidson plum in chilled crustacean broth was verging on a spiritual experience! The slightly dehydrated tomatoes intensified and focused the flavours, which burst into the mouth. They were complemented by a dusting of dehydrated plum as well as whole Davidson plums, floating in a chilled crustacean broth, a really transcendent combination.

Prawn, nasturtium, finger lime was a twist on our last visit, was a sublime prawn pillowed within nasturtium leaf, topped with a burst of finger lime cells. Ice oyster, once again, what a truly incredible dish. The sheep’s milk ice cream flavoured with the oyster’s brine and freeze dried oyster and herbs is just a wonderful experience.

Sea urchin and chicory bread pudding featured fresh chicory that lent a balancing bitterness to the intensely rich sea urchin. With a sprinkling of dehydrated citrus peel to pull it all together.

With the larger dishes, we really enjoyed the 2008 Benoit Ente ‘Champ Gain’ 1er Cru, Puligny Montrachet, France, which was a beautifully balanced wine that had been decanted to open up its gorgeous white flower, citrus and mineral characters.

Brae dishes

Calamari and fermented kohlrabi, last of the peas and beef fat was another incredible dish. The finely sliced calamari was just slightly poached and the kohlrabi, cut to resemble the calamari, had been fermented adding an umami dimension. The teeny-tiny baby peas were amazingly fresh and the richness of the smoky beef marrow and fat pulled the dish together perfectly. (The peas and beef fat were cooked in the smoker in a pan with holes in the bottom, the drippings falling onto coals below to create a flavoured smoke for the peas!)

Southern rock lobster cooked with carrot, white onion and sea butter was a revelation and standout on the day. The delicately cooked lobster legs were seasoned with ground green olive, chrysanthemum leaves, a gorgeous sea butter that we surmised was a reduction of the lobster shells and carrot, with the quite crisp, fresh white onion adding some grip to the dish.

Eggplant and salt grass lamb washed with sweet onion juice, fragrant and acidic plants was a homecoming to one of our favourite dishes from the summer menu, a tantalizing salty-sweet onion slice of lamb with gorgeous leaves from the kitchen garden.

Hapuku and sunflower, minutina in brown butter was a beautiful deep water wreckfish that fell apart in large, moist flakes, sitting on a smear of pureed sunflower seeds. We thought the sunflower seeds tasted a little like tahini and matched so beautifully with the crisp minutina greens tossed in burnt butter.

Wood grilled Tajima beef aged 45 days, Otway shiitake, fermented cabbage was a beautifully textured, smoky medallion of beef. We thought the real star of the dish was the wood smoke, which was contrasted by the sharpness of the thinly sliced cabbage and complemented by the smokiness of the mushroom.

Brae puddings

With the desserts, we drank 2011 By Farr Viognier ‘Dessert Wine’, Geelong, Victoria. Gary Farr’s wines, made close by, are understandably darlings on Brae’s wine list and this standout pudding wine worked wonderfully well with the sweet dishes.

Plums simmered with pear, honey and cultured milk revisted the Davidson plums we loved with the tomatoes, but this time poached in sweet pear, with silky ice cream, honeycomb (made from honey from their apiary) and glacéd citrus peel on top.

Parsnip and apple was once again a delight, with the crispy parsnip shell, honeyed crème and powdered apple creating an inventive twist on the cannoli.

Brae Rooms

Feeling perfectly satiated after an opulent lunch, it was wonderful to stay at one of Brae’s recently-opened six luxury suites, so beautifully appointed by Six Degrees’ architecture and Studio Round’s interiors.

The room had an urbane 1960s vibe that John & Sunday Reed would have been most at home in. The walls were decorated with beautiful contemporary art, there was a proper record player and vinyl collection, the most lavish mini bar, marble benches and fully stocked wine fridge, a delightful charcuterie and cheese repast for the evening and big sky sunset views.

What a triumphant return and we’re so looking forward to hosting the very talented Dan Hunter in London in the near future!

Brae +61 3 5236 2226

Twitter @BraeRestaurant Instagram braerestaurant

4285 Cape Otway Rd, Birregurra, Victoria, Australia

One fine day at Brae

This past rainy Sunday, Madame L and Mister L travelled with @wine_brain_kp out to Brae (@BraeRestaurant braerestaurant 4285 Cape Otway Rd, Birregurra, Victoria) – Dan Hunter’s captivating restaurant, vegetable gardens and orchards, 140 kilometres southwest of Melbourne – and enjoyed some of the most confident and technically exciting food we have had.

