Ushering in change
Young Hunter winemaker Usher Tinkler and his wife Ebony have opened a must-visit cellar door in the former Pokolbin Church on McDonald’s Rd, Pokolbin. Usher Tinkler Wines bills itself as a purveyor of wine and salumi and has a bench-mounted Berkel prosciutto slicer, the Rolls Royce of such machines, to dispense about a dozen kinds of cured meats and salumi. There’s also an extensive and diverse cheese list. Visitors can sit at the bar on a stool or luxuriate in one of the big leather sofas.
Tinkler creates his own range of wines, which come with busy, colourful, eye-catching labels. In hipster style, they are sealed with corks dipped in wax. The corks are expensive 1+1 cork, which have been tested for TCA taint. They cost $1.30 each (30 cents extra for the TCA testing). Tinkler reckons they’re worth it: he’s never seen a tainted wine since using them.
Usher sources all of his grapes from various Tinkler family vineyards, and makes his wines in the Tinklers winery on Pokolbin Mountains Road, where he also makes the wines for the Tinklers brand. The Usher Tinkler 2016 Reserve Chardonnay and 2015 Reserve Shiraz are both excellent.
Usher and Ebony also offer a vast array of preserved fruits and vegetables, and the day I dropped in Usher had been out mushrooming in a pine forest and showed me a box of orange coloured milk-cap mushrooms that he intended to pickle.
I tasted a jamon Iberico de bellota freshly sliced on the Berkel’s finest setting, tissue-thin. The quality has to be tasted to be believed.
The attraction of this part of McDonald’s Road is all the better for Matt Burton’s Gundog Estate Wines being located right next-door to the house of Usher. The concept is different, and complementary, with tables and chairs, a coffee bar at one end and wine bar at the other, and a vast array of foodie merchandise (the garlic aioli is extra good).
It makes up for the fact that the nearby Lindemans Ben Ean cellar door has been closed – indefinitely, future unknown. You could put it down to generational change. Not such a bad thing.