The third cellar door I visited in the Adelaide Hills last sunday was The Lane (formerly Ravenswood Lane). I'm going to keep this post fairly brief, because for the second time in as many visits I was disappointed with the range of wines on offer at The Lane.
Although The Lane's flagship reds; the Reunion Shiraz and 19th Meeting Cabernet Sauvignon, both delivered the finest, most elegant and harmonious wines I've had from each respective label from the 2007 vintage, I still believe they're overpriced at $65 each. In fact, I feel most of The Lane's range is overpriced given the track record and recent quality of their wines. There's a $39 chardonnay which is about to be superseded by an even more expensive chardy in the range, 2 bottles of $39 Adelaide Hills shiraz in addition to the Reunion, a $39 viognier, a $39 pinot grigio, a $35 and a $30 sauvignon blanc/semillon as well as a dessert wine with an asking price greater than that of De Bortoli's Noble One. Just because you have a fancy cellar door restaurant with pricey, delectable dishes doesn't mean you have to make wines with a price to match.
The two wines from The Lane which I have enjoyed in recent years, the Gathering Sauvignon Blanc Semillon and the Beginning Chardonnay, both failed to meet my expectations of wines with their respective asking prices. The 2008 Beginning produced another solid if not spectacular chardonnay, with good, ripe melon fruit and cashew nut qualities marked by a smooth, creamy texture, but at $39 it's competing against regional big guns Shaw and Smith, Petaluma and Grosset, when I feel it would be better served competing against the likes of Yalumba's FDW7C, Ashton Hills, Hahndorf Hill, Barratt and Starvedog Lane in the $20-$30 chardonnay class. The wooded 2009 Gathering SBS just seemed to dumb its primary fruit down a bit too much for me, leading to a rather bland and neutral white, which at $35 (same price as Cullen's) isn't a speck on the Margaret River's best. I know the Gathering is capable of better and I will return to the label without question.
One of the more interesting wines available was The Lane's 2008 Pinot Grigio; oily, developing and textured, with a good richness of flavour and ample pear/honey character for the variety, but once again; $39!?
After having said all this I must also mention that there's plenty of good reasons to go up and visit The Lane. The location is absolutely stunning; perched high on a hilltop with sweeping views across the Adelaide Hills, there's hardly a more picturesque spot in the region. The cellar door staff are always smart and friendly, and the extravagant cellar door restaurant is magnificent, one of the best in the Hills (look out Bridgewater Mill!), which leads me to another point; why is the cellar door tasting bench located in the main dining room? About a metre behind us sat a table of roughly 20 diners. It was a busy, full house that day (supposedly sundays require booking 6-8 weeks in advance) and aromatic dishes were flying past us at close range thick and fast. The cellar door hand mentioned she'd learnt every dish by smell alone and every one of my companions also noticed the obvious aromatic distractions. The pork belly in particular had us salivating...