Visit the Hunter Valley’s stunning Tallavera Grove
In a tranquil valley of vineyards rooted in terra rossa clay loams over limestone you will find Bistro Molines and Carillion Wines, two of the Hunter Valley’s most treasured locales nestled in the Tallavera Grove.
Separated by a rustic courtyard with outdoor seating onsite, you could be in the south of France – bentwood café chairs, tables adorned with white linen, artfully placed vintage objets d’art and masses of fresh flowers everywhere confirm the impression.
Photography Josef Nalevansky, Words by Sally Macmillan and Jess Verrender
Living legends and renowned restaurateurs Robert and Sally Molines spoke exclusively to CCL&S editor Sally Macmillan, looking back on 50 adventure-packed years of living and working in the Hunter Valley.
After years of running numerous storied establishments in the Hunter Valley, they currently run the multi-hatted and award-winning Bistro Molines, which has operated since 2008. Their culinary journey is intricately entwined with the evolution of the Hunter and the larger-than-life characters who helped make it what it is today.
Their first joint venture, with Robert in the kitchen and Sally front of house, was Pokolbin’s Happy Valley restaurant, which they opened in 1973.
Robert met wine expert, writer and high-profile businessman Len Evans very early on; Len, and famed winemakers such as Murray Tyrrell and Max Lake were enthusiastic patrons of the Happy Valley restaurant.
“Len ‘lured’ me to The Rothbury Estate in 1978, when we were also running The Cellar restaurant at Hungerford Hill and The Verandah Restaurant at Calais Estate, and that’s when we became very close friends.
The next few years were crazy busy for the Molines. Their two sons, Louis and Joseph, were born in 1979 and 1984, and while still running their other restaurants the couple became involved in the groundbreaking Pepper Tree project.
Robert describes the combination of a prestigious winery, accommodation in the historic Convent and fine dining at Robert’s in one destination as a “perfect marriage”. His restaurant at Pepper Tree cemented the Molines’ far-reaching reputation as restaurateurs and played a huge part in their lives for 16 years.
“Some chefs think the menu is all about them. But call me old-fashioned – and maybe it’s my Latin blood – but I believe in simple recipes based on seasons and flavours, a convivial atmosphere and, above all, a sense of joie de vivre.”
Across the way from Bistro Molines, award-winning boutique wine producer Carillion Wines are busy creating elegant, small-batch wines from grapes grown on its three family-owned and operated vineyards.
Recently marked as “outstanding” and of “exemplary quality and typicity” by Australia’s most comprehensive wine authority, Carillion is proud to have been recently awarded five red stars by the 2023 Halliday Wine Companion, an annual overview of Australian wine which (since 2000) has been considered one of the nation’s most trusted guides to wineries and wines.
Not bad for a small, family-owned and operated business. Established in 1994, the team is led by Tim Davis, second-generation owner and vigneron, and Andrew Ling, head winemaker.
As a boutique producer of premium fruit from a range of climates, soil types and grape varieties, Carillion’s brand manager Bernadette Kerr says that they can quite literally take “the pick of the bunch” to create their wines.
“We manage our vineyards with a hands-on approach, often identifying individual rows or portions of rows to pick for small batches of wine,” she says.
“Most of our range is limited to 150 to 250 cases each vintage, with some releases as rare as 250 bottles.”
Carillion’s 2018 ‘Fenestella’ Hunter Valley Shiraz is a flagship Hunter Valley wine. The year 2018 is well known for being a particularly good season for red wine in the Hunter, and ‘Fenestella’ received an incredible 97 points from the Halliday Wine Companion. It is currently available from the cellar door for tasting and sales. There is also a gold-medal-winning 2021 Hunter Valley Vermentino currently on offer, available for tasting and sale at cellar door. Carillion offers tastings, wines by the glass and sales.
Tastings are $10 per person, waived with any purchase. Book by phone, 02 4990 7535, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Bistro Molines, 749 Mount View Road, Mount View. For bookings at the Bistro and accommodation at Little Orchard Cottage, call 02 4990 9554, email email@example.com, see their website.
For the full articles on Bistro Molines and Carillon Wines, click here to see our e-book.