After something of a magical mystery tour from wherever you set out, Adelaide Hills winery and restaurant, Pike and Joyce, rewards its visitors with a pastoral setting behind Lenswood to rival anything in Tuscany or Provence. Standing on a hill overlooking the vineyards that provide all the grapes for its range of sparkling, white and red wines, the vista is as inviting as the wines we sampled in the tasting room and enjoyed with lunch. The décor is clean and modern and the service informed and prompt.
The restaurant is heavily booked in the silly season, so it is worth taking the time to book and to lock the coordinates into your GPS, as those unfamiliar with the winding ways of the Hills may find themselves taking a longer tour than intended, which happened to my guests from North Adelaide, who encountered a roadblock on the Gorge Road and found themselves backtracking significantly.
Established in 1998, the vineyard marries the expertise of the Clare Valley's Pike family with the fifth-generation horticultural know-how of the Joyce clan. The wine list reasonably priced between $32 and $68 (the reserve 2016 Pinot Noir). The wine for tasting is kept in a fridge and dispensed at ideal tasting temperatures (18 degrees for the whites and 16 for the reds).
The French-style Chardonnay-Pinot Noir sparkling has been on lees for five years, has understated bubbles and a satisfying bread-like finish. The Grüner Veltliner is an excellent citrusy example of this ever-more popular Austrian varietal, the lightly-wooded 2016 Chardonnay satisfies with a hint of butter without overwhelming with wood and the 2016 View Du Nord Pinot Noir is redolent of black cherries, restrained oak, savoury spice: eminently slurpable. The 2017 Nebbiolo sings with white pepper and cherries in a medium bodied paean to the Northern Italian varietal. And the 2017 Shiraz is a classic cool-climate minor masterpiece of black fruit and pepper.
Groups are positively spoilt with the shared platter combination. We enjoyed all the starters (bread, olives, olive oil, dukkah) and entrees to share (the Hiramasa kingfish, the goats' cheese capiletti and buffalo mozzarella with charred leek, heirloom tomato and watercress), choice of main (slow-roasted medium-rare scotch fillet, seared fish of the day, which was Coorong mullet) with salad and roasted Kestrel potato sides. The other two mains were crispy-skin duck breast and Haloumi-barley-roast cauliflower with sweet potatoes. If that's not enough, the cheese platter and petit fours of the day rounded off a world-class dining experience, featuring the freshest seasonal produce of the Adelaide Hills and surrounds in a setting to satisfy the pickiest rustic aesthete.
Pike and Joyce's a la carte menu and chef's three-course tasting menu are available in the restaurant Thursday through to Sunday, from midday until 3pm.