Visiting one of Australia's most exciting wine estates, in Victoria's Macedon Ranges

This was one of my favourite winery visits ever. In the Macedon ranges, a short drive from Melbourne, Michael Dhillon is currently making some of Australia’s finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  

‘We are 22 years in,’ says Michael (pictured above). His father, Bill, first planted vines here in 1988. The winery was built in 1997, and 1999 was the first year that Michael and his father paid themselves a wage. The wines show remarkable purity, and also an ability to develop over time. ‘We never set out to make the wines to age, but they do,’ Michael notes.  

The story behind Bindi is an interesting one. Bill came to Australia from the Punjab, India, via Malaysia, in 1958. With his wife Kaye he farmed sheep at Bindi, and realised that he had to add value to the agricultural venture for it to be sustainable in the long term. So he thought about viticulture, but a prominent consultant told him that the land was unsuitable for vines in the 1970s. In the 1980s another consultant gave the correct advice, and the first of what are now 6 hectares of vines (4 Pinot Noir, 2 Chardonnay) were planted in 1988, on the 170 hectare property.  

The man featured on the labels is Kostas Rind, a Lithuanian who taught Bill at Ballarat grammar school, became his mentor, and introduced him to wine.  

It’s a stinker of an October day, and we arrive early evening. It has been raining all week, and feels more like the middle of winter than spring. Despite this, we manage to dodge the showers to look round the vineyard, as the light begins its slow fade.

Michael even shows me some yabbies that he has trapped from the pond on the farm. They’re going to be devoured the following evening, when a large group of wine people are dropping over for dinner.   

The winery is small and compact. There are signs of biodynamic activity here: Michael has a couple of dynamizing devices, one of which he claims doesn’t work, even though it is the sort of design commonly seen in biodynamic wineries. But Michael makes no claim to working biodynamically in his vineyards. It’s something he does quietly and without any fanfare.

We have dinner together. I am always honoured when people let me invade their family space in this way. Over dinner we chat and try some wine.

‘I’ll take harmony over power, intensity and complexity,’ says Michael. This sort of attitude can be seen reflected in his wines. 


Bindi Quartz Chardonnay 2011 Macedon Ranges, Australia
Very tight wth minerals, spice and a bit of matchstick. Good acidity with a lovely mineral character, real finesse and some subtle toastiness. 100% French oak, 30% new, for 16 months. Such good acid structure, Fine. 94/100

Bindi Quartz Chardonnay 2009 Macedon Ranges, Australia
Lovely aromatics. Fine with some toasty notes. Very expressive with some subtle notes of butter, nuts, toast and citrus. Expressive and fine with lovely precision and finesse. 95/100

Bindi Composition Chardonnay 2006 Macedon Ranges, Australia
So beautiful: fine, toasty and intense, with hints of toast and spice. Textured palate is fine and spicy with some mealy notes. Beautifully elegant with a hint of sweetness. Amazing complexity. 96/100

Bindi Block K Pinot Noir 2010 Macedon Ranges, Australia
The first vintage of the Block K is 2009, so this is the second bottling, but neither will be released for a few years. 70 dozen were made in 2009, 120 in 2010 and 150 in 2011. Silky, fine, pure red cherry fruit is just so expressive. Thrillingly elegant with fine-grained tannins. Michael describes this as having ‘beauty but ease: it is just not pushing.’ Fabulously pure with amazing aromatics. So delicate with a  sappy hint to the fragrant cherry fruit. 97/100

Bindi Composition Pinot Noir 2005 Macedon Ranges, Australia
Beautiful aromatics: cherries, plums and herbs. Quite nervous and lively. Pure cherry and plum fruit with a nice spicy edge, developing beautifully with a subtle meatiness. Fine. 94/100

Bindi Original Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008 Macedon Ranges, Australia
Complex, fine and spicy on the nose. The palate is fine and multidimensional with great concentration and lovely finesse. Some structure and a bit of minerality, as well as some spiciness. Lovely silky red cherry fruit is the main theme here. 95/100

Older notes:

Bindi Composition Chardonnay 2008
Rich, intense, toasty, mineral nose. The palate is concentrated and intense with powerful flavours of pear, fig and spice, as well as some toastiness and fresh acidity. A lovely complex Chardonnay. 92/100 (04/10)

Bindi Quartz Chardonnay 2008
Fresh nose with mineral, citrus and toast notes. The palate is intense, fresh, taut and mineral with appealing citrus fruit. This is so bold, mineral and fresh. It's profound. 95/100 (04/10)

Bindi Composition Pinot Noir 2008 
Pale colour – a little cloudy. Beautifully aromatic with warm cherry and spice notes on the palate, some sweetness, and a hint of leafy greenness. Very fresh and supple. Beautiful stuff. 93/100 (04/10)

Bindi Block 5 Pinot Noir 2008 
Sweet, intense, floral cherry and herb nose. Aromatic and fresh with a hint of meat. The palate is sweetly fruited and elegant with rich cherry fruit, subtle sappiness and a long finish. An extraordinary wine: rich but elegant. 95/100 (04/10)

See also:

Best's Great Western
Landmark Australia Tutorial

Wines tasted 10/12  
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