Saturday, July 18, 2009

Affleck Vineyard

Talk about an unexpected discovery. Who’d have guessed acclaimed actor, writer and director, Ben Affleck has further cemented his claim to renaissance man status with a foray into Canberra winemaking.

Okay, he hasn't really, I made that part up (hey I’m a blogger and apparently it’s what we do). Fact is, there is no Affleck, Ben or otherwise, at Affleck Vineyard. It’s Susie and Ian Hendry who are responsible for the 4-hectare vineyard that was established at Millynn Road, Bungendore in 1976.

The name Affleck doesn’t refer to a person but to an Anglicised version of the Gaelic achadh-nan-leac which means a field of flagstones. You do get a hint of the rock field as you negotiate the gravel drive and pass an imposing dry stonewall.

The cellar door is unpretentious. There’s no attempt to charm you into liking the wine because a small fortune was spent on the decor. Instead the tasting area overlooks the engine room of the winery and the stainless steel vats have an honest, hands on appeal.

Sue Hendry and Ellie, (the obligatory friendly winery dog), were on duty the day we visited. Affleck offers basic wine tasting – there’s no food but plenty of tables and chairs on the verandah and Sue says visitors are welcome to bring their own provisions. An idea I squirreled away for future visits to smaller establishments.

Ian Hendry’s 30 plus years of experience as a vintner was evident in the wines. I tried a particularly good 2008 rosé, which had a pinot noir base, fine structure and a nice dry finish. There’s now a bottle on the rack at home waiting for a warm day and a picnic.

The 2005 pinot noir was just as good. It had a lighter mouth feel with a good flavour profile – a smoky, spicy quality that would go well with pan-fried duck breast. Showing admirable disregard for our advice we drank it with a spicy goat stew and the dregs with a rather more pedestrian home cooked burger a day later. While some of the smoky qualities were suppressed by the spiciness of the goat stew, it held up well, with a few savoury notes coming to the fore. The next day what remained was still drinking well and the smoky/spiciness evident at the tasting was enhanced by the simple flavours of the hamburger.

I also enjoyed the Affleck Vineyard sticky – a late picked sauvignon blanc – odd because I’m not a big fan of dessert wines. Even the chardy was good. While not the crisp chablis style I favour, it avoided the big overblown, over-oaked style that for many pushed this variety onto the shun list.

Also available for tasting, was an 04 merlot cabernet, a 2003 cabernet shiraz, a 2008 semillon, a sparkling pinot, as well as some fortified wines that we didn’t try. They were all priced between $10 and $20 – and represent good value if you’re cheap careful with money like our man in Canberra.

Not knowing what to expect, Affleck Vineyard was a good place to start our exploration of Canberra wineries. The drive was pleasant, the wines were good and the owners friendly.

Affleck Vineyard
154 Millynn Road, Bungendore NSW 2621
Ph 02 6236 9276
Mob 0415 484 113

Open 9am – 5pm Friday to Wednesday and public holidays. NB, during July and August 2009, open by appointment on so make sure you phone first.

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