Oakridge Wines Head Chef
Credit: Margaret River Gourmet Escape
Dynamic chef Matt Stone began his career in Margaret River before calling the Yarra Valley home. He honed his culinary skills at hatted restaurants but is equally celebrated for his visionary sustainable dining crusade. His wine of choice? Chardonnay.
What style of wine is the Yarra Valley best known for? Please recommend three of your favourites.
The Yarra Valley is renowned for chardonnay, pinot and cabernet. I really love chardonnay and Oakridge does a world-class job of it. My favourite is the 864 Funder and Diamond! Yeringberg Cabernet is great example of a classic Yarra Valley wine. The 2012 vintage is amazing! For something not so classic coming from the region my go-to is Valere Riesling. It's fresh with a nice bit of texture and a tiny bit of residual sugar at the end, great with spicy food.
Your favourite place for casual dining? And a bit smarter? And for a coffee break? (You can include your restaurant for one!)
The Independent in Gembrook is awesome. I ate there a few months ago and was blown away with fantastic use of local produce with a bit of Argentinian flair in a very comfortable casual space. I need a few coffees to get me going in the morning. I like to stop in Lillydale, just before the valley and grab a coffee at Round Bird Can't Fly. Great space and great coffee. For a smart casual lunch with a great view Oakridge is the place to go. We cook with the finest produce the area has to offer as well as using vegetables from our massive garden.
Is there a hidden gem in the Yarra Valley visitors should not miss?
Mount St Leonards is a beautiful walking trail that gives the best view of the whole valley. Great to walk off lunch and get a view of the whole region. Stunning!
"Honestly, the cheese is so good I often just have a big chunk on a tiny piece of bread."
What is your favourite produce from the region, and why?
Our friend Jack at Yarra Valley Dairy makes some of the best cheese in the country. He also makes cheese in his own label Stone and Crow. The cheeses are world-class. We collaborate on a heap of different cheeses to use on our menu to help reflect season and what's coming from our garden.
Could you give us some tips on how to serve use it?
I eat a lot of cheese, mostly from the Yarra Valley Dairy. I keep it really simple. At the moment stone fruits are so good so we're serving a selection of three cheeses from the dairy with some sliced apricot, chardonnay lees gel, grapefruit skin puree, some thinly sliced sourdough and some lavosh. But honestly, the cheese is so good I often just have a big chunk on a tiny piece of bread.
What is your favourite casual "after work/time to relax" glass of wine?
I enjoy drinking most styles of wine but I'm loving funky natural wines at the moment. There're a few beauties coming from the valley. But in saying that, the classics are always good!