Dan Hunter once cooked at Mugaritz (6th on San Pellegrino’s World’s Best Restaurants) before six years leading the kitchen of Dunkeld’s Royal Mail Hotel, which he took to Three Hats and won The Age Good Food Guide’s 2012 Chef of The Year. There are certainly references here to the sensorial creativity, smoky Iberian grill and the obsession with seasonality.

The name of the restaurant is explained as ‘Brae \’brā\ n. — A hillside; a gentle slope. A modern restaurant set on 30 productive acres.’ Formerly Sunnybrae cookery school, which established the remarkable gardens and Alan Scott brick oven, Restaurant Manager Simon Freeman explained that the farmhouse was stripped back and reimagined by long-time friends and hospitality specialists Six Degrees Architects. From the palette, the artworks and murals, the quirky application of fencing stakes, to the play list, the restaurant is a true reflection of the mind of the chef.

Brae Starters

The Summer menu began with seven tastes matched to a local sparkling wine NV Holly’s Garden überbrut (sommelier Meg explained was chardonnay, pinot noir and with a small amount of pinot blanc), which we thought was a little wild and unfocussed and Edge Brewing Project ‘Cool Hops’ a brilliantly fresh and lively microbrew.

In the first tranche, Cucumber and lemon myrtle was a very delicately pickled cucumber, with the delicious native flower freeze-dried, powdered and sprinkled on top. Brook trout and nut butter crisp was a flash fried trout skin crisp, with smoky trout and nasturtium, which was delightful. Raw pea and lemon aspen tart was a riot of fresh baby peas on an ever-so-slightly-too-short pastry. Sapphire potato and smoked eel sandwich was a perfect mouthful of crispy wafer thin potato and creamy-smoky fishiness.

Next, we had the Prawn, nasturtium, finger lime, which was a very playful, textural juxtaposition of crispy fried prawn head, which could be taken in one crunch revealing umami juiciness and a leafy parcel of very delicately cooked prawn tail, with the citrusy burst of lime cells on top.

Finally, we had the Beef tendon and mountain pepper, which was like a particularly hearty prawn cracker, a bit oily with fragrant ground pepper. The Iced Oyster was incredible. The oyster brine was combined with sheep’s milk curd into an ice cream and served in the shell, while the oyster itself had been freeze dried along with apple cider vinegar and herbs, powdered and sprinkled on top of the ice cream. It was an outstanding crescendo in complexity and flavour to whet our appetites for the main degustation.

Brae Calamari Crayfish Lamb

We began with the Calamari and black lip abalone, broccoli and blue mackerel, which had a decidedly Japanese accent, with the thinly sliced seafood barely-poached in the delicious liquor and topped with nasturtium leaves. This was matched to 2013 Sutton Grange ‘Estate’ Fiano from neighbouring region Bendigo, a waxy, honeysuckle, barrel fermented, textural beauty.

Crayfish and burnt potatoes, sunflower, milk and mustard was a parcel encased by the milk ‘skin’, with crayfish, slightly underdone but smoky-burnt potato cubes and mustard, an impressive technical display served with 2014 Chikuma Nishiki ‘Kizan’ Junmai Ginjo Nama Genshu, Nagano Japan. We recognised the winter Olympics city, a definite mountain producer but were astounded by the balance, texture and dynamic character of this sake.

Eggplant and salt grass lamb washed with sweet onion juice, fragrant and acidic plants was a piece of salty lamb that seemed to have been poached in a sweet onion liquor, with shavings of garlic, soft, collapsing eggplant and some gorgeous leaves from a plant we’d never seen before, Ice Plant, with tarragon. The cloudy-natural-wine look of the 2013 Testalonga Bianco Vermentino, Liguria, Italy worried us a little, but the robustness imparted by the extended skin contact, with its wild hay bale, oyster shell, honeysuckle, yeasty characters made this (usually searingly-austere variety) just an inspired match.

Brae Hapuka Duck

Hapuku, cured pork and bok choy, fish roe whipped with onion was a gorgeous fillet of Hapuku (found in deep offshore reefs around the continental slope across the southern portion of Australia) that fell into buttery flakes, with pork cubes, spears of bok choy and a jus of onion and roe. Matched to a cellar release of arguably Australia’s best Riesling 2006 Crawford River ‘Museum Release’ Riesling, Henty, Victoria was still youthful with lime peel and melon but with some creamy lemon curd notes and length for days.

