Drinking Victoria: Michael Dhillon

Published on 29 June 2021

Photo: Bindi winemaker Michael Dhillon

Your guide to what’s in the glass from the people in the trade.

Michael Dhillon was born in the town of Gisborne, where his mother Kaye's family have lived since 1850, and grew up at Bindi, a 170-hectare farm just outside the township. Today, he and his family produce some of Australia’s most respected chardonnay and pinot noir from their vineyard at Bindi, which Michael and his father Bill established in 1988. At Bindi, Dhillon served as assistant winemaker to Stuart Anderson from 1991 until 1998 when he assumed full responsibility.

Dhillon learned his craft working with Anderson as well as doing vintages in Europe, where he spent time with the Champagne house Jean Vesselle in Bouzy and with Alain Graillot in Croze-Hermitage, as well as working four vintages in Tuscany at Tenuta di Valgiano. Dhillon’s passion for Burgundy has seen him visit more than 100 domaines over two decades to continue to hone his craft. And the results speak for themselves. Bindi wines are sought-after for cellars and wine lists around the country and the world, and continue to receive glowing scores and reviews.

The last three delicious things I drank were Crawford River riesling (a regional, state and national classic for sense of place and people in a bright, pure and ageworthy wine), Dei Carpini schioppettino (broadening my horizons in geography and delicious red fruit and savoury notes), Holgate XPA (local high water mark in diverse, characterful and delicious beers).

As far as I’m concerned, the defining place to get a drink in Melbourne/Victoria is, or rather was, Walter’s Wine Bar which introduced many small producers to a large audience and trained up a generation of fabulous wine professionals. Now my top wine spots are Winespeake, Bellota, Gerald's Bar and Embla because they offer diverse wines served by knowledgeable and passionate people. 

When someone hands me a wine list in a restaurant, I hand it back and ask for their advice.

The Victorian spirit I’m digging the most right now is open-mindedness of location. City, country, coast. Businesses big and small and in between and of many types have the opportunity to be embraced when they get the pitch just right. Be they a wholesome country restaurant or cosy wine bar, a city institution diner, a winery restaurant, a coastal culinary destination, each doing their passionate thing well with great support.

There’s no better value on a wine list or in a bottle-shop in this state than Granite Hills riesling. Mature vines growing in a fabulous location with a consistent and thoughtful hand. 

My favourite place to buy booze is always a family-owned, advice-driven wine shop.

I’d love to see us planting more chardonnay and pinot noir in the Macedon Ranges. What's not to love about being creative with nature's bounty and processes in this beautiful region?

My guilty pleasure in the drinks cabinet is Maidenii Vermouth. So delicious, well-imagined and local.

The best or most important change to the way we drink in Victoria in recent years has been embracing diversity and giving permission to passionate people to explore more widely in whatever they produce or like to consume.

For me, the most inspiring person in the Victorian drinks world is Patrick Walsh of Cellarhand. He headed Walter's Wine Bar in the founding years, which helped usher in the boom of quality Victorian wine, and today he represents brilliant wines from around the world. More importantly, he and his team sell some of Victoria's finest family wines.

Keep up with the latest Bindi releases and happenings on the vineyard at bindiwines.com.au, or follow @bindiwines on Instagram.

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