Capital Wines and Robyn Rowe chocolates

13 Jun

It’s a rainy Saturday June weekend. We could stay at home. We could watch movies on the couch in our snuggies. But, when it’s raining, I think wineries are where it’s at. There are fewer people, and the old (and new) buildings of our region’s wineries come alive – rain on a tin roof, toasty fires and stone walls. Remembering how much we enjoyed our outing to Surveyor’s Hill last year under similar conditions, we hit the road.

Rather than dissuade us, the rain encourages us to get outside

Rather than dissuade us, the rain encourages us to get outside

Capital Wines is located behind the famous and fabulous Grazing Restaurant at 42 Cork Street in Gundaroo. You may know Capital Wines better as the creators of the range of wines titled the Ministry Series. Their cellar door and cafe is located in stone stables/a cottage, and yes – there are stone walls and a fireplace (but we can’t hear the rain). We decide quickly on the epicurean tasting. Four meals (which we get to choose from a list of nine) with matching wines at $36 a head seems – and is – a bargain.

We’re first offered bread with roasted garlic and olive oil (~$5). I’m sceptical, but we go ahead. It is superb. There’s a huge amount of bread. There is a proper knife to cut it (FINALLY. Elk and Pea and every other Canberra establishment take note please). The roasted garlic is slightly sweet and soft and it marries together perfectly. I can tell it’s going to be a good meal. We place our orders and the correct wine glasses are lined up in front of us to match our choices.

Too good to be true...

So, so good

Demolished. (Now THAT's a knife.)

Demolished. (Now THAT’s a knife.)

My first course is Capital Wines’ riesling with St Agur blue cheese and honey. Have you ever had blue cheese and honey together before? It’s… life changing. They’re made for each other. There’s something about the sweet and the salty and the gooey and the sticky that works so well. The St Agur blue cheese on its own is divine, but honey just takes it to a whole new place. I don’t really have the words – just trust me on this one.

A few almonds thrown in for good measure, too

A few almonds thrown in for good measure, too

Boyfriend has the sauvignon blanc with bocconini and heirloom tomatoes and, given there are no crumbs left on his plate, I assume it’s equally good. (But come on, how can you go past blue cheese and honey?)

Bocconini and heirloom tomatoes

Bocconini and heirloom tomatoes

I’d been tempted by the roast pork belly slider and merlot. It doesn’t disappoint. The bun is chewy and buttery and that pork – well, I could have eaten 10 of them, I think. Again, it’s a success of flavours, and the coleslaw tang is the perfect accompaniment.

Pork Belly slider

Pork Belly slider

Boyfriend has chosen the rose. It comes with hot smoked salmon from Eden, sitting on top of a garden slaw with wasabi mayonnaise. I hate to mimic My Kitchen Rules, but the salmon is cooked to perfection. The inclusion of wasasbi peas is an interesting choice, but it doesn’t not work.

Salmon and slaw salad

Salmon and slaw salad

Our very friendly waitress (who gives us a lot more detail on each dish than I’m able to reproduce here) serves our next dish just as promptly. Boyfriend gets the sangiovese with spaghetti and meatballs (he eats it so fast that there’s no photo) and I’m salivating over a lamb cutlet from nearby Bungendore with another mayonnaise – it looks similar to the mayonnaise on the salmon, in fact. I’ve no problem with ingredients being repeated through dishes, so long as they work. And they do. The lamb cutlet is juicy and tender and bone-gnawing good. There’s just a little fat which draws the flavour out, and the mayonnaise serves as another very good complement. The shiraz served with it is another match, as you’d expect.

Smoked Bungendore lamb cutlet

Smoked Bungendore lamb cutlet. Wish I could just grab it off the screen a la Willy Wonka… seriously good.

All too soon we’re up to our fourth and final course. Boyfriend has chosen the dark chocolate tart with sparkling shiraz. The sparkling red is served in a very swish glass. We’re big fans of Capital Wines’ sparkling red, and as usual it doesn’t disappoint. Sparkling reds go particularly well with dark chocolate, and it’s no less true in this case.

Dark chocolate tart and sparkling red in nifty glass

Dark chocolate tart and sparkling red in nifty glass

I’ve chosen the lemon cheesecake. Its presentation is bemusing. It’s packed like a cupcake (I could almost pop it in my bag to take away), and the berry coulis is in a mug.

2013-06-01 13G

I peel away the paper and the cheesecake truly emerges. There turns out to be quite a lot of coulis in the mug, so I can see why they let diners choose how much they want. Of course, I want as much as possible. It’s fresh and fruity and sweet and sour and sets off the intense sweetness of the cheesecake. The many seeds in the coulis makes me appreciate how genuine a dish it is. Frankly, it’s really, really good. It comes with a late picked riesling (dessert wine). I’ve become a bit dessert wine obsessive lately and this is good, but not my favourite in the region. What can be said about Capital Wines is that it has consistently good wines across its entire range. It’s not just a specialty grower like many of our region’s wineries – all of them are at a high standard.