Aged Pekin duck wood roasted on the bone, quandong, dried liver was rich, smoky and delicious. (Simon told us later that the ducks are stuffed with straw and roasted in the Alan Scott brick oven and then smoked on the grill, with the straw that had been in the duck.) The sharply acidic native stewed quandong was a great foil and the powdery liver added a lovely complexity. Matched with a cellar release of 2009 by Far ‘Tout Prés’ Pinot Noir, Geelong, Victoria, a single vineyard from iconic winemaker Gary Farr (influenced by his many vintages at Domain Dujac) was a deep, complex, spicy, mineral, seamless wine, undoubtedly among Australia’s best pinots.

Brae Apricot Parsnip

On to the desserts, Apricot simmered with honey and vanilla, sheep’s milk and dried custard was an incredibly concentrated reduction of apricot, with a sheep’s milk ice cream providing a lovely acidic twang, with crumbled sheets of dried custard and honeycomb made from honey collected on the property. The 2012 Domaine Barmes-Buecher ‘Rosenberg’ Pinot Gris, Alsace, France had the concentrated, blooming-floral notes and sweet viscosity to match this complex pudding.

Parsnip and apple, which was a parsnip, cut in half with most of the flesh removed and the skin ‘shell’ deep fried, brushed with honey and served with a crème, dried apple powder and a small piece of roasted apple – possibly the dish of the day in an incredible line up. Matched with the 2012 Domaine des Baumard ‘Cuvée de Paon’, Coteaux du Layon, France, a Loire Valley Chenin Blanc with honey, marmalade, lanolin and marzipan characters that were a beautiful complement.

After lunch, we couldn’t help but enjoy a digestif (Auchentoshan 12 YO and Amaro Nonino, both charming) and hear more about the project from Simon. In a little over 18 months, Brae has swept all before it in the competitive Australian food scene. Three Hats in the Good Food Guide, Three Stars in Gourmet Traveller, Chef of the Year in both and cracked 87 on the San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurant list.

It seemed very much that this great leap forward was driven by the uncompromised, authentic vision that Dan Hunter, Simon Freeman, their partners and vastly impressive team have been able to execute. The balance of each dish within the context of the entire menu was amazing! Very well worth the gastronomic pilgrimage (the local Birregurra Farm Store is a must-stop on the way home), which will be even more delightful when their luxury suites open from March 2016!

Brae +61 3 5236 2226

Twitter @BraeRestaurant Instagram braerestaurant

4285 Cape Otway Rd, Birregurra, Victoria, Australia

Merci Millésime BIO

Millesime BIO tasting table

We’re proud to have just finished our first Millésime BIO 2016 @Sudvinbio – the global event for organic wine (25 to 27 January) – along with 900 organic exhibitors from every wine producing country and region around the world.

We were ably represented by our Michelin-starred Outlaw’s at The Capital Restaurant Manager and Head Sommelier, Sharon McArthur, who shares our passion for organic wine.

We were thrilled by the wonderful response from our tasters amongst the 5000-or-so who attended Millésime BIO in Montpellier.

"Gilles Lefrancq" (official photographer for Millésime Bio)

“Gilles Lefrancq” (official photographer for Millésime Bio)

Our degustation focused on a preview of the 2015 vintage, featuring individual tank and barrel samples from our Bourré vineyards – including Le Clos Rozier, Le Clos Bezard, Les Cabanes and Les Buissons and Plateau (a collection of 10 sites on the rise that overlooks our winery to the north and the Cher River to the south) – our Oisly Vineyard and Choussy Vineyard, across our village, flagship and premium cuvée wines.

We also presented our new release flagship 2012 LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc, which has already won a GOLD Medal in Concours Mondial du Sauvignon.


Millésime BIO 2016, en degustation

2015 LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc (tank sample blend of vineyards Le Clos Rozier, Le Clos Bezard, Oisly & Plateau)

2015 MISTER L Sauvignon Blanc (barrel sample of Choussy Vineyard)

2015 LEVIN Gamay (tank sample of Gamay from vineyards at Les Cabanes & Les Buissons)

2015 Le Vin de LEVIN Pinot Noir Rosé (tank sample)

2015 LEVIN Gamay Rosé (tank sample)

2015 Le Vin de LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc (tank sample)

2012 LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc (bottled and winner of Gold Medal in Concours Mondial du Sauvignon)