Published on 28 June 2021
Jayden Ong, a figure Cumulus Inc regulars may recognise as a co-owner and front-of-house guru, has been making wines in the Yarra over the past decade, and now, he and his wife, Morgan, are showcasing their winemaking side at their new Winery & Cellar Bar.
The space does double-duty as both a winery and a modern, minimalist tasting bar. Sit outside in the sunshine or find a seat beneath a stunning floral installation. “The idea was to create a cellar door with a difference,” Jayden says, and they’ve done exactly that with an eight-metre hand-chiselled limestone bar, the venue’s showpiece.
The Winery & Cellar Bar showcases Jayden’s four ranges of wine – Moonlit Forest, One Block, La Maison de Ong and Jayden Ong – but also features Yarra Valley legends, compelling internationals and varieties not often seen in the region.
Complemented by a menu of snacks cooked over white charcoal, the food offering changes weekly, but the signature grilled snack menu includes dishes like friggitello peppers, lion’s mane mushrooms on bay twigs, duck meatballs with fresh plum, and figs with curd and honey.
"The focus is on vegetables, fruit and cheese sourced from neighbouring farmers and cheesemakers," says Jayden. “The proteins on the menu are of the highest quality and we've partnered with Meatsmith for custom products."
How about a drink?
Apart from an extensive collection of local and international wine, we also offer quality cocktails, refreshing beer and a premium list of eau-de-vie and Japanese whiskies. Nolan Moon, our assistant winemaker, came to us from Alaska, and so we've got our version of the classic Americano cocktail – we use our house-made vermouth which is dry and aromatic, Campari and cold-pressed blood orange juice built over ice garnished with sage leaf. It’s the perfect way to start.
I’m here for a good time not a long time.
We grill a selection of snacks over charcoal to accompany our wines by the glass. How about a glass of the 2019 Jayden Ong Chardonnay and some crisp chicken skin with salt and lemon? You’ve got detailed, elegant and focused wine complemented by crisp, salty and delicious chicken skin: a good time. Or lamb arrosticini finished with rosemary salt, paired with a glass of syrah: more good times.
Got anything light and fresh?
I really love grilled leaves like lettuce or cabbage. At the moment we are serving char-grilled radicchio with walnut vinaigrette; that pairs well with textural white wines like our 2020 Fiano 'Daydreamer' and some warm house-made flatbread topped with green olives and anchovy.
I like tasty food but I don’t eat animals.
We grow a lot of vegetables for the menu, as well as offering a selection from other local famers. Well-grown vegetables and fruit are important components of what we offer at the cellar bar, whether as a standalone dish or as an accompaniment to another menu item. Grilled bullhorn peppers, say, filled with fresh goat’s curd and chives. We also serve local cheeses, made from locally sourced milk; the Nightwalker washed-rind cow’s milk cheese from Stone & Crow, served perfectly ripe with Miellerie Lake Pedder Nectar Honey is a real treat.
Name the dish that is quintessentially Jayden Ong Winery & Cellar Bar.
Charcoal-grilled duck and Madeira meatballs. (And a glass of Jayden Ong Pinot Noir with it doesn’t hurt one bit.)
Let’s go big. Let’s go crazy. What have you got for me?
On Saturday evenings we have wood-fired one-kilo T-bones available, served with seasonal sides (locally foraged pine mushrooms, with butter and thyme, or, when the tomatoes are good, a wonderfully simple salad with anchovies), and our flatbreads and condiments. The quality of this marbled heritage-breed beef is outstanding. If there are a few of you then the magnum list may be your calling; it includes exceptional vintage Mount Mary and La Maison de Ong wines. You might like to freshen up first with a bottle of single-vineyard Champagne from Jacques Sélosse; we like to serve our own wines alongside some of the most interesting and exclusive wines of the world.
And to close?
Orange, almond and chocolate cake and Bas-Armagnac from Château La Balle. Or, if you feel like a stunning nightcap, try the 1993 Château de Pibarnon Marc de Bandol, which is aged for 20 years in old Armagnac casks. It's unique – an opulent texture and a very long finish, ideal for winter by the fireplace.
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