That's more like it

That’s more like it

The best/worst part of the meal is that a number of the ingredients are available for purchase – including the meats and the cheese. Capital Wines has really worked these ingredients to their full potential, and I’m doubtful that this experience is something Boyfriend and I can recreate at home. That said, we can’t leave without a bit of St Agur blue cheese.

It’s been a delicious and cosy experience. The food servings are small, but not tiny, and paired with 60mls of wine and the quality of the ingredients means it’s still a bargain. I’m not sure I’d want the servings to be any bigger. The bread is intended to fill us up – and it does – but it’s just as delicious, and just as reasonably priced, so it’s no problem.

Back on the road again, and the weather is no better.



In the car I read that there’s actually a chocolatier in Murrumbateman and pretty please, can we go? Boyfriend is an even bigger sweet tooth than me, so it doesn’t take much convining.

Robyn Rowe’s Chocolate D’Or is just off Namina Road. There’s a fair bit of daintily walking to her ‘chocolate door’ (read: not falling face first into the mud) but we make it without incident. It’s warm and welcoming inside, with plenty of Canberra 100 promotions without being over the top. Through a big glass window we can see her huge chocolate work area. It’s impressive – this lady means business, and there are numerous awards lining the walls.

2013-06-01 14

Chocolates can be bought in a pack or individually from the cabinet. Robyn’s happy to share that they’re actually a little cheaper individually, and this way we get to choose what we want. There’s a huge range, and each chocolate filling comes in both a milk and dark chocolate version. We buy a lot, and vow not to eat them too quickly. We then proceed to eat them all in the car; they’re so, so good. We regret not getting more. Each one is a masterpiece – pretty but not perfectly shaped (good); a work of art in design and taste.

What really captures my eye is a special Canberra 100 chocolate with a sea salted caramel filling.

Could you get much cuter? It's even got the logo down pat!

Could you get much cuter? It’s even got the logo down pat!

It’s every bit as good as you can imagine.

2013-06-01 15

Date: Saturday, 1 June

Cost: ~$90 for Capital Wines Epicurean (including the bread, and a big block of St Agur’s blue cheese); I think $16 for the chocolates (~$2 each)

Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile (both)

Want more? Robyn Rowe sells her chocolates each Saturday at the Capital Region Farmers Markets. You can pay Capital Wines a visit here or in person at 42 Cork Street, Gundaroo.

11 Responses to “Capital Wines and Robyn Rowe chocolates”

  1. Gary Lum June 14, 2013 at 4:32 am #

    OMG that pork belly slider and lamb cutlet looks amazing. I love the knife reference to Elk and Pea 😃

  2. Julie June 14, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

    Great blog!! If you like that area the Globe inn in Yass is a beautiful and romantic place to stay the night

  3. absolutelyjas June 15, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Love love love blue cheese and honey. Amazing! Have you ever tried Manchego cheese dipped in honey and then into ground coffee? Also mind blowing. Will have to trek out to try a centenary chocolate – they look lush!

    • inthetaratory June 15, 2013 at 10:07 am #

      No haven’t tried that but it sounds like an explosion of flavours! Robyn’s chocolates are also sold at the epic farmers markets if I recall correctly 🙂

      • Denis Rowe June 15, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

        Thank you for great write up and photos of our chocolates and yes, we do go to the Capital Region Farmers Market, EPIC every Saturday morning from 7am – 11.30am. Robyn & Denis Rowe

  4. Kelly Brightwell June 19, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    Love reading your blogs Tara…next rainy day I’m going to go (minus the Blue Cheese)..


  1. Poachers Pantry | In The Taratory - August 5, 2013

    […] Pantry in April 2012. The Fireside Festival is on for the month of August, where our best wineries (and chocolate makers!) are putting on special events (maybe think twice before you book online). The Poachers Pantry […]

  2. Maple + Clove | In The Taratory - August 12, 2013

    […] is another repeat offender and even after my review early this year have not changed their ways; Capital Wines, on the other hand, provides an awesome knife to help slice through their ridiculously yum roast […]

  3. Murrumbateman Moving Feast | In The Taratory - October 6, 2013

    […] and we’ve wined and dined our way through Lerida Estate, Lark Hill, Surveyor’s Hill, Capital Wines, Poacher’s Pantry and Mt Majura. Phew! You’d think we’d know what to expect, but […]

  4. Robyn Rowe chocolates – Summerside Festival | In The Taratory - February 19, 2014

    […] The Summerside Festival is on until 2 March – last week I reviewed the yummy Oyster Bar at Capital Wines. That same day we take our guest (who also happens to be my bestie!) to Robyn Rowe chocolates, down Nanima Road (near Poacher’s Pantry). A day with Capital Wines followed with Robyn Rowe chocolates is always a cracker: a guaranteed good day out (I’ve done it more than once before!). […]

What do you reckon?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: